Skirmish at Mountain Home

aka: Yellville Expedition

Location: Baxter County
Campaign: Yellville Expedition (October 12–19, 1862)
Date: October 17, 1862
Principal Commanders: Major John Wilber (US); Colonel J. R. Shaler (CS)
Forces Engaged: Fourteenth Regiment Missouri State Militia, 100 men of the Missouri Militia (US); Seventh Division of the Missouri State Guard (CS)
Casualties: None killed, 1 wounded (US); 10 killed, 20 wounded (CS)
Result: Union victory

In late 1862, the Civil War along the Missouri-Arkansas border degenerated into a series of skirmishes and small raids. One of these raids was conducted by Major John Wilber in October 1862. Union brigadier general Francis Herron ordered an expedition commanded by Wilber to advance from its post at Ozark, Missouri, to Yellville (Marion County), the headquarters of General James McBride, commander of the Seventh Division of the Missouri State Guard. The intention was to surprise the Confederate force stationed at Yellville, burn or capture supplies, take prisoners, and then return to Missouri.

Maj. Wilber, commander of the Fourteenth Regiment Missouri State Militia, took 125 men from his command and an additional 100 men of the Missouri Militia and advanced into Marion County on October 12, 1862. Once the small force reached the north bank of the White River, it was unable to cross due to the river’s sudden rise. It then advanced eastward toward Talbot’s Ferry. Word had since spread about the Union expedition, and the surrounding area was swarming with Rebels. On the night of October 15, the small Union command encamped within ten miles of the ferry at Pierson’s Ford. On the morning of October 16, Wilber ordered his force to Talbot’s Barrens—later known as Mountain Home (Baxter County). A spy informed Wilber that a Confederate force of 2,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, and four pieces of artillery commanded by Colonel J. R. Shaler, the new commander of the Seventh Division after Gen. McBride’s resignation, was advancing toward Yellville. Upon learning this information, Wilber abandoned the idea of raiding Yellville, as he did not want his tiny command pinned against the swollen White River. After confiscating fifty horses, five wagons and their teams, and other contraband useful to the army, Wilber ordered a retreat that began at 8:00 p.m. on October 16. At 2:00 a.m., a rearguard of twenty-five men led by Lieutenant Mooney was cut off from the main body by a battalion of Shaler’s Confederates. Mooney led a charge through the blocking Confederates, reaching the Union main body without the loss of a single man, though Mooney was severely wounded. Wilber reported that the Confederates lost approximately ten men killed and about twenty wounded. The Union command returned to Ozark on October 19. This raid, while not significant, typified the small-scale actions along the border during this time.

For additional information:
Ingenthron, Elmo, and Kathleen Van Buskirk, eds. Borderland Rebellion: A History of the Civil War on the Missouri-Arkansas Border. Ozark Regional History Series. Branson, MO: Ozarks Mountaineer, 1980.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 13, pp. 318–319. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1885.

Clement Mulloy
Arkansas State University–Mountain Home


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