Civil War

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Entries - Entry Category: Civil War - Starting with F

Fairview, Skirmish at

  On June 7, 1862, as part of a force under the command of Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr, Captain David R. Sparks led Company L of the Third Illinois Cavalry (US). They were ambushed and caught in a skirmish fourteen miles outside Fairview (White County). Prior to the skirmish, Gen. Carr’s forces had foraged around the Little Red and White rivers. They faced several problems, including losing three wagons from the Third Illinois Cavalry. Carr determined that, in its current condition, his force could not attack Little Rock (Pulaski County), so they remained near the two rivers and waited for word for the next mission. Capt. Sparks commented that the Confederate forces numbered 200 to 350 cavalrymen and some infantry, …

Farr’s Mill, Skirmish at

On July 4, 1864, the Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US) was ordered on a scouting expedition to Caddo Gap (Montgomery County). About 250 men of the Fourth Arkansas set out on July 5 and almost immediately began skirmishing with Confederate irregulars. They proceeded to Farr’s Mill near the confluence of Gulpha Creek and the Ouachita River near Hot Springs (Garland County) and camped on July 8. A detachment of Union troops proceeded into Hot Springs the next day, chasing a band of Confederates through town. About 100 Confederates in Cook’s and Crawford’s bands of irregulars then attacked the camp at Farr’s Mill, where a fierce Federal counterattack drove them off. The Confederates lost four dead and six wounded, while the Fourth …

Fayetteville and Cane Hill, Skirmish between (November 9, 1862)

aka: Skirmish at Cane Hill (November 9, 1862)
aka: Skirmish at Fayetteville (November 9, 1862)
The Skirmish between Fayetteville (Washington County) and Cane Hill (Washington County) occurred on November 9, 1862, when General James Gilpatrick Blunt ordered Colonel William F. Cloud, Second Kansas Cavalry, to take a large reconnaissance force south and locate scattered Confederate picket and troop positions. Left to watch aggressive Confederate movements in northwest Arkansas, after numerous encounters with Southern troops in October, Gen. Blunt kept his cavalry constantly moving. The Second and Third divisions of the Army of the Frontier returned to camps near Springfield, Missouri, after the October skirmishing. Alone in the field with the First Division, Blunt served as the forward observation post of the Army of the Frontier. On November 7, from his position at Camp Bowen in …

Fayetteville, Action at (April 18, 1863)

The indecisive Action at Fayetteville on April 18, 1863, symbolized the Civil War in Arkansas as well as any other event in the state. The Confederates failed to achieve their goal of driving the Union forces out of Fayetteville (Washington County) and northwest Arkansas; however, it was only a few days after the battle that Federal authorities ordered the abandonment of the Fayetteville post. Confederate Brigadier General William L. Cabell’s cavalry brigade included the men of Colonel Charles A. Carroll’s Arkansas Cavalry and Colonel James C. Monroe’s Arkansas Cavalry, along with some Texas and Missouri troops. In opposition were Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison’s First Arkansas Cavalry and Colonel James M. Johnson’s First Arkansas Infantry. Cabell’s Confederate cavalry command of about …

Fayetteville, Action near (July 15, 1862)

Part of a Federal expedition from Missouri into northwestern Arkansas, this action is just one of many fought near Fayetteville (Washington County). In July 1862, Union forces in Missouri received word that Confederates were massing near Fayetteville. Brigadier General Egbert Brown ordered      troops at Cassville to move into Arkansas and destroy the enemy units. In order to achieve complete surprise, Brown ordered that the Federals arrest everyone they encountered on the road to Arkansas and to move at night in order to launch an early morning attack on the Confederates. Commanded by Major William Miller of the Second Wisconsin Cavalry, the Federal force consisted of detachments from the Second Wisconsin, the Third Missouri State Militia, and the Tenth Illinois …

Fayetteville, Affair at

One of a series of hit-and-run actions across the state in 1864, this brief Civil War engagement demonstrates how Confederate forces could continue to engage Federal units with little fear of reprisal. The number of horses and mules required by armies during the Civil War necessitated enormous amounts of forage and supplies to care for these animals. As Union outposts in the state exhausted the available food near their camps, the Federal troops were forced to move farther away from their base of safety in order to ensure a continual supply of food. These small, isolated groups of men and animals made tempting targets for Confederate forces. On June 24, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry …

Fayetteville, Occupation of (February 23–26, 1862)

  Following the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, on August 10, 1861, the Southern troops began to stream into Arkansas. The Arkansas state troops were disbanded and were then recruited for service in the Confederate army, and rallying and enlistment began again in Fayetteville (Washington County). During the last few months of 1861, numerous companies were organized in and around Fayetteville. During the months after its defeat at Wilson’s Creek, the Union army rebuilt its strength. Early in February 1862, the Union army began to move into northwestern Arkansas. The Confederate forces withdrew southwardly as the Union advanced. The Confederate forces under General Benjamin McCulloch had accumulated abundant supplies in Fayetteville. McCulloch determined that not all the supplies could be …

Fayetteville, Operations around (October 25–November 4, 1864)

  Fayetteville (Washington County) was under Union control from September 1863 to the end of the Civil War. The First Arkansas Cavalry under the command of Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison was stationed at Fayetteville with orders to patrol and establish order in northwestern Arkansas. The area the troops oversaw covered several counties from the Missouri line to the Arkansas River. Troops kept communications open by maintaining the telegraph line (which was frequently cut) from Van Buren (Crawford County) to Cassville, Missouri. They also escorted supply, subsistence, and mail trains between Cassville, Fayetteville, and Van Buren, and tried to keep the area free of Confederate troops and roaming guerrilla bands. The problems with guerrilla bands occupied much of their time, as the bands frequently …

Fayetteville, Skirmish at (August 23, 1863)

With both Confederate and Federal units operating in northwestern Arkansas during this period, fighting was often haphazard as towns changed hands multiple times. This skirmish is an example of how confusing the war could be. Lieutenant Edgar Barker of the Second Kansas Cavalry received orders to lead a detachment of twenty men to guard a wagon train near Springfield, Missouri. Upon returning to that city, Barker found that his regiment had marched south in Arkansas, so he led his detachment in pursuit of the remainder of the unit. Departing Springfield on August 14, Barker’s men moved southward to Cassville, Missouri, arriving on August 16. The Federals remained at Cassville until August 19, when they crossed into Arkansas heading toward Bentonville …

Ferry Landing, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Ashley's Mills
Part of Federal efforts to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County), this engagement opened an avenue for Union forces to cross the Arkansas River to the east of the city. Confederate cavalry forces were pushed across the river to the west bank, where they remained for the remainder of the campaign. Brigadier General John Davidson commanded the cavalry division in Major General Frederick Steele’s Federal army as it approached Little Rock from Helena (Phillips County). Confederate cavalry guarded the approaches that the Federals were likely to take. Due to the death of Brigadier General Lucius Walker, Colonel Archibald Dobbins was commanding the Confederate cavalry division tasked with watching the area near Ashley’s Mills. Stretched thin, Dobbins’s command could place only the …

Fitzhugh’s Woods, Action at

The Action of Fitzhugh’s Woods was a Civil War action fought on April 1, 1864, as Union forces ventured from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Woodruff County in an attempt to stop Confederate recruitment efforts and disrupt Rebel attempts to attack Federal targets. As Major General Frederick Steele led a Yankee army into south Arkansas in March 1864 on what became known as the Camden Expedition, Confederate Brigadier General Dandridge McRae was recruiting troops in the area between the White and Mississippi rivers. Aided by forty-six commissioned officers who were left without commands because of the flood of Confederate desertions that followed the fall of Little Rock in September 1863, McRae sought to bring the former soldiers back into the Rebel …

Fort Smith Expedition (November 5–16, 1864)

In late 1864, the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department launched a final offensive into Missouri in an attempt to gather recruits and influence the upcoming U.S. presidential election by turning public opinion against Abraham Lincoln and the continuation of the Civil War. The Confederate forces under the command of Major General Sterling Price involved in this campaign were defeated at almost every turn and eventually retreated in confusion through Kansas and the Indian Territory in an effort to return to Arkansas. This Union expedition was tasked with gathering intelligence and finding any remnants of Gen. Price’s forces. On November 5, 1864, Brigadier General John B. Sanborn ordered Major James A. Melton of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) to move from Cassville, Missouri, …

Fort Smith Expedition (November 5–23, 1864)

After the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Confederate fortunes in Arkansas began to falter, and Confederates could no longer mount large-scale offensives to drive Federal troops out of the state. Union outposts were scattered throughout northern and central Arkansas, and much of the fighting that did take place was between Federal forces and irregular units. This expedition originated as a supply column and scouting party, but the Federal forces also participated in several engagements with Confederate troops who were retreating after Major General Sterling Price’s unsuccessful Missouri Raid. Federal units in Arkansas and Missouri searched for any sign of the enemy as Confederates under Maj. Gen. Price’s command continued to retreat southward after suffering multiple defeats during their …

Fort Smith Expedition (September 25–October 13, 1864)

By the summer of 1864, the Federal army was well established in a number of posts along the Arkansas and White rivers and along the railroad that linked Argenta—present-day North Little Rock (Pulaski County)—and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). The large distances that separated many of these posts often made communication difficult for the Federals, due in part to the operations of Confederate cavalry and bands of enemy guerrillas. Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry was ordered to lead a force from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County)—over 180 miles—to deliver a number of dispatches to Brigadier General John Thayer, commander of the District of the Frontier. A large force was necessary because of the distance …

Fort Smith, Abandonment of

Following the election of 1860, Arkansas and the city of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) began to feel the tension and fear that accompany the threat of war. By February 1861, seven states had officially left the Union. Questions remained as to the allegiance of the remaining southern states and the Native American tribes residing in the Indian Territory. The Choctaw tribe officially sided with the Confederate cause, mainly to reinforce their claim to the 6,000 Choctaw-owned slaves. Other Native American tribes in the Indian Territory followed suit. Fort Smith was surrounded by a sea of turmoil. Political sentiments toward secession formalized during the winter and spring of 1861. Tensions grew even more throughout the region when ordnance stores were seized at Napoleon …

Fort Smith, Action at

Western Arkansas experienced the last years of the Civil War as a series of raids, ambushes, and small-unit actions. The Action at Fort Smith represented something out of the ordinary: an attack on a fortified town by Confederate forces. Following the successful Confederate raid that culminated in the Action at Massard Prairie on July 27, 1864, Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper sought to test Union defenses at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) with a larger force. This probe would also give Cooper an opportunity to escort pro-Confederate families out of Sebastian County. Assembling the brigades of Brigadier General Stand Watie, Brigadier General Richard Gano, and other units, Cooper arrived in the vicinity of Fort Smith at sunrise on July 31, 1864. …

Fort Smith, Affair at

This short and bloody Civil War engagement outside Fort Smith (Sebastian County) erupted when a foraging party of the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry was attacked by a number of guerillas. The enemy reportedly consisted of a mixed group of white and Native American troops, leading to claims of barbarism after the fight. While the official records list the engagement as occurring on September 23, the actual skirmish was fought on September 26. A group of the Fourteenth Kansas under the command of Captain Benjamin Franklin Henry set out from Fort Smith to gather needed forage. Moving southward, the group stopped about thirteen miles from the post to gather corn. While the Federals were gathering their supplies, a group of Confederate guerrillas …

Frog Bayou Expedition

As Federal forces consolidated power in northwestern Arkansas, efforts were made to find and destroy any remaining Confederate cavalry or guerrilla units operating in the area. This expedition took the Union troops through several counties and combat in two skirmishes. On November 5, 1863, Brigadier General John McNeil ordered Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison to lead all of his mounted men accompanied by two howitzers in pursuit of a major unit of enemy forces operating in the area. This movement would be supported by another group of Union soldiers moving from Van Buren (Crawford County) in an effort to drive the enemy into Harrison’s men. Departing Fayetteville (Washington County) on the afternoon of November 7, 1863, Harrison led a total of …

Frog Bayou, Skirmish at (March 19, 1863)

With the defeat of Major General Thomas C. Hindman’s army at the Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862, major Confederate forces were compelled to leave the northwestern corner of the state. Federal forces occupied Fayetteville (Washington County) and used the town as a base of operations to keep any nearby Confederates disorganized. This skirmish was part of this effort. The major unit holding Fayetteville was the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) under the command of Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison. The colonel sent regular patrols out of the city to determine Confederate intentions and, in mid-March 1863, sent out a small party under the command of Captain John Whiteford. Consisting of only nine men, the group moved south into Crawford …