Skirmish near Bayou Meto (February 17, 1865)


Location: Jefferson County
Campaign: None
Date: February 17, 1865
Principal Commanders: Captain John H. Norris (US); unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Detachment of Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry (US); Bushwhacker by the name of Hagler (CS)
Estimated Casualties: Unknown (US); 2 killed (CS)

On February 16, 1865, a seventy-five-man scout detachment of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry (US) was sent out from its headquarters at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The scout detachment, commanded by Captain John H. Norris (US), was sent to search for Confederate troops along Bayou Meto.

Early in the morning of February 17, the scout detachment, fifty miles downriver from Pine Bluff, began crossing Bayou Meto. After one platoon had successfully crossed the bayou, Capt. Norris ordered Lieutenant Z. P. Curlee to take the platoon and search an area two miles surrounding the bayou. Lt. Curlee was instructed to engage any Confederate force he encountered and report to Norris no later than noon.

During the scout detachment’s search of the area, it came into contact with a small armed Confederate force near the home of a man named Thomas Farrelly. During what Lt. Curlee described as a “running skirmish,” one Confederate was killed and one captured. During a search of the Farrelly home, a considerable store of arms and ammunition was found. Additionally, a Confederate bushwhacker by the name of Hagler lived at the home; he was killed following a fight against the Union troops.

Curlee, believing the home was a safe house for Confederate bushwhackers, ordered everything removed from the house and the house burned. During this process, the Confederate prisoner escaped. Curlee took Farrelly prisoner and returned to the bayou to coordinate with Captain Norris. Upon their return, Farrelly was interrogated by the two Union officers as to his association with the notorious Confederate bushwhacker Hagler, or his knowledge of other Confederates in the area—specifically, a man named Ralston. Farrelly alleged he had no connection to Hagler other than renting a small portion of his home to him, and he was unaware that action was of any harm.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Record of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 48, pp. 118. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1888.

Jacob Worthan
Hot Springs, Arkansas


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