Skirmish at White Oak Creek (September 29, 1864)


Location: White Oak Creek
Campaign: Fort Smith Expedition
Date: September 29, 1864
Principal Commanders: Major Thomas Derry (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Third Wisconsin Infantry, Third Arkansas Cavalry, First Iowa Cavalry, Third Missouri Cavalry, Third U.S. Cavalry, Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)
Casualties: 2 killed (US); Unreported (CS)
Result: Union advancement to Van Buren

As part of the Fort Smith Expedition, the Skirmish at White Oak Creek was a culmination of skirmishes beginning with Clarksville (Johnson County) on September 28 and ending with Union forces arriving at Van Buren (Crawford County) on the evening of September 30.

Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Infantry had his troops camp three miles beyond Clarksville on the evening of September 28. To their dismay, Confederate forces bushwhacked the Union camp on all sides. Union skirmishers drove Confederates away until dark. Throughout the night and into the early morning, Confederate forces attempted to cross Union pickets in the midst of a severe storm but failed in every attempt. One Union soldier was killed during these attempts.

On September 29, Confederate forces commenced again with skirmishing. Attacks came from the front, both flanks, and at the rear of the Union forces as they moved toward White Oak Creek, which flows into the Arkansas River between Ozark (Franklin County) and Mulberry (Crawford County). Confederate skirmishers were checked on the flanks but continued to fire into the Union forces, although very little damage was inflicted. Confederate forces had some wounded but no accurate count. Maj. Derry and his forces reached White Oak Creek and set up camp.

As Union officers posted their sentries, Confederates fired upon them and continued to fire upon the Union camp throughout the night. During the attack, one soldier from the Third Arkansas Cavalry was killed.

Derry reached Van Buren on September 30, noting that forage had been plentiful over the last three days. Although his horses appeared to be in good health, he reported ambulances and wagons full of sick men. Derry remained in Van Buren until October 5.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 41, pp. 819–820. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Matthew Whitlock
Old Dominion University


No comments on this entry yet.