The people of South Missouri and Northern Arkansas found travel very difficult. Passes from both the Federal government and Confederate government were required and hard to come by. Unless one wished to follow the "Trail South". This is just one of several trails that have been described over time as having been the way to cross the military no man's land of the region. This and other similar trails were known as the "Secession Railroad" and the "Chip Road", so called due to the chips of bark from the blazes marked on the trees with axes.The following story was found on the web. Military documents support the identity of the escapees as well as the event itself. The escape from Camp Douglas in 1863 by three members of the 10th Texas Infantry, and their journey back to Texas The storyteller is Thomas Brooks Willingham, and his compatriots were his brother Isaac, and Seargent Norman S. Clardy..Norman Clardy was the brother of Martin Clardy who commanded Clardy's Battalion later in the war.
Escape from Camp Douglas
March - May 1863 , Camp Douglas, near Chicago to central Texas
THOMAS BROOKS WILLINGHAM
On December 6, 1895, Tom prepared a written statement of his war experience for his daughter Mae. We quote: "In December, 1861, I joined the Confederate Army. I belonged to Company I, Tenth Texas Infantry. I was first stationed at Virginia Point, Galveston. During the summer my company was ordered to Arkansas. We marched from Milligan, Texas, to Little Rock, then on to Duval's Bluff on White River. Here we stayed one winter. We were transferred to Arkansas Post where a battle weas fought and we were all captured, January 11, 1863. We were put on transports (Tom was on the "Sam Gaty") on the Mississippi and taken to Alton, Illinois. There we were transferred to stock cars and carried to Camp Douglas prison, Chicago.
"I stayed at Camp Douglas prison sixty days until March 28, 1863. On that date my brother Isaac, our orderly sergeant, Norman S. Clardy (brother of Martin Linn clardy), and I gave the guard four dollars each (twelve dollars) and he helped us over the prison walls. We did not walk two miles from the prison that night. For every time we made a start we would find ourselves in a neck of land on Lake Michigan and we would have to retrace our steps. Ice was everywhere. Finally we built a fire and waited for morning. The next morning each of us had a popcorn ball for breakfast and started to walk on the Chicago and Alton railroad tracks. We had twelve dollars left. At Joliet, Illinois, we got on a train and gave the conductor all our money and told him to carry us as far as he could. Yanks were sitting all around us. We passed through Springfield, Illinois at daybreak. The station platform was blue with yankee deserters who were going back to the Union Army because President Lincoln had issued a proclamation pardoning all deserters who returned by a certain date. The conductor put us off at Carlinsville, below Springfield. Again we walked on the Chicago and Alton tracks nearly to St. Louis, but avoided all large places, and turned to Lilly's landing on the Mississippi and a small boy rowed us across in a skiff. Clardy offered him fifty cents or a gold pencil for his trouble. The boy took the fifty cents. Another day of walking we reached the home of Clardy's uncle, Jeptha Johnson, near the old mines in Washington county, Missouri. He kept us hidden in his loft three days and bought us shoes and other articles of clothing.
"Jeptha Johnson put us on the Chip Trail. This trail was made by Confederate sympthizers by riding through the woods and cutting three chips on the east side of the trees. In this way we dodged through Missouri, avoiding all towns. Whenever we lost the trail we would hunt until we found it again. The Chip Trail was (also) called the Secession Railroad.
"Another favor of Jeptha Johnson was to tell us of a friendly place to spend the night about twenty-five miles away (as far as we could walk in a day). This party would tell us of another place to spend the night - this was the way we got through Missouri.
"Later we passed near Fayetteville, Arkansas, and found the Old Line Road. Near Dardenelles, Arkansas, we met a train of empty wagons going to Little Rock for supplies for Price's army. Isaac joined them and went to Little Rock. Clardy and I walked on to Clarksville (on Cutland Creek) to my aunt's house (Mrs. Lewallen). I spent two days there. My uncle offered me a pony to ride home but I thought I could walk faster.
"I came straight towards Dallas. I spent the night about two miles from Dallas with an old couple. I think their name was Cole. When I told them I had no money they said that did not make any difference.
"The next morning I stopped at the Crutchfield Hotel, Dallas, on the corner of courthouse square on the banks of the Trinity River. I was directed to the Cedar Hill road. From Cedar Hill I went to Buchanan. Clardy left me there for his home. I reached Kimball, Bosque County,May 10, 1863.
"In September, 1863, my father gave me a horse and I joined the Fifth Texas Partisan Rangers, commanded by Col. L. M. Martin. I was in the Indian territory and in Texas hunting deserters until the close of the war. I was discharged at Richmond, Fort Bend County, Texas May 1865.
This is an excerpt from:
"The Life and Labors of Enoch Mather Marvin"
by Rev. Thos. M Finney, D. D. St. Louis 1880
"The place (Webster) was on the line of the route from St. Louis to the South during the war for all contraband travel and freight.....It was the route of transportation for passengers and for supplies, which consisted chiefly of medicines and clothing. It was also the mail route and the grapevine telegraph ran along here. The line is between two and three hundred miles long.
To this point it passed west of Hillsboro through Richwoods and Force Re Nault, ten miles west of Potosi and leaving Webster two miles to the right.
"From here it passed over to the headwaters of Big River; down the middle fork of the Black, called Adam's fork; on through Reynolds county through Centreville;"
" and Barnesville; (Barnesville was located approximately 2 miles west of Logan Creek) thence into Carter county crossing the Current River at House's ford and ferry, five miles west of Van Buren and thence entering Arkansas in Fulton county by two routes; one via Alton and the other through the Wilderness, (Wilderness Trail started near the head of Pike Creek)as it was called reaching the final terminus at Jacksonport, on Black River"