Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A God-forsaken Portion

While working in a digital database, it is amazing the small caveats & unexpected coincidences a person can find. A few months ago, while researching the Civil War in the Western Theater, a letter came to light from a solider which was written to the editor of the Illinois State Journal. In the letter’s brief details, it was interesting to find Ozark connections. The dispatch was from 1st Lieutenant John Quincy Adams Floyd from the 1st Illinois Cavalry, Company F.  Floyd climbed rank quickly and was promoted from 1st Sergeant after the Battle of Lexington, Missouri, aka Battle of the Hemp Bales from September 12 - 20, 1861.1

Battle of Lexington aka Battle of the Hemp Bales
Oddly enough, this promotion came after the Union’s defeat of this battle, and the 1st Illinois Cavalry was captured. The Union quickly paroled only the officers of the unit and mustered out the enlisted men/P.O.W’s  absolving the government’s responsibility to its enlisted who were captured. This lead to a sense of abandonment and ill feelings by many soldiers.2 Nevertheless, the call for the Illinois 1st Cavalry was again announced, and John Q. A. Floyd as promoted to 1st Lieutenant.  Eventually, Floyd and about 500 men of the 1st Ill. Cav. were stationed in Houston, Missouri, under the command of Col. Thomas Alexander Marshall, Jr.; Col. Marshall was also the Illinois Lieutenant Governor.
Eventually, Floyd and about 500 men of the 1st Ill. Cav. were stationed in Houston, Missouri, under the command of Col. Thomas Alexander Marshall, Jr.; Col. Marshall was also the Illinois Lieutenant Governor.

It is John Q. A. Floyd’s letter that came to my attention. In its details, a venture was led by Lt. Floyd into Salem & Mountain Home, Arkansas. These details can also be corroborated by a memoir of a former Union soldier of the 9th Regiment Provisional Missouri Militia, Company K, John Greer Deatherage. In his memoir, John Deatherage, a pioneer of Gassville, Arkansas, claims he and other men of Union sentiment from his neighborhood of Talbert’s Ferry on the White River traveled to Salem, Arkansas, to assist Colonel Marshall and the 1st Illinois Cavalry. 3 John G. Deatherage is buried at the Three Brothers Cemetery in northern Baxter County, Arkansas.

On a personal hunch, I believe this is one of the first times that Mountain Home resident, Orrin L. Dodd, is cited concerning the Civil War. This mention is a little over 4 months before the Skirmish & Raid at Mountain Home occurred in October of 1862.

 I have decided to post John Q. A. Floyd’s letter in its entirety so that he may have a voice once more, and some of the details involving the war on the Missouri/Arkansas Stateline may come to light.

Enjoy your Ozarks' History.

Letter from the First Cavalry. 4
Houston, Texas Co. [Mo.], June 14, 1862.
Editors of the Ills. State Journal:

Sirs: Have the kindness to insert into your paper, which by the way is patronized and perused by many, if not all the parents and friends of the members of the First Illinois Cavalry.The short statement I desire too, and feel is my duty to make, in regard to the present condition of the First Cavalry, as I deem it but justice to the officers and men of the same.

I learn from private letter that our old regiment, the first mounted from Illinois, is in bad repute of our State. I understand there is a rumor currently reported in old Sangamon and the adjoining counties, that the whole regiment has become demoralized; that a great portion had deserted and gone over to the rebel ranks; while the others had lain down their arms and refused to serve in their country’s cause. I must say, in part, this is utterly untrue. Not that I have any inclination or desire to conceal any faults of the regiment, for it is at present in a very unpleasant condition. 

I shall endeavor to lay before your readers a true statement. I do not feel, at liberty to say at this time where the fault lies, but I will endeavor, to the best of my judgment, to state what the regiment is, or rather a portion of it, seven companies. Fully one-half of the members of the seven companies, are men who were taken prisoners at Lexington, Mo., in September last, and were released on their parole of honor. I will give a list of companies and the respective number of men who laid down their arms, rather than violate their parole.: Company A, Capt. McNulta, Bloomington; Company B, Capt. Proctor, Matoon, 19 men; Company C, Capt. John Warren, 18 men; Company D, Capt. J. B. Smith, Knoxville, 7 men: Company E Capt. Paul Walters, Williamsborough, 23 men; Company F, Capt. John Burnap, Springfield 1 man; Company G, Capt. Palmer, Monmouth, 27 men.  Total number of men arrested in seven companies, 95. There are many more who will lay down their arms if there is not something done. With that exception, the regiment is in a flourishing condition, and would do honor to themselves and the State if led against the enemy.
We have for the past two months been quartered in a God-forsaken portion of Missouri and Arkansas. Two companies are at this place; three companies at West Plains, Mo.; and three companies were at Salem, Ark. A band of rebels, led by one Coleman [Col. W. O. Coleman], has committed some depredations in the vicinity of Houston [Missouri], and between here and Rolla, Mo. He also took three men prisoners of company B, relieved them of arms, horses and equipment, and set the men free again. We had several scouts from Salem, Arkansas, Company F, Capt. Burnap went out on the 20th of May in pursuit of a band of rebels; came in sight of them at a point called Calico Rock, on White River; exchanged a few shots across the river; not know what damage we done them, for after they received one or two light volleys, they played their old game—ran for life. They had the boat on their side of the river, so we could pursue them no further. We had one man slightly wounded in the thigh, (Emery Debble, from near Peoria.) 

Again, on the fifth of June, Col. Marshall took parts of three companies under his command at Salem, 150 men strong, and started southwest towards Yellville, where it was reported that the rebels ranged in great abundance. The first day’s march, thirty miles, was marked by no interesting or thrilling event. We camped on a creek near the North Fork of White river, and the next day we crossed the North Fork of the White River, and continued southwest. Company F, was detailed to proceed in advance for four miles, to a Mr. Dodd’s [Orrin L Dodd]. On that march we captured a small sandy complexioned Southern gentleman, who, upon search proved to be Col. Woodside [Col. John Rowlett Woodside] of Missouri, a prominent secesh [Confederate]. 

Col. John Rowlett Woodside from Thomasville, Oregon County, Missouri, fought as a Private at the Battle of Wilsons Creek aka Battle of Oak Hills. Next, he became a Captain. Then, Gen. James Haggin “J. H.” McBride commissioned Woodside as a Colonel to recruit troops for the 7th Division of the Missouri State Guard CSA in Howell & Oregon County, Missouri. Woodside was captured three times, and he was recruiting at Mountain Home, Arkansas, when he was captured by the John Q. A. Floyd on June 1, 1862, in Marion County, Arkansas. Upon this capture, Woodside was sent to Gratiot Street Prison in St. Louis where he later posted Bond of $3,000 and gave the Oath of Allegiance on September 12, 1863. 5
      We soon after that heard of a small band of rebels, headed by Capt. Grant, being in that vicinity. When we approached near Mr. Dodd’s we discovered two mounted rebels; J. H. Sprigs [ J. W. Spring] and myself led out after them, had a pretty race of some three hundred yards, when we succeed in capturing one man, horse and equipment. About the same time, I saw a butternut in the bush near by with a good shotgun. I halted him, but he ran and I fired. I do not know wither [whether] he was hit or not, but I do know that he did drop a good shot gun, and I still have it in possession. The other two companies came up soon after. I then took nine men and went out on a scout, captured four persons in about one hour and did not get a shot; but I am sorry to say, the rule here adopted with prisoners, if not caught in arms or aiding rebels, they are released by taking the oath of allegiance. It goes hard with Illinoisans to protect the property of those we believe are at heart traitors and rebels. Thousands take the oath for no other reason than to save their property, and I know of instances where they went straight home and took up arms against us. When we were between North Fork and White river, we within a few miles of three rebel camps. Just about dusk on Friday evening, June 6, a messenger arrived with orders for our seven companies to report immediately at this post, Houston; Col. Marshall [Thomas Alexander Marshall, Jr.] to take command of this district comprising three counties. 

Just at the moment when we were in the place to do some execution in the cause we come to aid, we were ordered by Gen. Curtis to another and more dismal point. What few men we have are anxious to meet the enemy and try our skill and fortune once more, but now all we can hope to here is horse-thieving bands, who are not recognized rebel troops. Another great trouble is we have to run our horses down on the rocky hills to get one shot, and can never get an engagement unless they have ten to one. 

Our regiment is generally healthy. Many have been discharged from disability who never should have been received into the service. Company F has in the past two months lost; two men by death, Adam Southwick [Died in Rolla, Mo, May 6, 1862-Burial location unknown] and Andrew J. Thompson [Buried at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. May, 1862] both of Sangamon county [Springfield, Ill]. William E. Moore, of Adams county, disappeared about two days ago [Deserted Jun 6, 1862]. We have heard nothing of him since, and fear he is captured. 

I hope this matter of exchange will soon be adjusted, then our regiment would be ready compete in efficiency with any other army of the Southwest. I am informed that application has been made to Gov. Yates to execute the exchange. If in his power to aid, I trust it will be soon done. If it is to remain in a jail, such as at present, it is far preferable that the whole regiment be mustered out of service. This is my humble opinion. Three companies are to commence a scout on to-morrow or next day to the east and west in search of horse thieves. 

Oh, that we would again be ordered southwards to Arkansas to join Gen. Curtis’ army. Yesterday I met a gentleman who resides twelve miles south of this place, (Houston) who tells me he is a cousin to friend Wm. Herndon of your city, but I do not remember his name.

I submit this to you and your readers, hoping it will prove of some interest to the people of Sangamon. Capt. Burnap is in good health, but, like all the rest, he shows he has been out in the weather.

I am yours, most respectfully,

Lieut. John Q. A. Floyd

Co. F. 1st Ill. Cavalry, Houston Mo.

 1. "United States Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), John Q.A. Floyd, First Lieutenant, Company F, 1st Regiment, Illinois Cavalry, Union; citing NARA microfilm publication M539 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 29; FHL microfilm 881,649. 
2. United States. National Park Service. "Battle Summary: Lexington, MO." National Parks Service. Accessed December 18, 2016.
3. Deatherage, John G., Memoir, 1916, (C3268). State Historical Society of Missouri.  
4. Floyd, John Quincy Adams. “Letter from the First Cavalry.” Sangamo Journal / Illinois State Journal, June 23, 1862.  
5."Colonel John R. Woodside." SCV - Colonel John R. Woodside, Camp 203. Accessed December 19, 2016.