A REMARKABLE ESCAPE FROM DEATH
By S. C. Turnbo
Just over the line in Taney County, Missouri, on the north side of White River is a rough gulchlike hollow which mouths into the river at the upper end of the Panther Bottom. This gulch is known as Cedar Hollow. Up this gulch near one half a mile above the mouth is a cliff of rock which runs along on each side of the hollow. On the east side it Is 85 feet from the beginning to where the water pours down and on the west side it is 48 feet from where the water pours over to a gap in the cliff where the cliff sinks into the bluff. Just on the west side from where the water in the bed of the hollow pours down is a cave or basin in the rock wall that is 17 feet high and 9 feet deep. Below this along the bed of the branch and on each side of it is very rough with large rocks lying close together. The cliff where it crossed the channel of this hollow makes a sharp curve. At this place a bloody scene occurred during the Civil War. Three men, Bill Riddle, Ben Williams, and Anderson Moore, had camped a few nights in the basin of the cliff we have just mentioned and reconnoitering party of 3 men who happened to pass one afternoon near this locality discovered the smoke from the fire which the men had built under the shelving rock. This was on the 31st of January, 1865. The air was calm and the column of smoke had ascended high above the cliff. The parties who made the discovery lost no time in reporting it to a company of mounted federal soldiers who on the following morning at sunrise surrounded the hiding place of the three men and opened fire on them. The poor fellows were taken on surprise and were almost defenseless having but one old muzzle loading rifle with them. While the bullets fell in a shower around the startled men they offered to surrender but the attacking party refused to show them mercy and they started to run the gauntlet and fled down the rough gulch. Williams got only a few yards from the shelter when he was shot dead. Some 50 feet from where Williams fell on the west side of the bed of the hollow is the middle of a steep point of land or ridge like formation. On this spot Mr. Riddle received a severe wound in the fleshy part of the leg between the knee and ankle which knocked him down. Forty-five feet from here is a little rough gulch that empties into the main hollow 150 feet below where the water pours over the cliff, and after the man had fell he managed to crawl and roll into the little gulch. By this time he was able to rise to his feet again and amid a shower of bullets he ran down the gulch some 60 feet into the main hollow where he received a bad wound in the hand. He now ran down the hollow where he passed in a few feet of two guards that had been posted there to prevent the men from escaping in that direction. One was standing on each side of the bed of the branch and he ran between them and they both shot at him but missed the mark. The wounded and bleeding man ran on down the hollow a short distance below the two videts where he received A third wound but it failed to bring him down, onward he rushed a few yards further then leaving the rough hollow he ran up the hill on the east side and finally made his escape. Mr. Moore escaped without being hit and ran along on the side of the hill on the west side of the hollow to the mouth and concealed himself under a drift. The attacking party who it is said numbered 20 men did not pursue Riddle and assembled together on the side of the hill west of the cliff and rode on down to the point of the bluff where they dismounted and lead their horses down the steep hillside and across the mouth of Cedar Hollow and down through the Panther Bottom. As the soldiers were passing the mouth of the hollow they passed in a few yards of the driftwood in which Moore was hid. Now let us return to Bill Riddle who was fleeing for his life. The morning was cold with a crisp wind blowing and the wounded mans blood was slowly ebbing away. The excitement from the attack, exhaustion from running, and the suffering from the wounds and loss of blood made him weak and cold and he felt as though he would stagger and fall as he ran over the ridge just east of the hollow and down the hill into Pine Hollow. Going down this hollow ¼ of a mile he stopped to rest under a ledge of rock, but thinking the enemy might pursue him he left his rock shelter and fled onward and made his way to Big Greek and sought refuge under another ledge of rock in the face of the bluff just below the Daniel Quick ford where he lay behind big icicles weak and shivering with cold. Late in the afternoon he saw the same company of men pass up the creek. Soon after dark the wounded man left his icy bed and groped his way over the rough hills and across the rugged hollows to where he lived on the Allen Lucas place at the mouth of Little Buck Creek. As the man was crossing Cedar Hollow below the cliff where they were attacked he saw a light where the dead body of Williams lay and heard voices which proved to be the grief stricken mother. Mrs. Mary Anderson, wife of John Anderson and other women preparing to take the remains of her beloved child to the ridge just west of the Robert Case-bolt residence on Big Creek to bury them in a grave that had been dug to receive the remains of Mr. Casebolt who was killed on Buffalo, but it was found that the body of Mr. Casebolt could not be brought back home and he was buried where he was slain and Mr. Williams body was buried in the grave that was dug for the reception of the dead body of Mr. Casebolt. Mrs. Anderson was formerly a widow woman and Mr. Anderson had married her near Fort Smith, Arkansas. On the following morning Mr. Riddle mounted a horse that had got away from the enemy in the excitement of the attack and which was found by some of Riddles friends in the Buck Bottom just above the mouth of Big Buck Creek and he rode him to the Mat Hovelenpile farm where he made the horse swim the river with him at the mouth of Big Beach Hollow and made his way to his friends in Locust Hollow who took charge of him. The wounded and suffering man was bad chilled with cold when he arrived there, his wet and bloody clothes were so bad frozen on him that they had to be out off of him before they could put dry ones on him. Just as soon as his friends could move him they taken him into the forest of pine trees near where Dodd City now stands where they built a shelter and kept him there until he recovered from his wounds. Oh those terrible gloomy days how dark and bloody they were.
Springfield-Greene County Library