Frog Bayou Expedition
|Dates:||November 7–13, 1863|
|Principal Commanders:||Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison (US); Colonel W. H. Brooks (CS)|
|Forces Engaged:||412 cavalry and two 12-pound howitzers from the First Arkansas Cavalry and the Second Kansas Cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)|
|Estimated Casualties:||None (US); 18 captured, 1 dead, and unknown wounded (CS)|
As Federal forces consolidated power in northwestern Arkansas, efforts were made to find and destroy any remaining Confederate cavalry or guerrilla units operating in the area. This expedition took the Union troops through several counties and combat in two skirmishes.
On November 5, 1863, Brigadier General John McNeil ordered Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison to lead all of his mounted men accompanied by two howitzers in pursuit of a major unit of enemy forces operating in the area. This movement would be supported by another group of Union soldiers moving from Van Buren (Crawford County) in an effort to drive the enemy into Harrison’s men.
Departing Fayetteville (Washington County) on the afternoon of November 7, 1863, Harrison led a total of 412 men and the two guns toward Huntsville (Madison County). On November 8, Harrison detached a company near Huntsville to search for bushwhackers operating along War Eagle Creek. The next morning, Harrison learned that a group of Confederates numbering approximately 1,200 under the command of Colonel W. H. Brooks was moving in the direction of his force east of Huntsville. Quickly deploying his forces, Harrison and his men were almost immediately attacked by the enemy. After a brief fight, the Union troops, supported by the howitzers, successfully pushed the enemy back and inflicted casualties of one killed, several wounded, and one captured while not suffering any losses of their own. Brooks and his men fled across the Kings River and retreated toward Carrollton (Carroll County).
Pursuing the Confederates, Harrison attacked their camp on the morning of November 10 near Kingston (Madison County). The engagement soon turned into a running fight that stretched for approximately twenty miles and involved two separate occasions in which Brooks and his men made a stand only to be forced to continue to retreat. The Confederates were able to break away from the Federals during the night, and over the course of the day of November 11, Harrison and his men searched for the enemy.
By the morning of November 12, the Confederates had made their escape. Harrison detailed 136 men and one gun to continue the search and returned to Fayetteville with the remainder of his men. Harrison returned to Fayetteville on November 13, and the detachment returned to the city on November 16. During the course of the expedition, the Federals inflicted a number of casualties on the enemy, including the capture of two lieutenants and fifteen enlisted men. Union troops reportedly caused a number of casualties among the enemy but the exact number was unknown, and Harrison did not report an estimate.
The expedition successfully found and disrupted Confederate forces in northwestern Arkansas. By keeping the enemy off-balance by using scouting expeditions like this one, Federal forces were able to keep their hold on key outposts across Arkansas.
For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 22, Part 1, Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.
Henderson State University
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