Civil War

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Brownsville, Skirmish at (July 13–14, 1864)

  On July 13, 1864, a detachment of Confederate forces from Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s command moved toward a camp near Brownsville (Lonoke County). Colonel Oliver Wood of the Twenty-second Ohio Infantry (US) reported that Confederates numbering around 150 attacked his picket line but were driven away. Due to the small number of men under Wood, he decided not to move beyond the defenses until the next day, as an immediate response would have left the camp vulnerable to attack. By afternoon of July 14, Wood had followed the Confederates fifteen miles southeast of Brownsville to Snake Island. At that point, the Confederates divided into smaller forces and separated, whereupon Wood decided to halt. Union forces captured five guns, and …

Buck Horn, Skirmish at

On May 5, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby was ordered from his position south of the Arkansas River to “occupy the valley of White River and to prevent its navigation in every possible manner and fashion.” Colonel Robert R. Livingston (US), who maintained a small detachment in Batesville (Independence County), had left Colonel John Stephens in command of the city, but in a letter dated May 11, 1864, Livingston advised Stephens of probable evacuation: “I may deem it best for you to evacuate Batesville, and should you find it necessary to do so, fall back upon this point,” being Jacksonport (Jackson County). Shelby and his Confederate troops moved from Clarksville (Johnson County) and crossed the Arkansas River at Dardanelle (Yell …

Buckskull, Skirmish at (November 20, 1864)

After attempting to clear communication lines in Missouri, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Thilenius of the Fifty-sixth Regiment of Enrolled Missouri Militia led a raid into Arkansas to catch Confederate colonel Timothy Reeves at Cherokee Bay (Randolph County). Near Buckskull, on the Arkansas-Missouri border, Thilenius’s command killed two guerrillas believed to be members of Reeves’s command before charging the undefended town of Buckskull to find no opposing force. Located where the Southwest Trail (also called the Military Road, Congress Road, or the Natchitoches Trace) passes into northeastern Arkansas, Buckskull sits on the Arkansas-Missouri line near the Current River and across from the town of Pitman (Randolph County). As Pitman’s Ferry was critical for movement of men and materials between northeastern Arkansas …

Buckskull, Skirmishes at (October 1 and 10, 1863)

On September 28, 1863, Captain William T. Leeper with elements of the Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry moved into Randolph County, Arkansas, to engage guerrillas in the area. On October 1 and October 10, skirmishes occurred on the Arkansas-Missouri border near Buckskull due to its location near Pitman’s Ferry on the Current River. Traffic crossing the Current River just south of the Arkansas state line on the Southwest Trail (also called the Military Road, Congress Road, or the Natchitoches Trace) made Pitman’s Ferry a major entrance point in the region. Over time, the towns of Pitman (Randolph County) in Arkansas and Buckskull on the Arkansas-Missouri border developed around the location. Periodically, Confederate forces were stationed in this region to attempt …

Buffalo Mountains, Skirmish at

  In the autumn of 1863, Colonel Joseph O. Shelby launched a raid from Arkansas into his home state of Missouri. After meeting organized Federal resistance at the Action at Marshall, Missouri, Shelby returned to the relative safety of Arkansas. This skirmish was one of the final engagements between Shelby and Federal forces during the raid. Shelby and 600 men from his brigade departed from Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 22, 1863, and moved northward to the Arkansas River. Engaging Federal forces as they appeared, Shelby crossed the Arkansas River on September 27 and moved into Missouri on October 2. Moving through the countryside capturing supplies and dispersing small Union garrisons, Shelby and his men were finally stopped by a …

Buffalo River Expedition

  By 1863, much of northwestern Arkansas was loosely controlled by Union forces but still home to many Confederate partisan forces. In many instances, isolated areas in the mountains were used as sites by these and others for the manufacture of saltpeter, an ingredient necessary for the production of gunpowder. On January 9, 1863, following orders issued by Brigadier General Francis J. Herron, Major Joseph W. Caldwell led a detachment of 300 Union troopers of the First Iowa Cavalry into the mountains in the direction of Kingston (Madison County) in search of Confederate activity. They rode out of Huntsville (Madison County) at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Kingston at 2:00 p.m. Here, Caldwell forwarded recently acquired information to Herron concerning area …

Bull Bayou, Skirmish at

During an expedition to attempt to catch Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby in the Little Red River valley, Union forces under Colonel James Stuart engaged in a small skirmish at the bridge on Bull Bayou on August 7, 1864. Defeated, the unidentified Confederate force fled. Frustrated by the inability of Union troops to catch Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby, Union major general Frederick Steele dispatched a third expedition to destroy the Confederate leader on August 6, 1864. Placing Brigadier General Joseph R. West in command of 3,094 men, Steele envisioned a movement toward the Little Red River and possibly beyond until the enemy was defeated. West divided his force into two provisional brigades commanded by Colonel Washington F. Geiger of …

Burrowsville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Tomahawk
  The Skirmish at Burrowsville during the Civil War was part of a larger attempt to drive Confederate and guerrilla forces from northern Arkansas. The overall effort was deemed to be a success by Federal commanders, but their success was somewhat embellished in their official reports. In early January 1864, Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, commander of the District of Southwest Missouri, received reports of a major Confederate force massing in Newton, Searcy, Izard, and Carroll counties. Sanborn ordered units of the First and Second Arkansas Cavalries (US), along with part of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, to move into the area and flush the enemy out in an effort to push the Confederates south to the Arkansas River. As part …

Cache Bayou, Skirmish at

On July 6, 1862, dismounted members of Company “I” of the Third Iowa Cavalry turned back a Confederate attempt to halt the Federal Army of the Southwest’s movement into eastern Arkansas. A significant skirmish occurred that day at Cache Bayou approximately fifteen miles north of Clarendon (Monroe County). After encountering a barricade along the Clarendon Road, the Iowa cavalrymen pushed through the obstacle and effectively forced the Confederates to retreat across the Cache River. The Federal victory at Cache Bayou allowed the barricade to be removed successfully, thus permitting the army’s continued trudge south into Arkansas. The Federal movement during the summer of 1862 occurred as part of the orders of Major General Henry Halleck—Federal supreme commander in the West—to …

Cache River Bridge, Skirmish at

On May 28, 1862, a reconnaissance under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hiram F. Sickles of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry prevented Captain Richard Hooker’s Confederates from completely destroying the Cache River bridge near Augusta (Woodruff County). Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn’s departure from Arkansas to the Western Theater with the bulk of Arkansas’s defensive capabilities left the city of Jacksonport (Jackson County)—and the rest of the state—unprotected. Hastily attempting to build a substantial Confederate defense of Arkansas, Major General Thomas Hindman—the newly appointed commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department—commissioned a number of local officers, such as Capt. Hooker in Jackson County, to raise units across the state. These units were encouraged to harass the Federals wherever they were found while …

Caddo Mill, Skirmish at

On December 14, 1863, a detachment that consisted of two companies from the Second Kansas Cavalry headquartered at Waldron (Scott County) surprised and overwhelmed a fifteen-man camp of Confederate forces near Caddo Mill (Montgomery County). On December 13, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel Owen A. Bassett sent a detachment of forty men, led by Lieutenants P. Cosgrove and B. B. Mitchell from the Second Kansas Cavalry headquarters located at Waldron, toward Caddo Gap (Montgomery County). In an attempt to maneuver away from a detachment of General Joseph Shelby’s Confederate cavalry, the two lieutenants continued to Farrar’s Mill. At Farrar’s Mill, they received a report that fifteen Confederate soldiers were encamped a short distance ahead near Caddo Mill. The Union detachment completed the …

Camden Expedition

Part of the Red River Campaign, the Camden Expedition resulted from Union brigadier general Frederick Steele’s orders to strike south from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and converge with Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s column in northwest Louisiana before marching to Texas. Because of poor logistical planning, horrible roads, and strong Confederate resistance, Steele abandoned this plan to occupy Camden (Ouachita County). Losing battles at Poison Spring (Ouachita County) and Marks’ Mills (Cleveland County), Steele became unable to supply his army and retreated toward Little Rock. The Confederates caught Steele while he was crossing the Saline River engaging in the last battle of the campaign at Jenkins’ Ferry (Grant County). In 1864, the Trans-Mississippi Theater presented several problems for Union general-in-chief …

Camden, Skirmish at (April 15, 1864)

The Skirmish at Camden on April 15, 1864, occurred after Union brigadier general Frederick Steele had forced Major General Sterling Price’s troops and cavalry out of Camden (Ouachita County) on April 12. Realizing his opportunity, Steele marched his army approximately forty miles to the east toward Camden. This would prove to be an important turning point within the Red River Campaign for the Union troops. In the early hours of April 15, the Thirty-third Infantry of Iowa began its march toward Camden, still eighteen miles away. Its first movement on the Confederate lines forced a battery on the main road to cease firing, allowing the troops to continue advancing toward the city. By 10:30 a.m., the Thirty-Third Infantry had marched …

Cane Hill, Engagement at

aka: Engagement at Canehill
aka: Engagement at Boston Mountains
The Engagement at Cane Hill on November 28, 1862, was the prelude to the Battle of Prairie Grove fought on December 7, 1862. Union brigadier general James G. Blunt, with 5,000 men and thirty cannon in the Kansas Division of the Army of the Frontier, surprised 2,000 Confederate cavalry and six cannon under Confederate brigadier general John S. Marmaduke while they were gathering winter supplies. The struggle lasted nine hours and covered about twelve miles over the wooded and rocky terrain between Cane Hill (Washington County) and the Cove Creek valley. While it was a Union victory, casualties were light on both sides. Blunt’s decision to remain at Cane Hill set in motion the entire Confederate force at Fort Smith …

Cane Hill, Skirmish at (November 25, 1862)

The November 25, 1862, Skirmish near Cane Hill, Arkansas, occurred as Union general James Gilpatrick Blunt reconnoitered Confederate positions in northwest Arkansas. His troops had already fought minor skirmishes with Confederate cavalry earlier in the month. From his camp on Lindsey’s Prairie in Benton County, Gen. Blunt sent Major George A. Purington with a portion of the Second Ohio Cavalry and detachment of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry south toward the Cane Hill (Washington County), Cincinnati (Washington County), and Evansville (Washington County) area. Accompanied by a local guide on a white horse, Maj. Purington’s troopers proceeded to within four or five miles of Cincinnati, discovering signs that several hundred horses had recently passed by. Half a mile farther down the road, …

Cane Hill, Skirmish at (November 6, 1864)

The November 6, 1864, skirmish near Cane Hill (Washington County) occurred as Union general Samuel Ryan Curtis pushed Confederate general Sterling Price’s troops out of Missouri. Price defeated several Union forces as he marched north, and then west, through Missouri, but meeting Curtis’s superior numbers at Westport, Missouri, Price realized he was in danger of a serious defeat and turned south. The two armies fought several engagements moving toward Arkansas, including: Marais des Cygnes, Mine Creek, Marmiton River, and Second Newtonia. Entering Arkansas well ahead of Curtis, Price marched to Cane Hill, secured several small droves of local cattle, and gave his hungry, worn-out troops a day’s respite, barely slipping away before Curtis’s troops appeared. Leaving Prairie Grove (Washington County) …

Carr, Eugene Asa

Eugene Asa Carr was one of four people who received a Medal of Honor for his role in the Battle of Pea Ridge. Carr also participated in the seizure of Little Rock (Pulaski County), was dispatched to Clarendon (Monroe County) to confront Confederate major general Joseph O. Shelby, and spent time in Helena (Phillips County) on Reconstruction duty. Carr spent more than forty-three years in the U.S. Army. Eugene Carr was born on March 10, 1830, in Hamburg, New York, to Clark Merwin Carr and Delia Ann Torry Carr; he had three siblings. At sixteen, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he graduated on July 1, 1850. Carr served a tour of duty in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, …

Carroll, Marion, and Searcy Counties, Scout to

aka: Skirmish at Richland Creek (December 25, 1863)
aka: Skirmish at Stroud's Store
aka: Skirmish at Buffalo River
  On December 16, 1863, Captain John I. Worthington of Company H, First Arkansas Cavalry (US), left Fayetteville (Washington County) to scout Carroll, Marion, and Searcy counties looking for bands of Confederate guerrillas. Company H was recruited from Arkansas refugees in Missouri, and one third of them were from Searcy County. Capt. Worthington’s scouting party had 112 men from his own company and one gun from the howitzer battery under Lieutenant Robert M. Thompson, attached to the First Arkansas. Worthington’s scouting party reached Carrollton (Carroll County) on December 19 and skirmished with Confederate bushwhackers. On December 22, they marched to William P. Stroud’s Store near Marshall’s Prairie in southeastern Carroll County (now in southeastern Boone County) after dispersing and breaking up …

Carrollton, Skirmish at (August 15, 1864)

Part of an effort to disrupt enemy operations across northwestern Arkansas, this skirmish was one of several fought in August 1864 against numerous guerrilla bands. While extremely brief, this skirmish caused significant havoc for one group of Confederate guerrillas. Brigadier General John Sanborn was tasked with stopping enemy actions in southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. From his command post at Springfield, Missouri, he led efforts to find and destroy groups of guerrillas. Using both regular Federal units and militia, Sanborn tried to keep the enemy from gaining any strength in his area. On August 15, 1864, one of Sanborn’s units, a detachment from a company of Arkansas militia under the command of Captain G. W. Edy, approached Carrollton (Carroll County). …

Cassville, Missouri, to Cross Hollow, Scout from

The scout from Cassville, Missouri, to Cross Hollow (Benton County) was undertaken in an attempt to capture Major William “Buck” Brown and his band of irregular cavalrymen as they destroyed telegraph lines connecting various Federal bases. By the summer of 1864, the only telegraph lines in Arkansas connected Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Van Buren (Crawford County) and sometimes Fayetteville (Washington County), while other lines linked Fayetteville to Union bases in Missouri. All of the telegraph lines were in constant danger of being cut by Confederate guerrillas operating in Arkansas and Missouri. On June 7, 1864, Brigadier General John B. Sanborn ordered Lieutenant Colonel Hugh …

Cassville, Missouri, to Huntsville and Yellville, Scout from

Soldiers of the Second Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) conducted the November 11–21, 1864, scout from Cassville, Missouri, to Huntsville (Madison County) and Yellville (Marion County) in search of Confederate troops and guerrillas operating in northwestern Arkansas. Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Cameron led 160 men of the Second Arkansas south from Cassville on November 11, 1864, and reached Berryville (Carroll County) the next day, where they encountered Confederate major William J. Lauderdale, who was among several rebel officers in the region gathering stragglers and sending them to their units. The Federals opened fire, wounding Lauderdale and killing his horse. A soldier of the Second Arkansas disobeyed orders and left Lauderdale at a civilian’s house, allowing him to escape. On the morning of …

Chalk Bluff, Skirmish at (May 1–2, 1863)

Chalk Bluff in Clay County, where Crowley’s Ridge is cut by the St. Francis River, was an important transit point during the Civil War between northeast Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel. It was the site of the last engagement of Major General John Sappington Marmaduke’s fighting withdrawal from his second Missouri raid, April 17–May 2, 1863, as the Confederate forces held off an initially determined but ultimately faltering Union pursuit to escape back into Arkansas across the St. Francis River on a makeshift floating bridge. Marmaduke entered Missouri with 5,000 men, of whom 1,200 were unarmed and 900 dismounted, planning to trap Union Brigadier General John McNeil at Bloomfield, Missouri. McNeil’s troops evacuated Bloomington ahead of Marmaduke and withdrew into …

Chalk Bluff, Skirmish at (May 15, 1862)

On May 15, 1862, Colonel Edward Daniels, commanding elements of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, forced Lieutenant Colonel William L. Jeffers’s independent command from the Chalk Bluff in Clay County, Arkansas, and temporarily restored a Union presence in the area. Upon hearing rumors of Confederate units in the Missouri Bootheel that could threaten his command at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Colonel Edward Daniels marched with six squadrons of his First Wisconsin Cavalry to eliminate this threat on May 9, 1862. The next day, he routed the small command of Colonel William J. Phelan ten miles from Bloomfield, Missouri, before turning his column toward a sizable force, rumored at Chalk Bluff, who were alleged to be pressing citizens into service and seizing supplies. …

Cherokee Bay, Skirmish at

Continuing the Union strategy of raiding northeastern Arkansas from Missouri to harass guerrillas or Confederate regulars in the area, Captain Abijah Johns of Company A, Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry, engaged in a sharp skirmish before defeating the unknown Confederate forces near Cherokee Bay (Randolph County) on May 8, 1864. The term “Cherokee Bay” was often used by Union officers to refer to the general areas between the Current and Black rivers in Randolph County. In fact, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Thilenius of Fifth-sixth Regiment of Enrolled Missouri Militia simply referred to the swampy region as Cherokee Bayou. Therefore, any specific location in the Cherokee Bay area used by Union officers may be difficult to pinpoint, as it could mean …

Civil War Timeline

For additional information: Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. http://www.arkansascivilwar150.com/ (accessed January 17, 2019). “Arkansas in the Civil War.” http://www.lincolnandthecivilwar.com/Activities/Arkansas/Arkansas.asp (accessed January 17, 2019). Brothers in Arms: Civil War Exhibition. Old State House Museum Online Collections. Brothers in Arms Collection (accessed January 17, 2019). Buttry, Virginia A., and Allen W. Jones. “Military Events in Arkansas during the Civil War, 1861–1865.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 22 (Summer 1963): 124–170. Christ, Mark, ed. Rugged and Sublime: The Civil War in Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994. ———. “The Earth Reeled and Trees Trembled”: Civil War Arkansas, 1863–1864. Little Rock: Old State House Museum, 2007. Civil War Collection. Old State House Museum Online Collections. Civil War Collection (accessed January 17, 2019). DeBlack, Thomas A. …

Clarendon Expedition (August 4–17, 1862)

The Clarendon Expedition of August 4–17, 1862, resulted in the Union’s capture of the city of Clarendon (Monroe County). Subsequently, Clarendon’s location as a port on the White River served as a component of the Union’s river campaign that led to the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Clarendon served as an important troop and supply line to Federal forces in Arkansas. Brigadier General Alvin P. Hovey had been placed in charge of an expedition to operate along the Arkansas River in preparation for the upcoming campaign to capture Arkansas’s capital, Little Rock. He was commanded by Brigadier General Frederick Steele to take the Fourth Division of the Army of the Southwest from Helena (Phillips County) to Clarendon. Before …

Clarendon Expedition (October 16–17, 1864)

In the early fall of 1864, a combined Union cavalry and infantry force embarked upon a mission into eastern Arkansas near Clarendon (Monroe County) in an attempt to gather military intelligence and to limit Confederate guerrilla operations against Union vessels on the White River and tributaries. Included in these troublesome operations were those conducted by unidentified guerrilla bands and regular Confederate forces under the command of General Joseph Shelby. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on October 16, a force consisting of fifty troopers of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers and fifty soldiers of the Twelfth Michigan Infantry—both under the command of Captain Albert B. Kauffman—boarded the steamer Celeste at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). The steamer made its way down the White …

Clarendon, Skirmish at (June 26, 1864)

Early on the morning of June 24, 1864, a Confederate cavalry brigade under the command of Brigadier General Joseph Shelby attacked and captured the USS Queen City while it was docked at Clarendon (Monroe County). After stripping the ship of weapons, the Confederates set it afire. It drifted down the White River until it exploded. Three additional Federal ships soon arrived on the scene and engaged the Confederates on the riverbank, eventually forcing them to retreat from the town. The Confederates returned to the town the next day but were once again driven away by fire from the Union ships. A hastily organized expedition under the command of Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr departed from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) on June …

Clarksville, Affair at

As Federal outposts were created across the state throughout the Civil War, Union commanders had to patrol the surrounding areas constantly in order to ensure that enemy forces were unable to gather enough strength to launch attacks. These patrols also helped keep local citizens safe but could lead to bloody fighting when guerrillas were discovered. In the spring of 1864, Clarksville (Johnson County) was in Federal hands, and five companies from the Second Arkansas Infantry (US) guarded the town and surrounding area. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gideon M. Waugh, the troops worked to keep lines of communication between Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County) open. On March 15, 1864, Waugh received orders from Little Rock to make …

Clarksville, Skirmishes at

Clarksville (Johnson County), located on the north side of the Arkansas River, was a prosperous town on the military road that ran from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), as well as a major stage coach route. In addition, Spadra Bluffs, just three miles south of Clarksville, was a major river port. It was critical to keep the river and the military road open so the supplies and troops could be moved easily. Keeping control of both the river and the military road was of prime importance to both the Union and Confederate armies. On September 25, 1864, Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry led a Federal expedition of 385 men starting from …

Cotton Plant, Affairs at

The Affairs at Cotton Plant are two separate events that took place on successive days near the town of Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) and the Cache River. DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) served as a major Union outpost in eastern Arkansas. Supplies were brought up the White River and transported from the town by rail to the northern shore of the Arkansas River across from Little Rock (Pulaski County). Protecting the area immediately surrounding DeValls Bluff remained an important Federal objective for much of the war. Numerous Union units operated in and around DeValls Bluff, including at the towns of Augusta (Woodruff County) and Clarendon (Monroe County). Control of these towns in eastern Arkansas allowed Federal troops to protect the vital …

Craighead and Lawrence Counties, Scout in

The Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) established its base at Jacksonport (Jackson County) on April 18, 1864, and began almost continuous scouting expeditions into the surrounding region in search of enemy troops and guerrillas. One such scout was conducted into Craighead and Lawrence counties in early May. Captain George W. Weber of Squadron M, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, led a detachment of a lieutenant and fifty-two men out of Camp Sherman at Jacksonport on the morning of May 5, 1864, with orders to explore the area between Village Creek and the Cache River. Particular attention was to be paid to the area called the “Promised Land”—modern-day Egypt (Craighead County)—as the Federals sought to “gather all the information possible as to the …

Crooked Creek, Skirmish at

Part of Union efforts in northwestern Arkansas to disrupt Confederate operations, this skirmish was one of several encounters over a four-week period in early 1864. In January 1864, the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) was stationed in Cassville, Missouri. Colonel John E. Phelps received orders from Brigadier General John Sanborn to move into Arkansas in an effort to disrupt a planned raid by Confederate forces into Missouri. Phelps led his unit into the state to link up with other Federal units. At the same time, troops from the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) under the command of Captain Charles Galloway were scouting in the area. Leaving Fayetteville (Washington County) on January 10, Galloway moved eastward, receiving reinforcements. Galloway’s troops joined the Second …

Cross Hollow, Skirmish at

  Federal forces in northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri used cavalry patrols to prevent Confederate regulars and guerrillas from organizing in the area. This skirmish was part of an effort by Union forces in Missouri to disrupt small bands of the enemy gathering near Cross Hollow. On June 20, 1864, Captain James Powell of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) received orders to embark on a scouting mission with an unspecified number of men. Moving southward from Cassville, Missouri, Powell and his men first encountered enemy forces near Sugar Creek but did not attack. The Federals continued to Cross Hollow where they turned southward to Fayetteville (Washington County) before moving to Bentonville (Benton County). On the third day of the scouting mission, …

Cross-Roads, Skirmish at

During the 1864 Federal occupation of Batesville (Independence County), many detachments were sent out through the surrounding counties for information, forage, and seizure of bushwhackers. In an accidental encounter, one such detachment caught some brigands for the second time. Captain Albert B. Kauffman of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Volunteers left Batesville on March 24, 1864, with a detachment of 200 men and six officers to scout to the southwest and west. They traveled up the White River to the mouths of Wolf Bayou and Briar Creek, then turned southwest until they reached Coon Creek. They camped at McCarles’s farm, where they found a mule harness that had been taken by Captain George Rutherford during a previous skirmish at Waugh’s Farm. …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (December 1, 1864)

The December 1, 1864, Skirmish at Cypress Creek was one of many military events of the Civil War to occur within the Arkansas River Valley, exemplifying both the contentious nature of the Union’s occupation of the area around the Arkansas River and the ongoing role of guerrilla fighting. The only known surviving document is a report by Colonel Abraham H. Ryan of the Third Arkansas Cavalry. According to this report, Captain Marvin C. Gates of Company C, Third Arkansas Cavalry, along with two men in the advance, came upon five of the enemy near Cypress Creek in Perry County, nine miles from Lewisburg (Conway County), where the report was composed. Capt. Gates charged and was killed. None of the enemy …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (May 13, 1864)

  This action was the first engagement between Federal and Confederate forces during Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s movement into northern and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Near the Arkansas River, Federal forces worked to determine the strength of Confederate forces and keep them from crossing the river if possible. After the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in early May 1864, Federal forces remained in several fortified cities across the state, while Confederate forces held southern Arkansas. Seeing an opportunity to operate more freely in central and northern Arkansas, Confederate commanders ordered units of cavalry to move across the state and determine Union strength, among other tasks. Shelby led his brigade of Missouri cavalry from southern Arkansas in …

Dardanelle and Ivey’s Ford, Actions at

The actions at Dardanelle and Ivey’s Ford were fought as Confederate troops from southwest Arkansas tested the strength of Union outposts scattered along the Arkansas River in a last attempt to challenge Union dominance of the river valley. On January 14, 1865, Colonel William H. Brooks led a Confederate force of 1,500 men consisting of his cavalry regiment, Colonel Robert C. Newton’s cavalry regiment, and Colonel Ras. Stirman’s cavalry brigade to the Arkansas River to assess the strength of Union garrisons along the river. The same day, a detachment of 276 Union men of the Cavalry Division, Seventh Army Corps, under Major J. D. Jenks of the First Iowa Cavalry Regiment disembarked from a small flotilla of Union steamboats and …

Dardanelle, Capture of

The Capture of Dardanelle marked the opening action of Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s summer operations north of the Arkansas River, much of which focused on trying to thwart shipping operations on the White River and raiding the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad. After the failure of Union Major General Frederick Steele’s Camden Expedition into south Arkansas, Federal troops consolidated at Little Rock (Pulaski County), DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Helena (Phillips County), and Fayetteville (Washington County). Scattered Union detachments were stationed at places such as Dardanelle (Yell County), Clarksville (Johnson County), Norristown (Pope County), and Lewisburg (modern-day Morrilton in Conway County) to operate against guerrillas and raiders preying on U.S. shipping and communications along the …

Dardanelle, Skirmish at (August 30, 1864)

  A short and brutal clash between a Federal unit from Arkansas and Confederate irregulars operating near Dardanelle (Yell County), this skirmish is typical of the engagements that were seen in the summer of 1864 in the state. After the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, most organized Confederate forces returned to southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. Some cavalry units continued to operate behind Union lines and were joined by irregulars or guerrillas. While the Federal commanders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and other Union outposts focused much of their attention on the Confederate forces in southern Arkansas, some efforts were made to find and destroy these units operating nearby. By engaging these Confederate forces, the Federals prevented the enemy …

Dardanelle, Skirmish at (September 12, 1863)

  A small engagement occurring after the Action at Devil’s Backbone, this skirmish was part of an effort between Union forces in northwestern Arkansas to link up with their comrades moving toward Little Rock (Pulaski County) from Helena (Phillips County). The Action at Devil’s Backbone was fought on September 1, 1863, when a Union force under the command of Major General James Blunt defeated a Confederate unit under the command of Brigadier General William Cabell. The Union commander on the field at Devil’s Backbone, Colonel William F. Cloud, returned to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) after the battle, where he remained until September 9. On that date, Cloud took 200 men of the Second Kansas Cavalry and a section of artillery …

Des Arc and DeValls Bluff, Capture of

aka: Capture of DeValls Bluff and Des Arc
Des Arc (Prairie County) and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) became two important Union military outposts between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Helena (Phillips County). The capture and protection of these towns was a high priority for Federal commanders from 1863 until the end of the war. The towns were first captured by Federal troops in January 1863. An expedition was launched up the White River on January 13, 1863, after the capture of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). Under the command of Brigadier General Willis Gorman, troops captured St. Charles (Arkansas County) on the first day of the expedition. Leaving the USS Cincinnati and several units behind, Gorman continued up the White River, and on January 18, the Federals captured DeValls …

Des Arc and Peach Orchard Gap, Skirmishes at

The skirmishes near Des Arc (Prairie County) and Peach Orchard Gap in early December 1864 were among many erupting as Union cavalrymen based in Brownsville (Lonoke County) sent regular scouting expeditions out in search of food and enemy troops. Colonel Washington F. Geiger of the Eighth Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) sent a party of fifty men of the Ninth Iowa Cavalry Regiment, Company E, under First Lieutenant Henry W. Harmon out from Brownsville to seize beef cattle for the use of Union troops. On December 6, 1864, when six to ten miles west of Des Arc, they ran into a “superior force” of Captain Howell “Doc” Rayburn’s Confederate irregulars. In the sharp skirmish that followed, three of Rayburn’s men were …

Des Arc Bayou Expedition

aka: Searcy Expedition
aka: West Point Expedition
  As the Union’s Army of the Southwest marched across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas after the Battle of Pea Ridge under the command of Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis, numerous expeditions were sent out in search of supplies for the men and animals and a route to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). This expedition failed to find either, which would eventually lead Curtis to continue his trek and capture Helena (Phillips County), where resupply could be accomplished by ships on the Mississippi River. By May 1862, Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr, commander of the Second Division of the Army of the Southwest, was searching the area northeast of Searcy (White County) to find supplies and information about Confederate forces …

Des Arc Bayou, Action at

The Action at Des Arc Bayou was fought in the early morning hours of July 14, 1864, as a detachment of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s Missouri cavalry attacked the camp of a detachment from the Tenth Illinois Cavalry that had set out to confront and harass Shelby’s troops in northeast Arkansas. Shelby had taken control of all Confederate forces in northeast Arkansas in May 1864, and his troops had been raiding throughout the region, destroying a Union garrison at Dardanelle (Yell County), sinking the U.S. gunboat Queen City as it lay at anchor at Clarendon (Monroe County), and attacking trains on the Memphis to Little Rock Railroad that ran troops and supplies between the Arkansas capital and the large Federal base …

DeValls Bluff to Augusta, Scout from

The November 22–24, 1864, scouting expedition from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) to Augusta (Woodruff County) was undertaken by Union troops “to capture rebel prisoners and obtain information.” Union brigadier general Christopher Columbus Andrews issued orders on November 20, 1864, for a combined infantry-cavalry detachment to go up the White River to Augusta to capture Confederate soldiers and determine the location of rebel forces in the region. Andrews suggested landing 100 infantrymen on the north shore of the Little Red River, after which they would march overland to a location across the White River from Augusta. The remaining fifty infantrymen and fifty cavalry troopers would then steam up the White so that the foot soldiers could surround Augusta and the horsemen …

DeValls Bluff to Searcy and Clinton, Scout from

The November 9–15, 1864, scout from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) to Searcy (White County) and Clinton (Van Buren County) was undertaken to determine the location of Confederate troops in north-central Arkansas following Major General Sterling Price’s disastrous raid into Missouri. A force of the Fourth Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) under Major Harris S. Greeno was ordered out of DeValls Bluff on the evening of November 8, 1864, but because their horses were badly in need of shoeing they delayed leaving until the following morning. The scouting expedition—consisting of Company D under Captain Julius H. Norton and Lieutenant Nelson P. Baker and twenty-five men from Company F under Captain W. H. Warner—left DeValls Bluff on November 9, riding to Hickory Plains …