Bushwackers and the Civil War

By the start of the Civil War in 1861, the population of Carroll County was approxamtely 9,400. Due to its central location in the country - neither truly "Southern" or "Northern", and the fact that some of the pioneer families of Carroll County were originally from Northern states, allegience to the Confederacy was not absolute. In fact, many residents of Carroll County initially resisted the decision to secede, employing representatives that would speak on behalf of their allegience to the United States. However, the county was not without its share of slave-holding residents, and after the Battle of Fort Sumter, the state of Arkansas was quick to join the Confederate States of America along with North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Many Carroll County residents were now on the same side as their relatives living in other states, but the county remained somewhat divided, with certain groups of citizens establishing secret "peace societies".

Carroll County was a very violent place during the war years, particularly for Union sympathizers. In fact, numerous families with allegiences to the Union were forced to temporarily relocate north to Missouri during the Civil War. While they were gone, their homesteads were looted and/or utilized as shelters by one side or the other, and in some cases were burned to the ground. But supporters of both sides had more to worry about than the occasional band of "Johnny Rebs" and "Yankees". Gangs of rogue armed criminals began to roam the land, commonly known as "bushwackers". Although the term was borrowed by the Union army to describe wild and ruthless Confederates, many accounts of bushwackers describe them as being neither pro-Union or Confederate. Rather, these men were outlaws intent on taking advantage of the chaotic nature of the war, and the helplessness of those who were ill-equipped to defend themselves while the man of the household was away. Bushwackers would also attack soldiers from both sides, and were apathetic if noncombatants were injured or killed in the fray. Confederates also had a name for lawless Union raiders - "jayhawkers" - a name once attributed to Kansas-based raiders enlisted in the Union Army.

Skirmishes were reported in Berryville, Carrollton, and Crooked Creek, and the nearby Battle of Pea Ridge was a pivotal conflict that would determine the fate of Missouri in the war. Hogscald Hollow was also said to be a popular encampment for the Confederates. During the war, the county seat of Carrollton was destroyed, Dubuque was decimated by fire, the town of Berryville was heavily damaged, and a number of private homesteads were left in ruins. Even after the Civil War had ended, Carroll County proved to be a dangerous place for prior Union sympathizers. Surviving personal memoirs detailed a certain amount of prejudice against those who fought for the Union during the war. As with any crisis that tears families apart and leaves the landscape in a state of ruin, certain wounds would take a very long time to heal.