Maj. Gen. Sterling Price's march along the Missouri River was slow, providing the Yankees a chance to concentrate. Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, proposed a pincer movement to trap Price and his army, but he was unable to communicate with Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, commander of the Department of Kansas, to formalize the plan. Curtis was having problems because many of his troops were Kansas militia and they refused to enter Missouri, but a force of 2,000 men under the command of Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt did set out for Lexington. On October 19, Price's army approached Lexington, collided with Union scouts and pickets about 2:00 pm, drove them back, and engaged in a battle with the main force. The Yankees resisted at first, but Price's army eventually pushed them through the town to the western outskirts and pursued them along the Independence Road until night fall. Without Curtis's entire force, the Yankees could not stop Price's army, but they did further retard their slow march. Blunt gained valuable information about the size and disposition of Price's army.