The Confederates under Gen. Sterling Price may have taken the fort, but Union efforts at Fort Davidson in the Battle of Pilot Knob were crucial to blunting the last Confederate offensive into Missouri. Fort Davidson State Historic Site preserves and interprets the running battle through the Arcadia Valley. The site’s open, grassy fields include the fort’s old earthworks, two Confederate burial trenches, and a visitor center with a narrated story of the battle.
This engagement occurred on September 27, 1864, just outside of Pilot Knob in Iron County, Missouri. Although outnumbered by more than ten-to-one, the Union defenders managed to repulse repeated Confederate assaults on their works, and were able to slip away during the night by exploiting a gap in the Southern siege lines. The attacking Rebels took possession of the fort the next day, but Price’s profligate expenditure of men and ammunition ended his goal of seizing St. Louis for the Confederacy.
Fort Davidson State Historic Site serves as a memorial to those who gave their lives on the battlefield, and the Visitor’s Center provides detailed information about the battle through the use of artifacts, a diorama, and film. Additionally, a self-guided driving tour around the Arcadia Valley directs visitors to some of the most significant points on the battlefields. Each stop is marked by a red granite monument. Maps for this tour are available at Fort Davidson State Historic Site.
(in Pilot Knob on Hwy 221)
Update: Fort Davidson Historic Site – Winter Hours – CLOSED on Monday