Lick Creek Expedition

aka: Helena Expedition (March 6–10, 1863)
aka: Big Creek Expedition


Location: Phillips County
Campaign: None
Date: March 6–10, 1863
Principal Commanders: Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss, Major Samuel Walker, Major Edward F. Winslow (US); a Lieutenant Cleaveland (CS)
Forces Engaged: Fifth Kansas Cavalry, Fourth Iowa Cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)
Casualties: 2 captured, 1 wounded (US); 4 killed, 5 captured (CS)
Result: Successful Union reconnaissance along Big and Lick creeks

The Lick Creek Expedition was an attempt to find Confederate forces located around Big and Lick creeks in Phillips County.

On March 6, 1863, Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss in Helena (Phillips County) dispatched 500 men from the Fifth Kansas Cavalry under the command of Major Samuel Walker. After searching for Confederate forces for two days, Walker reported back to Prentiss early on March 8 that they could not find any Confederates in the area.

Walker took a different approach and advised Major Edward F. Winslow of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry to cross Big Creek while he moved across another area of the creek. Both Maj. Walker and Maj. Winslow encountered small Confederate forces; Winslow killed one Confederate, destroyed their ferry boats, and took one prisoner. One cavalryman from the Fourth Iowa was shot from his horse, and two men from the Fifth Kansas—Lieutenant Joseph McCarty and Sergeant John D. Orcutt—were taken prisoner. Walker’s forces killed a Lieutenant Cleaveland of Parsons’s regiment and two men from Wetherby’s Regiment, along with capturing four prisoners.

Winslow reported that there was no large Confederate party in the area of Big and Lick creeks. There was a report of Confederates at Cotton Plant (Woodruff County). Union forces remained in the Big and Lick creeks area after their expedition.

For additional information:
Christ, Mark K. Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle for a State. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 22, Part I. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1888.

Matthew Whitlock
Old Dominion University


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