Scout in Craighead and Lawrence Counties
The Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) established its base at Jacksonport (Jackson County) on April 18, 1864, and began almost continuous scouting expeditions into the surrounding region in search of enemy troops and guerrillas. One such scout was conducted into Craighead and Lawrence counties in early May.
Captain George W. Weber of Squadron M, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, led a detachment of a lieutenant and fifty-two men out of Camp Sherman at Jacksonport on the morning of May 5, 1864, with orders to explore the area between Village Creek and the Cache River. Particular attention was to be paid to the area called the “Promised Land”—modern-day Egypt (Craighead County)—as the Federals sought to “gather all the information possible as to the whereabouts of the enemy.”
Reaching Village Creek around noon, the Missourians had a difficult passage across the stream, damaging some of their ammunition as their horses swam across. They spent the night on the farm of W. R. and Lucinda Cureton, having traveled forty miles during the day.
Leaving at 9:00 a.m. on May 6, the Federals captured Captain Cyrus Black, a Confederate quartermaster, as they headed toward Lick Creek. After crossing that stream, they followed Village Creek until they picked up the trail of Captain Benjamin A. Johnson of Major Timothy Reves’s Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry (CS), which they pursued until stopping for the night at Swink’s farm in Lawrence County. While there, they seized forage belonging to a Confederate Captain Cooper—a boon in an area that had little food available for the troopers’ horses.
The expedition again crossed Village Creek on the morning of May 7 and headed toward Pocahontas (Randolph County), soon catching Lieutenant John Phelps of Reves’s regiment, “who, by the way, has the reputation as being a desperate character.” When the expedition was within seven miles of Pocahontas, Weber received “what I considered reliable information” that Confederate colonel Sidney Jackman, along with 300 soldiers and guerrilla bands under captains Jesse H. Tracy and Copeland numbering seventy men, was stationed on the other side of the Black River, so “having carried out my instructions” Weber “deemed it prudent…to return to camp” and headed back toward Jacksonport.
The Federals camped on the Black River across from Powhatan (Lawrence County) on the night of May 7, bivouacked at a Mr. Gardness’s farm on the night of May 8, and reached Jacksonport about 1:00 p.m. on May 9 after riding through Elgin (Jackson County). Weber reported that his scouting expedition had traveled 150 miles and, in addition to seizing various horses, mules, and weapons, captured twenty Confederates, all but three of whom were paroled “as I did not wish to be encumbered with prisoners in the event of my having an engagement with the enemy.”
For additional information:
Hewett, Janet B., et al., eds. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 35. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1996.
Statler, Jim C. “The Community of Egypt, Arkansas.” Craighead County Historical Quarterly 32 (October 1995): 17–20.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 34, part 1, pp. 910–911. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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