The Battle of Little Blue River was a minor battle of the American Civil War, occurring on October 21, 1864 in Jackson County, Missouri during Price's Missouri Expedition of that year. It became the opening round of the Second Battle of Independence, which began on this same day and was essentially a continuation of this engagement. This led in turn to the Battle of Westport on October 23rd, resulting in Price's defeat and the ending of major Confederate military operations in Missouri.
After his victory at the Battle of Glasgow, Price continued his march westward, in the direction of Kansas City and Fort Leavenworth, headquarters of the Federal Department of Kansas. But his progress was slow, giving the Union Army a chance to concentrate their forces. Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, proposed a pincer movement to trap Price and his army, but he was unable to communicate with Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Department of Kansas, to formalize the plan. Curtis was experiencing difficulty because many of his soldiers were Kansas militia (under George Dietzler), and they refused to enter Missouri. However, a force of about 2,000 men under the command of Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt did set out for Lexington. He met the Confederate troops there on October 19 and slowed their progress, but was ultimately forced to withdraw. On the 20th, Blunt’s retreating column arrived on the Little Blue River, a minor stream five miles east of Independence.
As Blunt neared the stream, he discovered that Moonlight’s small force had burned the bridge as previously ordered, engaged the enemy, and retreated from their strong defensive position of the day before. Price's army had arrived by this time, and were fiercely engaging the Federal forces. Blunt quickly entered the fray, attempting to drive the enemy back beyond the defensive position that he wished to reoccupy. A five-hour battle ensued, as Union troops forced the Confederates to fall back at first, entrenching themselved behind several rock walls as they awaited an inevitable Southern counterattack. Although witnesses reported that the hopelessly-outnumbered Federals compelled their enemy to fight for every inch of groud, Confederate numerical superiority slowly took its toll. Gradually the Northerners were forced to retreat, and the focus of the battle shifted to Independence itself.
Although Price could claim victories at the Little Blue and Independence, both ultimately proved hollow. Once again, his army had been slowed, and more Union reinforcements were arriving. On the 23rd of October, the full Union and Confederate forces collided at the Battle of Westport, often called "the Gettysburg of Missouri", resulting in a final, decisive defeat for Price and the end of his campaign--and all major Confederate operations--in the state.