Volume 9, Number 3 - Spring 1986

The Siege of Forsyth
By Penelope Willard


Forsyth, county seat of Taney County, now occupied by Confederate Forces protected by area residents sympathetic to the Rebel Cause is in imminient danger of attack by the forces of Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Sweeny.

In Sweeny’s command are: Lt. Col. William H. Merrit’s First Iowa Regiment; Captain F. I. Herron’s Government Greys and Captain Wentz’ Davenport Rifles. Also assigned to the expedition is one section of Capt. James Totten’s battery, and includes a 12-pound howitzer and a six-pound caunon. Lt. George Oscar Sokaiski commands the artillery. Capt. D. S. Stanley, assisted by Lt. M. J. Kelly commands Companies "C" and "D" of the U.S. Dragoons. Col. Robert B. Mitchell commands the Second Kansas Infantry and Capt. Samuel N. Wood commands the Mounted Kansas Volunteers.

The Rebels have dug in and are firmly in control of the town with troops strategically placed on the bluff overlooking the approach to the town. From this position they may be able to stop any advance by Sweeny’s men.

The size and strength of the Confederate stronghold is at present undetermined. Earlier attempts by the combined efforts of the Christian and Taney County Home Guards under command of Capt. Charles Galloway and Lt. F. M. Gideon, Sr. to expel them ended in failure. Supplies and arms are known to be stored in the fine brick courthouse and businessmen as well as town residents are ready to move out at the first indication of attack. The Parrish and Baldwin ferrys are thought to be secure. As tension mounts, preparations are being made to care for the wounded in what may well be the deadliest battle of the war to date.

Franc B. Wilkie, a war correspondent for theDubuque Herald is accompanying General Sweeny’s expedition. He will report in his usual graphic detail the scenes of the fighting; the sight of blue and gray clad soldiers snaking through the grass to better vantage spots; the plunging cavalry dodging the constant barrage of shells and rifle bullets; the deafening sounds of gunfire intermingling with the screams of the wounded and dying.

When the fighting ends, the victorius army’s flag will fly over this tortured town. The haunting strains of Taps will sound on a chapter of Taney County history that will have seared itself indelibly into the minds and hearts of the observers of the conflict.

This will be the situation in 1986 at the old townsite of Forsyth, Missouri, Highways 160 and E. 76 (Shadow Rock Park). The Civil War Re-enactment Group, sponsored by Company E, 9th Texas Infantry, Missouri Confederate Brigade will move in with approximately two hundred men, horses and all the paraphenalia of soldiers ready to fight. Their reenactment of the Battle of Forsyth, July 22, 1861 which occurred on this spot will be as close to the actual event as attention to recorded history permits.

The group will arrive on Friday, June 13 to set up camp. On Saturday morning, June 14, they will prepare for the engagement which begins at 1:00 P.M. The skirmish lasts 1½ hours and will be repeated on Sunday, June 15. The public is cordially invited to attend the event on either or both days and to wander through the encampment and observe army life as it was lived one hundred and fifty five years ago. There is no charge for admittance.

Grateful appreciation is extended to Elmo Ingenthron for his co-operation in writing this article and permission to use material from his book, Borderland Rebellion.


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