Skirmish at Cross-Roads

Location: Independence County
Campaign: Occupation of Batesville
Dates: March 27, 1864
Principal Commanders: Captain Albert B. Kauffman (US); a man known only as Smith (CS)
Forces Engaged: Detachment of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry (US); Bushwhackers under Smith’s command (CS)
Estimated Casualties: “Several” killed (Third Arkansas Cavalry), 1 wounded (US); approximately 18 killed 3 captured, 1 mortally wounded (CS)
Result: Union victory

During the 1864 Federal occupation of Batesville (Independence County), many detachments were sent out through the surrounding counties for information, forage, and seizure of bushwhackers. In an accidental encounter, one such detachment caught some brigands for the second time.

Captain Albert B. Kauffman of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers left Batesville on March 24, 1864, with a detachment of 200 men and six officers to scout to the southwest and west. They traveled up the White River to the mouths of Wolf Bayou and Briar Creek, then turned southwest until they reached Coon Creek. They camped at McCarles’s farm, where they found a mule harness that had been taken by Captain George Rutherford during a previous skirmish at Waugh’s Farm.

For the next two days, they continued to explore the area, crossing the Devil’s Fork and Middle Fork of Little Red River. They gathered information as they went, and on March 27 learned that “Captain [Anthony] Hinkle [Company L, Third Arkansas Cavalry, US] from Lewisburg, Conway County [on the Arkansas River], was scouting about Sugar Loaf Springs and Quitman; that he had a brush with some bushwhackers, killing 1 and capturing 2.” Kauffman’s force continued across the Little Red to Cross-Roads, where they learned that “a band of bushwhackers under Smith, numbering some 25 men, had pursued and attacked Hinkle’s men, killing several and recapturing the 2 whom he had taken prisoners.”

Discovering that the bushwhackers were just ahead of them, Kauffman increased his advance party and ordered them to attack the bushwhackers on sight. A mile down the road, they came upon them in an old house with no picket. The Federals attacked immediately: “The enemy, so completely surprised, were soon overwhelmed, routed, and killed, not more than 5 or 6 of their number escaping. Three prisoners were captured, 1 of them mortally wounded.” The Federal force had one man wounded and two horses killed. Kauffman reported that he “found among their effects many articles of clothing and equipment captured from Hinkle’s men, and 2 of the prisoners captured were the same men who were recaptured from Hinkle.” They camped for the night, and the next morning Kauffman convened a military commission to try the two prisoners. With testimonies from two local citizens, they were found guilty and executed. (By 1864, both Union and Confederate armies in Arkansas were distinguishing between legitimate soldiers and outlaws—exchanging or imprisoning the former and executing the latter.)

At Cross-Roads, Kauffman gathered up a group of refugee families who wished to go to Batesville with them, and they worked their way back toward the White River. They collected firearms and burned several homes of bushwhackers in the Coon Creek area. They emerged into the White River valley, where they were delayed because of trouble with the refugees’ ox wagons. At Batesville, they sent the refugees on to the ferry crossing, and the cavalry crossed the river at Ruddell’s Ford, bringing the expedition to an end at dusk on March 31.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 34, Part I, pp. 851–855. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1881.

George E. Lankford
Batesville, Arkansas


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