Skirmishes at Richland Creek (April 13–14, 1864)

Location: Newton County
Campaign: None
Dates: April 13–14, 1864
Principal Commanders: Captain Samuel Turner (US); Unknown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Sixth Missouri State Militia (US); Unknown (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); 6 killed, several wounded, 1 captured (CS)
Result: Union victory

These separate Civil War skirmishes over two days in northern Arkansas were part of a Federal effort to keep Confederate forces from organizing in the area. By attacking guerrilla bands, Union troops were able to disrupt enemy efforts severely.

Captain Samuel Turner of the Sixth Missouri State Militia (US) led a patrol along Richland Creek in April 1864. Finding evidence of enemy activity in the area, he located a guerrilla camp under the command of a Captain Watkins. Attacking the camp, which numbered about sixty-three people, the Federals completely surprised the enemy, killing five, including Watkins. Several others were wounded, and one Confederate was captured.

The next day, several guerrilla bands numbering more than 100 joined forces. These groups were under the command of Captains Love and Cordelle. Captain Turner and his Union troops learned of the enemy’s presence and moved against them. In a short skirmish, the Federals killed Captain Cordelle and wounded two others.

During his scout, Turner also learned that a Colonel Lewis was located on Sylamore Creek with several hundred poorly armed men. Lewis was recruiting in the area and planned to move to Missouri in the near future.

In addition to the casualties his men caused, Turner also captured eight horses and mules, as well as seven stands of arms. With the end of this scouting mission, Turner reported to his immediate superior, John Phelps of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US).

It was only through efforts like this that Federal forces were able to keep Confederates from effectively organizing behind Union lines. While brief, the skirmishes along Richland Creek are typical of the actions in the area.

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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