Expedition from Little Rock to Irving’s Plantation (October 26–28, 1864)

The October 26–28, 1864, Civil War expedition from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Irving’s Plantation proved to be a wild goose chase for the Federal troops involved.

Captain Joseph G. Tilford of the Third U.S. Cavalry led around 410 officers and men of the Second Cavalry Brigade out of Little Rock around noon on October 26, 1864, and headed down the Arkansas River to check on the condition of the steamboat Annie Jacobs, which apparently was stranded; they found the vessel safely guarded by about forty Union infantrymen. Local African Americans told Tilford that Jeff Irving had been at Irving’s father’s plantation about five miles away the day before with twenty or thirty Confederates. The elder Irving had wanted the enslaved people to “come South,” but they fled toward Union lines instead. “The only party that came near the boat was the one that visited Irving’s plantation,” Tilford reported, “and their object seems to have been to run off the negroes, which they did, but not in the direction they expected.”

The Federal troopers hurried from the Annie Jacobs to try to capture the Confederates, but they “found no rebels,” so they fed their horses and camped at Irving’s that night. Returning to the steamboat the next morning and “the captain not seeming to fear an attack” on the vessel, Tilford “concluded the object of the expedition had been accomplished” and returned to Little Rock, arriving there around dusk on October 28.

Tilford reported that his African American informants had told him that Irving said about 1,200 men of Colonel John L. Logan’s Eleventh Arkansas Mounted Infantry (CS) were on the river road, but they did not think there were more than 400, and the group’s main objective seemed to have been to rob a tan-yard and seize livestock.

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, p. 860–861. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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