Skirmish at Hahn's Farm

aka: Skirmish at Waldron

Location: Scott County
Campaign: None
Date: June 19, 1864
Principal Commanders: Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Clark, Lieutenant John M. Defriese, Captain Charles F. Coleman, Captain Henry Flesher, Captain William N. Bixby (US); Lieutenant Colonel John W. Wells., Major L. E. Gillett, Adjutant W. C. Jones (CS)
Forces Engaged: Sixth Kansas Cavalry, Ninth Kansas Cavalry, and the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry (US); Well’s battalion of Texas cavalry (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); 3 killed, 3 to 5 captured (CS)
Result: Union victory

Positioned on the western border of Arkansas and south of the strategically important Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Scott County saw a significant amount of activity during the Civil War. The Attack on Waldron occurred on December 29, 1863, leaving several dead and wounded. Other activity in Scott County included troops traveling through to other destinations, scouting, and foraging expeditions. Brigadier General John M. Thayer received orders by telegraph from the Assistant Adjunct General of Little Rock (Pulaski County), Lieutenant Colonel W. D. Green, to have a detachment from Little Rock met by Federal troops from Fort Smith. He sent troops south from Fort Smith to pass through Scott County en route to Dallas (Polk County).

On June 17, 1864, Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Clark of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry was passing through Scott County with 250 men expecting to meet up with a similar size detachment from Little Rock. The combined forces were to proceed to Polk County. They never met up with the forces from Little Rock; instead, hearing of Confederate troops at Hahn’s farm, southwest of Waldron (Scott County), Clark decided not to leave them undisturbed. The Union forces were made up of detachments from the Sixth Kansas Cavalry (fifty men), Ninth Kansas Cavalry (150 men), and the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry (fifty men), for a total of 250 men. Well’s battalion of Texas cavalry was encamped at Hahn’s farm. The Confederate forces were reported to be between 300 and 600 strong and located eight miles from Waldron. The Union forces turned from Waldron and, taking the Lookout Gap Road, marched to within four miles of the farm and camped for the night of June 18.

At 9:00 a.m. on June 19, the detachment charged the Rebel camp, routing them completely and giving chase for two and one-half miles before turning to assess the victory. The order of the skirmish was as follows. The Sixth, under Lieutenant John M. Defriese, was to charge the pickets and head straight for the camp. The Ninth, under Captains Charles F. Coleman and Henry Flesher, was to follow the Sixth and finish striking the Confederate line as the Sixth broke through. The Fourteenth, under Captain William N. Bixby, was held in reserve. The attack split the camp, and the Confederate troops scattered quickly, with only a few stopping here and there to attempt to make a stand. These soon found their efforts impossible with the Union troops so closely upon them.

The Union detachment had no casualties, while the Confederate force had three killed and three captured, according to one account, and five taken prisoner according to another account. Additionally, the surprised and routed camp left behind for the victors; forty horses, over 100 saddles, and eighty weapons consisting of shotguns, Enfield rifles, and muskets. The weapons, saddles, and camp equipage were destroyed, and Clark ordered his detachment to return to Fort Smith because of the exhausted condition of the horses. They arrived in Fort Smith on June 21.

For additional information:
Grear, Charles D. “Wells’s Texas Battalion.” Handbook of Texas Online. (accessed February 1, 2022).

Rhyne, Marvel “Letters to Dear Joe.” Journal of the Fort Smith Historical Society 35 (April 2011): 13.

Scott, Robert Nicholson. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1888.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 34. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Wing, Tom. “A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land”: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry. Little Rock: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, 2006.

Leita Spears


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