Scout from Pine Bluff to Mount Elba (October 24–27, 1864)
The October 24–27 scout to Mount Elba (Cleveland County) was one of many forays undertaken by Union troops from the Union base at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to seek intelligence on the locations and numbers of Confederate forces in southern Arkansas.
Captain Adolph Bechand of Company B, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment, set out on the evening of October 24, 1864, leading twenty-six men on a scouting expedition. They camped that evening after traveling fifteen miles, then set out the next day toward Mount Elba. About a mile and a half from there, they took the Cornersville Road to within a few miles of Vance’s Ferry, pitching camp that night two miles north of Cornersville (Lincoln County).
The scouts resumed their patrol at daylight on October 26, heading north on the Monticello Road. They ran into twenty-five or thirty Confederates when they were about eleven miles from Pine Bluff and charged as the rebels fell back to a creek bed and formed in line of battle. Bechand’s guide, William Milton, led the Federals to a crossing of the creek bed that allowed them to attack the Confederates from behind, which “confused them, so much that after our first fire they broke without firing a gun, abandoning mules and saddles, shotguns, muskets, and a great many blankets” as they scattered into the thick undergrowth. The Illinoisans captured six mules and ten weapons in the brief skirmish.
While he did not capture any prisoners, Bechand was able to determine that Colonel William H. Parsons’s Twelfth Texas Cavalry Regiment had established a line of picket posts along the south side of the Saline River, restricting any civilian traffic south of the river, while sending pickets and vedettes north of the Saline. He reported 150 Confederates at Mount Elba, fifty at Vance’s Bluff, and 150 at Redden’s Ferry, and reported that up to 400 others had crossed the Saline at Mount Elba on October 22 to join Colonel John L. Logan’s Eleventh Arkansas Mounted Infantry (CS).
For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, part 1, pp. 853, 858–859. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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