Expedition to Grand Glaize

aka: Scout to Little Red River

Campaign: Pea Ridge Campaign
Dates: May 31, 1862
Principal Commanders: Lieutenant Eduard DeGrendele, Colonel George E. Waring Jr. (US); none (CS)
Forces Engaged: Two detachments of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry (US); none (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); none (CS)
Result: None

The expedition to Grand Glaize and scout to the Little Red River were conducted as the Union’s Army of the Southwest sought intelligence on Confederate movements as the Federal army menaced Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the mid-point of the 1862 Pea Ridge Campaign.

Following the Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7–8, 1862, Major General Samuel R. Curtis pulled his Army of the Southwest back into Missouri to protect that border state from other possible incursions by Confederate troops. By late April, though, Curtis’s commander, Major General Henry Halleck, concluded correctly that Major General Earl Van Dorn had moved his Confederate Army of the West across the Mississippi River, and so he ordered Curtis to return to Arkansas with the goal of capturing the capital at Little Rock.

Curtis entered Arkansas near Salem (Fulton County) on April 29 and marched to Batesville (Independence County), arriving there on May 2. Brigadier General Frederick Steele brought a separate Union army from southeastern Missouri and occupied Jacksonport (Jackson County) on May 4, and Curtis incorporated those troops into the Army of the Southwest, reorganizing the army into three divisions, with Steele commanding the First Division, Brigadier General Eugene Carr leading the Second Division, and Colonel Peter J. Osterhaus at the head of the Third Division.

On May 7, Osterhaus led his troops south from Batesville, arriving at the Little Red River four days later. The Third Division was in a precarious position, being separated from the other two even as reports came in that Confederate major general Thomas C. Hindman was commandeering Texas troops passing through Arkansas and authorizing the formation of partisan bands to attack and harass Union troops, while Confederate gunboats were supposedly active on the White River. Carr’s Second Division joined Osterhaus on May 20, the day after a Union foraging party suffered heavy casualties in the brutal action at Whitney’s Lane.

In late May, Osterhaus sent two detachments of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry (US) in search of information. Lieutenant Eduard DeGrendele led an expedition to Grand Glaise (Jackson County), reporting on May 31 that rumors that Confederate troops—including as many as 15,000 led by Major General Sterling Price—were landing at Des Arc (Prairie County) were being spread by Bill Stone, “legislator, store-keeper, and now guerrilla marauder,” and were intended “to keep [Union] troops from marching any farther.” DeGrendele discounted those stories. The lieutenant also reported that provisions in the area “are very nearly exhausted all around here by our army trains and some time ago by the rebels.”

Colonel George E. Waring Jr. of the Fourth Missouri reported on the same day on a relatively uneventful scout he led to near the mouth of the Little Red River, saying he sent a small party across the river on a boat that ventured as far as the White River. Those troops said “no boats of any kind have been seen for three weeks” and discredited the account that a Confederate gunboat had tried to raise a crew at Des Arc, while acknowledging that there may be a camp of undetermined size there.

The Union drive on Little Rock was ultimately abandoned because of the tenuousness of the supply line from Missouri, and Osterhaus and Carr were ordered back to Batesville on June 4. Following the failure of a supply flotilla to reach the Army of the Southwest after the Engagement at St. Charles, Curtis decided to live off the land and march across eastern Arkansas to Helena (Phillips County), which he reached on July 12, 1862, ending the Pea Ridge Campaign.

For additional information:
Akridge, Scott H., and Emmett E. Powers. A Severe and Bloody Fight: The Battle of Whitney’s Lane & Military Occupation of White County, Arkansas, May & June, 1862. Searcy, AR: White County Historical Museum, 1996.

Christ, Mark K., ed. Rugged and Sublime: The Civil War in Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.

Shea, William L., and Earl J. Hess. Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 13, pp. 405–406. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1885.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 05/06/2022