This is the second document and one of the most important documents concerning the Civil War in present day Baxter County, Arkansas. The focal point of this skirmish takes place at Talbert’s or Mooney’s Ferry & Landing on the White River. The Confederate’s Captain Mooney is also the man in charge in holding the confederate stronghold established to protect a saltpeter cave nearby the White River. While reading this Official Report below, you may want to take a closer look on an older Baxter County from 1919 and see the location of the Mooney Ferry.
Double click on each map to enlarge.
I hope you enjoy the report.
Expedition from Ozark, Mo., into Marion County, Ark.Report of Capt. Milton Burch, Fourteenth Missouri State Militia Cavalry.
OZARK, Mo., December 18, 1862.SIR: I have the honor of reporting to you, for the information of the commanding general, the results of a scout, commanded by me, in Marion County, Arkansas.
By permission from Captain [S. A.] Flagg, commanding this post, I took command of 40 men, composed of detachments from Companies ID, F G, and II, Second Battalion Fourteenth Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry, and, on the morning of the 9th instant, marched for Lawrence’s Mill, a distance of 35 miles. I arrived at the mill early in the night, and remained there till noon of the 10th, waiting for forage. During the time, I held a consultation with the officers of my command and those of the enrolled militia stationed at the mill, in regard to the direction we should take. It had been my intention to make an expedition into the White River country below Dubuqne, where it is said a band of marauders have a considerable number of horses. These marauders I wished to destroy or drive out, and to capture their horses; but, having received information that a rebel captain by the name of Mooney, with 75 men, were encamped at Tolbert’s Ferry, on White River, 60 miles from us, I resolved, with the advice of the other officers, to go and capture them. I received a re-enforcement of 60 men from the enrolled militia at the mill, and marched 20 miles in the direction of Tolbert’s Ferry.
The march was continued on the morning of the 11th, but, instead of keeping the road, I bore to the eastward, and marched through the wood, under the guidance of an excellent woodman by the name of Willoughby Hall. I arrived within 8 miles of the ferry by dusk, and stopped to feed and rest in the dense forest near an out of the way corn-field. During the time of our stay at this place, I sent Lient. John R. Kelso, with 8 men, to capture some rebel pickets that I supposed would be found at the house of a rebel by the name of Brixy. Lieutenant Kelso soon returned, having found and captured 2 rebels, with their guns, and 1 horse. From these prisoners I learned that Captain Mooney’s men had temporarily disbanded, and were not to assemble again for two days. I felt a little disappointed upon the reception of this intelligence, but I determined to proceed and make a dash upon a band of armed rebels that I learned were at the saltpeter cave, on the other side of White River, 7 miles from Captain Mooney’s house. At midnight my little band emerged from the dark wood, where we had been resting, and silently wound along the hills in the direction of Captain Mooney’s. Lieutenant Kelso led the advance, and, by the most excellent management, succeeded in capturing 7 or 8 rebels, who lived near the road, without giving any alarm to the country around. Just before day we captured a rebel recruiting officer by the name of Mings, formerly a lieutenant-colonel. At the break of day we reached Captain Mooney’s residence. We took him, with one other man, together with 15 stand of small-arms, most of which we destroyed, not being able to carry them. We also recaptured 8 horses, which had been taken from the enrolled militia stationed at Lawrence’s Mill.
I remained here to feed and await the arrival of a party that I had sent out, with orders to meet at this point. They soon came in, bringing several prisoners. I then sent Captain [P. T.] Green, of the enrolled militia, back with the prisoners, 17 in number, and 25 men as an escort. I then divided the rest of my command into two divisions, sending one, under command of Captain [J. II.] Sallee, accompanied by Lieutenant Bates, formerly of the Sixty-fourth Illinois, to march up the river on this side, and to await in concealment till I began the attack with the other division, which was to cross and approach from the other side.
It was just noon when we arrived at the cave. The rebels were at their dinner, all unconscious of our approach. When at last they discovered us, they mistook us for a company of their own men which they were expecting, and they did not discover their error until we were in half pistol shot of them. I ordered them to surrender, which they did, without firing a gun.
They numbered 23, of whom 3 were left, being unable to travel. Their arms were mostly shot-guns and rifles, which I ordered to be destroyed. We also captured 4 mules and 2 wagons. The wagons, however, we could not bring away; also 3 horses were taken. I ordered the saltpeter works to be destroyed, which was effectually done. These are gigantic works, having cost the rebel Government $30,000. Captain McNamar, who was in command, stated that in three days they could have had $6,000 worth of saltpeter ready for use. These works, although reported as destroyed at the time of the burning of Yellville, had been unmolested since early last spring, when they were slightly injured by a detachment from General Curtis army. The works being destroyed, and learning that a party of Burbridge’s command was hourly expected, I thought better to retire, as I was already encumbered with prisoners. I marched nearly all night through the dark woods, the rain pouring down upon us in torrents.
On the next day we advanced as far as Little North Fork, which was not fordable. Here we remained till the morning of the 13th, when we crossed and reached Lawrence’s Mills.
On the 15th we reached this place, having been absent seven days. We traveled 225 miles; captured 42 prisoners; destroyed 40 stand of small-arms; also captured 12 horses and 4 mules, and destroyed $30,000 worth of machinery, &c., and all without any loss whatever on my side.
In conclusion, I must say a word in praise of the brave men under my command. Often without any food, except parched corn, and no shelter from the chilling rains; deprived of sleep, and weary from long night marches, not a murmur was heard. Every hardship was borne with cheerfulness, and every danger met with the utmost coolness. The enrolled militia officers, Captains Sallee, Green, and [J. F.] Huffman, all did their duty well. Lieutenant Bates, of the Sixty-fourth Illinois, showed himself a brave soldier. Lieutenant Warren, of Company F, also de- serves favorable notice. As to Lieutenant Kelso, his reputation as an intrepid soldier and skillful officer is too well known to require any comment at this time. These, major, I think, are all the facts worthy of notice.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, MILTON BURCH,
Captain, Commanding Expedition.
Maj. JAMES H. STEGER,
Assistant Adjutant- General.
Burch, Milton. “Expedition from Ozark, Mo., into Marion County, Ark..” The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies 34.46 (30 June 1864): 159-161. Making of America. Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY. 30 Nov. 2010 http://digital.library.cornell.edu/m/moa.