Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The First Raid & Skirmish at Mountain Home, Part 4

Note: I will be posting an Ozark Civil War series on this post for the next several weeks.  These articles can also be found on the Baxter Bulletin every Monday.  Some articles in the Bulletin have been edited down to fit the word count requirements for the newspaper.  These articles will be posted here every Tuesday; they are posted here in their entirety with pictures & links.
Enjoy your Ozarks' History.

Before reading Part 4, make sure to read Part 1, 2 & 3.

As the skirmish of Mountain Home quickly ensued, the divided Americans exchanged deadly blows in revenge of their loyal friend, Maj. Methvin, and the property stolen from defenseless women. According to the Official Reports, “Lt. Mooney[Union], seeing he was cut off from the column, ordered a charge, which was made with such impetuosity and gallantry by his little band that he succeeded in carving his way through their lines without the loss of a man, though the lieutenant himself was severely wounded. In the melee, some of our men were dismounted, but all succeeded in riding out a horse; if not their own, an enemy’s.” 

The soft lead that had splintered into Lt. Reuben Pickett Mooney’s hand was quickly extracted and bandaged. He would not be permanently maimed, and he would fight in other battles in this bloody struggle. This incident served to remind him of the frailty of life as his 40th birthday was approaching by the next week, the 25th of October. Nevertheless, he would have the opportunity to spend his birthday celebration with his wife at his home in Christian County, Missouri. The following week he would be transferred to the 4th Regiment Cavalry in Greene County, Missouri.  Lt. Mooney would honorably serve the Union for the duration of the war until he resigned his commission on July the 4th, 1865. Mooney would eventually live to be 90 years old.

After the mayhem had subsided on Tucker Flats, the Confederate losses seemed considerable. Union estimates were not exact, but the reports claimed that not less than 10 Confederate men were killed and 20 were wounded. As the skirmish subsided, the Union had captured 25 soldiers with their weapons. Unfortunately, Maj. Methvin’s hope of immediate rescue quickly eroded away.
According to historian Mary Ann Messick, 14 brave men were laid to rest on this prairie a few yards from a small spring on Tucker Flats. The dead were buried where they had fallen. These fallen soldiers had experienced the hardships of war, the dearth of necessities, and the lack of water. Now, their struggle had been quickly snuffed out so close to home on Marion County soil.

The custom of the time would be for the captured prisoners of war to bury their fallen comrades. By the early morning light, picks, shovels, and spades were issued out for the burial detail. The soldiers were buried with as much respect that was allowed, since the Union cavalry was in earnest to cross the Missouri line to safe haven. The fallen would rest in the raps of death on the slope of the Arkansas rolling prairie they had once called home. It only seemed poetic to leave them there by this cooling spring.
Group picture with Eugene Reed (center) owner of the property, the Wiggins Battery, and myself (left) at the location of the skirmish & the Reed Confederate Cemetery.
It was only the last evening, the village of Mountain Home had been robbed of their fall harvest, livestock, and provisions for the coming winter. Now, their circumstances were tragic, and the future looked foreboding.

On the morning of October 18th, 1862, the Union cavalry carried their stolen bounty off Tucker Flats and headed north. By the morning light, it was tallied that they had captured 25 men and the same number of arms. Maj. Methvin’s only chance of salvation would be at least three days away. In the lapse of time, his journey would pull him far from rescue and the reach of his friends. 
As the cavalry headed back north, they were no longer pursued with their plunder, and they would make it back to Ozark, Missouri, in two days, on the 19th. The 125 men of the raid from the 14th Missouri Calvary rested and fed their wearied horses. The 100 men of the Missouri Enrolled Militia, from Douglas and Ozark County in Missouri, went to their respective post, Fort Lawrence, in Douglas County. At least 50 of these militia men would face a battle in a few weeks. In this next battle, they would lose & surrender on their own soil at the Battle of Clark's Mill, near Vera Cruz, in Douglas County Missouri. This historic county seat, Vera Cruz, was located approximately 10 miles east of the current county seat of Ava and 30 miles north of Gainesville. 

Once at post headquarters in Ozark, Maj. Methvin, C. S. A., was placed in the custody of the Provost General. The next morning, the 20th, the decision was made to transfer him to the prison in Springfield, Missouri. Before the transfer was made, Methvin was stripped of his officer’s commission papers. This was another disappointing blow because the rank of a Confederate major was worth up to forty Union privates.  Therefore, without his papers, the necessity for the Union to use him as a bargaining chip in the trade of prisoners was miniscule; he no longer had status or rank.

While Maj. Methvin lay sick with fever in the military jail, no pardon was issued on his behalf at the Ozark Post in Christian County, Missouri. The decision was made to transfer him to the military prison in Springfield, Missouri, on the 19th of October. His journey further into the North had just begun. Over the next few months, Maj. Methvin would not only feel as a castaway, alienated from his family & friends, but his distance from them would increase.

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