Scout from Brownsville to Arkansas Post (December 7–13, 1864)
The December 7–13, 1864, Union scouting expedition from Brownsville (Lonoke County) to Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) was undertaken to hunt down guerrillas who had been firing on Union shipping on the Arkansas River and to seize beef cattle for the Federal army.
On December 6, 1864, Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr ordered a detachment of 200 men from the garrison at Brownsville to ride toward Arkansas Post “for the purpose of driving out the bushwhackers in that region and bringing in beef cattle.” Carr noted that one party of twenty-five guerrillas had fired on boats near the post “and there is said to be some squads of bushwhackers between the Bayou Metoe [sic] and the Arkansas.”
Major Gilbert J. Hudson duly left Brownsville the next morning leading companies A, H, K, L, and M of the Third Michigan Cavalry Regiment toward Arkansas Post. It took the scouting expedition three days to reach the post because of difficult roads, impassible sloughs, and a lack of forage, but on December 11 Hudson sent detachments out from the post “along the river above and below, and scouting the country thoroughly in all directions.”
They did not find any guerrillas but were able to determine that around 300 Confederate recruits from Missouri had crossed the White River at Crockett’s Bluff (Arkansas County) during the previous week and crossed the Arkansas near the mouth of Bayou Meto on December 6. As many as 500 other recruits were rumored to be in northern Arkansas awaiting an opportunity to cross the Arkansas River and join the Confederate army.
In addition, Hudson’s scouts captured five people, one of whom was a deserter from Major General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee (who perhaps abandoned that army after the disastrous loss at Franklin, Tennessee, on November 30) and a Dr. J. C. Miller who “claims to not to belong to the service, but was taken under suspicious circumstances.”
The Federals also seized 400 head of cattle before returning to Brownsville on December 13, 1864.
Though the scout from Brownsville to Arkansas Post failed to encounter any guerrillas, it was typical of the frequent expeditions sent out from Union bases in Arkansas in pursuit of enemy soldiers and livestock and provisions for Union use.
For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, part 1, pp. 978–979; part 4, p. 780–781. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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