Skirmish at Rolling Prairie

Location: Boone County
Campaign: None
Date: January 23, 1864
Principal Commanders: Orderly Sergeant Isaac T. Jones (US); Unidentified (CS)
Forces Engaged: Men from Company B, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers (US); approximately sixty unidentified rebels or bushwhackers (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 12 killed, 2 wounded (US); none reported (CS)
Result: Confederate victory

In early 1864, the northern tier of Arkansas counties of Carroll, Searcy, Newton, and Izard had been decimated by the war. This area had become a haven for jayhawkers and bushwhackers from both armies. Union general John B. Sanborn wrote to General W. S. Rosecrans in early February 1864 that 1,200 to 2,000 Confederate soldiers and bushwhackers had gathered in the aforementioned counties and were contemplating a raid into Missouri, with a view of capturing Federal trains and supplies. Sanborn then ordered 200 men of the First Arkansas Cavalry, 200 men of the Second Arkansas Cavalry, and 200 men of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry into Newton County, then to march so that they would arrive at Rolling Prairie in Boone County at about the same time.

On January 30, 1864, Major Lyman W. Brown, commanding the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers (US), reported that Orderly Sergeant Isaac T. Jones and twenty-four men of Company B, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers, were ordered, on January 21, 1864, to carry dispatches without delay to Captain W. C. Human. Human was commanding the First Battalion, Eighth Missouri State Militia, in the field in north Arkansas in Carroll, Marion, Searcy, and Newton counties. Sgt. Jones’s directions were to proceed to Ozark, Missouri, then procure a guide and proceed in a southeasterly direction to the command of Capt. Human. At about noon on January 23, 1864, while marching on the route on Rolling Prairie, then in Marion County, the Federal soldiers were attacked and charged upon by a force of about sixty Confederates. Jones and eleven other men were killed in this attack with two wounded. The Union soldiers were outnumbered and had tried to avoid a conflict with the Confederates but were unable to do so. They retreated back to their post in Missouri. There are no official Confederate casualties in this conflict, though Union officers assumed several were killed.

Union dispatches, containing plans for impending troop movements, fell into the hands of the Southerners, who used them to their advantage. Confederate captains Green, Holt, and Patten were in the immediate vicinity with 300 men but did not participate in this skirmish.

Rolling Prairie today is located north of U.S. Highway 65 in Valley Springs (Boone County), down Rally Hill Road 2.6 miles. According to the 1855 Arkansas map, it was located on the old Washington Road, which ran east from Carrollton (Carroll County) through Crooked Creek—present-day Harrison (Boone County) to Mount Pleasant—present-day Bellefonte (Boone County) to Rolling Prairie and on to Yellville (Marion County). The skirmish in 1864 was around the vicinity of the present-day Rally Hill Church.

For additional information:
Dyer, Frederick H. Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 1, Part 2. Cedar Rapids, IA: 1909.

The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 34, Part 1, p. 95. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

James Troy Massey
Harrison, Arkansas


    I read somewhere else about this that Bloody Bill Anderson was involved. My family was from there. They moved to Washington state in 1888.

    John Wright Tacoma Washington