In the Field, Mount Vernon, Mo., October 31, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on the 29th of October, 1864, with a detachment of about 400 men, principally of the Second Arkansas Cavalry, I pursued a body of rebels, supposed to be 800 strong, under command of Colonel Hodge, from Buck Prairie, Lawrence County, and encountered them at the Upshaw farm near Camp Bliss, Barry County. Routed and dispersed them; killed 50, took 37 prisoners, 58 horses, 4 mules, a large number of saddles, and several stand of arms. Three wounded only were found; the remainder escaped on their horses or concealed themselves in the brush. The prisoners report that there were ten captains with Colonel Hodge, viz, Captains Thomas Todd and John Merrick, Captains Sitton, Kimball, Shull, Rudd, Withers, Onam, Arnold, and Annabury. The last named was killed early in the encounter. My loss was 1 man slightly wounded, 1 man injured by his horse falling, and a few horses crippled.
The officers and men under my command behaved gallantly. Captain Mitchell, Seventh Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia, commanding the advance, deserves to be especially mentioned.
I have the honor to be, general, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieut. Col. Second Ark. Cav., Commanding Detachment, in the Field
SOURCE: OR, Series I, Volume 41 (Part I), Pages 406-407.
The 7th Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia was reorganized with substantial personnel changes in July & August, 1864, and was redesignated the 15th Missouri Cavalry in November, 1864. The correct roster for the 7th PEMM at this time would be the roster for the 15th Missouri Cavalry. Lafayette Mitchell was promoted Captain of Company F 11 August 1864.
For details of the confusing name changes surrounding this unit, see the notes accompanying my Roster, Company G, 7th PEMM and Roster, Company G, 15th MO Cavalry. Rosters for the complete regiments can be found online at the Missouri Secretary of State's Soldiers Database.
9 November 1899, Cassville Republican
There is an interesting story connected with an old well which Ezekial Ellis points out on his farm seven miles south of Verona. There are several Zeke Ellises but this is Ben Ellis's son, living on the head of Little Flat Creek. His farm adjoins that of William Haynes on the east . . . . After the battle of Wilson's Creek, Gen. Price made a raid through southern Missouri. At Pilot Knob he was defeated and his retreat was westward clear across the state into Kansas. There his army became partially disorganized [and his] troops undertook to [make their way to] their homes in Arkansas. A company of about 75 men, well armed and well mounted passed near Verona. The date of the battle of Little Flat tallied nearly exactly with the killing of the editor's grandmother north of Mount Vernon. She was the wife of Hardin Davis, a brother of Eld. Riley Davis. Sometime in the night Price's men called at the gate and she arose and opened the door. They, [supposing] that it was the man of the house and having heard that he was a union sympathizer, fired at the door killing her instantly. They rode hurriedly away. Two days after a company corresponding to this rode down a little hollow that led to Little Flat. The union soldiers formed an ambushcade and after half an hour's clash of arms the detachment of confederates were killed almost to a man. Zeke Ellis, then a boy of six years, witnessed the fight from the high hill on which his house now stands. His description of the cruel destruction of soldier by soldier made the blood of a novice run chill. He assisted his father, mother and brother all the next three days to load dead bodies into an ox wagon and haul them to this well. There they were dumped in unceremoniously. After three days search for more bodies the well was partially filled up and now it is in the field, the unmarked resting place of a whole company of men that believed themselves fighting for a principal of right? Who knows the names of those brave determined men. Who knows how many widows and orphans mourned the loss of the soldiers that never returned and till today knows not the particulars of his sad end? -- Verona Advocate.
This article confuses events that occurred in October, 1861, with the Battle of Upshaw's Farm, which occurred in October, 1864. The editor of the Verona Advocate in 1899 was Henry L. Davis, the grandson of Nancy and Hardin Davis. According to her tombstone in the Davis cemetery south of Miller, Missouri, Nancy died October 9, 1861. Lawrence County Historical Society Bulletin, July, 1991, page 35.
9 November 1899, Fountain & Journal, Mt. Vernon, Missouri
Permit me to make a correction in regard to an "Unrecorded Battle" which occurred Oct. 29, 1864. On Oct. 28, a detail of 60 men under the command of Capt. S. E. Roberts, left Mount Vernon at 11:00 o'clock at night, and at Marionville the rebels fired on us wounding J. E. Jenning's horse. We started in pursuit and followed to Barry county, overtaking them in what is known as the Ripshaw valley. We were on the hill on the north when the rebels fired on us there being 600 of them and 60 of us. We did not ambuscado them nor annihilate them, but we killed 64 that was found and took 19 prisoners. There were 35 white men thrown in an old well, and two were taken to Mount Vernon, one dying and the other was sent to the Springfield hospital. This is the facts. There has been reflections cast in this fight, but it was carried on according to the plans of the war.
B. A. STEPHENS
CO. B, 15th Mo. Cav. Vol U. S.
The following letters, which fully explain themselves, were sent to us by Albert Smith of Maplewood for publication. Many old timers will undoubtedly have heard of the circumstances therein set forth.
The letters follow:
Maplewood, Mo. Jan. 17, 1927
Mr. Boon A. Stephens,
My Dear Mr. Stephens:
I am writing you for some historical information. During the Civil War after Price's defeat at West Point, Missouri, I believe there were straggling bodies of confederates making their retreat south in separate bodies. One went south to Newtonia, Mo., and there was a battle at that point in which a considerable number of men were killed. Then there was another body of men, from three to five hundred in number that came by Verona, Mo., near the head of Spring River. They were making their way south touching at points where they could get water. Some were dressed in Union uniforms, some in Gray, and other in ordinary civilian clothes.
Gideon Jackson, Moses Jackson, Henry Donica, Thomas T. Donica, John Crawford and Thomas Calton came riding down on horses from the direction of Cassville, Missouri. These parties lived near Little Flat Creek. They were captured and taken along headed for the old Wire Road, which was the main traveled road for military and immigrant trains. This was named Wire Road because the government had a telegraph wire stretched along this road from Springfield, Mo. to Ft. Smith, Ark.
Capt. Roberts Company of Mt. Vernon, Mo., who was under Col. J. D. Allen, struck their trail with his men. He overtook them about 8 miles southeast of Verona, Mo., and had a skirmish with them in which about eighty to one hundred Confederates were killed. The bodies were collected and thrown in an old well that was about thirty three feet in depth. The last one to be thrown in was an old Negro servant of a Confederate officer. After they were thrown in, Ezekial Ellis, who lives on the Marshall Hill at Monett, Mo., told me he could touch the bodies with an ordinary fence rail in the well. This well is on the farm owned by Harrison Thomas. These bodies are still there as they were never removed. Most of the men killed were Missouri men.
W. R Wilks, better known as Doc, who was a member of the first Arkansas regiment having returned home from Fayetteville, Ark., went the next day to this battle ground and found a young man in the brush who was badly wounded. He was sent to Mt. Vernon, Mo., until he recovered sufficiently to be sent home to his parents in the northern part of the state. A great many of the wounded and killed were never found. Some that they could not put in the old well were covered with brush.
I have been told that afterward the dogs would drag a part of a man's arm or some other part of his body showing that not all the bodies had been found. I will mention that during the skirmish the prisoners escaped as it seemed that all the Confederates thought of was to escape and every man was for himself. They were in a strange country and did not know the conditions. If they had made a united stand they could have defeated Robert's Company.
The prisoners would have been shot by their own men had it not been for Mart Estes who lived west of Verona, Mo., on a farm which bears his name even today. You know Mart Estes had the reputation of capturing more horse thieves than anyone in the southern part of the state. Horse stealing was a very common thing after the war.
You know there has been quite a controversy about the Turnbackers, those that turned back after getting out here from Tennessee. We had the original Turnbacker in Spring River Township. His name was Hilrey Stokes. He was among the first to turn back going all the way back to Tennessee, but coming back to this country the following spring. He settled above a place known as the George Hillhouse place in a valley where there was a good spring of water, plenty of timber, and built his cabin. He made five trips back to Tennessee. He was so well known along the route that he could borrow flour and pay it back on the return trip.
I was born and reared in Verona, Mo., and was well acquainted with the early pioneers that settled along the head of Spring River.
From what I have heard I believe you were in the above mentioned skirmish which took place southeast of Verona, Mo. I would appreciate it if you would write me full particulars in regard to this.
Yours Very Truly,
Hampton, Fla., Jan. 24, 1927
Mr. Albert Smith,
In regard to the battle that you speak of, I will begin at Mt. Vernon, Mo., on the night of Oct. 28th, 1864. General Sanburn of the 4th district ordered Captain S. E. Roberts of Co. B, 15 Missouri U.S. Volunteers to take a squad of men and make a scout in the east part of Lawrence County and see what General Joe Shelby was doing and to capture him if possible. Capt. Roberts made up a squad of sixty of his men of Company B., who left Mt. Vernon, Mo., at 11 p.m. and went in about a mile of Marionville, Mo. There we ran into Shelby's pickets, who fired on us but did no harm. We ran them about twenty miles before we got near enough to fire on them.
We passed through the territory where Aurora is now, then on the Cassville Road. We still were gaining on them so when near Little Flat Creek, Shelby left the Cassville Road and struck for the Jenkins Hills. We found their tracks and followed them, and when we got on top of a post oak hill, we could see them in the valley. The Captain yelled "Come on boys", so we went. This was the Upshaw hollow. We fought them as long as we could find one of them.
In the meantime, Uncle Mart Estes came across Gideon Jackson, old man Donica and some other boys, but I don't remember their names. I think Joe Donica was one of the boys whom the rebels had captured. We captured eighteen rebels who said they were part of Shelby's men.
As we came back over the ground we had fought over in the forenoon we found sixty-four dead. We went on to Mt. Vernon about fifteen miles and got in camp about 10 p.m.
The next morning, General Sanburn ordered a squad of men to go to where the fight had been and bury the dead. When Gibson returned he reported that he had buried those he could find and some of the boys that were helping to do the burying said they put thirty-five white men in an old well, and two negroes on top of them.
The next day a preacher by the name of Goodin came to the battle ground. While he was looking over the ground he heard some one call. He answered the call and found a man wounded, the bone in his leg was sticking in the ground. Goodin brought the man to Mt. Vernon, Mo., and he was taken to Springfield to be cared for.
This battle occurred Saturday, Oct. 29th, 1864. Our men shot without reloading, that is why we could do so much damage. They had six hundred men while we had only sixty but did not have a man hurt.
Now if there is anyone in our company living, but Anderson A. Young, W. N. (Dick) Davis, and myself, Boon A. Stephens of Company B, 15th Missouri U.S. Volunteers, I do not know.
Boon A. Stephens.
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