Action at Brush Creek

Anticipating Price's impending attack, Blunt had positioned his three available brigades along Brush Creek, while a fourth under Col. Charles Blair was en route from Kansas City. East of Wornall Lane (present-day Wornal Road) was the brigade of J. Hobart Ford. West of Wornall was the brigade of Charles "Doc" Jennison, with an artillery battery in support. Two regiments of cavalry filled the gap to the west between Jennison and the Kansas/Missouri state line. At a right angle to Jennison was the brigade of Thomas Moonlight, running parallel to the state line. Moonlight was positioned to either support Jennison or move against the Confederate flank.[citation needed]

At daybreak on the 23rd, Blunt opened the battle by sending Jennison and Ford over an icy Brush Creek with their skirmishers. Advancing up a ridge, the Union forces engaged the Confederates in an open field to the south. The rebel divisions of Joseph O. Shelby and James Fagan had meanwhile received orders from Price to hold Curtis in front of Westport. Shelby counterattacked with the famed Iron Brigade under M. Jeff Thompson in the lead. This attack drove the outflanked Federals back across the creek. Moonlight's brigade was hit so hard that it was forced to fall back to the high ground on Brush Creek's west bluff, into what is now Westwood, Kansas, while Jennison's brigade retreated almost to the streets of Westport. It appeared at this point that the Confederates might carry the day.[citation needed]

But this was not to be. Shelby's force was out of ammunition, and remained on the heights south of Brush Creek. Also at this crucial hour, Col. Blair's brigade arrived and Curtis heard Pleasonton's guns engaging the Confederates at nearby Byram's Ford. His spirits lifted, the Union commander rode to the front lines and personally directed Blair's troops into battle west of Jennison. The reinforced Federals charged across the creek once more, with Blair in the lead, but were again repulsed and retreated to the north bank.[citation needed]

Needing another option besides frontal assaults, Curtis decided to search for a weak point elsewhere in the Rebel lines. His scouts found a local farmer named George Thoman, who was eager to help the Federals as the Confederates had absconded with his horse the previous night. Thoman showed Curtis a gulch, cut by Swan Creek, running up to a rise along Shelby's left flank. Curtis personally directed his headquarters escort and the 9th Wisconsin Battery through this gully. Meanwhile, Blunt continued to push Jennison and Ford up the rise across Brush Creek, making slow progress until the 9th Wisconsin opened fire upon the Confederate flank and rear. Encouraged, Blunt's men now poured over the ridge, but Shelby's men fought back stubbornly and a see-saw battle ensued in the open prairie. The Union army gradually gained the upper hand, slowly pushing Shelby's brigades back to the Wornall House.
Courtesy of Wikepedia: Battle of Westport

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