Hi Bruce -
WOW!!!! Thanks very much (!!!!!!!!) for your posting on this. I found the O.R. account on my Ancient Guild Press CD last night:
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 8 [S# 8] pp. 336-339
MARCH 13, 1862.--Action at Spring River, Ark.
Report of Lieut. Col. Samuel N. Wood, Sixth Missouri Cavalry.
Houston, March 15, 1862.
I arrived here last Saturday, March 8, from Rolla, and was joined the same night by Major Drake, Third Iowa Cavalry, and 130 men. Sunday was spent in making preparations for our expedition. Monday morning I wrote you, but as I have received no answer I much fear my messenger has been captured. I wrote you that 50 of Colonel Coleman's men were in the county when we came, but had gone south on our approach; that he and Colonel Woodside were in camp 20 miles south of Thomasville, reported at 600; that I had several men down with the mumps, and was compelled to leave them here, and thought it best to leave a few men here to hold the place, but dare not go west and leave my men here and Major Drake's at Salem, with Coleman and Woodside so near us on the south, and had determined upon an expedition south first. I therefore left this place Monday morning, with 250 men, in the direction of Thomasville. Tuesday evening we arrived at that place, a distance of 54 miles. I found that Coleman and Woodside, and also MacFarlane, were camped near the Spring River Mill, each with a portion of a regiment, trying to consolidate them into one regiment.
Wednesday at daylight we started in pursuit. Ten miles out we encountered their pickets, badly wounding one. Pressing on, at noon we arrived at their camp, to find that during the previous night it had been deserted. Passing 5 miles beyond, we came to the Spring River Mill, in the edge of Arkansas. Just before arriving at the mill our advance guard ran upon a squad of secesh, supposed to be Coleman's men; killed 2 and wounded 4. At the mill I had the wounds dressed, fed our horses, released our prisoners as an incumbrance, and pushed on west, a part of the time in Arkansas and part in Missouri. At 9 o'clock we camped, having traveled 40 miles. At daylight started again on the trail of the rebels, whom I had reason to suppose were 10 miles west, and had been re-enforced 100 men. Two miles, and we again encountered their pickets, but my advance guards failed to capture them. Ten miles brought us to their camp, but again deserted, and from all appearances in the greatest haste. Provisions were left, and even breakfast uneaten. Being satisfied they were not far in advance, I cautioned my advance and flankers to be on the alert to prevent surprise, and pushed on about 5 miles farther. I heard sharp firing in advance, and supposing my advance had encountered the retreating rebels, I galloped forward to find my guard engaged with the whole rebel force, estimated at from 600 to 1,000. They had taken a strong position in one of those pest-holes of creation, an Arkansas swamp, and we within 4 rods of them. Just then a ball struck Sergeant Rottaken and knocked him from his horse.
Turning, I found my whole battalion, including the howitzer, at my side, followed by Major Drake and the Iowa Third. Our sudden appearance seemed to paralyze the enemy for a moment, and knowing that everything depended upon immediate action, I ordered the howitzer into position to shell the swamp. I also ordered the men of my battalion to dismount, every fourth man to take the horses to the rear. I also ordered Major Drake to the right of the swamp. This order was obeyed in an instant, and the men advanced upon the enemy. Sergeant Moody threw two shells, but I noticed too high for those in our immediate front. By this time the enemy rallied and poured upon us a deadly fire. My bugler, who was at my side, fell from his horse. Young Watt was killed instantly at the cannon. Pierce, another one at the cannon, was badly wounded. Young Kendall fell mortally wounded. First Lieut. R. H. C. Mack, of Company A, whilst leading his men bravely forward, fell mortally wounded. Several others were wounded. Turning, I rode to the howitzer and directed Sergeant Moody to load with grape and lower his piece. Just then my horse was pierced by two bullets, but Sergeant Moody instantly obeyed the order, when the rebels broke in the greatest confusion, my men on foot advancing from tree to tree. The enemy at this time attempted to retreat, but were met by a charge from the Iowa boys on the north, which drove them back into the swamp with a loss of 20 prisoners and a large number of killed and wounded. Two prisoners belonging to Major Bowen's battalion were also released. Among the prisoners is a nephew of the celebrated Jim Lane, of Kansas.
Had we been able to pursue the enemy into the swamp our triumph would have been complete, but Major Drake's men had no carbines and I could not use them on foot. Sergeant Moody informed me that he was out of ammunition for the howitzer, and I was also informed that my men in the swamp were also nearly out, some having fired 30 rounds, with which they were provided. I sent to the ammunition wagon, but was pained to find that it broke down 2 miles back on the road. The battle had lasted over an hour. I immediately ordered a wagon back for ammunition and another to collect our dead and wounded; which done, I ordered the men to fall back to an open space, with a small field between us and the swamp.
Soon after the enemy were re-enforced by 250 men from Salem, Ark., and the enemy again made their appearance in the swamp. Our ammunition came, but one box (1,000), marked "Hall's carbine," proved to be musket cartridges, and entirely useless. I then held a hasty consultation with my officers, all of whom agreed that an effort to clear the swamp against such fearful odds and the consequent loss of life on our side was not expedient, especially as half of our men had not arms that could be used to advantage. I then formed both battalions in the field for battle. Every fourth man of my battalion was detailed to hold the horses. I took their carbines and those of the dead and wounded and armed all of the Iowa men possible and ordered them forward, also the howitzer, supported by about 50 of the Iowa Cavalry. I then ordered the quartermaster to load the dead and wounded and start our wagons back. Our boys made a brilliant charge, Iowa and Missouri vieing with each other in bravery. The enemy had advanced to and were sheltered by the fence and our men had to advance through an open field, but our men advanced through a terrible fire, drove them from the fence and back into the swamp, Sergeant Moody throwing shell and canister by turns with terrible effect. The enemy having again disappeared I ordered the men to retire, which they did in good order, when we commenced our march back to Missouri.
Our loss was 3 killed and 12 (1 mortally) wounded, all of whom we brought with us. The enemy's loss we could not ascertain, but know it to be very large. Prisoners taken report among the dead Colonel Woodside. They also say that one shell killed and wounded over thirty. The grape told with terrible effect; besides, scores dropped before our carbines as our boys advanced from tree to tree, whose dead bodies lay in the swamp. I am satisfied their loss is not less than 100. This I regard as a small estimate. As to their numbers, they reported 600 when below Thomasville. In their retreat for 35 miles everybody had joined them. THEY CERTAINLY HAD 100 MEN AT THE SIMMONS PLACE, WHERE THEY CAMPED THE NIGHT BEFORE THE FIGHT, (emphasis mine - KEB) and were re-enforced 250 during the fight, making near 1,000 men according to their own estimate.
Had it not been for the causes set forth above I am satisfied, in a swamp as it was where no human being would go to fight, it would have been a complete rout. As it was I regard it as a signal victory, and feel confident Southern Missouri is now cleared of the traitors. The Union prisoners we released were taken within a few miles of Rolla---one of them within 7. I am very strongly impressed with the importance of keeping a force here for the time being to watch the south. At least I shall be compelled to do so at present to provide for the sick and wounded, who cannot be moved. A squad of cavalry has been to Mountain Grove, 25 miles southwest, and the country is certainly clear of rebels west. Yet if I get no counter orders I will send a scout in that direction Monday.
I cannot close this communication without testifying to the gallantry and bravery of both officers and men in our late fight. Where all did so well to make distinction is invidious, yet I must mention Adjutant Cutler, of the Third Iowa Battalion, who bravely stood by my side; also Major Drake and Lieutenants McDannal and Horton, of Company I, and Lieutenant Cherrie, of Company K, Third Iowa Battalion, who did their whole duty. That they were not in the thickest of the fight was no fault of theirs. Horses could not charge into the swamp and I could not use them on foot without carbines. Lieutenant Mack entered the Army last summer as a private, and died nobly leading his men to victory. Sergeant Horine deserves especial mention for his coolness and daring. Sergeant Moody, of Company A, also deserves much praise for his daring. His bravery alone saved our howitzer. The fire of the enemy had driven almost every man from his position, even the One with the rammer; and a determination being manifested to take the piece, Sergeant Moody rammed a canister in with his saber, touched it off, and scattered all before him. Lieutenant Wood, of Company B, although his first fight, led his men into the thickest. Corporal Moore, with John Gartland to load, fired his carbine sixty-odd times, half of Which was after being severely wounded. Captain Hopper, of Company C, and Captain Spillman, of Company D, bravely led their men into action. Sergeant Rottaken, of Company D, after being knocked from his horse, immediately recovered, fell into the ranks, and was among the bravest. Young Stein, of Company C, was shot through the leg, put his hand to the wound a moment, but returned the fire in time to kill his assailant.
But I could fill a page with such acts of heroism. I only mention those who came under my own notice. We commenced the fight at 10 a.m. Thursday; left the field at 2 p.m., and arrived here this evening, having traveled 190 miles in six days, driving Coleman, Woodside, and MacFarlane into an Arkansas swamp, and, as I hope, completely used them up. I inclose a list of killed and wounded.(*)
I have the honor, colonel, to be, your obedient servant,
S. N. WOOD,
Lieutenant-Colonel Sixth Mo. Cav., Comdg. Expedition.
Commanding Post, Rolla, Mo.
P. S.--Captain Miller, left in command here, and acting provost-marshal, deserves credit for the ability with which he has performed his duty. I asked the people last Sunday of this county who were loyal citizens and wished protection to come in and take the oath. Over 400 out of a voting population of 800, and the banner secession county of the State, have been in and taken the oath. Another week and secession is squelched in this part of Missouri.
S. N. WOOD.
Bruce -- I will attempt to obtain copy of Dr. Barker's memoir via Clark Kenyon/Camp Pope Bookstore ASAP...!!!!!!
THANKS (!!!!!!!!!!) once again for your scholarship, time, and VERY kind help on this family history mystery!!! It boggles my mind that a genuine CW battle apparently took place on my Simmons ancestor(s) farm!
Wonder if any Arkansas State CW archaeologists might be interested in a little microhistory project.....???