The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
After the defeat at Wilson’s Creek, Union forces abandoned much of western Missouri. General Price took advantage by advancing north, gaining recruits to his Missouri State Guard as he went. With 12,000 men he surrounded the smaller Union force garrisoned behind earthwork fortifications and an outer ring of trenches constructed around the Masonic College on the north side of Lexington. Starting on September 18, 1861, Price bombarded the fortifications with artillery and rifle fire before attacking the Federal positions with his Guardsmen. Using hemp bales as movable breastworks by pushing and rolling them forward, Price’s men finally reached the Union lines on the third day of the battle. Worn down by the constant barrage of enemy fire and low on food and water, the Federals surrendered. The Battle of Lexington was Price’s greatest victory, but it would be the high point for the Confederacy in Missouri.