Scenes Of The Southwest

The information in this record was taken from an old history book published in 1889. "THE CIVIL WAR IN SONG AND STORY", 1860-1865, BY Frank Moore, who was also author of the "Rebellion Records And The American Revolution."


The following narrative of a recruiting expedition into Arkansas given by Engineer L.G. Bennett, who left St. Louis in April 1863, in company with William M. Fishback, who authorized by General Curtis to raise a Regiment among the loyal Arkansasians.

The party started for Cassville Missouri, intending to make that place their point of departure for the journey into the mountains, as the road to Cassville is intersected several times by a limpid stream called Flat Creek, it was very muddy from recent rains. On the road, four great strapping girls were over taken, who were footing it from Newton County to Cassville. The girls kept up and occasionally out stripped his ambulance, occasionally the vehicle would get the start on a level stretch of road, and the girls would fall behind. Coming upon a deep ford, the colonel with gallant intentions halted his ambulance until the girls came up and politely offered to convey them to the opposite bank, in his ambulance. " O! no", said one, and they leaped into the boiling current. Although the creek was only waist deep they soon emerged dripping on the opposite bank, the modest colonel was completely non-plussed by the adventurous Amazons, the damsels were soon half a mile in the distance singing, "o did you see my sister."

On arriving at Cassville, intelligence was received that Fayetville, our advance post in Arkansas, was ordered to be abandoned and that the Federal Troops were on the retrograde march into Missouri, this information put a damper on recruiting in that section and the party returned to Springfield. It was resolved to penetrate Arkansas by way of Forsyth on the White River, and a rather formidable Company was made up, and a few Arkansas fugitives numbering eighteen in all, armed to the teeth under command of Colonel Fishback, the White River was reached by the recruiting party about a mile above Forsyth. The river was swollen by recent rains and the prospect of crossing seemed dubious, the region was in possession of Rebels, and infested with Secesh sympathizers, it was getting toward night . A Butternut individual was discovered on the opposite shore. After halting the stranger on the parleying sometime with him, it was agreed that one of the party should cross and perfect arrangements. KELLY, an adroit ma n, volunteered to go over, and a boy paddled over in a dugout, to get him. Kelly and the boy started in the dugout, to crossover, before they reached the other side, three more men appeared on the opposite bank with muskets and revolvers "ready cocked", Their movements were closely watched, and our men rested their rifles across logs, and with steady aim intended to blaze away in case a hostile move be made on Kelly. The later was allowed to land and had a long conference, in which he represented his party as bushwhackers, and had been chased by federal authorities out of Missouri, and were on their way south. This artful story was credited, and the boat was permitted to bring over the balance of the party, which had to be done one at a time making some eighteen round trips. It was consequently late at night before all got over. In swimming their horses four were drowned. The men who so readily assisted the party across turned out to be among the worst class of bushwhackers in the region, "one was HENDRICK! " who had hanged and shot a number of loyal men in Ozark and Stone Counties, Missouri and another was named BIRD, who was also a noted desperado, being a horse thief and a murderer, he and his gang had cleaned out every loyal family on Bull and Swan creeks in Taney County Missouri, after depopulating that section for miles around, on taking leave of these desperadoes next morning, the kindest wishes of success of our party were expressed. A list of rebel leaders was given where the party would be welcome and receive assistance in their journey through out the country.

Proceeding three miles further, zep popped a picket from the side of the road and ordering the party to halt. Demanded who they were and their destination. The ever prompt KELLY was sent forward, and after a brief explanation made all things satisfactory to the picket. The picket said he was from St. Louis, and was among forty prisoners who escaped from the guard house at Springfield, on a dark rainy night. He was asked why he was stationed at that out of the way place, and he replied pickets were stationed in these places to kill mountain Feds as they were called. Who were in the habit of fleeing from Arkansas to Missouri and that ten more pickets were concealed in the brush. His credulity was so far over come that he gave the party the rebel password, it consisted of whistling three times like a quail. He said that by making that noise they would not be molested when they ran across any of their men. If any one was in the act of firing, he said, just whistle the signal as directed and the fire locks wo ud drop instantly, KELLY soon became proficient in making the desired signal.

The bald tops of the hills were clothed with light verfue and spinkled with flowers, they descended from the hill country into the long piece of woods. The last picket had given the locality of the pickets to avoid a strongly posted picket guard some fourteen miles ahead, the travelers held a council and resolved to leave the main traveled road by this detour they intended to circumvent the picket guard. On leaving the main road they were among the hills again, and after traveling a whole day ascending and descending the hills they merged at night on the road, and found that they had advanced but five miles. The next morning the blankets were tied to the saddles and the party mounting their horses determined to leap the road and run the risk of encountering the pickets when they got sight of the latter instead of meeting with opposition the cowardly pickets mounted their steeds and precipitately fled to Carrollton, the county seat of Carroll County, sixteen miles distant. The pickets spread the alarm tha t the Missouri enrolled Militia was coming in full force.

They followed the pickets and camped within eight miles of Carrollton; procuring a few ears of corn, which was parched for supper. In order to avoid the rebel bands who were patrolling the country it became necessary much of the time to travel in the woods, over mountains and through rocky ravines, away from the settlements, ignorance of the geography of the country kept the party so long on way their scanty supply of hardtack was exhausted, hogs and cattle were plentiful, one of their party a rocky mountain hunter exercised his agility in lassoing a fat steer without exposing their position by a shot. The Colonel one day came up to a cabin, inquired of the butternut owner if he had any cornbread to spare. No! said the butternut don't raise much of nothing down here crops are poor casting a glance over in a small enclosure bristling with weeds, Colonel thought he discovered something resembling onions inquiry was made of the man if he had onions to spare and the answered reckon not. Presently his barefoo td better half who had been listening I reckon its injuns he is after, "o" said butternut its injuns youre after, I low we can spare you a heap of them, and the Colonel returned to camp with an abundant supply of injuns. To regale his half famished command not far from Carrolton was found one LEWIS, a most wicked rebel, with an oath and protection papers in his pockets Colonel WEIR of the tenth Kansas boasted that all along he had made it his business to hunt and help to hang, and rob Union men, or oblige them to flee the country. Under the idea that the party were Southern men piloted them eight miles on the way. That they thought there was no such man as KELLY in the Kansas Jayhawkers. Volunteers were flocking in by the score and in ten days a company of ninety six was formed. WILLIAM BRASHEARS an Arkansanian as Captain, KELLY as first Lieutenant: other expeditions were planned, many horses, guns and prisoners taken and much property recovered which had been captured from Union men. Word finally came that an xpedition of three hundred rebels were coming from Dover, County seat of Pope County to break up BRASHEARS Company, the boys retired to favorite positions among the mountains and for two days awaited their coming. At length word was brought from what was deemed a reliable source that the rebels had returned. Capt BRASHEARS having business at home and not expecting danger, with four men in the company was proceeding to the transaction of his business when suddenly he was among the entire Secesh force. They chased him over a mile, wounding him several times and finally killing him. One of Captain BRASHEARS companions made his escape, and other was killed and others were captured and hung after enduring many tortures, and fiendish harassments disgraceful even to savage Indians, and repulsive to be related. The neighbor women were not even permitted to bury the dead bodies without being threatened and insulted. Mention has already been made that Captain VANDERPOOL was recruiting in the neighborhood of Jaspe r, one morning the citizens of Jasper were surprised to find a force of two hundred rebels under Captains MITCHELL, LOVE and SISEL, in their midst, and four or five of VANDERPOOLS recruits were captured. The Captain was in the immediate neighborhood but his men were scattered, and it was impossible immediately to collect them. Eighteen however were near at hand, with this handful he did not hesitate to attack them. Approaching the lower part of the town and covering the men behind rocks and fences and trees, and not under destructive fire was poured upon the enemy, and they were glad to seek the cover of the neighboring hills. But VANDERPOOL'S men were then beginning to collect and retreat was ordered. At the crossing of Hudson creek, their boys gave them a few more rounds, scattering them in every direction. Leaving the dead behind. Our party met with no losses except the prisoners captured early in the morning. An expedition was planned to make a raid on the section of Clarksville and the Arkansas River, and about sixty men were collected for the enterprise. One of BENNET'S recruiting officers resided south of the river. The recruiting officers crossed the river, but nothing has been heard from them since. The acquaintance was formed of Captain SAMUEL FARMER, who resided near the head of Mulberry some party had been but a few minuets of his when some of his smaller children went to his hiding place weeds and informed him that a party of Federals were at the house, the Captain soon made his appearance and with tears of joy made them welcome, saying that any thing he had was free. Such demonstrations of friendship deterred the boys from meddling with even his bees, and the bold fellow had to take the lead in opening two of his hives of honey for the boys. Cornbread and bacon were served liberally. For the first time since the scout, the boys got enough to eat. The Captain said he was an early settler of Arkansas and formerly represented Carson County in the state Senate, at the breaking out of the secession t roubles he d taken an open stand in favor of the Union, and in the elections preliminary to the convention, and steadily voted against succession by the action of the convention, (not the people).

Military Companies were ever raised for the South and quite early one of MR. FARMER'S neighborhood, he had served in the Mexican and Florida wars and more recently in the Indian war in California and Oregon and his Military experience and qualifications were known. At once every device which rebel ingenuity could invent was brought to force him to service. Flattery, threats, promises of high pensions and the personal influence of Governor RECTOR in a measure his scruples, and he was made Major of HILL'S Fifteenth Arkansas Regiment the work of drilling and preparing the regiment for duty devolved entirely upon him.

During PRICE'S occupation of Springfield, in the winter of 1861-1862 his regiment was stationed at Elm Springs under MC CULLOUGH.

PRICE'S rapid retreat before General CURTISS called for help from McCULLOUGH and with other forces met the retreating Missourians of Sugar Creek where a stand was resolved upon. All remembered results of that skirmish in which the Federal Cavalry under CARR and BOWEN charged so vigorously the rebel horses, foot and artillery set them ahead set them in a headlong flight. The impetuous squadron of cavalry in measure removed from FARMER'S eyes, the scale of which Lexington, Wilson Creek and Bull Run had placed over them. He saw the arm of the National Government was not yet raised, but was capable of felling to traitors powerful blows.

At Cross Hollows, PRICE who outranked McCOLLOUGH determined to make a stand, to this the latter was opposed, and so serious was the quarrel between the two leaders that the council of war was called to settle the difficulties and adopt a policy. FARMER was the only one of that council who sided with MC COLLOUGH. He admitted the strength of the position, provided CURTISS was foolish enough to attack in front but stated the topography of the country was such that their position could be easily turned and predicted that the next thing the Federals would be on the Rebels flank. Sure enough the next day SIGEL was at Osage Springs threatening PRICE's flank and rear and nothing was left for them to do but resume the skedaddle, to the Boston Mountains where McCOLLOUGH wished to remain and received CURTIS' attack. Here VAN DORN the chief command, which soon culminated in the battle ridge. At this battle Colonel HILL and his Lt. Colonel early ran away from the fight taking a small part of the regiment with them bu t Major FARMER kept the remainder in their places from where BEN McCULLOUGH was killed, he was the first man to aid him after he was shot. About ten minutes before McCULLOUGH fell, they were together reconnoitering the federal position. The thirty sixth Illinois formed in Line for a charge, and when the breeze unfolded the stars and stripes to view Major FARMER'S love for the flag returned and turning to McCULLOUGH he said, "This was the last battle and the last time he would ever raise his hand against that flag." The scene and such surrounding circumstances in the thunder of a great battle an expression from one he highly esteemed effected even McCULLOUGH, and he asserted that it was a trying ordeal for him to fight against that once honored flag. He was among the last to leave the field at Elkhorn at the rebels final retreat. FARMER shortly after tendered his resignation, which after many delays was granted and he returned to his home.

Shortly after the Conscript law was put into force and at public meeting I his neighborhood, he denounced the measure with all of his powers. Though not daring to avow himself a Union man, yet he predicted that such arbitrary measures would drive the people of Arkansas to rebel against the rebellion. He compared the helpless condition of Arkansas after the battle of Pea Ridge, to the valley of dry bones; and his conviction that a wind would blow from the north and that bone would seek its bone, and the whole becoming a living mass and truly this was come to pass in the present up rising of the people of Arkansas, and the development of a Union sentiment there; Bone is seeking its bone all over the south.

Three of his sons came with in reach of the conscription act and to avoid it they sought safety among the neighboring crags of the mountain woods. They were hunted like wolves and one of them shot down by a rebel guard; and though this occurrence was a year ago he was still almost helpless from the effect of the shot. The Father and sons by hiding in the woods thus far escaped the provisions of the act and hailed us his dearest friends, and benefactors. He stated that there was a large number in the neighboring mountains who were hunted the same way.

The Captain was advised to form a company and join the Federal Army and if he ever expected Arkansas to be free and restored to the Union he must help to do it. He could not expect others to do that which more intimately concerned him. Said he, "Will the Federals receive me after the part I have taken against them?" Having been satisfied in regard to this he avowed his intentions to immediately raise a heard from the company numbered over 60 with him as Captain with other equally as loyal as Lieutenants. When last heard of his company numbered 103 men. Nearly every day the formation of this company expeditions were planned and executed against the secessionists. For arms and ammunition and horses for his men. At one time a few of his boys entered Clarksville captured a rifle from one BASHAM which cost $150.00 also a horse valued at $1000.00. This BASHAM was a noted Secessionist and had been lieutenant Governor of the State. On another occasion, Lt. MIDDLETON with but one companion came suddenly Captain B IRCH and three soldiers and demanded their surrender, both parties prepared for a fight, but after a long parley BIRCH and his men surrendered, Captain BIRCH was a splendid Sharps cavalry rifle and all were mounted on good horses, MIDDLETON would scarcely take $1,000 for his rifle. One day Captain FARMER was alone at a blacksmith getting his horse shod for a journey and not dreaming of any thing being with in many miles of him, he heard a rustling in neighboring corn field but paid no attention to it until suddenly he was fired on by 40 men. The bullets cut his clothes and tore up the gravel all around him but he was not hurt, he dashed into a neighboring thicket losing his hat in the flight, shots were poured after him and a number of rebels pursued among whom was Captain BIRCH, whom he had kindly treated and released but a few days before, after promising not to molest Union people again. Captain FARMER had a rifle and a pistol with him but the rifle misfired, but with the pistol he scratched the Captain in the face, and nearly cut his ear from his head, of course the forty men made a hasty retreat, forgetting even to take off the Captain's horse, they joined the other forces of their band, consisting in all of 150 men. The Captain soon met seven of the boys and gave the alarm while he went to collect the remainder of his men, the seven secreted themselves in a corn field and fired into the whole secesh crowd as they passed along, killing two and wounding one. The seceshs prepared to make a charge into the corn, but another round from the hidden foe put the whole crowd to flight, leaving five dead and two wounded in the road. The seven among whom were two of FARMER'S sons, chased the rebels to Clarksville.

Article transcribed and submitted by Pat Hardison

Reprinted at Genealogy Today with permission. (Granted Jan. 11, 2002)

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