Skirmish at White River (March 22, 1863)


Location: White River; Washington County
Campaign: White River Campaign
Date: March 22, 1863
Principal Commanders: Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison (US); Major Hall S. McConnell (CS)
Forces Engaged: Small group of First Arkansas Cavalry (US); 200 men of Brooks’s Regiment (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 4 killed, 15 prisoners (US); 1 killed (CS)
Result: Confederates routed Union detachment

The skirmish at the head of the White River near Fayetteville (Washington County) was a small setback for the Union forces. On March 22, 1863, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison dispatched thirty-five Union men—twenty-five soldiers and ten citizens—to assist a beef contractor in receiving his livestock. Upon their arrival, the Union forces were attacked on three sides by a Confederate regiment of 200 men from Clarksville (Johnson County) under the command of Major Hall S. McConnell.

A citizen in the area had informed the Confederate scouts of the Union location. Since Union forces did not expect to come across Confederates, they failed to set up a picket line, which Col. Harrison blamed on carelessness. In addition, Union forces on this mission were not supplied with horses; escorts in the area of the White River were on foot due to the low supply of horses in the area.

Confederate forces only lost Maj. McConnell, who led the charge on his horse and was shot. For the Union, three soldiers and one citizen were killed, and seven soldiers and eight citizens were taken prisoner. Of the small Union party, only fifteen escaped capture—one citizen and fourteen soldiers.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 22, Part I, p. 244. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1888.

Matthew Whitlock
Old Dominion University


No comments on this entry yet.