Saturday, July 4, 2009


Yesterday Tony and I went to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park and wandered through the exhibits for a while. Although I've been there many times, there is so much information to take in I always learn something new. One of the things I saw there yesterday led me to some research today, where I learned about the Battle of San Carlos, the only battle in the American Revolution fought west of the Mississippi River.

The Battle of San Carlos (sometimes called the Battle of St. Louis) was fought on May 26, 1780. A group of more than 1,000 British soldiers and Indians fought against approximately 300 combined Spanish soldiers and militia. The decisive Spanish victory in the battle helped prevent the British from obtaining control of the Mississippi River Valley.

In 1780, St. Louis was a Spanish colony. At the time Spain was providing covert aid and supplies to the colonists; the Spanish Lieutenant Governor, fearing British reprisals, planned to defend the town by building four stone towers and digging entrenchments around the town. Although most of the trenches had been dug, only one of the towers, called Fort San Carlos, was completed when the British attacked. The tower (which was located near the current Fourth and Walnut Streets) was equipped with five cannons, three four-pounder and two six-pounder.

On their way to St. Louis, the British attacked settlers working on the outskirts of town. When word of the attack reached the city, the town militia manned the trenches and the tower. Fire from their muskets hit some of the attackers, but the cannon fire from the tower saved the day, causing the Indians to falter. The battle lasted two hours, but in the end the attackers retreated.

No further attempts were made to take St. Louis from the Spanish.

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