The Mounds 

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From the previous stop, make your way over to US Highway 69 and head south about 45 miles until you reach the exit for Kansas Highway 52 East (Butler). As you approach this exit, you can see "The Mounds," which are located to either side of the highway. Take the exit but park on the ramp somewhere close to Highway 52.

The Mounds Panoramic view of "The Mounds"

Maj. Gen. Sterling Price's retreat south was hindered by his massive wagon train. Price had failed to bring a sufficient number of wagon masters on the expedition. Some of his commanders pleaded with Price to abandon the wagon train, but Price was reluctant to abandon this tangible success he had to show for the Missouri Expedition. Also slowing his progress were large numbers of refugees accompanying his army in retreat.

Price’s army was on the Military road heading for Fort Scott, but first they had to get across the Marais des Cygnes River near Trading Post, Kansas about 55 miles south of New Santa Fe. The Confederates camped at Trading Post for the night of October 24, taking what they needed and destroying what they couldn't take. Trading Post is located less than a mile south of where you are standing.

The Military Road at this location passed in between the two hills you see to either side of US Highway 69. Look north towards the two cooling towers in the distance. This was the path of the Military Road from the north—it to the east of US Highway 69 from here to the north.

The Federal pursuit column left New Santa Fe early morning on October 24. The Federals camped that night at West Point, Missouri, an abandoned village about 47 miles south of Little Santa Fe and about 9 miles north of Trading Post. Brig. Gen. John B. Sanborn described events as he led the Federal advance.

My command … moved to the immediate vicinity of the Marais des Cygnes, a distance of sixty miles, passing the commands of Generals Curtis and Blunt, and taking the advance … followed by the First, Second, and Fourth Brigades, all having been placed by General Pleasonton under my direction for the night. My advance reached this point a little after midnight and immediately commenced skirmishing with the enemy. The road leading to the Trading Post, on the Marais des Cygnes, passes through a gap between two high mounds about half a mile from the river, each from one-half to a mile in length … The night was dark and it was raining heavily.

Because of darkness and the heavy rain, Sanborn held off launching his attack until first light.

The Confederate rear guard occupied The Mounds north of Trading Post. Brig. Gen. William L. Cabell's Brigade was on the east mound while the brigade of Col. William F. Slemons occupied the west mound. Cabell notified Price of the Union advance and Price's army and wagon train got across the Marais des Cygnes River before daylight.

Sanborn moved his artillery into position about a half mile north of The Mounds. He opened fire around dawn on October 25. The west mound had a considerable cover of trees and rocks. The attack on the west mound succeeded in pushing the confederates back and some of the attackers reached the Marais des Cygnes River before having to fall back. The attack on the east mound was less successful.

[I wanted] to advance and occupy the summits of the two mounds and the intervening gap without delay, and [I ordered my artillery] to open fire with all their guns … bearing across the right end of the mound on our left through the gap, the mounds and gap being now just visible through the receding darkness. [We] gained the mound on our right without serious opposition, but met with strong resistance in [our] advance toward the crest of the mound on our left. The enemy's line extended the entire length of this mound, and as our line advanced it opened a rapid but ill-directed fire. [Our line] moved steadily forward until within a few yards of the enemy, when a loud cheer from our line, followed by one or two sharp volleys of musketry, proclaimed the position gained … General Pleasonton … ordered me to advance my line to the Marais des Cygnes and cross the river as soon as possible. This order was immediately executed, and in a few moments my command occupied the ground just abandoned by the enemy, who left one piece of artillery and many wagons, horses, mules, cattle, sheep, cooking utensils, &c.

The Federals continued the pursuit with Philips's and Benteen's Brigades taking the lead.

Brig. Gen. John B. Sanborn

Brig. Gen. John B. Sanborn

Brig. Gen. William L. Cabell

Brig. Gen. William L. Cabell

Col. William F. Slemons

Col. William F. Slemons

The next tour stop is about a 10 mile drive down US Highway 69.

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