First Battle of Lexington - Missouri State Guard Takes Stronghold of Missouri Valley

The First Battle of Lexington also known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales, was an engagement of the American Civil War, occurring from September 13 to September 20, 1861, between the Union Army and the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard, in Lexington, the county seat of Lafayette County, Missouri. The State Guard's victory in this battle bolstered the already-considerable Southern sentiment in the area, and briefly consolidated Confederate control of the Missouri Valley.

Following the victory at Wilson's Creek, the Confederate Missouri State Guard, having consolidated forces in the northern and central part of the state, marched, under the command of Major General Sterling Price, on Lexington. Colonel James A. Mulligan commanded the entrenched Union garrison of about 3,500 men.

Price's men first encountered Union skirmishers on September 13 south of town and pushed them back into the fortifications. Price, having bottled the Union troops up in Lexington, decided to await his ammunition wagons, other supplies, and reinforcements before assaulting the fortifications.

By the 18th, Price was ready and ordered an assault.

The Missouri State Guard moved forward amidst heavy Union artillery fire and pushed the enemy back into their inner works.

On the 19th, the Rebels consolidated their positions, kept the Yankees under heavy artillery fire and prepared for the final attack.