Scout from Patterson, Missouri, to Cherokee Bay

Union troops in southeastern Missouri regularly ran scouting expeditions in that area and into northeastern Arkansas in search of Confederate troops and guerrillas; the scout from Patterson, Missouri, to Cherokee Bay (Randolph County) in Arkansas was typical of such operations.

Captain Abijah Johns of Company A, Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry (US), led a small force of troopers from Patterson on January 23, 1864, toward Cherokee Bay, a term used loosely by Union commanders to describe the area between the Black and Current rivers in Randolph County.

At some point, the Third Missouri cavalrymen—including some described as “swamp scouts”—ran into a party of twenty men led by Colonel Timothy Reeves of the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry (CS), a Baptist preacher whose troops frequently clashed with the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry. Johns’s troops charged and killed four Confederates and, as Captain William T. Leeper reported, “chased Reves [sic] for miles, and run him into the river”—presumably either the Black or Current. No other Confederate soldiers were encountered during the scout.

Johns returned to Patterson on January 27, and Leeper wrote of the nearly 300-mile scouting expedition that “this was a bold dash for 24 men.”

Johns incorrectly reported that Confederate troops under Colonel Robert Shaver had lost an attack on the Union post at Batesville (Independence County), with Shaver being killed, and that the Federals had abandoned their post at Jacksonport (Jackson County), leaving it to be occupied by rebel troops under Brigadier General Dandridge McRae; they would not leave Jacksonport until May 26, 1864.

Johns led at least one later patrol into the Randolph County swamps, leading to the May 8, 1864, Skirmish at Cherokee Bay.

For additional information:
Blevins, Brooks. A History of the Ozarks, Vol. 2: The Conflicted Ozarks. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019.

Mobley, Freeman K. Making Sense of the Civil War in Batesville-Jacksonport and Northeast Arkansas, 1861–1874. Batesville: P. D. Publishing, 2005.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 34, part 1, p. 103. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 04/20/2022

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