Affair near DeValls Bluff (November 2, 1864)

aka: Affair at Hazen's Farm

Location: Prairie County
Campaign: None
Date: November 2, 1864
Principal Commanders: Captain Nelson Claflin (US); Captain Patrick Wheat (CS)
Forces Engaged: 11 men of the Twelfth Michigan Infantry (US); 15 guerrillas (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 8 captured (US); None (CS)
Result: Confederate victory

With Union outposts scattered across the state during the Civil War, small parties of Federal troops became prime targets for Confederate forces and guerrillas. The need to gather necessary forage and other supplies forced Union troops outside the confines of their fortified positions, sometimes leading to their capture, as in this engagement.

In November 1864, a company of the Twelfth Michigan Infantry was tasked with guarding the railroad between DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and what is now North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Posted about seven miles to the west of DeValls Bluff under the command of Captain Nelson Claflin, the Federals were in a vulnerable and isolated position.

On November 2, 1864, Claflin dispatched eleven of his men from their camp to the Hazen Farm, near the present-day site of Hazen (Prairie County). The soldiers were under orders to gather bricks and were returning to camp when the group split. Three of the soldiers continued toward camp, while the other eight moved in another direction. About three miles from camp, these eight were surprised by a group of fifteen bushwhackers under the command of Captain Patrick Wheat. All of the Federals were captured and marched another three miles away from the camp, where they were robbed and then paroled.

Wheat and his men made their escape, but not before telling their captives that they knew the location of all of the pickets posted at DeValls Bluff and other intelligence. The eight released soldiers returned to camp, where they were ordered to be placed under arrest and transferred to DeValls Bluff.

The Federals did not mount a major effort to capture the Confederates but did share the intelligence gathered by the released soldiers. The experience demonstrated to the men just how dangerous Arkansas could be outside of prepared fortifications.

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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