Civil War marker effort is under way
Will commemorate engagement near MH

Jul. 23, 2013

Kevin Bodenhamer hopes by this fall Baxter County will have a marker in place commemorating an 1862 Civil War engagement that occurred just west of Mountain Home off AR Highway 178. It’s part of a joint effort by three local historical organizations for the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial.

The Oct. 17, 1862, skirmish occurred near what then was Talburt’s Barrens during an expedition by cavalry troops of the 14th Regiment Missouri State Militia and the Missouri Enrolled Militia — 225 men in all — from Ozark, Mo., to Yellville. The expedition was from Oct. 12-19, but was stopped by a sudden rise of the White River that led to the Union troops retreating to Missouri when they learned of a large Confederate force advancing on them from the east. The night skirmish involved the Union troops‘ rear guard and a Confederate battallion.

Bodenhamer is a history teacher at Norfork and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, 27th Arkansas Infantry Camp 1519, which is one of the groups working on the marker. Also helping are the local chapter of United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society.

He told The Bulletin they’re in the process of completing the application to the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. The Civil War Sesquicentennial marks the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, 1861-1865. The commission wants to place a marker in each of the state’s 75 counties to tell of a Civil War event that occurred there.

According to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report, commission member Mark Christ of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program said 34 counties don’t have markers or haven‘t yet applied, although some — such as Baxter County — are in the process. Marion County has a marker for Camp Adams, which was located near Yellville.

Other area counties that are in the process or haven’t yet applied include Fulton, Stone and Newton.

Bodenhamer said they plan to add the marker to other war memorials on the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn in downtown Mountain Home. It’s intended to be a two-sided marker with an account of the engagement along with a listing of those involved in obtaining the monument.

According to historical records, the Twin Lakes Area was the scene of several minor engagements, most related to Union efforts to seize or destroy Confederate saltpeter mines in the area. Saltpeter was used in the making of gunpowder. Talbot’s Ferry — near where Gaston’s White River Resort is located today, according to Bodenhamer — played a key role since both sides needed it to cross White River. Bean’s Cave on Bennett’s Bluff, one of the main saltpeter works, was the site of several raids and attempted raids.

What happened

According to the official report of Major John C. Wilbur of the 14th Missouri Cavalry, he was dispatched from Ozark to raid Yellville on Oct. 12 with 225 men with the intent to “by vigorous onset get possession of the town, burn all the supplies collected there for the army … secure all the property possible for the use of our army, and then fall back to Ozark by forced marches.”

With the White River unfordable, Wilbur’s force headed for Talbot’s Ferry, but found scouts “posted on all the hills, watching our movements, and couriers flying in every direction, giving intelligence of our approach.” On Oct. 15, Wilbur’s troops camped about 10 miles from the ferry at Person’s Ford. During the night, he reported, he he learned from a prisoner and women who came to the camp that Confederate forces were on their way from Yellville to surprise them. Wilbur said in his report he dispatched 50 men to the ferry to stop any crossing and the next morning moved his force to Talburt’s Barrens — now Mountain Home —to await word from a spy he’d dispatched to Yellville. He learned a Confederate force of about 2,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry was moving from Pocahontas to Yellville and was about a day’s march away.

Wilbur said he decided it would be “imprudent” to let the approaching force get between him and Ozark. After seizing about 50 horses, five wagons and teams “and a considerable amount of other property useful to the army,” Wilbur began their retreat the night of Oct. 16. About 2 a.m. on Oct. 17, Wilbur’s rear guard of 25 men was attacked by a battallion of Col. James R. Shaler’s Confederate troops, who got between the retreating Union force and the rear guard.

According to Wilbur’s report, the rear guard, commanded by a Lt. Mooney, charged the enemy lines and broke through. This would have been west of what is now Mountain Home. Although the lieutenant was wounded, his troops made it through without a loss. Wilbur said it was estimated there may have been 10 Confederates killed.

Bodenhamer said they need to raise $1,300 to pay for a two-sided marker, and that the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will match it. Anyone who would like to make a donation or help with the project can contact Bodenhamer at 424-4477; John Crain, commander of Camp 1519, at 425-6754; or Vince Anderson, president of the BCHGS at 425-2551.

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