Thursday, July 29, 2010

Battle of Massard Prairie - Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle and Sentinel, October 5, 1864

The following appeared in the Augusta, Georgia, Chronicle and Sentinel on October 5, 1864, and quotes an obvious eyewitness account that appeared in the Meridian, Mississippi, Clarion. Both were Confederate newspapers. The account describes the Battle of Massard Prairie, which was fought at Fort Smith on July 27, 1864:

...The fighting took place five miles S.E. of Fort Smith, in Mesard Prairie. The Lincolnite forces consisting of the "Kansas Sixth" and the so called home guards. The first has long been a "crack" regiment, alike noted for its ferocity, fanatacism and brutality. Gen. Gano divided his Texans into two bodies, while the Choctaws formed a third. One held in person on the center, whilst the others executed a flanking movement on either hand.

Advancing to the summit of an eminence where Yankee balls were whizzing all around him, Col. Folsom prevailed on his Choctaws to accompany him over a broad space to the face of the enemy. The other bodies charged simultaneously, and the robbers finding themselves previously assailed on front and on both flanks commenced a skedaddle from the rear, whilst others fought with desperation, until assured of quarters, when they surrenders. - Many of our men clubbed with their guns and dealt stunning blows; several guns were in this way broken. One hundred and twenty-seven were captured and about sixty killed. The pursuit was kept up to within two miles of Ft. Smith. The number of the enemy's wounded could not be ascertained. Our men obtained a rich booty - 200 Sharp's rifles, 400 revolvers, hundreds of excellent saddles, a considerable number of over coats and many other things.

Note: If you are interested in learning more about the Battle of Massard Prairie, please visit or consider my book on the encounter. It is available on this page.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Battle of Massard Prairie - Fort Smith New Era of July 30, 1864

Note: Next Tuesday will mark the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Massard Prairie at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Over the next few days, I will be posting a series of accounts of the battle that appeared in newspapers, both North and South, in the days and weeks following the engagement. If you are interested in reading more, my book on the battle can be ordered on this page. You can also visit my webpages on Massard Prairie at

Fort Smith New Era (Unionist)
July 30, 1864


Last Wednesday, July 27th, about sunrise a strong force of rebels under Geneal Gano, consisting of the 30th, and part of the 31st regiments Texas Cavalry, Col. Well's battalion, and Folsom's and Walker's regiments of Choctaws of Cooper's brigade, in all, about two thousand men, made an attack upon a battalion of the 6th Kansas cavalry, numbering about 200 men and commanded by Maj. Mefford of that regiment on Mazard prairie, about seven miles from town.

Our men fought most heroically against overwhelming odds, retreating slowly towards town and contending every inch of ground. They were however, at last completely surrounded and overpowered and a number taken prisoners, among whom were Maj. Mefford and Lt. De Friese. Ten of our men were killed, 15 wounded; the rest fought their way through.

The rebels lost 12 killed and 20 wounded.

As soon as the news of the attack reached Headquarters, Col. Judson, 6th Kans. Cav., hastened to the scene of the action with a mounted force, but found that the enemy had left an hour and a half before his arrival. He pursued him five miles across the mountain, ascertaining that he had nothing except the prisoners and what could be carried away on horses. The Colonel then halted and sent five scouts forward until they came up with the enemy's rear, which they reached about 3 o'clock p.m., near the crossing of the Poteau, about ten miles from the camp. The colonel then returned to the camp and found that the enemy had burned about three fourths of the camp and had left in a great hurry, leaving large quantities of Quartermaster's stores and transportation unharmed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Talimena Scenic Drive explores historic Ouachita Mountains

The western Ouachita Mountains presented a major natural barrier to the southward advancement of Union troops along the Arkansas and Oklahoma (then the Indian Territories) border during the War Between the States.
The mountain range runs roughly east to west from near Little Rock into eastern Oklahoma. A series of commanding ridges and mountains, some of which are the highest points between the Appalachians and the Rockies, the Ouachitas served as a natural defense for Confederate forces during the war and also provided protection for Southern families and even guerrilla gangs that moved in and out of the mountains with impunity.

Now a major scenic area for visitors to the region, the mountains can be explored and accessed by way of the Talimena Scenic Drive, a national scenic byway that stretches 54 miles from Mena, Arkansas, across the border to Talihina, Oklahoma. As it winds its way along the very tops of the mountains, the drive passes not only some of the most beautiful scenery in the South, but an array of unique historic sites as well, many of them with Civil War ties.

Some of these include Queen Wilhelmina State Park and Rich Mountain Cemetery in Arkansas. The state park features numerous historic sites, including a mountain spring used by pioneer families at the time of the war. The first grave in the cemetery is said to have been that of a young girl who froze to death on a brutal winter's night during the war years. Her ghost supposedly still haunts the rugged terrain.

Along the Oklahoma stretch of the scenic byway are historic sites such as Horse Thief Spring and the Old Military or Fort Towson Road. The spring is was a water souce for Old West outlaws including that prowled the borderlands during the years after the Civil War. The Old Military Road, now marked by a park area with interpretive signs, was a major route through the mountains for Confederate forces and civilians.

The high elevations also provide welcome relief from the height of summer with cool breezes sweeping up the mountainsides to the overlooks and park areas along the Talimena Scenic Drive.

To learn more about this remarkable roadway, please visit

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ozark National Forest is rich in Historic Sites

Sweeping across much of the northwestern quarter of Arkansas, the Ozark National Forest preserves some of the most scenic and historic land in the Natural State.

Not only is the forest home to sweeping mountain vistas, rugged hills and valleys, waterfalls and the famed Mulberry River, it is rich in historic sites and landmarks. At unexpected places in the forest, hikers come across long-forgotten stone fences and traces of old home places, many of which date back to before the Civil War.

The Ozark National Forest was the scene of untold numbers of skirmishes and raids during the war. Not only did regular troops move back and forth along the roads leading through the mountains, the hills of the Ozarks provided shelter and hiding places for the guerrilla bands that ravaged much of the state. These men - some of whom supported the Union and others the Confederacy - in many cases employed increasingly brutal tactics against both military and civilian targets alike.

The forest is today accessed by such famed Arkansas highways as Scenic Highway 7 and the Pig Trail Scenic Byway. Both take visitors past beautiful scenery and through some of the most stunning country in the South. There are numerous parks, recreation eras, overlooks, campgrounds, picnic areas and landmarks.

To learn more, please visit