Scout from Pine Bluff to Bayou Bartholomew (April 1–4, 1865)

A detachment of Federal soldiers embarked on a scouting expedition into southeastern Arkansas in early April 1865 in search of Confederate soldiers and cattle to feed the garrison at Pine Buff (Jefferson County).

Captain John H. Norris of Company M, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment, led seventy-five men out of Pine Bluff on the morning of April 1, 1865, and headed south on the road toward Monticello (Drew County). After riding twenty-three miles, they turned toward Napoleon (Desha County) and camped at Allison’s farm late that night after traveling another dozen miles.

The next morning, they rode to Green Mount (Drew County), “scouting the country well on each side of the main road from one to five miles.” After crossing Bayou Bartholomew at Brown’s Ferry, the Federals began meandering back toward Pine Bluff and “commenced gathering up cattle.”

While Norris’s report does not go into detail on when many of the activities during the scout occurred, he reported that his men killed one Confederate lieutenant and one private and captured thirteen prisoners, including a pair of rebel soldiers who sought to surrender and three other men who collectively “are anxious to take the oath of allegiance.” In addition, a courier with “a very large rebel mail” was taken prisoner. The Federals also “seized and destroyed twenty-one guns, consisting of double-barrel shotguns, musketoons, rifles, and yagers; also a lot of ammunition.”

The detachment arrived at Pine Bluff around 5:00 p.m. on April 4, 1865, having also gathered ninety-one cattle and ten horses and mules during its 125-mile round trip. The only casualty they sustained was when “one sergeant had his horse shot when making a little charge.”

While largely a routine operation, the scout from Pine Bluff to Bayou Bartholomew revealed an increasing desire by some Confederate soldiers to give up their arms and pledge loyalty to the United States in the waning weeks of the Civil War.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 48, part 1, pp. 162–163. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1896.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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