Gravesite linked to Confederate battle

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A pair of Barry County history buffs who also share a love for restoring neglected gravesites believe they have made a significant historic find while trying to locate an old cemetery southwest of Madry.

Jack Fly and Ted Roller, both members of the Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society's Cemetery Restoration Committee, were looking for the old Webbville Cemetery when they discovered two long lines of graves that they believe represent the burial site of Confederate soldiers killed at the Battle of Upshaw Farm, which occurred on Oct. 24, 1864.

Fly said he found the graves while he was "grave dowsing" near the single headstone of M.G. Webb. Fly and Roller were led to the Webb gravesite by Odell Mattox, owner of the land that includes the site of the old Webbville Cemetery.

"We located the grave (of M.G. Webb) and noticed a few sunken graves in the area," said Fly. "I have somewhat of a knack for grave dowsing, and while Ted and Odell were discussing the Webb stone, I proceeded to work the rods around the area trying to find a few of the unmarked graves."

Dowsing, sometimes called divining, is an age-old method of locating water and sometimes graves. An individual uses metal rods or a forked stick to lead them to locations were graves are hidden underground.

"What I found was much more than expected," added Fly. "The rods revealed a double line of graves running down the hill for over 100 yards."

Since finding the graves three weeks ago, Roller, Fly and Mattox have worked at the site to stake out the graves. This Saturday, Aug. 11, Dr. Holly Jones, from the University of Missouri Center for Archaeology Research, will come to the Madry area to observe the site.

According to Fly, Dr. Jones is well known and respected in the archaeological community.

According to historical accounts, there were 50 Confederate soldiers killed in the Battle of Upshaw, and when Fly and Mattox marked the final grave site at their location, they counted exactly 50 stakes.

The burial site itself is located about 300 to 400 yards off the Old Wire Road, and the Upshaw Battle was in the area of the burial site.

The Battle of Upshaw occurred when a Union detachment of 400 men from the Second Arkansas Cavalry pursued a group of 800 rebels under the command of Colonel Hodge from Buck Prairie in Lawrence County to the Upshaw Farm near Camp Bliss in Barry County.

According to a report from Lieut. Col. Hugh Cameron to Brig. Gen. John B. Sanborn, the Union forces "routed and dispersed" the Confederate soldiers, killing 50 and taking 37 prisoner. Cameron's report was dated Oct. 31, 1864, and written two days after the Civil War skirmish.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: