Expedition from Little Rock to Benton (November 2–3, 1864)

The November 2–3, 1864, expedition from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Benton (Saline County) was an attempt by Union troops to attack Confederates reportedly foraging in the area; the operation, however, was based on faulty intelligence.

Colonel John Logan’s Eleventh Arkansas Mounted Infantry (CS) was based in Princeton (Dallas County) in late 1864, and the troopers spent much of their time gathering forage in Dallas and Saline counties. Union officials in Little Rock received reports in early November that between 700 and 800 of Logan’s men were foraging near a Dr. Morton’s place in Saline County.

On the evening of November 2, 1864, Colonel John F. Ritter of the First Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) left Little Rock leading 369 officers and men from the Second Cavalry Brigade augmented by 110 troopers of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry. Riding all night along the Jenkins’ Ferry road, they reached Morton’s at 7:00 the next morning. Ritter reported: “No enemy at the place, and had not been in that vicinity since a week before.”

The Union officer reported that Logan “had been in that vicinity and stripped the country of forage, and then returned to Princeton.” The Federal cavalrymen rode on to Benton, where they scraped together enough corn to feed their horses and captured two men who said there was a large force at Princeton, where Colonel Lucien Gause’s infantrymen were protecting Logan’s base, and “a considerable command” near Rockport (Hot Spring County). The Union expedition returned to Little Rock around 10:00 p.m. on November 3.

Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr was incensed that faulty intelligence had led to Ritter’s expedition and wrote that the scouts from the provost marshal’s office who provided it should “be severely punished for bringing false information, in order to prevent others from being the means of sending our cavalry on expeditions in [the] future.”

Captain L. B. Nash, who was in charge of the provost marshal’s spy operations, replied that the captains of two companies of Union irregular scouts and several of their men had provided the intelligence and because Federal officials knew Logan had been “marauding and taking corn from that section,” Nash felt compelled to make the report. He added that “there is no scout employed at this office to be punished, but about ten men belonging to independent companies (some of them living in the vicinity of Dr. Morton’s) that are responsible and to blame for the report.”

For additional information:
Rushing, Anthony. Ranks of Honor: A Regimental History of the Eleventh Arkansas Infantry Regiment & Poe’s Cavalry Battalion C.S.A., 1861–1865. Little Rock: Eagle Press of Little Rock, 1990.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, part 1, pp. 897–899; part 4, p. 414. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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