Skirmish at Dardanelle (August 30, 1864)


Location: Yell County
Campaign: None
Date: August 30, 1864
Principal Commanders: Lieutenant Patrick King (US); Captain Franc (CS)
Forces Engaged: 40 men of the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US); Franc’s Cavalry (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); 1 killed, several wounded (CS)
Result: Union victory

A short and brutal clash between a Federal unit from Arkansas and Confederate irregulars operating near Dardanelle (Yell County), this skirmish is typical of the engagements that were seen in the summer of 1864 in the state.

After the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, most organized Confederate forces returned to southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. Some cavalry units continued to operate behind Union lines and were joined by irregulars or guerrillas. While the Federal commanders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and other Union outposts focused much of their attention on the Confederate forces in southern Arkansas, some efforts were made to find and destroy these units operating nearby. By engaging these Confederate forces, the Federals prevented the enemy from getting a foothold near strategic locations in northern and central Arkansas.

This action was typical of the efforts of Federal forces to drive the enemy out of the Arkansas River Valley. On August 30, 1864, First Lieutenant Patrick King led a detachment of the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) from Lewisburg (Conway County). Approaching Dardanelle, the Federals came across a unit of Confederate cavalry under the command of a Captain Franc. It is unclear how many men were under Franc’s command or if the Federals knew that the Confederates would be in the area.

King and his men surprised the enemy force and quickly attacked. The Confederates were unable to defend themselves and fled in disarray. The Federals captured thirty weapons, as well as thirty horses and saddles. The majority of the Confederates were able to escape by swimming Beatty’s Mill Creek. King and his men, who did not suffer any casualties, killed one of the enemy and wounded an unknown number. At the conclusion of the action, the Federal detachment returned to Lewisburg.

Short but decisive, this engagement knocked a Confederate unit out of active operations for a time. This engagement would be followed by similar skirmishes over the remainder of the summer.

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

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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