Expedition from Pine Bluff to Arkansas Post (October 13–18, 1864)

The October 13–18, 1864, Civil War expedition from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) was undertaken by the Federals to look for Confederate troops and to seize livestock for the Union base at Pine Bluff.

On October 13, 1864, Brigadier General Powell Clayton ordered Colonel Albert Erskine of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry take 300 men and ride to Arkansas Post to determine if any Confederate soldiers were in the area and to search for livestock to feed the thousands of troops at Pine Bluff. Erskine was to cover the prairie on the north side of the Arkansas River initially, then have some of his men cross the river at South Bend on the way back “so as to scour the country.”

The next day, Clayton received a message from Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr reporting that 433 men of the Third Michigan Cavalry Regiment had left Brownsville (Lonoke County) on October 10, also heading toward Arkansas Post. Carr was concerned that there might be a “collision” between the two parties that could result in friendly fire casualties. However, the two expeditions did not run into each other.

Erskine’s Federals reached Arkansas Post on October 15 and turned back, at some point encountering a “small band of the enemy” from which they captured one Confederate and six horses. They reached Pine Bluff on October 18, having seized “400 head of cattle, 30 horses, and 125 sheep.”

The expedition from Pine Bluff to Arkansas Post was typical of many such operations from Union bases throughout Arkansas as Federal leaders sought intelligence on the location of enemy troops and food for their hungry soldiers.

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. 853; part 3, pp. 831, 856–857. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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