Scout from Pine Bluff to Rodgers’ Plantation (April 25, 1865)

aka: Skirmish at Rodgers’ Plantation

The April 25, 1865, Union scouting expedition from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Rodgers’ Plantation showed that the Civil War was far from over in Arkansas even as the Confederate armies in the east surrendered.

Captain Samuel W. Mallory of the Sixty-fourth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), who was provost marshal at the Union garrison at Pine Bluff, accompanied a small detachment of twenty-six men led by Lieutenant John C. Kennedy of Company G, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment, that left Pine Bluff on the morning of April 25, 1865.

Arriving at John Taylor’s plantation around 11:00 a.m., the Illinoisans encountered a pair of Union officers who informed them that Confederate lieutenant J. H. Dixon and seven of his men were moving up Bayou Bartholomew. The Federals set out in pursuit, arriving at Busby’s Bridge over the bayou to discover that Dixon and his men had left there an hour before.

The Union detachment caught up with them at Rodgers’ Plantation, and Mallory reported that “a slight skirmish ensued,” with two Confederates captured and a third severely wounded while Dixon and the remainder of his party fled. The Federals also freed two African American men who Dixon’s band had captured, along with two horses they had stolen that morning. A Mr. Monks told the Illinoisans that the guerrillas had robbed him of $100 in U.S. currency “and threatened to hang him, and got a rope for that purpose, because he would not give them more.”

The Yankees returned to Busby’s Bridge and crossed the bayou, where they learned that Dixon and three men had crossed an hour before and that a bushwhacker band led by Captain R. A. Kidd had moved through the area an hour prior to that. Mallory “deemed it inadvisable to follow them” and ordered the troops to return to Pine Bluff.

While Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, and Joseph E. Johnston would surrender the Army of Tennessee on April 26, the scout to Rodgers’ Plantation and the skirmish that followed showed that the Civil War was far from over in Arkansas as bands of Confederate guerrillas and deserters continued to operate throughout the state and Union forces set out in pursuit of them.

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, p. 208. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1896.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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