Scout from Ozark, Missouri, to Dubuque Crossing and Sugar Loaf Prairie
The scouting expedition from Ozark, Missouri, to Dubuque Crossing (Boone County) and Sugar Loaf Prairie (Boone County) was conducted to determine whether any Confederate soldiers were threatening a detached outpost of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) at Ozark.
Company D of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) was sent to man an outpost at Ozark, Missouri, in July 1864 and was “engaged in scouting through a rough country, guarding against a surprise by the enemy.” A detachment of one officer and twenty men was sent to Arkansas on August 23, 1864, on such a mission.
The Arkansas troops ventured to Dubuque, then crossed the White River and went another ten miles to Sugar Loaf Prairie. Captain John C. Bailey reported to Brigadier General John B. Sanborn that the scouts found “no force of the enemy moving in this direction” and that Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby was in Batesville (Independence County) with 2,500 men.
Shelby had been operating in eastern Arkansas throughout the summer of 1864, with one of his goals being to force the many bands of irregular troops that flooded the area into either the Confederate or Union armies, on pain of death. Bailey reported that some of these conscripts were “deserting him faster than he can gather them up” and that a band of sixty-five such men was down to twelve, “which is no doubt correct, since bushwhackers are quite numerous through a portion of the country which my scouts pass through.”
Bailey reported that his scouts had returned on August 26 and that he had sent another party back to Dubuque the same day. Noting that Captain Jackson Ball, whose company of the Sixteenth Missouri Cavalry (US) was raised around Ozark, was supposed to be heading in the same direction, Bailey asked if that would ease the need of the Second Arkansas to continue such scouts, since many of his horses were in poor condition.
The captain also wrote that the Ozark area was becoming depleted of resources, with his men having to give their horses scarce water in buckets and traveling more than ten miles to find forage for the animals. The Second Arkansas troops would leave Ozark at the end of August, reporting that Company D had collectively marched 1,460 miles during their two-month posting there.
For additional information:
Hewett, Janet B., et al., eds. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 2. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1994.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, part 1, p. 273. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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