Expedition from Rolla, Missouri, to Batesville (February 29–March 13, 1864)
Several squadrons of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) gathered at Rolla, Missouri, and rode more than 200 miles between February 29 and March 13, 1864, to join the Union garrison at Batesville (Independence County).
Colonel William D. Wood of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry ordered Squadrons A and M of the regiment to leave their post in St. Louis on February 10 and take the train to Rolla, where he and the headquarters staff joined them on February 15. Squadrons B, C, E, and G under Major Lymon W. Brown left their station in southwestern Missouri and joined them the next day. After gathering supplies and drilling the troopers for several days, the Federal expedition left for Batesville on the afternoon of February 29.
Traveling between five and thirty miles a day, the Eleventh rode toward Arkansas through southern Missouri, finding little forage for the horses and considering the terrain “very broken, barren, and destitute.” After a thirty-mile march, they reached Arkansas on March 8 and camped on the south fork of the Spring River in Fulton County, where Wood reported “roads better; country less broken and hilly, but presenting an unbroken field of desolation and ruin; houses and fences burned up and inhabitants fled the country.”
They reached Izard County on March 10 and were able to acquire “about 200 bushels of corn, a small quantity of sheaf oats and fodder.” After hearing there were guerrillas in the area, Wood sent twenty men of Squadron E under Lieutenant Zachariah E. Thomas out “with instructions, if found, to either kill or capture them.” The Federal party did encounter a small group of bushwhackers and chased them, killing two men, wounding another, and capturing one. Wood reported that “1 of those killed was a negro desperado known as Wildwood Jack.”
The expedition continued toward Batesville the next day, with foraging parties seeking supplies in searches reaching five or six miles from their line of march “without any particular beneficial results.” They reached the Union base at Batesville at 11:30 a.m. on March 13. The six squadrons of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry would conduct frequent scouting and anti-guerrilla expeditions out of Batesville until being transferred to Jacksonport (Jackson County) on April 17, 1864.
For additional information:
Hewett, Janet B. et al., eds. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Vol. 35. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1996.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 34, part 1, pp. 153–154. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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