Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US)

The Fourth Arkansas Cavalry was a regiment formed by white Arkansans who supported the Federal government during the Civil War.

The Fourth Arkansas Cavalry began organizing in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in November 1863. William Fishback led the effort to recruit part of the regiment. Organized in two battalions of six companies each, the first company was mustered into service in December. LaFayette Gregg was commissioned as the colonel of the regiment and commanded it for its entire existence. The first battalion was originally enlisted as a one-year regiment, but this designation was rejected by the War Department. The battalion was disbanded, and recruitment continued as a three-year unit. The first eight companies of the regiment were organized by May 1864. The remaining four companies were not mustered in for several months, a delay blamed on the failure of the Camden Expedition, which hurt recruiting efforts. The last company entered active service on December 31, 1864.

The regiment joined the garrison of Little Rock and began participating in scouts across central and southern Arkansas to gather intelligence and disrupt Confederate movements. The first action that the unit experienced was a skirmish along the Saline River on February 15, 1864. One man was killed in the action.

The largest engagement that soldiers in the regiment participated in was at Dardanelle (Yell County) on May 16, 1864. All or part of five companies were present when Confederate brigadier general Joseph O. Shelby took the town. Twelve men of the regiment are listed as missing after the battle, and another forty-eight deserted from the regiment either during the battle or just after it.

Other small engagements during the course of the regiment’s service included skirmishes near Cedar Glade on March 1, 1864; a skirmish at Benton (Saline County) on July 6, 1864; and a skirmish near Little Rock on July 18, 1864. The regiment was posted across the state, with units seeing service at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), Little Rock, Dardanelle, Montgomery County, and Helena (Phillips County). Most of the service of the unit was spent patrolling and guarding Union outposts in these areas.

The regiment lost many men during its service, with eighteen killed and eleven missing in action; a total of 216 died from sickness or accidents, and there were 143 deserters. The regiment mustered out of service in Little Rock on June 30, 1865.

For additional information:
Report of the Adjutant General of Arkansas: Period of the Late Rebellion, and to November 1, 1866. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1867.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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