Affair at Searcy

Location: White County
Campaign: None
Date: May 18, 1864
Principal Commanders: Colonel Oliver Wood (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Unknown (US); 250 guerrillas (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); Unknown (CS)
Result: Union victory

A small engagement fought during a scouting mission by Union troops, this action is typical of the type of fighting during this point of the war in the state. Federal outposts worked to keep their supply lines open and disrupt any enemy movements by sending out multiple scouting parties.

Colonel Oliver Wood commanded the Federal post at Brownsville (Lonoke County) and worked to ensure that Confederate forces in the area remained off balance and unable to launch an effective attack on the men stationed in the area. Scouting parties also gathered food from the surrounding countryside to supplement the meager rations issued to the Union troops.

In May 1864, Wood accompanied a scouting party as it searched for enemy troops and supplies. Seizing eighty horses and mules, the party continued to search for cattle. While on the scout, the Federals learned that three enemy bands were operating in the area. On May 18, 1864, bands under the command of leaders named Kirk and Little attacked the Federals. The Union troops easily repulsed the attack and forced the enemy to retreat in confusion. Wood did not report any casualties suffered by his men and was also unable to provide a detailed accounting of the casualties suffered by the enemy due to their quick retreat. Wood did estimate the enemy force at around 250.

The Union force returned to Brownsville the next day, and Wood reported to his superiors, sharing the intelligence that he gathered while on the scout. This brief event, which provided little for either side, illustrates just how often enemy forces clashed in the state.

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

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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