The high bluffs here on Little Sugar Creek were a scene of frantic activity on the morning of March 6, 1862 as Federal soldiers shoveled out rifle pits and cut down trees for hasty field fortifications.
With no hope of reinforcements from St. Louis, General Samuel Curtis had only 10,500 men to confront a Confederate army of more than 16,000 marching toward him. Curtis ordered his men to use this creek and the line of steep hills to prepare a strong defense.
Sugar Creek's trenches were never used in combat. During the night the Confederates marched completely around these positions. On the morning of March 7, 1862, the Union army had to turn around and fight at Leetown and Elkhorn Tavern.
Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis, a 57-year-old West Point graduate born in New York, first took command of the United States Army of the Southwest in St. Louis, Missouri on Christmas Day 1861.
To explore the history of the largest Civil War battle west of the Mississippi, start at the National Park Service Visitor Center on Highway 62, about five miles northeast of here.