Piedmont Chamber of Commerce  Piedmont Missouri

A Short History About Fort Benton - The Civil War began at 4:30 a.m., April 12th, 1861, when the first Confederate shell smashed into Fort Sumter. The bloody war that followed cost the lives of 600,000 men. The issue of slavery divided states, nationalities, neighbors and even families.

Though Wayne County was always pro Confederate, the Union army established the first outpost and telegraph line between the Arkansas border and Pilot Knob in the strategic area in Wayne County known as 'Patterson Valley'. they used a hill south of headquarters as a lookout point. They could survey the valley in all directions. The soldiers named it 'Fort Hill'.

In 1863, Federal Brigadier General William P. Benton oversaw completion of the fort at Patterson. Afterwards, it was named Fort Benton. Later that year they built Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob.

The Union Headquarters at Patterson served as dispatch center for orders from Fort Davidson and Barnesville. Sometimes there were thousands of troops quartered in the parade grounds.

There were two battles at the fort; the first in April of 1863, the second in September of 1864.

The First Raid - In his report, confederate General Marmaduke said his command consisted of 5,000 men, 8 old pieces of field artillery and 2 light mountain pieces. Of the 5,000 men, only 3,800 were armed. Their arms consisted of shotguns and Enfield, Mississippi or squirrel rifles. Marmaduke planned to capture the regiment at Patterson and then strike Bloomfield. Four days before the battle, Federal General Davidson had telegraphed Federal Colonel Edwin Smart at Fort Benton to fall back to Pilot Knob if attacked in force. So, when part of Marmaduke's command disobeyed instructions for a silent approach and used artillery, Smart, hearing the cannon, quickly loaded his wagons with weapons and equipment and escaped to Pilot Knob. Marmaduke took the fort, but later returned to Arkansas leaving the Union Army in control of Wayne County.

The Second Raid - Confederate General Shelby in his report says: "I pushed on then rapidly for Patterson,...and on the morning of the 22nd., I surrounded and charged in upon the town. Its garrison, hearing of my advance, retreated hastily, but not before many were captured and killed, and some supplies were taken. All the government part of Patterson was destroyed, together with its strong and ugly fort."

The dead were buried in unmarked graves in the Northeast corner of the Patterson cemetery. The local story is that on the night of September 22nd., men in tattered gray uniforms, local citizens and men in new blue uniforms met in the woods and traded news - most of it bad. Next day, men of the blue and the gray rejoined their units and marched to their deaths in the holocaust at Pilot Knob.

Fort Benton

To the right is the artist, Joe Huett's conception of how Fort Benton may have looked. Fort Benton is a Civil War Fort, built by Union troops on the hill behind the old school in Patterson, Missouri, between 1861-1863. The Fort measures about 150 feet square and is similar to Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob. The internal packed earth walls may have been 5 foot high using 2 inch thick vertical planks on the inside. Outer walls were of packed earth, about 5 feet high and 5 feet thick. Gunny sacks filled with earth topped the wall (or parapet). Along the inner walls steps led up to platforms, where riflemen knelt to fire. The powder magazine, a wooden roofed dirt cellar, may have been Northeast of the center of the Fort.


The park has 187 campsites, half of them electric and 18 rustic, plus air-conditioned cabins. A separate campground with 21 sites is available for use by equestrians.


The 14-mile (23 km) Mudlick Trail is available for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. The Mudlick has three stone shelters available for backpackers, and views of the 4,420-acre (1,790 ha) Mudlick Mountain Wild Area and the 1,370-acre (550 ha) Mudlick Natural Area. There is also the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) Shut-Ins Trail, the Hollow Pass Trail, and the nearby Wappapello Section of the Ozark Trail. The park also has a 2-mile (3.2 km) paved bicycle trail open to cyclists, hikers, skateboarders, and roller skaters.

Sam A. Baker State Park

Sam A. Baker State Park is a 5,323-acre (2,154 ha) state park located in the Saint Francois Mountains region of the Missouri Ozarks. The park was acquired in 1926 and is named for Missouri governor Sam Aaron Baker who encouraged the development of the park in his home county. The park's stone dining lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC also built most of the park's cabins and the backpacking shelters on the Mudlick Trail.

The park offers access to the St. Francis River and Big Creek for fishing, canoeing, and swimming.

Clearwater Lake

Clearwater Lake is a reservoir on the Black River six miles from Piedmont, Missouri. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses Clearwater for flood control in the White and lower Mississippi River Basins.

Construction began in 1940 but was halted temporarily at the advent of World War II. Clearwater Lake Dam opened in 1948 as an earthen and concrete dam, 114 feet high. The lake has a surface area of about 2.5 square miles.

Though recreation was not part of the lake's initial mission, Clearwater now offers boating, swimming, and camping facilities