Skirmish at King's River

Location: Carroll County
Campaign: None
Date: April 19, 1864
Principal Commanders: Major James Melton (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: 200 cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)
Estimated Casualties: Unknown (US); 25 killed and 9 captured (CS)
Result: Union victory

One of a number of skirmishes fought in northwestern Arkansas in April 1864, this engagement was part of an effort by Federal forces to disrupt Confederate operations.

Major James Melton received orders to lead 200 men of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) on a mission to find and defeat Confederate forces under the command of Colonel Bailey (first name unknown) and Colonel Sissell (likely John Cecil). Separating from the regiment on April 15, 1864, the Union troops found and engaged the enemy on April 17 at Limestone Valley. The Confederates fled, but not before suffering casualties and losing armaments and other equipment.

Melton continued his pursuit of the enemy force, reengaging the Confederates on April 19 on the King’s River. Moving against the enemy, Melton was able to force the Confederates to flee once again. The Confederates lost twenty-five men killed and nine captured in the short skirmish. Low on rations, the Union troops returned to camp without suffering any casualties during their expedition and numerous engagements.

In addition to finding and engaging the enemy forces, Melton provided valuable intelligence to his commanders upon his return. He reported that at least one enemy unit had disbanded and was no longer a threat and that Kingston (Madison County) was held by neither Federals nor Confederates.

This type of skirmish was common at this point of the war across the state. Small bands of troops moved across Arkansas in an effort to make life difficult for the enemy. As large-scale engagements became rarer, these skirmishes came to define the war in Arkansas.

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. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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