Enjoy your Ozarks' History.
Many people may give little notice to the Ozarks when taking survey of the Civil War. Even though this region was considered sparsely populated, the bloody conflict raged through this area. The local Twin Lakes Region on the Missouri-Arkansas state line was plagued with scouts, skirmishes, and raids that were staged from the Union counties of Missouri. The main counties that harbored the Unionists were made up of Ozark, Howell, Taney, Christian, and Greene Counties.
Bandits, Jayhawkers, and Bushwhackers fed their own lust by taking advantage of the weak and defenseless. Raiding was so common by roving bands of guerrillas that is was difficult to determine, at times, which side they were on. For this cause, the term “Bushbuzzard” became a combined term of “Bushwhacker” & “Jayhawker.” The pendulum of justice was set off course many times by agitators stirring for blood feud and neighbors attempting to recompense a just vengeance. Yet, the atrocities great war that embroiled south of our state-line occurred equally in Southern Missouri counties.
In reviewing the records of time, Baxter County did not exist until 1873 and was previously divided into Marion, Izard, and Fulton counties. Many of the men in this area of Northern Arkansas were conscripted in the Arkansas 27th Infantry during the late summer of 1862.
The northern White River region in Arkansas was ferreted out by the Confederacy because of the vast amounts of potassium nitrate lying in the strata of local bluffs and caves. This nitrate or saltpeter was a key component used in producing gunpowder.
An urgent communique was sent on August 7th, 1861, from the ‘Fighting Bishop’ Major-General Leonidas Polk, C.S.A. to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
|The ‘Fighting Bishop,’ Major-General Leonidas Polk, C.S.A. & the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis.|
One of the first encounters in the Baxter/Marion County area took place on the White River. Its genesis originated in February, 1862, when the 4th Iowa Cavalry received initial orders to leave their state and rendezvous at Benton Barracks in St. Louis. Their goal was to become a part of General Curtis’s Army of the Southwest in the extreme northwestern county of Arkansas.
This narrative was chronicled by William Force Scott who wrote The Story of a Cavalry Regiment: the career of the FourthIowa Veteran Volunteers : from Kansas to Georgia, 1861-1865.This is their story:
By March 10, 1862, initial training was over, and the regiment mounted and prepared to move over 300 miles to the extreme northwestern portion of Arkansas. The Cavalry trudged through their first stage, about one hundred miles, to Rolla, Missouri. The way was encumbered by inexperience, pouring rain, and bad roads.
From Rolla, the 4th Cavalry progressed down the road through Waynesville, Lebanon, and on to Springfield, Missouri. After a few days in Springfield, the detachment continued on to Arkansas traveling the Military Road which passed by the battlefield of Wilson’s Creek; a few years later, this would also be called the Old Wire Road due to the telegraph lines that were threaded along its path. Soon afterward, they were assigned as Union reinforcements on March 26 on the Pea Ridge Battlefield. After arriving there, General Curtis believed the 4th Iowa was no longer needed so they marched back to Springfield. The men were enamored by the never-ending debris on the battlefields, shattered trees and buildings, and the abundance of fresh graves.