Reminiscences of the War Between the States in Crawford County, Arkansas

Killing of Captain Beeler

Lieutenant W. J. Pevehouse gave this account of the killing of Captain Beeler of the 13th Kansas.

 “On the night of August 18th, 1864 Capt. J.C. Wright, Bill Black, Jim Marlar, Lum Basham, Jack Cottrell and I went to the old Rankin place northwest of Chester, hoping to be able to spend the night without molestation. No one lived at the place at that time. The house was a double-roomed house with a wide open entry between the rooms. We turned our horses out in an old field to graze while we slept. The night was warm. and a drizzling rain was falling. Wright and Black lay down in the entry while the rest of the boys stretched out on the floor in the rooms. About nine o'clock Wright  heard some one say in a low tone: 'O John. O John.' He aroused the others. and we awoke to find the house and ourselves surrounded by about sixty-five men under command of Captain Beeler. We knew our capture meant death for our hides wore at a premium in those days: so each one set himself to fight his way out.

 “Wright, Marlar and Black went on the east side of the house and the others on the west side. We went under full fire from the enemy. I ran into about twenty-five of them at the corner of an old smokehouse. They fired, but overshot me. I wheeled and was thrown in front of the blazing pistols of Captain Beeler who had one in each hand and was using them very skillfully. I snapped both barrels of my shotgun, but it failed to fire, as the caps had gotten wet. By that time he had hit me twice, one in each thigh, pretty high up. I was knocked down by the impact of the balls and from loss of blood and fell into a little draw. I tried to pull myself up by a little sappling and partially succeeded. Beeler was within six feet of me; using both pistols and cursing with every breath. I steadied myself by the little bush and turned my old Remington six-shooter loose. I was so close to him that I saw fire strike his stomach. He changed his tune and said 'O, Lord.' and fell.

 “I dragged myself off into the bushes and lay there the rest of the night nearly famished for water. I put my hat on,. hoping to catch a little from the light rain still falling, but failed. I was bleeding freely. A short time previous one of our men was shot and bled to death from a severed artery. Fearing that would be my fate. I tore my handkerchief into shreds and stuffed it into the wounds, hoping to check the flow of blood. I dragged myself around there for nearly two days without food or water not knowing whether any of the boys had escaped or not. Occosionally (sic) I heard horses' feet but yet could not tell whether they were ridden by friend or foe. By Saturday morning I was very sore, and my limbs were swollen and black. I realized that without assistance I would surely die so I made a desperate effort to reach Captain Wright's house. I dragged myself to the roadside where I saw the tracks made by the horses I had heard passing. I knew they were our horses, because the shoes had but six nails while the Yankees used eight, but I did not know who were riding them. I found about a pint of water in a hog wallow. It did not have ice in it, but it was good. I got hold of some old dead limbs and improvised a pair of crutches, with the aid of which, I managed to make my way to Wright's house Saturday evening. The boys were all there, not one of them hurt and they gave me a hearty welcome. They washed and dressed my wounds, the best they could, put me on a piece of ladder used as a litter and carried me to a spring back in the mountains, where I stayed without shelter for three weeks, at the end of which time I was able to mount my horse and go at it again. As a treatment I used nothing but salt and cold water. I went south that fall, rejoined my command and surrendered with it down in Texas."

Federal Report of the Fight

VAN BUREN, August 12, 1864.

 General THAYER:

Our troops under Captain Beeler, of Thirteenth Kansas, attacked a party of bushwhackers last night twenty-five miles northeast of here, and a severe engagement ensued. Several of our men were wounded. Among the number Captain Beeler, mortally wounded in the abdomen. I have just sent an ambulance and escort out to the party to bring in the wounded. I do not know the loss of the enemy.


Colonel, Commanding Post.

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