Expedition from Batesville to near Searcy Landing (January 30–February 3, 1864)

The expedition from Batesville to near Searcy Landing was one of a series of operations conducted by Union forces based in Batesville (Independence County) to locate and fight Confederate troops and guerrillas in the region.

After occupying Batesville on Christmas Day 1863, Union commander Colonel Robert Livingston began sending detachments of his troops on search-and-destroy operations throughout the region. On January 30, 1864, Captain Albert B. Kauffman of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry (US) led a party of seventy-five troopers from his regiment out of Batesville in search of Confederate brigadier general Dandridge McRae, who was recruiting troops in the area. They took the Jacksonport Road east, turning south on Dupartee Creek and eventually reaching Grand Glaize (Jackson County) around sundown on January 31.

He was joined about two hours later by detachments of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry under Captain William Castle and the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) under Captain Leander S. Dunscomb; they had left Batesville at the same time as Kauffman’s group but had initially gone through Jacksonport (Jackson County). Castle’s men had captured two prisoners along the way, including a riverboat pilot.

The combined force continued toward where McRae was supposed to be camped near Glaize Creek, planning to attack at dawn on February 1, but the Federals were delayed by flooding that hindered their crossing of Dupartee Creek. When they finally reached their goal around 8:00 a.m. on February 1, they “found his camp broken up, and learned he had left some two days earlier,” heading toward Denmark (White County). Kauffman also reported that the men who had camped with McRae were from a Captain Little’s guerrilla band.

Dunscomb and his Third Arkansas troopers were to go on to Little Rock (Pulaski County), so Kauffman ordered Castle and his Missourians to accompany them as far as Searcy Landing (White County) while the rest of the expedition bivouacked at Denmark. The next morning, Kauffman determined that other troops from Batesville had passed down the road during the night; he learned that they were from the First Nebraska Cavalry from Castle, who rejoined him after the Nebraskans linked up with Dunscomb and continued toward Little Rock with the Arkansas troops.

The Missourians were turning back toward Batesville when a civilian told them that a group of horsemen had passed off the road about a mile ahead of them. Kauffman ordered Castle to split his troopers into two groups and to proceed through the woods on either side of the road while Kauffman “with my own detachment…would move slowly up the road.” Castle, on the left of the road, ran into five men of Little’s band and chased them for three miles, killing one guerrilla and capturing two while the rest escaped, “there [sic] horses being too fresh for our jaded animals.”

Returning to Batesville on February 3, the Missourians turned over a lieutenant from Little’s company and eleven other prisoners to the provost marshal, along with several horses. While Kauffman’s troops suffered no casualties, he reported that one man of the Eleventh Missouri deserted at the bridge over Dupartee Creek and another “lost his horse and arms by letting him stray off.”

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 34, part 1, pp. 102–105. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

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