Affair at DeValls Bluff (December 13, 1864)

Location: Prairie County
Campaign: None
Date: December 13, 1864
Principal Commanders: Unknown (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Unknown (US); Dobbins Brigade detachment (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); 2 captured (CS)
Result: Union victory

Union forces guarded a number of important outposts across the state in 1864, creating an important line of defense against possible Confederate attacks from the southwestern corner of the state. In an effort to gather intelligence about enemy movements and possible threats more effectively, Federal commanders used patrols and guards in locations where their troops would not be expected by the Confederates. Even while the information gathered was not particularly important, Union officers passed any intelligence up their chain of command, allowing their commanders to make informed decisions. This affair is an example of such an incident.

Brigadier General Christopher Andrews commanded the Federal garrison at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) in late 1864 and worked to gather information about the location of nearby Confederate forces. In an effort to find out more about the enemy forces in the area, Andrews placed a picket post on the east side of the White River, about three miles from DeValls Bluff and on the opposite bank. This post was stationed near present-day Biscoe (Prairie County).

The placement of such an isolated post paid off on the night of December 13, 1864, when the troops tasked with guarding that area captured two soldiers belonging to the regiment of Colonel Archibald Dobbins. The captured soldiers reported that a company in Dobbins’s command was scheduled to gather on Coffee Creek about twenty miles from Clarendon (Monroe County). Andrews quickly reported this intelligence to his superiors in Little Rock (Pulaski County), but it does not seem that he did anything else with the information.

With no soldiers killed or wounded, this encounter seems to be ultimately unimportant in the war. However, it was through actions like this one that both sides worked to gain the upper hand and plan their movements accordingly.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 41, Part I. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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