Skirmish at Van Buren (April 2, 1865)

Location: Crawford County
Campaign: None
Date: April 2, 1865
Principal Commanders: Sergeant Hiram H. Jones (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: 8 cavalry (US); 20 men (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); 2 killed (CS)
Result: Union victory

A brief engagement in the last days of the Civil War, this skirmish shows that violence was still common in the state, even at this late date in the war.

Numerous groups of Confederates and guerrillas operated across Arkansas during this period. Federal forces held major cities—including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—but exercised little permanent control outside of these strongholds.

On the night of April 2, 1865, a group of twenty mounted Confederates robbed several civilians about two miles outside of Van Buren (Crawford County). The victims reported the incident to Brigadier General Cyrus Bussey at Fort Smith, who immediately dispatched all of his available men in pursuit of the enemy. At that time, Bussey had only eight available horses, under the command of Sergeant Hiram Jones of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US). Jones led his men after the Confederates and caught the enemy several miles outside of town.

Engaging the enemy, Jones successfully routed the rebels. The Federal force killed two of the enemy and captured nine horses. Intelligence gathered from the bodies of the dead indicated that the Confederate soldiers were from Texas and were moving toward Missouri.

The war continued in Arkansas, even with the collapse of organized Confederate resistance, with skirmishes such as this one. Federal forces continued to work to protect their strongholds and stop Confederate forces when possible.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 48, part I. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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