Skirmish at Hay Station No. 3

aka: Skirmish at Brownsville (July 30, 1864)

Location: Lonoke County
Campaign: None
Date: July 30, 1864
Principal Commanders: Lieutenant Colonel John Stephens (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Eleventh Missouri Cavalry (US); 200 (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); 1 killed, several wounded (CS)
Result: Union victory

This brief Civil War engagement took place during the summer of 1864 in eastern Arkansas. This area saw much action during this period, most notably by Joseph O. Shelby and his Confederate cavalry. This engagement, however, was not part of that action.

Hay stations were important Federal outposts along the railroad line in eastern Arkansas. The army needed vast quantities of hay on a daily basis to feed the thousands of animals it required. Union commanders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) established small fortified outposts along the railroad to meet several needs. These outposts were tasked with protecting the nearby railroad and disrupting Confederate operations in the area. The outposts were also responsible for growing large amounts of hay to be used at other Federal outposts that could not provide the needed forage for their animals. Finally, the outposts expanded the Federal presence in the state and took some of the strain off of supply lines, as the troops at the stations could gather some food in the surrounding countryside.

Part of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry manned Hay Station No. 3 on July 30, 1864. At 9:00 a.m., a group of 200 Confederates attacked the post. The Federals under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Stephens easily repulsed the attack, killing one enemy soldier and wounding several others. The Union troops did not suffer any losses in the brief attack, but several civilians were reportedly captured by the Confederates. Between ten and twenty horses also stampeded during the attack and moved in the direction of DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). Later that day, Stephens informed his commander at DeValls Bluff of the attack and said that troops could be used to gather the loose horses.

An inconsequential engagement, this skirmish nevertheless demonstrates how the war continued in the state even outside major campaigns.

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

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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