Civil War (1861-1865)
The Period of the Civil War along the Buffalo can be characterized by these activities: (1) officially-sanctioned skirmishes resulting from Union or Confederate patrols through the area; (2) irregular activities of guerrilla groups on both sides; (3) the saltpeter cave nitre production.
The most visible effect of the Civil War was the denuding of the land, the burning of numerous homesteads, and the total disruption of family and community life. This part of the story of Buffalo River exists mostly as oral history. Skirmish sites, saltpeter caves, and other tangible reminders of the war period can be identified along the river.
Regarding the conflict, opinions varied as much along the Buffalo as they did throughout the nation. Newton County (upper river) represents the strong division of the inhabitants between North and South, even of family member against family member. The "Mountain Feds" (Union sympathizers) here, as were staunch Confederate supporters. The middle portion of the river, although showing both Union and Confederate sympathizers, appears to have been more sympathetic to the Confederate cause; this may have been due to the influence and activities of James Harrison Love, a Confederate captain from Searcy County who was involved in several engagements along the Buffalo. Middle river inhabitants also became part of the so-called Peace Society, an extension of similar activities from other mid-south areas. The lower river had fewer wartime encounters, partially because it was a more sparsely-settled area. After 1864, Yellville became a garrison for Union troops.
One of the main activities of the Confederate supporters in the area was the use of caves rich in bat guano, from which extracted nitre for gunpowder. Destroying the "saltpeter works" remained a mission of the Union troops.