Scout from DeValls Bluff to Searcy and Clinton (November 9–15, 1864)

The November 9–15, 1864, scout from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) to Searcy (White County) and Clinton (Van Buren County) was undertaken to determine the location of Confederate troops in north-central Arkansas following Major General Sterling Price’s disastrous raid into Missouri.

A force of the Fourth Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) under Major Harris S. Greeno was ordered out of DeValls Bluff on the evening of November 8, 1864, but because their horses were badly in need of shoeing they delayed leaving until the following morning. The scouting expedition—consisting of Company D under Captain Julius H. Norton and Lieutenant Nelson P. Baker and twenty-five men from Company F under Captain W. H. Warner—left DeValls Bluff on November 9, riding to Hickory Plains (Prairie County) and spending the night before reaching Searcy the next day. Greeno captured a Confederate soldier who said he had deserted from Price’s army; several local citizens also said they had met Confederate deserters who said that Price’s defeated Confederate army was trying to get across the Arkansas River at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) or farther west in the Indian Territory.

Heading to Fairview (White County) on November 11, the Federals captured three more deserters from Colonel W. O. Coleman’s Forty-Sixth Arkansas (Mounted) Regiment (CS), which was led by Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Crabtree after Coleman was made a prisoner of war during Price’s raid.

From these and other prisoners, Greeno determined that Crabtree was planning to make Searcy his headquarters while Colonel Thomas H. McCray was heading for Jacksonport (Jackson County) with Colonel Lee Crandall’s Forty-Seventh Arkansas (Mounted) Regiment (CS) and Colonel Milton D. Baber’s Forty-Fifth Arkansas (Mounted) Regiment (CS), intending to operate from there or Batesville (Independence County).

Camping just north of Fairview on the evening of November 11, Greeno sent a sixteen-man detachment toward Clinton, which “by passing themselves off as Confederates succeeded in capturing several prisoners and obtaining considerable information in regard to the movements of the rebel forces that left Price’s army and came in this direction.” Greeno concluded that the three Confederate regiments under McCray contained a total of 800 men, “but of these two-thirds of the men have deserted, and say they will never go out again. They have thrown away their arms and are nearly all at their homes,” being “greatly demoralized and discouraged” after “Price’s army was badly whipped at every point.”

The Federals turned toward Searcy on November 12, “intending to hunt up Crabtree and give him a fight” and crossed the flooded Little Red River “with much difficulty…being compelled to swim some of my horses.” A party sent to hunt for Crabtree on November 13 “reported that the regiment under Crabtree had scattered in every direction and would not give me a fight.” They did, however, capture Captain B. W. Bolton of the Forty-Sixth Arkansas (Mounted) and two of his men.

Despite their efforts on November 8, the horses of Greeno’s command were poorly shod “and they became very lame traveling on rocky roads,” so the Federals headed back to DeValls Bluff, arriving on the evening of November 15 “having been absent seven days and captured 1 captain and 9 men of the rebel army, and 15 head of horses and mules” while suffering no casualties.

Greeno was confident that if he followed up on the scout with another force he could easily disrupt McCray’s command, with Brigadier General Christopher C. Andrews reporting that Greeno said “he can go round anywhere there with 300 men,” but no additional Federal operations appear to have stemmed from the scout from DeValls Bluff to Searcy and Clinton.

For additional information:
Hewett, Janet B., et al., eds. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 2, pp. 103, 105. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1994.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, part 1, pp. 915–917; part 4, pp. 480, 574–575. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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