They had fought skirmishes with the Confederate troops as the southerners approached the city. Now it was night and the Union soldiers were fortifying themselves for the attack they were sure would come the next morning. The Confederates, making a bold move into Missouri – a last-gasp thrust according to some – had been frustrated by mistakes and near misses for weeks and had just fought a bloody battle to the south. Now the state capital was within their grasp. The city, never before attacked by the Confederacy, was facing its greatest danger since the opening days of the war, when Union forces had taken over peacefully without a shot being fired or a casualty being reported.