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Civil War book by Batesville man gets new title, cover

By Julie M. Fidler

This article was published March 24, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.

— Freeman Mobley, 84, originally self-published his book through local printing companies.

Making Sense of the Civil War in Batesville-Jacksonport and Northeast Arkansas is a comprehensive account of activities, skirmishes and battles fought in the region. The book was years in the making.

With the help of his family, Mobley is selling his book through his own Internet site, and it will soon be available on demand through

Mobley’s son, Mark Mobley, established the website to showcase the book. Through the site, readers can order a copy or read an excerpt from the book, now retitled Civil War! A Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Northeast Arkansas, 1861-1874.

“The kids talked me into a new cover and a better title,” the author said.

The new cover features a graphic showing the “missing puzzle piece,” with which many Civil War buffs may not be familiar.

“[My children] pointed out to me, it’s more than just a Batesville-Jacksonport story. They said it really told the whole story of northeast Arkansas and a big part of Arkansas’ history during the war.”

The book took five years to compile and write.

“If Dad hadn’t printed and had it proofread before, it would’ve taken two or three years to go through and find the mistakes. Now, there really are no mistakes,” Mark said. “We’ve clarified everything.”

“Mark has the expertise with the computer,” Freeman said, “and they do everything through computers nowadays.”

Within a month to six weeks, the book will be available for $19.95 through Amazon’s subsidiary, which is a self-publishing site.

“They do the printing and publishing, and they sell it,” Freeman said. “It’s a really good deal for an independent writer in that they just print copies as they sell them, so you don’t have a big stack sitting there.

“It goes to a wider audience now. I started out thinking I’d sell enough books in Batesville and Jacksonport to pay for it. I didn’t make any profit. I’ve read in the field all my life, and it was a tremendous advantage having that background.”

Freeman said he’s been reading about the Civil War for as long as he can remember. He stumbled across a volume of government reports on the Trans-Mississippi Theater. The Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War was the focus of the major military and naval operations west of the Mississippi River.

“My basis was resource records of ‘the War of the Rebellion,’” he said.

“There are 186 volumes. In the 1880s, the federal government tried to gather all the initial official reports from the war at the time — official Army and Navy reports. There’s a couple of volumes on the trans-Mississippi, which included Arkansas.

“I found these in a used-book store when I was a teenager,” he said. “That’s when I got really enamored. These two volumes happened to be about Batesville. Lyon College has the entire collection, and I read from their collection. Now, I’ve got a disc with the whole thing on it.”

For those who would rather not go through the Internet to get Mobley’s book, it is also available at area bookstores, museums and state parks. It can be found at various sites, including the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock; the Old Independence Regional Museum and Paperchase Book Store in Batesville; Jacksonport State Park; Mammoth Spring State Park; The Battlefield, a Civil War Book Shoppe in Hot Springs; and the Downtown Antique Mall Ozark Bookstore in West Plains, Mo.

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