Scout from Waldron to Baker's Springs

Location: Howard County
Campaign: None
Dates: January 21–25, 1864
Principal Commanders: Captain Edgar A. Barker (US); Captain James B. Williamson (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 1 killed, 2 wounded (US); 6 killed, 2–15 wounded, 27–30 captured (CS)
Result: Union victory

The January 1864 scout from Waldron (Scott County) to Baker’s Springs (Howard County) was a Union expedition that resulted in the killing of a guerrilla chieftain and several of his men.

Captain Edgar A. Barker led 100 men of Company I, Second Kansas Cavalry Regiment, and forty troopers from Company C, Sixth Kansas Cavalry Regiment, from the Union base at Waldron on January 21, 1864, in one of an almost constant series of scouting expeditions seeking Confederate troops and guerrillas in the region.

There is no record of the early part of the expedition, but on January 24 at Baker’s Springs about eighty miles from Waldron, the scout found Captain James B. Williamson’s band of guerrillas “strongly posted in log houses.” The Kansans “charged them at daylight, beat down the doors of the cabins, captured thirty (30) prisoners, killed and wounded fifteen (15) and nearly as many escaped,” according to a postwar history of the regiment. Colonel William R. Judson had slightly different numbers in his account of the skirmish, saying Barker and his troops killed Williamson and five of his men and wounded two while capturing a pair of lieutenants and twenty-five men.

One Kansas soldier was killed and one wounded in addition to Lieutenant C. J. Williams, who was shot through the right shoulder during the melee. “To make such an attack so far from reinforcements, in the enemy’s country, required not merely courage, but rashness,” the postwar historian wrote.

Barker’s expedition returned to Waldron on January 25, 1864, picking up two additional prisoners on the way. The Federal troops at Waldron would continue sending out patrols over the next few months before abandoning Waldron on March 22, burning the town behind them.

For additional information:
“Capt. James B. Williamson (1834–1864).” Find-a-Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31259547/james-b.-williamson (accessed April 28, 2022).

Hewett, Janet B., et al., eds. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 21. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1994–2001.

McAfee, Joseph B. Official Military History of Kansas Regiments. Leavenworth, KS: William S. Burke, 1870.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 34, part 1, p. 101. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 05/06/2022