Scout from Little Rock to Benton (November 27–30, 1864)

The November 27–30, 1864, scouting expedition from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Benton (Saline County) was undertaken in an effort to engage with Confederate forces south of the Union base in the capital.

Captain William Hawley of the Third U.S. Cavalry Regiment led detachments of the Third U.S. and the Third Missouri Cavalry Regiment out of Little Rock on November 27, 1864, taking the road toward Jenkins’ Ferry. After the Federals rode about eight miles, Confederate guerrillas fired on their advance troops. The U.S. soldiers returned fire, and “every effort [was] made to capture them, but without success,” though a citizen riding with the bushwhackers was arrested and sent to Little Rock. The command rode another twenty-eight miles before camping for the night.

Hawley decided to abandon the Jenkins’ Ferry road the next day, citing a lack of available food for his increasingly worn-out horses. The Federals followed a side road that took them behind Benton, into which they charged at 7:00 a.m. “but found no one except a few citizens, who stated that most all of the Confederate troops had gone to Red River.”

The Union troopers searched the areas for forage for their horses, but none was available, so Hawley ordered his men to return to Little Rock, arriving at 6:00 p.m. on November 30, having lost two horses that “died in camp from causes unknown” and two that were too broken down to travel. Hawley concluded that “the country through which I traveled was destitute of beef-cattle and forage.”

The largely uneventful scout from Little Rock to Benton was one of many regular patrols sent out from the capital in search of Confederate troops, which the Third U.S. Cavalry’s historian would write “necessitated constant scouting in small detachments, which involved hard riding, much risk, but no engagements of magnitude to attract attention.”

For additional information:
Morton, Charles. “Third Regiment of Cavalry.” In The Army of the US: Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief. New York: Maynard, Merrill &Co., 1896. Online at https://history.army.mil/books/R&H/R&H-3CV.htm (accessed April 5, 2022).

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, part 1, p. 944. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 04/20/2022

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