Courtois Hills of the Ozarks

Courtois Hills of the Ozarks
The sub-regions of the Ozarks (from Rafferty, The Ozarks: land and li

Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Visit of Soldiers to County Not Welcome

More Excerpts From:


Within this book are many stories and the majority are reprints of articles written for The Current Local Newspaper-Van Buren, Carter Co., Missouri, under the byline:


The Thirteenth Illinois Volunteer Cavalry was organized at Camp Douglas, Illinois, in December 1861, by Colonel J.W. Bell. After organization the regiment moved to Benton Barracks, Missouri, where it was armed and equipped. The 13th Cav. took to the field, in February 1862 and was on duty in southeast Missouri until June 1, 1862, when it joined General Curtis' army, at Jacksonport, Ark. And this is the military unit that the citizens of the Current River Region would be dealing with at the time this story took place. Jim

September 17, 1931

First Visit of Soldiers to County Not Welcome

Early in April 1862, Captain MacCameron[1] with a company of sixty soldiers entered the north part of Carter County, and leaving the State Road[2] at the Shade Chilton farm came west to Current River at the John Chilton (John J. Chilton’s father) farm.  John Chilton’s children were planting corn near the river at what was then known as the County Road Ford[3].

The children were Shade Chilton, 15 years old, and five others ranging in age down to nine years old.  The writer, (John J. Chilton) only four years old at the time, was there.  The people of the community were expecting the soldiers, and when they rode into the river Shade Chilton started to warn Isaac Baker[4], Sam Burnham[5], Sam Hanger[6] and Baty Chitwood[7], who were working on the next farm up the river.  He ran about sixty rods[8] through plowed ground while they rode out of the river and up to the fence.  The writer can yet see how their blue uniforms and weapons flashed in the sun and their fine horses glistened as they ran through the field.  The boy had never been chased before and he thought the soldiers much closer upon him than they actually were, so, he crawled under a log where one of the pursuers discovered him.  Bringing him out from his hiding place they forced him to guide them to the farm for which he was headed.

They arrived at the farm just after the noon hour, and, Mr. Burnham had started plowing.  Mr. Baker was cutting corn stalks[9] and cleaning up the land.  He discovered the soldiers in time to slip behind a large tree.  Mr. Burnham’s coat was on the opposite side of the tree and a soldier came and got the coat and, when they had gone up to Mr. Baker’s house he slipped away unnoticed, and going up on a hill, he watched the soldiers until they turned back.  Sam Hanger and Baty Chitwood, working in another part of the field, discovered the raiders in time to slip away.

The Federals returned to our home and released Shade Chilton, and asked my mother numerous questions, but got little true information.  From there they went down river to the next farm, known as the Woods Mill[10] at that time, and camped.  After dark, some of them saddling up to ride around some that night when one of the men, thus engaged, discovered a man nearby and asked, “Who comes there?”  The man replied with a shot, which took effect in the soldier’s wrist causing his death four days later at Greenville[11].  Believing they were being attached by an enemy in the dark, the soldiers stampeded and fled about a half mile down the river to what is now the Brokaw[12] farm, where they formed a line of battle and remained in line until near daybreak, when Captain Owen Hawkins[13] and Captain Ponder.[14], with a band of Rebels, located them and sent they scurrying back to Greenville.

The local citizens, who first fired on the band, left the scene in an opposite direction from their homes, rode a mile or so and left the road one at a time, so that the enemy could not track them, and met again in the woods, then returned home in time to get some sleep before daylight.

[1] Capt. MacCameron has not been identified. In March of 1862 FRED’K STEELE, Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers communicated with Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK about the logistics of a movement being made toward Pitman’s Ferry. He mentions the following: “Three squadrons of the Fifth Illinois Cavalry are waiting here for the return of their baggage wagons, which were sent forward with supplies, the supply train not being sufficient to keep the troops in advance provisioned. The other three squadrons of that regiment are at Greenville, having been sent as escorts to trains and as guard to the depot. I have detailed the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry, four squadrons, under Colonel Bell, to guard the depot at this point and at Greenville” I believe that our elusive Capt. MacCameron will belong to one of those two mentioned military organizations.
[2] See map exhibit in the addendum
[3] See map exhibit in the addendum
[4] Isaac Baker lived on Henpeck (1827-1865) eldest son of Nathaniel Baker and Hettie Morris, married Sarah Gallion (Galyon) in 1849. Sarah was the older sister of James Gallion who was killed with Joshua Chilton, et al
[5] Sam Burnham came from Connecticut sometime before 1845 when he married Sarah Catherine George they had two children before Catherine died in 1855. Sam married the second time to Martha Elizabeth Bingham. Sam served in the MSG in 1861-1862.
[6] Sam Hanger was a merchant/farmer/teamster. Son of David Hanger and Polly Leslie of Washington County, Sam had been born in Virginia in 1822. Sometime in 1848 Sam married Mary Jane Thornton. Mary Jane was a first cousin to Isaac Baker above. Her parents were the late John Thornton and Hannah Morris. After John Thornton’s death Hannah married Landon Copeland, father of William Copeland who, along with co-proprietor Sam Hanger, had the store at “Logan’s Creek” some two miles below Barnesville. 
[7] Morgan Beatty “Baty” Chitwood was the son of the late William Chitwood and Cecilia Whitecotton. His brother, William Chitwood, would on December 25, 1863, be captured at Pulliam’s Farm in Ripley County and then die in the Alton military prison the next month.
[8] The rod is a unit of length equal to 5.5 yards, 5.0292 metres, 16.5 feet, or 1⁄320 of a statute mile. Thus, 60 rods = 60 x 16.5  or 990 feet or 330 yards.
[9] Corn stalks had to be removed from a field before it could be replanted. Typically the stalks were cut and hauled to the area where livestock were to be fed and were commonly known as “fodder”.
[10] Wood’s Mill is believed to have been near where Mill Creek enters Current River. See map exhibit in addendum.
[11] In a message to Missouri State Guard General Sterling Price in February, Confederate General Van Dorn talks about the federals having captured Greenville and were in the process of fortifying the camp.

The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 8, Page 748-749
HDQRS. TRANS-MISS. DISTRICT, DEPT. No. 2, Jacksonport, February 7, 1862.
General STERLING PRICE, Commanding Missouri Troops, Springfield:
DEAR GENERAL: I am sorry that I am compelled to postpone my visit to your headquarters. I learn this morning that the enemy have taken possession of Greenville in such close proximity to my depot and base of operations that I must stay here to look to it. It is said that a regiment of infantry, three companies of cavalry, and a section of artillery are there as an advance guard to other troops moving down from Fredericktown, and that it is the intention to fortify at that point. I must not let them make a lodgment so near to me. I have ordered back Colonel McCarver’s Arkansas regiment to Pitman’s Ferry; have ordered down Col. M. C. Mitchells regiment from the neighborhood of Yellville, Colonel Le Moyne’s regiment from Little Rock, and will gather together such troops as I can in this vicinity to oppose this attempt of the enemy to seize so desirable a position. I shall order General Pike to take position in Lawrence County rear you, say Mount Vernon, with instructions to cooperate with you in any emergency. He has, as he told me, about 8,000 or 9,000 men and three batteries of artillery. Three of his regiments are, I believe, whites. The others half-breed Indians, etc. All true men, he says. I will try to raise an army here (Jacksonport). McCulloch and McIntosh I will move to Pitman’s Ferry and Poplar Bluff. I hope you will be enabled to increase your command to 13,000 or 15,000 men by the 20th of March, when I desire to open the campaign, and earnestly hope that I can. I have called en Arkansas for 10,000 men, say I get 5,000. I have called on Louisiana for several regiments, say I get three (2,500.) I have called on Texas; several fine regiments there already organized, armed, equipped, and disciplined. One on Red River of 1,100 men en route to join me; say from Texas 2,000 men by the 20th. MeCulloch’s will have 10,000. This will give me here 5,000 + 2,500 + 2,000 + 10,000 19,500. Artillery added, say 20,000. You will have, I hope, 15,000; Pike, 10,000. With these, can we not hope to take Saint Louis by rapid marches and assault? But we will speak further of this when I have the opportunity to visit you. So many mistakes have occurred during this war by the similarity of flags that I have had a battle-flag made, one of which I send you for our army. Please have one made for each regiment of your army, to be carried in battle. Hoping soon to have an opportunity to see you,
I am, general,
very sincerely and respectfully,
your obedient servant,
EARL VAN DORN, Major General.

The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 8, Page 636
PILOT KNOB, Mo., March 23, 1862.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK, U. S. A.:
GENERAL: The Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry and the Sixteenth Ohio Battery marched from here this morning to join the advance at Doniphan or Pitman’s Ferry. Three squadrons of the Fifth Illinois Cavalry are waiting here for the return of their baggage wagons, which were sent forward with supplies, the supply train not being sufficient to keep the troops in advance provisioned. The other three squadrons of that regiment are at Greenville, having been sent as escorts to trains and as guard to the depot. I have detailed the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry, four squadrons, under Colonel Bell, to guard the depot at this point and at Greenville, or wherever it may be established, and to escort trains between these points. The squadron of Illinois cavalry, under Captain Dodson (Dodson’s and Huntley’s troop), I shall take with me into the field. We have received 75 wheel mules and some teamsters from Saint Louis, and shall be able to get up an efficient supply train immediately. We have no ammunition for the batteries except what is in the boxes of the caissons and limbers 200 rounds of mixed ammunition. This is half the usual allowance for a campaign, and might not be sufficient if we should intrench ourselves at Helena. This did not occur to me until I inspected Captain Mitchell’s battery. He has four 6-pounder guns and two 12-pounder howitzers. Captain Manter has a 4-gun battery. I do not know whether either one is a howitzer. I know nothing about the small guns in possession of one of the cavalry regiments. If ammunition should be sent here, it could be forwarded to me immediately.* I have been informed that all the prisoners of war taken by the rebels in Missouri and Arkansas are confined in the penitentiary at Little Rock. I could not ascertain whether or not there was any force at that place besides a prison guard. I think General Curtis will have another battle soon. If Van Dorn should be defeated again he may turn his attention to my command. I do not anticipate much resistance this side of Helena. It is reported that they have been building ironclad gunboats on the Lower Mississippi.

Very respectfully, general,
 your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers.
[12] Brokaw farm: The map exhibit is a portion of the Carter County Assessor’s tax Plat. The small squares are approximately one mile by one mile. The Brokaw farm was said to be “a half mile down the river”.
[13] Captain Owen Hawkins remains unidentified at this time. John J. Chilton may have been referring to Sergeant James “Owen” Hawkins who served in the 12th Regiment MO Inf under the command of Col. Ponder.
[14] Captain Willis M Ponder was later promoted to Lt. Col. of the 12th regiment MO Infantry. He was from Ripley County.

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