Col. J.H. Lane's cavalry, comprising about 600 men, set out from Fort Scott to learn the whereabouts of a rumored Confederate force. They encountered a Confederate force, about 6,000-strong, near Big Dry Wood Creek. The Union cavalry surprised the Confederates, but their numerical superiority soon determined the encounter's outcome. They forced the Union cavalry to retire and captured their mules, and the Confederates continued on towards Lexington. The Confederates were forcing the Federals to abandon southwestern Missouri and to concentrate on holding the Missouri Valley.