Skirmish at Benton (July 6, 1864)


Location: Saline County
Campaign: None
Date: July 6, 1864
Principal Commanders: Captain William Green (US); Captains Cook and Crawford (CS)
Forces Engaged: Battalion of the Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 1 killed, 8 wounded, 3 missing (US); 4 killed, 6 wounded (CS)
Result: Union victory

With the conclusion of the Camden Expedition, some Confederate forces in Arkansas became emboldened and began preparations for an invasion of Missouri. Other Confederate units continued to probe Federal lines around Little Rock (Pulaski County), to which Union forces responded by continuing patrols into the nearby countryside to break up possible enemy gatherings. The Skirmish at Benton resulted from one such patrol to disrupt Confederate preparations.

The Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US) was ordered on July 4, 1864, to embark on a scouting mission. Ordered to move from Little Rock to Caddo Gap by Brigadier General Frederick Salomon, the unit moved out at once. Every man in the unit was required to accompany the scout.

Moving quickly through the countryside, the Fourth Arkansas reached Caddo Gap several days later. The commanders of the Federal force reported daily contact with Confederate forces until the expedition reached Farr’s Mill. The route that the unit took to Caddo Gap passed through Saline, Hot Spring, and Montgomery counties.

While in the field, the Federals engaged two Confederate units under the command of Captains Cook and Crawford (possibly A. V. Cook and A. A. Crawford). Taking twenty-five men of the Fourth Arkansas, Captain William Green repulsed attacks by approximately 100 Confederates. During the July 6 skirmish, the Union troops did not suffer any casualties; the Confederates had four killed and six wounded.

The scout into Confederate territory concluded on July 14 when the unit returned to Little Rock. During the course of the entire ten-day movement, the Federal force had one enlisted man killed, two officers and six enlisted men wounded, and three men missing. The entire scout was a Union success because it engaged Confederate units attempting to organize their force. It also gathered intelligence for the Union commanders in Little Rock and projected a Federal presence deep in Confederate territory.

This action was typical of Federal units after the Camden Expedition. These scouts and other expeditions were necessary to keep Confederate forces from gathering and launching an attack on Little Rock or other posts.

For additional information:
TheWar of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 41, Parts 1 and 2. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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