Scout from Elkhorn to Berryville

The Scout from Elkhorn to Berryville is typical of small-unit actions in which detachments of Union troops patrolled areas of northwestern Arkansas in search of the bands of guerrillas that were active in the area.

Colonel John F. Phillips of the Seventh Missouri State Militia Cavalry ordered Captain Thomas W. Houts of Company A to take seventy-five cavalrymen from their camp at Elkhorn Tavern on the Pea Ridge battlefield and patrol in the direction of Berryville (Carroll County). Houts and his troopers left on the evening of January 8, 1863.

As they approached Berryville, the Missouri cavalrymen surprised a group of guerrillas near Berryville and attacked, killing ten men, while one bushwhacker, though wounded, escaped. In his report to Brigadier General John M. Schofield, who was commanding the Army of the Frontier, Phillips wrote that “they were clothed and armed with Federal uniforms and arms, and mounted on good horses, all of which fell into our hands, except one or two horses killed in the melee.”

Houts’s force proceeded into Berryville and found no enemy troops, with Phillips writing “all is quiet, as far as can be learned, to the east of that point.” The Federal troops returned to Elkhorn Tavern at 6:00 a.m. on January 10.

Phillips also informed Schofield that Brigadier General John Sappington Marmaduke had attacked Springfield, Missouri, on January 8 but was repulsed. The Union colonel sent a squad of men to assess damage to the telegraph lines between Elkhorn Tavern and Springfield; while Phillips was concerned that “our [supply] trains on Rolla [Missouri] road are in danger,” Marmaduke was actually in full retreat toward Batesville (Independence County).

For additional information:
Piston, William Garret, and John C. Rutherford. “We Gave Them Thunder”: Marmaduke’s Raid and the Civil War in Missouri and Arkansas. Springfield, MO: Ozark Studies Institute of Missouri State University, 2021.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 22, part 1, p. 213. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1888).

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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