Baptists and the American Civil War: April 17, 1863

Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi Map 1861Baptist ministers respond to the war in diverse ways. Some remain in their pulpits; others leave the pastorate to enroll as chaplains or missionaries or soldiers; and a few step down from preaching in order to engage the enemy in an unofficial capacity. The latter is the case with an unnamed Baptist minister in Arkansas who has become a notorious guerrilla.

Today a Confederate scout reports on his forays into northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri, mentioning the Baptist pastor-turned-Union guerrilla.

LITTLE ROCK, ARK., April 17, 1863.

Lieutenant-General HOLMES,
Commanding District of Arkansas:

SIR: I left Dardanelle, Ark., on the 5th instant, and returned on yesterday, the 16th, having gone as far into the enemy’s country as Cassville, Barry County, Missouri, in the southwestern part of said State. I have to report to you the following facts in reference to the enemy:

At Fayetteville, Ark., they have a post of 1,500 Arkansas militia, and are fortifying the place. At Newtonia, Mo., in 5 miles of the Granby lead mines, they yet have a post of 400 Missouri militia, with dirt and stone fortifications, covering about four or five acres. At Cassville, Mo., on the main road leading from Fayetteville, Ark., to Springfield, Mo., and just half way between the latter and former places, they have a post varying from 50 to 100 militia. The distance from Fayetteville to Springfield is 110 miles. Since my former scout to that country, all the regular Federals have been removed from the southwest border of Missouri, along the borders of Missouri and Arkansas, in an easterly direction, and are distributed as follows: At Carrollton, Ark., about 65 miles east of Fayetteville, on the 9th instant, I saw a body of Federal cavalry, part of Totten’s brigade, and I put this number at about 1,000. They have murdered every Southern man that could be found, old age and extreme youth sharing at their hands the same merciless fate. Old Samuel Cox and his son (fourteen years old), Saul Gatewood, Heal Parker, and Captain Duvall, of Missouri, were a part of those they murdered in Carroll. I will call to mind other names and report them to you. They burned on Osage, in Carroll County, fifteen Southern houses and all of the outhouses, none of those thus made homeless being permitted to take with them any clothing or subsistence. They seem to have hoisted the black flag, for no Southern man, however old and infirm, or however little he may have assisted our cause, is permitted to escape them alive.

General, I have not the language to describe in truthful colors the ravages these Hessians are committing in the northwest of this State. Their guide and principal leader up there is an Arkansian, formerly a Baptist preacher in Carroll County, of the name of Crysop.

The infantry and a battery of five guns, numbering about 1,000 men, left the cavalry at Carrollton, they moving in a northeast direction and toward Forsyth, Mo., on White River, and 43 miles from Springfield, Mo., on the river road from the latter place to Yellville, Ark.

No troops at Huntsville, Berryville, or Bentonville, Ark. The Pin Indians have moved out to the Nation. An occasional scout visits these places, murdering and stealing.

General Schofield is at Rolla.

General Herron is at Springfield, very sick and not expected to live. But few troops are at Springfield.

The main Federal force is now concentrating at Hartville, in Wright County, Missouri, and will be under command of Blunt. They report 10,000 men, and I do not believe they miss it far. They are thus concentrating to check Marmaduke, whom they fear as honest men do the devil. On the border, both in Arkansas and Missouri, they are murdering every Southern man going north or coming south. West of Cassville, in Barry County, a first lieutenant (Robert H. Christian) of the Missouri militia committed one of the most diabolical, cold-blooded murders that I heard of during my trip. Four old citizens of that county had gone to the brush, fearing that by remaining at home they would be murdered. Their names were Asa Chilcutt (who was recruiting for the C. S. Army), Elias Price, Thomas Dilworth, and Lee Chilcutt. Asa Chilcutt was taken very sick, and sent for Dr. Harris, a Southern man. The doctor came as requested, and, while there, this man Christian and 17 other militia came suddenly upon their camp. Lee Chilcutt made his escape. The others were captured, and disposed of as follows: Asa Chilcutt, the sick man, was shot to death while lying on his pallet unable to move. He was shot some six or seven times by this leading murderer, Christian. They marched the others 150 yards to a ridge, and, not heeding their age or prayers for mercy, which were heard by the citizens living near by, they shot and killed the doctor and the others, all of them being shot two or three times through the head and as many more times through the body. They (the Federals) then left them, and, passing a house near by, told the lady that they “had killed four old bucks out there, and if they had any friends they had better bury them.” This man Christian also tried to hire two ladies, with sugar, coffee, &c., to poison Southern men lying in the brush. Christian proposed furnishing the poison and also the subsistence, and would pay them well if they accepted his proposition. The names of the ladies are Rhoda Laton and Mrs. Simms, and every word of all the above can be proven in every particular.

I have given you the above narrative of Christian’s acts at the request of the public living in that section. They look to you as the avenger of their wrongs.

I have the honor to be, general, your most obedient servant.


Capt. Co. B, Hunter’s Regt. Mo. Infty., on Detached Service

Source: “Report of Joseph G. Peevy, Capt. Co. B, Hunter’s Regt. Mo. Infantry (CSA), on Detached Service, to Lieutenant-General Holmes, Commanding District of Arkansas,” April 17, 1863, in Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 22 (Part II), Pages 823-825 (link)