Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Notorious Captain Roberts! - Roberts, Bayly/Bailey, Hall, Williams Families (Camden County)

Please read the post titled "Battle of Henrytown or Monday's Hollow" for general information about the battle, the prisoners, and the events of that winter.

The first man that Major Clark Wright, Fremont's Battalion of the Missouri Cavalry, listed as captured in his October 15, 1861, report to General Wyman of the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry stationed at Rolla was "William J. (Bill) Roberts, Bandit Captain."  Additional Roberts men taken prisoner included L.B., R.A., and G.D. Roberts.  Another prisoner, A. T. Bailey (Bayly), was Margaret Roberts' husband.  A newspaper account in The St. Louis Republican on October 19, 1861, stated:  "When the cavalry entered the town, they found one company of rebels under Capt. Roberts, a merchant of Linn Creek, in possession of the place. They were, to all appearance, perfectly ignorant of any danger from any quarter. A portion of them were in a blacksmith-shop moulding bullets, and the rest were in different parts of the town, so that the surprise was complete."  
In his report Major Wright described Roberts' capture during the battle in detail:  "The notorious captain and a few of his followers, as well as his wife, broke from some of the buildings, fired upon our troops, and attempted to escape. I promptly ordered them fired on, which was as promptly executed. Some fifty random shots were fired, but owing to the fences, buildings, and other means of cover, none were killed, and but one slightly wounded on the rebel side — none hurt on our side.  The scene was a wild one: the activity of the cavalry in guarding the avenues of the place, arresting the rebels running to and fro; the screams of the secesh wives, daughters, and children; the firing from both sides echoing from the bluffs on either side, made the whole thing look frantic. However, at the end of thirty minutes, the town was restored to its usual quiet and secesh under guard." 

William James Roberts was a brother to Sidney Reice Roberts, Little Berry (L.B.) Roberts, Jr. and Margaret Roberts Bailey.  These siblings had an older sister, Zearviah Roberts, who married William S. Roberts, but she died in 1829.  Zearviah, Sidney, and William J. were born in South Carolina in 1807, 1814 and 1819 respectively.  About 1820 the family came to Roane County, Tennessee, where Little Berry was born in 1822 and Margaret in 1832.  Their widowed brother-in-law William S. Roberts married Letitia Miller in 1830 and their nephew Greenville/Granville D. Roberts (G.D.) was born in 1833.   Rufus A. Roberts (R.A.), William James Roberts' seventeen-year-old son, was born in Tennessee in 1845.

The Roberts' siblings' father and brother Sidney served in the Tennessee militia in the Cherokee Removal of the 1830s, often known as the Trail of Tears.  Sidney came to the Camden/Pulaski County area between 1836 and 1840.  There is a monument to eight unknown Cherokee casualties of the Trail of Tears dated 1838 in the Old Erie Cemetery in Camden County.  The father returned to Tennessee where he died in 1842.

Sidney Reice Roberts was a founder of Linn Creek and an owner of a highly successful mercantile.  From The History of Camden County published by Goodspeed in 1889: "All of Missouri lying southwest of this town, Northwestern Arkansas lying north of the Boston Mountains, and a large portion of the Indian Territory received their goods and supplies from this place.  Sidney served Camden County in the Missouri House of Representatives in 1850.  It was about this time when Jones began a rival mercantile and in 1852 McClurg joined him.  The merchants of Linn Creek, especially the firms of Dodson, Roberts, and Co. and Jones and McClurg, did a heavy wholesale business.  J.W. McClurg and his company, for a succession of years, sold over half a million dollars' worth of goods annually.  Dodson, Roberts, and Co., for the same years, also sold a vast amount."  

William J., his son Rufus A., brother Little Berry, and brother-in-law and sister Andrew and Margaret Roberts Bailey came to Missouri in the 1850's.  Possibly their brother-in-law William S. Roberts and his family traveled with them as William S. died in Camden County in 1855.

Brothers Little Berry and Sidney Roberts were listed as slaveholders on the 1860 Slave Schedule for Camden County.  For further information see an earlier post Camden County Mercantiles and the U.S. Colored Troops.  

In November 1860 Sidney Roberts was assisting residents of Vernon and Bates Counties to convince Missouri's governor to send 300 rifles and a company of artillerymen to protect them from abolitionist marauders.   Leroy D. Roberts had left Linn Creek for Nevada, Missouri (Vernon County) in 1858 to establish a mercantile business in partnership with Charles Washington Rubey.

Joel Bolton from Cole County left home on June 9, 1861, headed for the Confederate lines to enlist.  He traveled with Joe Bolton and  Ed Dixon.  They met  Rev. T. F. Lockett, Amos Glover, James Hurt, and Benton Bolton at Versailles in Morgan County.  The men were "sworn in to the Service at Pommedeteau Bridge."  When they were sworn in, Joel Bolton wrote there "was William Roberts and some men from Linn Creek in Camden County sworn in with us so we organized a small company of the two squads by electing Rev. T. F. Lockett as Captain and William Roberts as Lieutenant."

On June 12, 1861, Sidney Roberts was appointed as the Lt. Col. of the Commissary for the Sixth Division (Brig. Gen. Mosby Parsons) of the Missouri State Guard.  His son, Leroy D. Roberts, was Captain of Company I of Col. McCullough's Regt. of the Missouri State Guard.   Neither Sidney Roberts, nor his son Leroy Roberts, were captured in Linn Creek on that fateful day.  Both men joined Missouri units in the Confederate Army when the Missouri State Guard went to Arkansas.  Sidney Roberts died in Pine Bluff shortly after the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.

Leroy D. Roberts served as Captain I of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry throughout the remainder of the war.  In April 1864 the regiment fought in two Arkansas battles:  the Battle of Poison Spring and the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry.  The Battle of Poison Spring was a victory for the Confederates, but the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry was a Union victory that resulted in a thousand Confederate casualties. The Fourth Cavalry also fought in most of the major engagements of Price's Expedition into Missouri in the fall of 1864.  At the Battle of Pilot Knob, the Fourth Cavalry was subjected to artillery and small arms fire, suffering 7 killed and 28 wounded. (Guide to Missouri Confederate Units by James E. McGhee)
Captain Roberts was wounded at Pilot Knob, Missouri, on September 24, 1864, then captured on October 10, 1864, at Ironton, Missouri, when Union forces occupied the Confederate Post. He was moved to Gratiot Military Prison in St. Louis in March 1865.  He was released on oath June 15, 1865, at Johnson's Island, Ohio, under General Order 109.  The record of his oath listed Captain Roberts as 6 ft. 1 inch tall, with dark hair and blue eyes.  According to Census Records, he would have been about 30 years old.

The men who were taken prisoner at Henrytown and Linn Creek were marched to Rolla where they worked on Union fortifications.  Some took the Oath of Allegiance and returned home.   William J. Roberts was involved in a federal prisoner exchange on November 9th, 1861, under Order 484 from the Office of Provost Marshal General. William and Henry Laughlin, another prisoner, joined the Confederate Army in Arkansas.

After the war ended William married  Ellen Tennessee Dunnaway about 1868 in Lafayette County, Arkansas.    In the 1870 Census he and his family were in Red River Arkansas.  Some of their adult sons also made Arkansas home after the war.  John A. Roberts was the Sheriff of Texarkana from 1874-1882. William died in Texarkana in 1894.

William's son Rufus served under his cousin, Captain Leroy D. Roberts. in Company I of the 4th Missouri Cavalry of the Confederate Army formed in December 1861.  In 1868 he married Susan Jane Martin, born in Alabama.  In 1870 they were in Red River, Arkansas, with a one year old son.  They relocated to Texarkana, Garland and Cleveland, Arkansas, then moved back to Texarkana, Arkansas where he died in 1921.
Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

Captain Roberts' requisition for pants, shoes, blankets, and other supplies for his men in September 1863.

Little Berry Roberts and his brother-in-law Andrew Bailey remained in Missouri.  Most of the prisoners taken at Linn Creek were marched to Rolla to work on Union fortifications.  Three men were returned to Linn Creek.  Possibly Little Berry Roberts was one of the returned men, as he claimed that in October 1861,  J. W. McClurg hired a wagon and team for a month, and took two horses, 500 bushels of corn, 30 tons of hay, another 40 acres of corn in the field, and 45 tons of steamboat wood, never reimbursing him.  Then, on November 4, Colonel Wyman took two horses, 300 bushels of corn, and 3 tons of hay for which he was never paid.

Both Little Berry Roberts and Andrew Bailey had returned to Camden County by 1862 and joined Union forces.  Under General Order 19 issued in July 1862, every able-bodied man in Missouri was required to become a member of the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM). "Over 18 and under 46 had to enroll in six days from the date of the order."  Those who chose to be enumerated as southern sympathizers rather than enroll in Union forces had to surrender their shotguns and rifles.  They often faced levies and were threatened with confiscation of property and imprisonment.

Little Berry Roberts, Jr. enrolled as a Private in the 47th Regt. EMM in Company A under Capt. Hurst in July 1862 at Linn Creek.  His card indicated that he transferred to U.S. Service on August 28, 1862, but no unit was listed.  He was discharged due to health concerns with asthma.

Little Berry Roberts, Jr. married Elizabeth "Jane" Williams from Dallas County, Missouri, in February 1868.  The couple had ten children, seven of whom lived to adulthood.   He died in Linn Creek in January 1889.
After his death, the administrator of his estate filed a claim for items taken by the military forces of the United States.
59th Congress, Second Session, House of Representatives, Document No. 678

The War Claims Court found that it did not appear that the property claimed for was taken by authority of and used by the United States.

Margaret Roberts' husband, Andrew T. Bailey enrolled as a Private in the 47th Regt. EMM in Co. F under Capt. Collier on August 11, 1862, at Linn Creek.  "Company F was composed of men who had first joined the enemy."  Goodspeed's History of Camden County published in 1889. p. 333.
A few days later Andrew enlisted in the U.S. Service.
He gave his age as 39 when he enlisted in the 29th Regt. Inf. Vols. as First Sgt. in Co. D under Capt. William H. Rogers on August 15, 1862, in Linn Creek.  He was mustered in Sept. 6, 1862 at Benton Barracks in St. Louis
The 29th Infantry fought in Alabama, Arkansas, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  The unit was mustered out June 12, 1865.

Andrew died at the age of 47 in 1870 and is buried in Erie Cemetery in Linn Creek.  That year Margaret was living with five children, including an infant, and her 80 year old mother Susan Roberts.   Margaret filed for a widow's pension on May 10, 1871.  She died October 14, 1911, in Camden County. 


  1. Sidney R. Roberts is my 2x great grandfather. I've been researching this line including military history for some time. Are you also related?

    1. No, not related as far as I know - I have several Camden County pioneer ancestors. Did your research indicate errors or additions? Always glad to update. Any information about where he was that day? Thanks!

  2. It's great that you've posted this all in one place, its been extremely helpful in my research. I've been trying to debunk a couple of footnoted items in Carol Bartells Civil War references stating that this Camden County Bill Roberts was actually the Bill Roberts from Boone County. I had already researched to determine that the Boone County Bill Roberts never left Boone County during this time, and it made no sense anyway that he would be in Linn Creek. He also came from an English Roberts family while my family is from a Huguenot Robert/Roberts line out of TN and SC (descended from Rev. Pierre Robert).
    What's more my Roberts line was very, very Southern leaning and protective of MO's state sovereignty. It is extremely evident by the enlistments of every able bodied male in the family. Further, the fact that Sidney Roberts served in the MO Assembly in the 1850s and as a Colonel-Commissary General under BG Mosby Parsons and then directly for Price (later in Ark). On the day of the Monday's Hollow, Sidney and his son LeRoy would have been with the 6th Division under BG M.M. Parsons having just won the Battle at Wilson's Creek and headed to Carthage and then to Pea Ridge. LeRoy became a very decorated Capt. and served the entire war having finally been captured and imprisoned in the north, then sent to Gratiot prison. He was released at the end of the war and it appears he lost a foot. He retired to Vernon County, MO where Sidney owned additional land he had purchased some years before the war. (Also a connection to the communications and assistance he provided to the Sheriff of Vernon County prior to the war.)
    I can update you with a couple more little known pieces of information. Sidney did pass away of disease 24 Aug 1862 in Pine Bluff, AR. At that time, many soldiers in AR were dying of disease. There was an rather large obituary in Little Rock paper in early September written by his friend and fellow officer Col. Austin Standish. Col. Standish and Gen Parsons, of course, later fight and die together in Mexico.
    I've noticed that most modern historians have forgotten much of this rich mid-Missouri history because they focus almost solely on Gov. J. McClurg. While he added some heat to fire, he was very late to the game. And, everyone seems to forget he was a rich slave owner until he turned over a new leaf to become a Radical Republican. I'm not sure if that was a true change in beliefs or a particularly convenient political move to win office after the war. All I know is that Gov. McClurg and Bagnell Dam hang a heavy shadow over the early and interesting pioneers of Camden County.

  3. P.S. I have some pics of Sidney's brother Littleberry (Jr.) Roberts, his wife and children. Also of some other family members. Unfortunately, I have never located a pic of Sidney, though I can imagine what he must have looked like based on his brother's photo. I'm happy to share with you.

    1. Thanks so much Julie. I had no idea someone had confused Linn Creek Bill Roberts with the bushwhacker. I'd love to add whatever info/pics you have to share. J. W. McClurg was indeed the face of the federals in Camden County. You might enjoy reading my two blog posts on the slaves from Camden County that served in the US Colored Troops, especially the one detailing the exceptional life of Caswell McClurg. We celebrated the placement of his USCT headstone on his grave this month.

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