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File:Joseph O. Shelby.jpg

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[]

Shelby's raiders departed Arkadelphia, Arkansas, on September 22, 1863, and the raid did not conclude until October 26, 1863. Using 800 men, twelve ammunition wagons, and two pieces of Artillery, the raid would be a success. In his words, he claimed that he had in the thirty days killed and wounded six hundred Federals; he had taken and paroled as many more; he had captured and destroyed ten forts, about eight hundred thousand dollars' worth of property and he had captured six hundred rifles, forty stand of colors, three hundred wagons, six thousand horses and mules, and destroyed a million dollars' worth of supplies. The toll for Shelby would be fierce with one in six of his men not returning with him.

The "Battle of Marshall" and withdrawal[]

As Union militia were finally beginning to concentrate, a vigorous engagement at Marshall, Missouri, on October 13 prompted Shelby to divide his forces and withdraw from the state.


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 1,000 casualties, and captured or destroyed $2 million dollars worth of goods during the raid.


  • Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 22 (Part I), page 621-

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