Scout in Northern Arkansas (May 17–22, 1864)
The Second Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) conducted the May 17–22, 1864, scout in northern Arkansas to seek out guerrillas operating around the Buffalo River and to determine the location of Confederate troops in the region.
Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Cameron led a detachment, primarily of men from Company M, Second Arkansas Cavalry, south from their camp in the field near the Arkansas-Missouri boundary into the Buffalo River area on May 17, 1864, spending the night at what became Woolum (Searcy County) on the Buffalo across from the mouth of Richland Creek.
The expedition crossed the Buffalo River the next morning and rode up Richland Creek to Unionist R.W. Robertson’s farm, where their horses received forage. Robertson guided the Federals to a Mrs. Hindrick’s house, where they learned that bushwhackers William Martin and William Wilhite of Izard County had robbed her of a wagon, corn, and cattle. The Federals followed their trail to Calf Creek and Mariah Turney’s farm near present-day Snowball (Searcy County), where they “took them prisoners, and fed the corn to [their] horses.” They also recovered two horses and two mules with U.S. markings and captured two other horses.
Moving down the north side of the Buffalo the next day, the Missourians ran into a group of guerrillas on the Tomahawk Barrens (Searcy County) and attacked them, wounding one man and taking Corporal Martin W. Bevins of Captain James H. Love’s band prisoner while the rest scattered. They captured three other men before arriving in Yellville (Marion County) at sundown. One man, John Burns, escaped that night, and the other two were released the next day.
On May 20, the expedition crossed the White River at Talbot’s Ferry and soon ran into guerrilla J. B. Lovell, who was killed by Private John C. Bailey of Company C, Second Arkansas; his horse and $150 in Confederate money were recovered. The next day, according to Cameron, they encountered five bushwhackers who “insisted my command must be [Colonel Sidney] Jackman’s, and congratulated me upon the matter in which the prisoners taken at the Richland slaughter [the May 3, 1864, skirmish at Richland Creek] were treated.” All five were taken prisoner.
Based on intelligence gathered during the scouting expedition, Cameron deduced that Jackman was attempting to raise a regiment by combining his men with guerrilla bands led by Love, Major Nicholas, Lieutenant Lemmon, and others, creating a force of around 300 bushwhackers. In addition, he reported that Captain Jesse Tracy had returned from a Missouri raid and that Colonel Thomas R. Freeman and 600 Confederates were moving up the White River toward Batesville (Independence County), adding, “I infer an advance of the Southern army is contemplated.” The expedition returned to its original camp on May 22, 1864.
For additional information:
“Civil War along the Buffalo River.” Buffalo National River, National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/buff/learn/historyculture/civil-war-along-the-buffalo-river.htm#CP_JUMP_5745564 (accessed December 12, 2022).
Hewett, Janet B., et al., eds. Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol. 2. Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1994.
Johnston, James J. The Civil War in Searcy County Month by Month. Marshall, AR: Searcy County Publications, 2015, p. 33.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 34, part 1, pp. 939–940. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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