Shelby's Raid (1863)

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Joseph O. Shelby

Shelby's Great Raid was an 1863 Confederate cavalry raid through the Trans-Mississippi Theater in the American Civil War. Colonel Joseph Shelby fought numerous skirmishes and caused great disruption in Missouri before withdrawing back to Arkansas. This raid cemented Shelby's reputation as a cavalry commander and revealed that Missouri was still vulnerable to cavalry raids late in the war.

The raid[edit]

Shelby's raiders departed Arkadelphia, Arkansas, on September 22, 1863, and the raid did not end until October 26, 1863. Involving 800 soldiers, twelve ammunition wagons, and two pieces of Artillery, the raid was a success. Shelby reported that during the thirty days he killed and wounded six hundred Federals, he had captured and paroled another 600. He had captured and destroyed ten union forts, seizing $800,000 dollars in military supplies, which included 600 rifles, forty stands of colors, 399 hundred wagons, 6,000 horses and mules. He had also destroyed another million dollars in enemy supplies. His own losses would be major, as about one man in six did not return from the raid.

The "Battle of Marshall" and withdrawal[edit]

On October 13, 1863, Federal forces were able concentrate to engage Shelby's raiders at the town of Marshall, the county seat of Saline County. A mixed force of 1,800 Federal troops and Missouri State Militia under Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown attempted to surround and trap Shelby's force. However, Shelby divided his force and broke through, escaping the Union encirclement. Confronted with the likelihood of continued Federal concentration, Shelby divided his command and withdrew from Missouri to Arkansas.[1]


Jo Shelby was promoted to brigadier general in the Confederate Army as a result of this successful raid. Shelby claimed to have traveled 1,500 miles, inflicted 600 casualties, and captured or destroyed $1 million worth of goods during the raid.


  • Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 22 (Part I), page 621-
  • McLachlan, Sean. (2011) Ride Around Missouri; Shelby's Great Raid 1863. Osprey Raid Series #25. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-429-1
  1. ^ McLachlan, Sean "Ride Around Missouri" pp 52-67

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