The Battle of Kirksville was a battle in the American Civil War, fought near the town of Kirksville, Missouri, on August 6, 1862. The Union victory helped consolidate Federal control over northeastern Missouri.
Confederate Col. Joseph C. Porter had been recruiting in the Macon area, to the south of Kirksville. He had assembled a brigade of between 1,500 and 2,500 ill-trained and poorly equipped troops, but his irregulars had harried and recruited as far north as Memphis. Confederate sympathies in the Kirksville area were high (though Union sentiment was stronger than in surrounding counties), due to the Southern heritage of most of the residents. Porter had been urged to come to Kirksville by Confederate Captain Tice Cain, an Adair County farmer who claimed to be holding Kirksville with 500 fresh recruits. (In one of the battle's mysteries, Cain disappeared and was never heard from again, according to a descendant).
Union Colonel John McNeil of the 2nd Missouri Cavalry and his troops, totalling about 1,000, had been pursuing Porter for more than a week. Before noon on August 6, McNeil attacked Porter in the town of Kirksville, where the Confederates had concealed themselves in homes and stores and among the crops in the nearby fields, especially in the county courthouse and the commercial buildings on the square. Their presence was discovered by a Union detachment that volunteered to ride around the square in order to draw fire and cause the Confederates to reveal themselves — an act of courage which cost two Union soldiers their lives. McNeil deployed his artillery before moving in a broad line towards the town square. The subsequent cannon fire demoralized the defenders, some of whom retreated behind a rail fence, west of the square.
The Union troops then advanced in two wings, with Lt. Col. William F. Shaffer (Merrill's Horse) in command of the Union right wing and Major Henry Clay Caldwell of the 3rd Iowa in charge of the left. As the two w...