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Four-Mile to Chalk Bluff I

"Indecisive Victory"

Official Records

My gratitude goes out to Marietta Hughes, who was such a gracious hostess in giving me a tour of her home. Also to Donald Hughes who unfortunately was working at his business at the time. And last but not least, Hal Miller who allowed a complete stranger to come into his home and treated me with the utmost hospitality. I do hope that if I made any mistakes in my presentation it would be brought to my attention by the good folks of Campbell, Missouri.

I n the Spring of 1863, General John Sappington Marmaduke led his army of 5,000 Confederates and 10 pieces of artillery into the region of Southeast Missouri. He got as far as Cape Girardeau and was involved in fighting the Federal troops at Cape Giradeau against strongly fortified positions. The Battle of Cape Girardeau was a demonstration by General Jo Shelby troops, because John Marmaduke had ordered Colonel Carter, not to pursue General McNeil out of Bloomfield. General McNeil was forced to retreat and Col. Carter followed to near to the defenses at the Cape. Colonel Carter found he had put himself into a position where he couldn’t manuever forward or to the rear without taking many casualties. General Jo Shelby made the attack to divert the Union gunners so Col. Carter could withdraw.


On the morning of April 27th, General Marmaduke started his withdrawal along the Crowley's Ridge Military Road which ran from near Cape Girardeau down to south of Helena, Arkansas. He chose this route due to his ability to fight off any Union pursuit along the road as the road was on a ridge ranging from 1 to 3 miles in width and it was mostly surrounded by swampy terrain. This limited the amount of troops that could engage at one time. During the withdrawal there were various rear guard actions at the Whitewater and Castor river crossings on the way through Bloomfield to Chalk Bluff. In the meantime, Marmaduke’s forces moved towards Chalk Bluff to get across the St. Francis River.


On May 1st, the Confederates posted their first defensive position at the town of Four-Mile and put a second line on high ground about a mile beyond the town at Gravel Hill. As the Union troops attacked the first position, the Confederate's were in the meantime building entrenchments a mile beyond the second position at the crest of the ridge above the river. All along, General Marmaduke was building defensive entrenchments across the river on Chalk Bluff in Arkansas, which proved to be a very strong position, as the Federals didn't try more than once to take the position. On the early morning of May 2nd, the Confederates were able to withdraw from their Missouri positions without the Federals knowing. This ended the Battle of Chalk Bluff because the Union did'nt continue their attack against the entrenched Confederates on Chalk Bluff. Although, the battle was more of a fighting retreat for the confederates, it was a strategic victory as they inflicted more casualties on the Federals and the larger Union division failed to outmanuever the confederates.


View of Four-Mile, Missouri from the Northwest--The first Confederate defensive line, in the Battle of Chalk Bluff, against Gen. McNeil's and Gen. Vandever's Union troops was started at Four-Mile, Missouri. This road in the foreground is Hwy 53 and was the swamp road running to Popular Bluff in the 1860's. The defensive line paralleled this road where Four-Mile was located on the right side of the road at the ridgeline in the tress. Coincidentaly the town was located, four miles from Chalk Bluff, Arkansas.


Side View of House--During the battle, the house was used as a temporary hospital. It is now on the National Register of Historic Sites and is one of the oldest buildings in Dunklin County, Mo.

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Picture of original house in Hughes Home----This building was originaly called the Taylor Hotel during the Civil War. It was built in 1860 by Leander J. Taylor, one of Four-Mile's original Merchants. It was later called the Given Owen House as it was bought by Dr. Given Owen in 1866. At one time Four-Mile had contained two dry goods stores, a blacksmith and a post office. When the Railroad went through Campbell, Mo. all the merchants moved there.

At present it is a private residence and not open to the public.


Another view of the Hughes House.


Chalk Bluff Natural Area

Missouri Main Page

Civil War Traveler
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