Affairs at Cotton Plant

Location: Woodruff County
Campaign: None
Dates: April 21–22, 1864
Principal Commanders: Colonel Christopher Andrews (April 21), Major William Teed (April 22) (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Regiment of Third Minnesota Infantry (April 21), Members of Eighth Missouri Cavalry (April 22) (US); Unknown (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 8 captured (April 21) (CS); 2 killed, 19 wounded (April 22) (US)
Result: Union victory (April 21), Confederate victory (April 22)

The Affairs at Cotton Plant are two separate events that took place on successive days near the town of Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) and the Cache River.

DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) served as a major Union outpost in eastern Arkansas. Supplies were brought up the White River and transported from the town by rail to the northern shore of the Arkansas River across from Little Rock (Pulaski County). Protecting the area immediately surrounding DeValls Bluff remained an important Federal objective for much of the war.

Numerous Union units operated in and around DeValls Bluff, including at the towns of Augusta (Woodruff County) and Clarendon (Monroe County). Control of these towns in eastern Arkansas allowed Federal troops to protect the vital supply route to the state capital.

On April 21, 1864, Colonel Christopher Andrews of the Third Minnesota Infantry led his regiment from Augusta to DeValls Bluff. These troops returned from an expedition to capture Confederate troops operating in the area. The return trip to DeValls Bluff took three days as the Federals struggled through rain and over bad roads. As the Union troops approached the Cache River, they surprised a number of Confederates, who fled across the river. Andrews estimated that the Confederates numbered 1,000. Only encountering slight resistance, the Union troops captured eight prisoners, including a colonel and a messenger for Major General Sterling Price. The Federal troops also brought seventy-five freedmen to join the Union army, sixty head of livestock, and about $2,000 of cotton.

An unrelated event took place near Cotton Plant the next day. Members of the Eighth Missouri Cavalry (US) encountered enemy resistance near the town. Based in Clarendon, the Federals retreated back to that town where their commander, Major William Teed, requested additional supplies from DeValls Bluff. He did not ask for additional men but mentioned that his unit might require assistance in the near future. The Federals lost nineteen men wounded and two killed in the engagement but did not report any enemy losses.

These brief skirmishes became more common as the war went on and the nature of warfare in the state moved away from major battles.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 34, Part 1. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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