Wild Haws Expedition

aka: Strawberry Creek Expedition

Location: Izard County
Campaign: Wild Haws Expedition (a.k.a. Strawberry Creek Expedition)
Dates: March 10–12, 1864
Principal Commanders: Captain Edward Lawler, Company K, First Nebraska Cavalry Volunteers (US); None (CS)
Forces Engaged: Company K, First Nebraska Cavalry Volunteers, Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry (US); None (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); None (CS)
Result: Union objective completed

Ordered to screen the movements of Colonel W. D. Wood of the Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry through the Izard County area, Captain Edward Lawler of Company K, First Nebraska Cavalry Volunteers, moved through Wild Haws (Izard County) to the Strawberry River (named “Strawberry Creek” in the reports) before returning to Batesville (Independence County) from March 10 to March 12, 1864. While completing this assignment, no enemy contact was made.

On March 10, 1864, Capt. Lawler received orders to move with a detachment toward Wild Haws, which was renamed LaCrosse (Izard County) in 1869. Lawler’s detachment, whose strength was not identified in official reports, was to aid in the movement of six squadrons from the Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry under the command of Col. Wood as it moved through the region to the Polk (or Poke) Bayou headwaters in Izard County or possibly as far as Evening Shade (Sharp County). Additionally, Lawler’s command was given permission to track and destroy any targets of opportunity.

Leaving Batesville at 11:30 a.m. on March 10, the First Nebraska rode toward Wild Haws. Setting up camp one mile south of that location, Lawler dispatched a detachment to sweep the area before nightfall. As no enemy forces were detected, the command traveled to the Franklin (Izard County) post office to gather intelligence the next morning. Hearing that 100 Confederates were encamped at “Strawberry Creek”—most likely the Strawberry River due to the location of Franklin post office to the river and not Strawberry Creek near Bull Shoals (Marion County)—Lawler rushed his troopers there to find the camp site empty. After scouting parties found no clear traces of the direction the Confederates traveled, Lawler’s command turned to locate Wood’s column. While en route, Lawler was informed that some twenty Confederates were believed to be between his front and Wood’s command. Camping on the night of March 11, Lawler hoped to trap these Confederates between the two Union forces in the morning, but they could not be found on the morning of March 12. As directed, Lawler’s command joined Wood’s column temporarily. Seeing that he was not needed by this time, Lawler broke from the column and moved the First Nebraska back toward the White River to search for enemy forces in that region. Following the river, Lawler’s command arrived in Batesville during the night of March 12.

As the primary objective of Lawler’s movements was to screen the route of Wood’s command, then this operation was a success. The failure to make contact with the enemy was common for many operations. Journals and diaries kept by soldiers reveal long periods of boredom and the drudgery of repetitive tasks such as riding patrols and standing guard without contact. Overall, this expedition is very common for the types of movements in this region.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 34, Part I, p. 161 and Part II, pp. 548–549. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Derek Allen Clements
Black River Technical College


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