Volume 2, Number 7, Spring 1966
From the original Topographical maps that Bennett made, Paul Shelton has copied remarks made by the cartographer concerning the area he pictured.
April 8, 1862
"To one used to the broad praries and cultivated fields of the north, this is a most forbidding region. Its only redeeming feature is the fine springs of clean, cold water which gushed from every hillside and which sparkles in a thousand rivulets, meandering among the hills. We passed Cape Fair about noon. The waters of Flat Creek were deep and rapid and the crossing difficult, and many of the regiments were delayed in crossing. A few log cabins, mostly deserted, constituted the town. I noticed the remains of a mill which had been partly destroyed by high water. It was a matter of wonder where land in sufficient quantities for cultivation could be found to raise means for the subsistence of the few inhabitants. Weather cold and damp."
April 8, 1862, 8 mi. course south
"Galena undoubtedly named from the existence in the immediate neighborhood of large quantities of lead, but which has been but little worked in consequences of the difficulties, distance to market and the people being mostly hunters and wanting in enterprise for prosecuting mining operatives. We reached this place just before night and shortly after, a cold rainstorm set in which continued during the night, swelling the already overflowing streams and rendering the roads almost impassible. It is an insignicant and dilapidated town, mostly deserted since the war commenced. Many of the inhabitants were true to the Union and furnished many soldiers to the Federal army. The march over the hills has been cold and cheerless. The clouds drifting almost to the mountain tops, and threatening each hour to drench the earth with its overcharged burden of water. Not a house was upon the road except at Cape Fair. The teams did not arrive till midnight and we found quarters in vacant houses."
April 9, 1862
Distance 3 mi. course S 70 degrees E
"The storm of last night delayed the march until late in the afternoon. The swollen waters of the James rushed madly over the rocky bottoms and considerable care was requisite to cross in safety. A teamster was drowned while attempting to cross. Wagons were ranged one after the other, forming a bridge for the infantry to cross. We entered the valley of Raleys Creek, following up the stream and camped three miles from Galena."
April 10, 1862
Distance 3 mi. course S 70 degrees E
"Passing up the valley of Raleys Creek, which is formed by springs issuing from the hillsides and heads six miles from Galena. We then left it for a ridge and so steep was the ascent that it was with difficulty the teams could climb its rocky sides. Course S. 75 degrees E. Distance 3 mi. This ridge extends but four miles and then abruptly terminates in the valley of Bear Creek, which heads near this point. On the summit and hillsides was a thick growth of post oak. Many of the surrounding peaks was nearly bald and the views from the higher points was truly magnificent. Bear Creek is of considerable size and after meandering six miles among the hills, empties into Bull Creek. We were obliged to ford it several times and the teams were frequently stalled. A private of the Benton Hussars was shot by an artillery lieutenant and killed. Weather clear and pleasant."
"In the valley of Bear Creek were many good farms, but the surrounding peaks which hemmed in the valley, looked barren and desolate, their rocky sides often perpendicular, towering up many hundred feet above the creek. I learned that game was abundant, consisting of bear, deer, wild turkey, and perhaps the abundance of bear gave rise to the name of the creek. This stream empties into Bull Creek, a wide, rapid stream, almost a river of itself. General Curtiss here left the train and most of his suits with orders to hold for further orders and pushed on to Forsyth. We pitched our tents on the banks of Bull Creek in a kind of amphitheatre formed by the surrounding mountains. Water and wood were plenty and of excellent quality. All the streams in this region are formed from springs and clear and cold. This would be a country favorable for operations of guerillas and it would be most difficult to contend with them successfully among these mountain fastnesses. Weather fair and pleasant with indications of rain."
April 11, 1862
Distance 10 mi. course S. 65 degrees E.
"It was a cold, rainy and cheerless day and none but urgent necessity would prompt an army
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(Continued from page 7)
to move. A partial lull in the storm afternoon induced us to strike tents and move forward."
The intervening ten miles to Forsyth was over a high mountain. The roads were execrable, almost in a liquid state, and it was difficult to get the teams along, and it was not until late at night that Forsyth was reached. Some of the surrounding peaks were quite bare of trees and by climbing to their summits some most extensive and magnificent views of the surrounding country could be obtained and away down the rocky ravines at the foot of the mountain occasional glimpses of White River could be obtained. (After this date the army continued eastward to Batesville, Arkansas, but there are no further verbal descriptions of the maps.)
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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