The Charge of Shelby’s Iron Brigade


The Battle of Marshall Col. Joseph O. Shelby
Thorps Scouts leading Elliots Battalion across the cornfield. 4th Mo. Militia Cavalry 7th Mo. Militia

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SHELBY’S MISSOURI RAID OF 1863: The Battle of Marshall

The Battle began at 7:00am on October 13 when Shelby met Lazear’s skirmishers along the Marshall-Arrow Rock Rd., east of the bridge on Salt Fork Creek. Shelby had not expected Marshall to be occupied. A rumor spread that the force Shelby now confronted was that of Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing. (Shelby would not learn the truth until after the Civil War that the men before Marshall were Brown’s, not Ewings.)

Shelby enjoyed early success against Lazear, pushing him west to the edge of Marshall. There Lazear’s men rallied and drove Shelby back down the Marshall-Arrow Rock Rd. For the next three hours Shelby made several attacks along Lazear’s line, but Lazear held firm.

At 8:30am Brown appeared with his remaining force at Salt Fork Creek. Shelby had assigned Maj. D. Shanks battalion to stop Brown. Shelby hoped to defeat Ewing in his front, then turn against Brown.

As the fight wore on, Brown worried Shelby might escape to the west. He subsequently sent an additional 600 men and two guns on to Marshall, under Col. John F. Philips. Shelby had already planned for his exit by constructing a bridge across a ditch to the north so his wagons and guns could pass. When news arrived that Shanks was falling back from Salt Fork Creek, he knew he must force his way out or risk capture.

THE PAINTING: Andy Thomas has presented us with a study of the most dramatic event of the fight – Shelby’s breakout!

The view is to the southeast with Thorps Scouts leading Elliots Battalion across the cornfield. Shelbys column extends back along the spur of the Marshall-Miami road (near modern day Lincoln Ave.) and is the road visible in the background. Stragglers of various units are to the left of the road. The Marshall-Arrow Rock road, not visible, followed the crest of the ridge.

To the far right, the 4th Mo. Militia Cavalry can be seen at the beginning of its charge. Shelby can be seen near the front left, riding a sorrel horse. He carries his arm in a sling, still suffering from a wound he received in July.

This print is part of his Trans-Mississippi Series. Written by Gil Bergman

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