The Battle of Cape Girardeau
April 26, 1863 in Cape Girardeau City, Missouri
Union Forces Commanded by:
Brig. Gen. John McNeil
Confederate Forces Commanded by:
Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke
**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Union Victory
Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke sought to strike Brig. Gen. John McNeil, with his combined force of about 2,000 men, at Bloomfield, Missouri. McNeil retreated and Marmaduke followed. Marmaduke received notification, on April 25, that McNeil was near Cape Girardeau. He sent troops to destroy or capture McNeil's force, but then he learned that the Federals had placed themselves in the fortifications. Marmaduke ordered 1 of his brigades to make a demonstration to ascertain the Union strength.
Col. John S. Shelby's brigade made the demonstration which escalated into an attack. Those Union forces not already in fortifications retreated into them. Realizing the Union strength, Marmaduke withdrew his division to Jackson. After finding the force he had been chasing, Marmaduke was repulsed. Meant to relieve pressure on other Confederate troops and to disrupt Union operations, Marmaduke's expedition did little to fulfill either objective.
On April 26, Shelby led his troops to Cape Girardeau by way of the Jackson Road and created a demonstration as a diversion while Marmaduke drew off Carter's men by the Bloomfield Road. The demonstration escalated into an artillery duel with Union troops and Marmaduke brought Carter's men around to the Jackson Road to support Shelby. The brunt of the fighting fell on Fort B, the present site of Southeast Missouri State University, which was armed with 4 24-lb. guns. There were 4 12-lb. guns on a hill to the southwest of Fort B and a line of rifle pits. These were charged by the Confederates. The battle lasted from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. when Marmaduke, finding the town well defended, retreated to Jackson.