Hi, rambling friends. Let's start this new year with a story that is part of our local history. Let's step back in time to March of 1981. I had a 1980 Ford four-wheel pickup with deep mud logger tires that I thought could go through anything. One day, on my way home, I decided to take a different route to enjoy the country roads. I was on Sand Springs Road and went to the bottom of a hill, and suddenly, I was confronted with a challenge I was unsure about. The old country road was underwater for about 50 yards. Back then, we did not have the luxury of our roads being graveled with white gravel as we do today. I stopped my truck and thought, "this could be a problem!" Being young and invincible, I said, "Go for it." I backed up a ways, revved my four-wheel truck up, sped forward at a high rate of speed, got about 100 feet, and sank it to China. Here I am now in the middle of a swamp of red clay and mire and mad. All I could do was get out, talk to myself, and walk home for the last two miles. Got a friend with a tractor and long chain, and he pulled me out. After being pulled out, my friend with the tractor went home, and I got to thinking about where I was at and the importance of this spot.
Memories begin to flood my mind. This was the location of Fort Sand Springs and the Wire Road that came through our county. When I was in high school, I remember meeting an old gentleman who was the grandson of Captain Herd of the Webster County Home Guard; he was stationed there to protect our county from the Confederates. He shared details of the battle and gave me copies of the soldiers' signatures at the fort. Rambling friends, now is the fun part. Together, let's step back into the past and experience what happened firsthand. The date is January 8, 1863 General Marmaduke has his men hidden 6 miles in a safe area that is among friendly supporters and he is getting his men ready to attack Captain Herd at Fort Sand Springs. "Men, Fort Sand Springs is a bunch of sissy boys commanded by Captain Herd. We can destroy them easily. Here's our plan: we will ride out at midnight tonight, surround the fort, and throw firebombs at dawn. When the soldiers come out, we shoot them down like rabbits. Listen men, load your weapons, check your horses and get your torches ready. "Yes, Sir General Marmaduke, we are ready to destroy the Yankees!" Meanwhile, at Fort Sand Springs Captain Herd has his men lined up in formation and is going up and down the ranks. "Listen closely, everyone; I have reports that a strong company of confederates are in the area. I want extra guards posted, be ready and sleep with your loaded guns". The men reply, "Yes sir, Captain, we will be ready for them thar Johnny Rebs!' Just as planned, General Marmaduke attacks at dawn.
Eliminated the outside guards and torched the fort. The battle was over in a few hours, with the Union Soldiers fleeing for their lives and leaving 12 dead. Meanwhile, General Marmaduke took possession of anything valuable and rode on to Marshfield and Hartville, destroying the forts in each place. General Marmaduke was wounded in battle at Hartville and decided to ride to Arkansas to heal up and avoid a confrontation with a larger Union force that was pursuing them. O K, rambling friends, let's get back to the present. Happy New Year! Come back next week for more ramblings!
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