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History The Civil War

   

The Civil War in the Ozarks, 1861-1862

The Civil War years in the southern Missouri Ozarks were a sad and bitter time. Arkansas seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy, while Missouri remained in the Union. The Ozarks were a kind of "No Man's Land" where neither side really ruled. Some people sided with the rebels, others with the Union.

 

Families were uprooted from their homes, towns and farms were burned, and some men were forced to go to war for causes they didn't believe in. It was a time of scarcity in the countryside as bands of soldiers, guerrillas and horse thieves roamed the hills stealing whatever they could from farmers. Many people left the area, and many towns were deserted.

When the Civil War began in 1861, the Confederates were strong in the area. They occupied Springfield after the Battle of Wilson's Creek and had a base in West Plains. The West Plains Confederates ordered all families with Union connections to leave their homes in Howell County and surrounding areas and go to Rolla, where Union troops were camped. Of course, not everyone left. Douglas and Ozark counties had many people with strong pro-Union feelings. They formed Home Guard units for defense. 

There were numerous skirmishes in the area. Two small battles were fought near Bryant Creek, including one at Vera Cruz. A small Union cavalry force was ambushed by rebels on March 6, 1862, on Fox Creek seven miles southeast of Vera Cruz. That same Union calvary, reinforced, fought the same rebels two days later and took 21 prisoners. 

In February, 1862, Union forces drove the Confederates out of Springfield. Other Confederates narrowly escaped a Union force at West Plains. In November, 1862, a large rebel force advancing from Arkansas burned a Home Guard military post at Clark's Mill five miles north of Rockbridge on the Vera Cruz Road. The horses and guns of the small Home Guard force were taken. After that, the Home Guards built a fort named Camp Baker at the center of Douglas County. By the end of 1862, the Union forces held most of the state. However, guerrillas and thieves continued to make life dangerous and difficult for the few settlers remaining in the area. 

 

In This Section

The Battle of Clark's Mill Includes an historical map of the area.

War Along The Bryant
The story of John Hutchison, Missouri's last Civil War veteran.

Hutchison Memorial Ceremony: Civil War re-enactors honor Missouri's last Civil War veteran.

Across Time and The River: An Ozarks native goes on a journey into his own family's history.
   
 
  Sources: The Civil War in Missouri - Day by Day 1861-1865, Carolyn M. Bartels. 
"The Civil War In The Ozarks" by James A. Holmes, in A History of Ozark County 1841-1991, published by the Ozark County Historical Society. 
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