Skirmishes at Mud Town and Gerald Mountain

aka: Fayetteville Expedition



Benton and Washington Counties


Fayetteville Expedition


August 24, 1864

Principal Commanders:

Captain James L. Powell (US); unknown (CS)

Forces Engaged:

Second Arkansas Cavalry (US); unknown (CS)

Estimated Casualties:

3 killed, 1 wounded (US); unknown (CS)


Union victory

Keeping the main road from Springfield, Missouri, to Fayetteville (Washington County) open was a major task for the Union troops under the command of Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, stationed at Springfield. The road was sometimes called the Wire Road, as the telegraph line ran along the road. Keeping the telegraph line in operation was a task that kept repair crews frequently on the road. Traveling this road frequently were the subsistence and ammunition trains, mail carriers, regular and irregular troops from both sides of the Civil War, civilians, and guerrillas.

On August 23, 1864, members of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) left the Big Springs near Cassville, Missouri, on an expedition to Fayetteville. Their orders were to guard a subsistence and ammunition wagon train traveling along the Wire Road to Fayetteville. They proceeded to Little Sugar Creek in Benton County and camped. The next morning, August 24, the train lumbered slowly along the Wire Road and passed through Cross Hollows (Benton County).

Two miles farther along was Mud Town, present-day Lowell (Benton County), consisting of two stores and a tavern where stage coaches stopped before the war. Troops for both sides of the conflict either camped or passed through the town frequently. Mud Town was the site of a poisoning of forty-two men of the Benton Hussars U.S. on February 20, 1862. The men ate food and/or drink left by Rebels at Mud Town. One Union officer died of the poisoning. It is not clear if the poisoning was deliberate.

As the subsistence and ammunition train reached Mud Town, ninety-five guerrillas attacked the train. A sharp skirmish broke out, but the members of the Second Arkansas Cavalry were able to drive the Rebels away. Union losses were two men killed; Confederate losses were unknown.

The supply train continued along the road with some men of the Second Arkansas alongside and behind the train. Captain James L. Powell, with Company F of the Second Arkansas, proceeded ahead. The train traveled three more miles and reached Gerald (or Fitzgerald) Mountain in Washington County. At this point, Capt. Powell heard shooting. He ordered the infantry to guard the advance of the train and the cavalry to follow him.

When Powell reached the action, twenty-five or thirty Rebels who had been concealed on his left attacked the rear of the train. The guards at the rear of the train gave way, and the Rebels dashed upon the wagons, firing upon the teamsters and mules. Powell opened fire on some Rebels who were shooting a wounded man. As soon as Powell started shooting, the Rebels began to retreat. Powell followed them as they retreated to a mountain on the east. He followed them for a distance but did not want to travel too far from the train.

Powell and the men of the Second Arkansas proceeded ten more miles to Fayetteville, reaching it on August 24. Powell reported that one man was killed, one was shot in four places, and one government mule and three horses were lost at Gerald Mountain. The Second Arkansas started from Fayetteville for Cassville on August 27, throwing out flankers on each side. No further interactions with Confederate troops occurred.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 41. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Carolyn Yancey Kent
Jacksonville, Arkansas


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