From “Dallas Morning News”, 2/18/97:
“Oklahoma graves of 9 Confederate soldiers to be recognized”
ATOKA, Okla---Rifle balls and cannon fire weren't responsible for
all the killing in the Civil War. A measles epidemic claimed its share of
the dead in southern Oklahoma.
The graves of nine Confederate soldiers who died in that apparent
epidemic will be recognized this weekend during the re-enactment of
the 1864 Battle of Middle Boggy near Atoka. Informal tours of the
graves, within sight of the Confederate Memorial Museum, are
“It kind of brings them to life---knowing they were people who died
like that,” said Gwen WALKER, the site manager for the museum.
Ms. Walker was key to solving the mystery about the graves and the
deaths. The graves were originally marked by small sandstones.
It took 10 years of research and the discovery of a letter believed to
have been written by a soldier who survived the measles outbreak to
answer questions about the death.
Historians say the nine men were among many Confederate soldiers
who were victims of measles in 1862 in the Choctaw Nation of Indian
The nine soldiers who died of measles were members of Capt. C. L.
Dawson's 19th Arkansas Infantry, according to Ms Walker’s research
and a letter written by Hugh A. BROTHERS on April 25, 1862.
Mike MORRIS of Ridgeville, S.C. provided Ms. Walker with the
letter nearly two years ago.
Hugh Brothers wrote to his wife that he had suffered from measles,
“and they went very hard with me.” He said that the disease killed
many and that “about 300 sick me had been left on the road from Fort
Smith [Arkansas] to McCulloch [Fort McCulloch, several miles to the
“It is strange to me what makes men die in a big army so fast,” he
said. “They die like sheep with the rot nearly.”
The victims buried in the cemetery were all from Arkansas: J. W.
BATES of Waldron; Thomas T. BAKER of Fort Smith; W. C. DAVIS
and C. A. FLOYD, both of Pike County; John E. FLOWERS, Francis
M. JOHNSON and James A. NEUGENT, all of Antonia; and Thomas
MAYBEN and J. J. RUNNELS, both of Nashville.
Ms. Walker said Hugh Brothers later was captured and died in a
Union prison camp in Douglas, Ill., of smallpox.
Lon FINK, president of the Atoka County Historical Society and a
colonel in a Union cavalry re-enactor group, said the discovery is
important to the overall re-enactment.
“It’s something we don’t want to lose---we love history the way it is;
we want it to be as right as possible,” he said, explaining that many
people assumed the dead Confederates were battle victims, despite dates
that didn’t match.
The deaths from measles occurred nearly two years before the 1864
battle near the Middle Boggy River, which is now called Muddy Boggy.
In the battle, about 320 Union cavalry soldiers in an advance party
attacked a Confederate camp of about 90 men. Reports say 47
Confederates were killed.
The re-enactment is set Saturday and Sunday on 240 acres six miles
west of Atoka.
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