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easy to conjure up the past when
the stories are exciting and you
find yourself in a place where his-
tory was made. Next time you
re
out on the Ozark Trail, picture
what it would have been like
to run into soldiers desperately
fighting for their cause or to face
a surprise attack from “The Great
Bushwhacker.”
en path from the “official” trail,
this is his neck of the woods. He
regularly relives the Civil War
as commander of the 4th Mis-
souri Union Cavalry
the same
unit that counted his great great
grandfather as a member. In Ca-
denbach
s eyes, the Ozarks are
made up of so many backcountry
roads, pathways, and old horse
trails that he considers them
all “Ozark trails,” probably as
just great great Grand-Dad
would have.
Since 1989 Cadenbach has been
in charge of the reenactment
held every three years at Fort
Davidson, in Ironton MO com-
memorating the Battle of Pilot
Knob on September 27, 1864.
Cadenbach has seen a lot of re-
enactment action over the years
and he explains that this battle
was one of the war
s most im-
portant. Approximately 12,000
Confederate soldiers with Major-
General Sterling Price attacked
fewer than 1,200 Union troops
defending the fort under Briga-
dier-General Thomas Ewing Jr.
powder magazine in order to es-
cape. During their retreat from
Fort Davidson, the Union soldiers
very likely camped along today
s
Trace Creek section of the Ozark
Trail as they made their way to
Rolla. After the battle, Price
s
depleted forces headed north-
west toward Jefferson City, their
path potentially intersecting to-
day
s Taum Sauk, Middle Fork
and Trace Creek sections. The
Pilot Knob engagement helped
end Confederate aspirations to
capture St. Louis.
As for the reenactors, Cadenbach
says, “We want to give the public
as good a feel as we can for what
life was like back then.” Plans for
the Sesquicentennial Battle of
Pilot Knob Re-enactment 2014
include military drills, a running
battle to the fort, the main battle
around the walls and even the
big (simulated) explosion.
When it comes to Civil War his-
tory it
s difficult to pinpoint exact
locations in the Ozarks, except
those that saw major battles.
named for their tactic of am-
bush from the cover of brush
and trees. Among hikers, “bush-
whacking” has come to mean cut-
ting through the woods, but the
most notorious bushwhackers
surfaced during the war, many in
the Ozarks. The homegrown folk
hero from Phelps County was
“The Great Bushwhacker” Bill
Wilson. The story of Wilson
s rise
to outlaw fame was immortalized
by Hollywood in 1976 in the Clint
Eastwood movie “The Outlaw Jo-
sey Wales,” based loosely on Wil-
son
s life.
Cadenbach has a good friend
named Don Wilson who also
happens to be Bill Wilson
s great
grandson. Union forces burned
down his house after wrongly ac-
cusing him of horse stealing. In
retaliation Wilson spent the war
hunting them on the trails and
in the woods. Cadenbach says of
the bushwhackers: “Some were
nothing more than robbers who
would kill anybody. Then there
were others like Bill Wilson: he
only killed Union soldiers.” Life in
MORE ON MISSOURI
IN THE
• See
The Ozarks: Steeped in History and Legend
, p. 11
• Visit the Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks Military
Complex
http://www.mcwm.org
• Attend the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle at Pilot Knob on
September 27-28, 2014
www.battleofpilotknob.org
Terry Cadenbach (center) and fellow soldiers at the
2010 Battle of Pilot Knob Reenactment, Fort Davidson.
CIVIL WAR:
THE GREAT BUSHWHACKER,
BILL WILSON
The Ozark Trail Association
ozark
trail.
com
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