Civil War

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Steamer Perry, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union side-wheel steamer John D. Perry illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, one year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In the spring of 1863 the Union Army’s Quartermaster Department chartered the John D. Perry for service on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), approximately 100 unidentified Confederate partisans attacked the Perry on September 9, 1864, just below Clarendon (Monroe County) from the east side of the White River while the vessel transported a portion of Major General Joseph …

Steamer Resolute, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union steam tug Resolute illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, more than a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. Chartered on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department for use as an auxiliary vessel, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons of water and served with two barges transporting troops and supplies on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, commanding the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), an indeterminate number of unidentified Confederate partisans fired at the Resolute at 8:00 p.m. on October 11, 1864, …

Stewart’s Plantation, Skirmish at

Following his victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, General Samuel Curtis, with intentions of capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County), moved his Union Army of the Southwest into northeast Arkansas, occupying Batesville (Independence County). Here, he split his force into three divisions, with one division under the command of General Frederick Steele dispatched to occupy the river port town of Jacksonport (Jackson County). While on a foraging expedition, made necessary by major supply problems that would lead to a cross-country march to Helena (Phillips County) to establish a supply line on the Mississippi River, Steele’s forces engaged Confederate forces in the Skirmish at Stewart’s Plantation on June 27, 1862. As supplies began to run low, Steele received …

Sugar Creek, Action at

aka: Battle of Dunagin's Farm
aka: Action at Little Sugar Creek
The Action at Sugar Creek, commonly known as the Battle of Dunagin’s Farm, was the first battle of the Civil War wholly fought in Arkansas and was part of the tug of war between the North and the South for control of Missouri. In late 1861, after the victory at Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, the Missouri State Guard under Major General Sterling Price occupied Springfield, Missouri, and settled into winter quarters, not expecting pressure from Federal troops until spring. But on January 1, 1862, Major General Samuel R. Curtis and the Union’s Army of the Southwest prepared to march on Springfield and rid Missouri of enemy troops. Price, aware of the Federals’ advance, knew that he could not …

Sugar Loaf Prairie, Affair at

The 1865 Affair at Sugar Loaf Prairie was a unique encounter between Union troops and guerrillas in extreme northern Arkansas in which a cave was used as a hiding place. On January 8, 1865, a scouting mission of twenty-five men of the Seventy-third Infantry Enrolled Missouri Militia under the command of Lieutenant Willis Kissel moved from Forsyth, Missouri, in an effort to look for two bands of guerrillas who were operating in the southern part of the state. Moving into Arkansas, the Federals learned from a local family that the guerrilla band under the command of Alfred Cook was hiding in a cave near Sugar Loaf Prairie about two miles away. Kissel captured Cook’s son, and the youth led the …

Sylamore, Skirmishes at (January 23 and 26, 1864)

After Arkansas seceded from the Union in May 1861, the Confederate Congress urged state leaders to make provisions for the manufacture of arms and munitions, including saltpeter, a major component of gunpowder. On August 21, the steamboat New Moon arrived at Sylamore (Stone County) with a cargo of thirty huge kettles, a steam engine, and a hammer mill to produce gunpowder for the Confederacy. They were brought up the North Fork of Sylamore Creek to what became known as Gunner Pool (now located in the Ozark National Forest). Governor Henry Rector placed Colonel Thomas R. Freeman in charge of the militia units to protect the munitions efforts. As steamships loaded and unloaded cargo and supplies for all of northern Arkansas …

Talbot’s Ferry, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Talbert's Ferry
The Skirmish at Talbot’s Ferry (also known as Talbert’s Ferry) in Marion County was one of many skirmishes associated with General Samuel Curtis’s campaign in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in 1862. The fighting was concentrated around a Confederate saltpeter manufactory located along the White River at Talbot’s Ferry near Yellville (Marion County). On April 19, 1862, a detachment under the command of Captain James T. Drummond of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry crossed the White River near Yellville with intentions of locating and destroying the Confederate saltpeter manufactory located eight miles south of Little North Fork—now part of Bull Shoals Lake—on the south side of the river. During his patrol, Captain Drummond captured three men thought to be Confederate pickets placed …

Taylor’s Creek and Mount Vernon, Skirmishes at

aka: Skirmish at Crowley's Ridge
Returning from his ill-fated attack on Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in April 1863, John S. Marmaduke scattered his Confederate forces from Wittsburg (Cross County) to Marianna (Lee County) in Arkansas, with Archibald Dobbins at Hughes’ Ferry. Hearing of Marmaduke’s return, Federal commanders at Helena (Phillips County) ordered Colonel Powell Clayton to take approximately 1,000 cavalry and three pieces of artillery to stop the Confederates from reestablishing in eastern Arkansas by destroying all food supplies and forage. If Confederates were denied this support system of food, shelter, and slaves, the Federal army could maintain superiority in eastern Arkansas and the Mississippi River to Helena, thus enhancing Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign to take Vicksburg, Mississippi. Clayton’s second goal was to determine if Sterling …

Tenth Arkansas Infantry/Tenth Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

Two units known as the Tenth Arkansas Cavalry served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Both served in the state late in the war and saw action in a number of engagements. A third unit known as Crawford’s First Arkansas Cavalry received an official designation as the Tenth Arkansas Cavalry but operated almost exclusively under the former name rather than the latter. The first unit known as the Tenth Arkansas Cavalry began service as the Tenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment. Organized at Springfield (Conway County) in July 1861, the regiment consisted of companies from Conway, Van Buren, and Perry counties. Thomas Merrick served as the first colonel of the regiment. Merrick served as a general officer in the pre-war …

Terre Noire Creek, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Antoine
aka: Skirmish at Wolf Creek
The Skirmish at Wolf Creek, one of the engagements fought during the Camden Expedition, was fought one mile east of the Terre Noire Creek along a defile near the town of Antoine (Pike County). A Confederate detachment attacked a Union supply train of more than 200 wagons traveling toward Camden (Ouachita County) and guarded by the Twenty-ninth Iowa, as well as the Fiftieth Indiana and Ninth Wisconsin regiments. The skirmish was one of the earlier engagements associated with General Frederick Steele’s attempt to push south through Arkansas. The Twenty-ninth Iowa was assigned as the rear guard of the main supply regiment with the Fiftieth Indiana as support. While moving across a defile caused by the Terre Noire Creek, the rear …

Thirty-Eighth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-Eighth Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Craighead, Independence, Izard, Lawrence, and Randolph counties. The regiment began organization in June 1862 as a mounted infantry unit but was dismounted in August 1862 and mustered into Confederate service with ten companies on September 21, 1862, at Jacksonport (Jackson County). The elected field officers of the unit were Colonel Robert G. Shaver, Lieutenant Colonel William. C. Adams, and Major Milton Baber. The Thirty-Eighth Arkansas experienced its first combat on December 7, 1862, at the Battle of Prairie Grove. Assigned to a brigade commanded by Shaver of Frost’s Division, the Thirty-Eighth, under Adams, …

Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Conway, Independence, Jackson, Pope, Van Buren, and Yell counties. Organized originally as a four-company battalion under the command of Major Thomas H. McCray in January 1862, it reorganized on May 25, 1862, as the Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry with ten companies. The original field officers were Colonel Thomas H. McCray, Lieutenant Colonel James F. Johnson, and Major James W. Clark. After initial assignment to the brigade of Brigadier General J. L. Hogg in Major General John P. McCown’s division at Corinth, Mississippi, it was ordered to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and transferred to the division of …

Thruston, Henry Clay

Henry Clay Thruston was a Confederate soldier who fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge and in the Camden Expedition, as well as in General Sterling Price’s Missouri Raid of 1864. Thruston is perhaps best known for reportedly being the tallest Confederate soldier of the Civil War at over seven and a half feet tall. Later in life, he worked for P. T. Barnum’s circus, being advertised as the world’s tallest man. Information is sketchy about the early life of Henry Clay Thruston. He was born in South Carolina in either 1830 or 1833, with the exact day variously recorded as May 4 or May 5. His father, Street Thruston, served in the American Revolutionary War, and he had four …

Tulip, Skirmish at

The October 11, 1863, Skirmish at Tulip was a small action in which Union colonel Powell Clayton led men from the Fifth Kansas and First Indiana Cavalry Regiments in an attack that routed Colonel Archibald Dobbins’s First Arkansas Cavalry Regiment, capturing men and equipment. Also captured was a flag that became a prized artifact in the collection of the Old State House Museum. Following the Union occupation of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 10, 1863, a delegation of citizens from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) came to Little Rock and asked General Frederick Steele to establish a garrison there to protect property and keep citizens from being conscripted into the Confederate army. Steele duly ordered Clayton’s small cavalry brigade to …

Twelfth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Twelfth Arkansas Infantry Regiment was a Confederate unit that served in both the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters during the American Civil War. Composed of companies and men primarily from Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Ouachita, and Sevier counties, the regiment was organized on July 27, 1861, in Arkadelphia (Clark County) by Congressman Edward Gantt. The troops elected Gantt as colonel, W. D. Cook as lieutenant colonel, and Thomas J. Reid as major. The regiment crossed the Mississippi River and garrisoned Columbus, Kentucky, during the Battle of Belmont in Missouri. Afterward, it transferred to New Madrid, Missouri, serving as garrison of Fort Thompson, along with the Eleventh Arkansas Infantry, operating as pickets in front of New Madrid. In March …

Twenty-Seventh Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Twenty-Seventh Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Carroll, Izard, Fulton, Marion, and Searcy counties. The regiment organized in July 1862, when a number of mounted companies were dismounted and augmented with conscripts. Colonel James Shaler, a former Missouri State Guard officer, was appointed as colonel, with A. J. Magenis as lieutenant colonel and Beal Gaither as major. The Twenty-Seventh moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in preparation for the planned attack on Union forces in northwestern Arkansas. Assigned to Colonel Robert Shaver’s Brigade, in Brigadier General Daniel Frost’s Division, the Twenty-Seventh did not join its sister regiments in their first …

Union Transport near St. Charles, Attack on

aka: Attack on U.S. Transport Marmora (October 22, 1864)
Confederate guerrillas fired on the U.S. transport Marmora as it was steaming up the White River taking the Fifty-Third U.S. Colored Troops to St. Charles (Arkansas County) on October 22, 1864, killing three men and wounding up to eighteen others. On October 14, 1864, Major General Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh Dana ordered six Union regiments, including the Fifty-Third U.S. Colored Troops, to bolster Federal forces based at the mouth of the White River. The Fifty-Third boarded the steamboat Bart Able at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and headed north, arriving at its destination on October 18. Four days later, the regiment was traveling up the White River to occupy St. Charles. While the Marmora approached Prairie Landing, Confederate guerrillas concealed in the trees along …

USS Queen City, Sinking of

The USS Queen City was captured and sunk during an engagement on the White River in June 1864. It is the only example of a warship’s being captured by land forces in Arkansas. The Union stationed the Queen City on the White River in eastern Arkansas to protect barges going up the river to DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and to combat any Confederate troops in the area. DeValls Bluff was vital to the Union forces in occupied Little Rock (Pulaski County) at the time, because much of their supplies were brought up the White from the Mississippi River and placed on a railroad in DeValls Bluff that then carried the goods to Little Rock. If the White were closed to …

Van Buren, Capture of

  Following the December 7, 1862, Battle of Prairie Grove, Major General Thomas C. Hindman took the Confederate army under his command south of the Boston Mountains. Union generals James G. Blunt and Francis J. Herron rested their troops for three days and then began discussing an expedition toward Van Buren (Crawford County). They planned to take 8,000 of their best troops south and engage Hindman’s army. Six inches of snowfall from a winter storm delayed the generals from putting any plans into action, but they were able to meet to complete plans by Christmas night. They planted stories among their troops that they were going to proceed toward Huntsville (Madison County) so that any spies in the camps would …

Van Buren, Skirmish at (April 2, 1865)

A brief engagement in the last days of the Civil War, this skirmish shows that violence was still common in the state, even at this late date in the war. Numerous groups of Confederates and guerrillas operated across Arkansas during this period. Federal forces held major cities—including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—but exercised little permanent control outside of these strongholds. On the night of April 2, 1865, a group of twenty mounted Confederates robbed several civilians about two miles outside of Van Buren (Crawford County). The victims reported the incident to Brigadier General Cyrus Bussey at Fort Smith, who immediately dispatched all of his available men in pursuit of the enemy. At …

Van Buren, Skirmish at (August 12, 1864)

Fought in the aftermath of the July 31, 1864, Action at Fort Smith, this skirmish was just one of many that continued to take place in western Arkansas late in the Civil War. Fort Smith (Sebastian County) served as an important Federal post at this point of the war, and nearby Van Buren (Crawford County) was also held by Union forces. The late July skirmish was one of only a few organized movements by Confederate forces against the fortified settlements. Federal troops more typically faced guerrilla attacks at this time. Colonel Thomas Bowen of the Thirteenth Kansas Infantry served as commander of the Federal garrison at Van Buren and regularly reported to Brigadier General John Thayer, commander of the District …

Vine Prairie, Skirmish at

This skirmish occurred as part of a reconnaissance patrol planned by Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison but commanded by Captain Charles Galloway of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US), designed to eliminate the Confederate guerrilla band led by Peter “Old Pete” Mankins Jr. (whose small irregular unit repeatedly harassed Harrison’s operations in northwestern Arkansas). On January 31, 1863, Harrison ordered Galloway and eighty-one troopers from Company E of the First Arkansas Cavalry to Huntsville (Madison County) to protect a public convention of approximately 1,000 Unionists and to assist Colonel James M. Johnson in the organization of the First Arkansas Infantry. Afterward, Harrison ordered Galloway toward the Arkansas River in pursuit of Mankins. On February 2, 1863, Galloway entered Ozark (Franklin County) rather …

Waddell’s Farm (near Village Creek), Skirmish at

While on a foraging expedition on June 12, 1862, a detachment of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry engaged a Confederate force at Waddell’s Farm (also called Waddill’s Farm in some sources) near Village Creek in Jackson County, Arkansas. Bettering the Confederates, the Federals filled some thirty-six wagons with supplies before returning to Camp Tucker close to the junctions of the Black and White rivers. When Confederate major general Earl Van Dorn stripped Arkansas of all valuable military supplies to support operations in the Western Theater, Jacksonport (Jackson County) was abandoned of all reasonable defenses. The new commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Major General Thomas Hindman, had to create a new army from scratch. Consequently, he appointed individuals across the state such …

Waldron to Baker’s Springs, Scout from

The January 1864 scout from Waldron (Scott County) to Baker’s Springs (Howard County) was a Union expedition that resulted in the killing of a guerrilla chieftain and several of his men. Captain Edgar A. Barker led 100 men of Company I, Second Kansas Cavalry Regiment, and forty troopers from Company C, Sixth Kansas Cavalry Regiment, from the Union base at Waldron on January 21, 1864, in one of an almost constant series of scouting expeditions seeking Confederate troops and guerrillas in the region. There is no record of the early part of the expedition, but on January 24 at Baker’s Springs about eighty miles from Waldron, the scout found Captain James B. Williamson’s band of guerrillas “strongly posted in log …

Waldron to Mount Ida, Caddo Gap and Dallas, Scout from

On the morning of December 2, 1863, Colonel James M. Johnson of the First Arkansas Infantry Regiment (US) led a force out from the Union base at Waldron (Scott County), which the Federals had occupied a few weeks earlier, with a goal of scouting for enemy troops as far away as Arkadelphia (Clark County). The Union force consisted of 230 men of the Second Kansas Cavalry under Colonel Owen A. Bassett, a company of the First Arkansas Infantry, and two guns of Rabb’s Second Indiana Battery. After “making no halt of consequence,” the Union force reached Mount Ida (Montgomery County) on the morning of December 4. Johnson sent three patrols out to scout the area; all returned “reporting nothing worthy …

Waldron, Attacks on

The capture of Waldron (Scott County) was the beginning of the Federal sweep south of the Arkansas River to rid western Arkansas of Confederates and guerrilla bands, before consolidating with other forces in the spring of 1864 for the Red River Campaign. When Colonel William F. Cloud of the Second Kansas Cavalry defeated Confederate brigadier general William L. Cabell’s forces at Devil’s Backbone Ridge south of Greenwood (Sebastian County) on September 1, 1863—on the same day that Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was occupied by Major General James Gilpatrick Blunt (US)—Waldron’s northern and western sides were defenseless. More than one skirmish happened in Scott County before the order was issued to occupy Waldron. The first attack happened one day after the …

Wallace’s Ferry, Action at

aka: Action at Big Creek
The action at Wallace’s Ferry was fought July 26, 1864, as Union forces left Helena (Phillips County) on a reconnaissance mission to find Confederate cavalry raiders operating in Phillips County. In late June and early July 1864, Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby, the Confederate commander of northeast Arkansas, dispatched 1,000 cavalrymen under Colonel Archibald Dobbins and Colonel B. Frank Gordon to raid Phillips County plantations that were being operated under the auspices of the U.S. government. The Union commander in Helena, Brigadier General Napoleon B. Buford, sent out a reconnaissance in force on July 25 to locate and hinder the operations of the Rebel horsemen. The Union force under Colonel W. S. Brooks (whose brother Joseph would later be a …

Washington and Benton County Expedition

After the battles of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, the Civil War in northwestern Arkansas settled into smaller skirmishes and interactions between irregular forces on both sides of the conflict. To attempt to control the Confederate guerrillas, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison, Union commander at Fayetteville (Washington County), sent out frequent expeditions to hunt down and dislodge Rebels. He also devised a plan to destroy or disable grist mills belonging to or operated by Rebels. Harrison felt that the mills were congregating places for the Rebels and that the destruction of those places would lessen problems with guerrillas. On August 21, 1864, some of the Union troops serving under Harrison prepared to leave Fayetteville on an expedition through Washington and Benton counties. …

Waugh’s Farm, Skirmish at

Colonel Robert Livingston and his small Union army entered Batesville (Independence County) on Christmas Day in 1863, having been sent to re-occupy the city, which had not had a continuous Union presence since June 1862. Their task was to keep the peace in the area and promote Federal control. That proved difficult, for they were surrounded by small mobile Confederate guerrilla units and outlaw gangs who preyed on small detachments, especially foraging expeditions, outside of Batesville. The most disastrous Union loss in the Batesville area was at the farm of Virginian Lewis Waugh twelve miles west of town. On February 18, 1864, a foraging train of thirty-five wagons—escorted by 100 soldiers of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry and Fourth Arkansas Mounted …

West Point, Engagement at

aka: Little Red River Raid
The Confederacy suffered a crushing defeat on July 4, 1863, following an unsuccessful assault on the Union garrison at Helena (Phillips County), which was intended to relieve pressure on besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, and the defeat at Helena—coupled with Confederate surrender at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9—severed Arkansas, Texas, and western Louisiana from the rest of the Confederate states. Major General Sterling Price was formally tasked with the defense of Arkansas on July 23, but increasing desertions within the Rebel ranks thinned the already meager forces available to resist the imminent Union push to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Little Rock Campaign involved the movement of two Union columns: a division led by Brigadier …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (April 14, 1864)

  The Skirmish at White Oak Creek occurred on the evening of April 14, 1864, the day before Union forces seized the city of Camden (Ouachita County). Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr led the Cavalry Division of the VII Corps to a position along the creek before sunset and set up camp for the evening. Prior to retiring for the night, Carr dispatched 500 Union troops down the Washington Road, 250 men at the junction of the Washington Road and the road from Lone Grove to Camden, and 250 men to a crossroad one and a half miles away. There was also a Confederate reconnaissance group of sixty men within half a mile of Carr’s position that had met and …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (September 29, 1864)

  As part of the Fort Smith Expedition, the Skirmish at White Oak Creek was a culmination of skirmishes beginning with Clarksville (Johnson County) on September 28 and ending with Union forces arriving at Van Buren (Crawford County) on the evening of September 30. Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Infantry had his troops camp three miles beyond Clarksville on the evening of September 28. To their dismay, Confederate forces bushwhacked the Union camp on all sides. Union skirmishers drove Confederates away until dark. Throughout the night and into the early morning, Confederate forces attempted to cross Union pickets in the midst of a severe storm but failed in every attempt. One Union soldier was killed during these attempts. …

White River and Attack on the Steamer Clara Bell, Operations on the

The Union army undertook the operations on the White River in late July 1864 to protect the lines of communication between the Mississippi River and Major General Frederick Steele’s headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County) as Confederate brigadier general Joseph O. Shelby’s troops rampaged through eastern Arkansas. Shelby and his men crossed the Arkansas River in May 1864 and began operations behind Union lines, including a June attack in Clarendon (Monroe County) in which they captured and sank the USS Queen City on the White River. On June 22, some 300 Confederates under Colonel Robert Lawther attacked Captain J. R. C. Hunter’s fifty-man command from the Twelfth Iowa Infantry in their camp at the mouth of the White, retreating under …

White River Expedition (August 5–8, 1862)

The White River Expedition of August 5–8, 1862, consisted of a small portion of the Union navy in Arkansas traveling from Helena (Phillips County) down the Mississippi River to the mouth of the White River to perform reconnaissance and overcome any possible Confederate forces hiding along the shoreline. Led by Colonel Isaac Shepard on board the steamer Iatan and Lieutenant Colonel Bischoff, a fleet of four gunboats, three rams, and one steamer departed on August 5at 10:30 p.m., with the exception of the gunboat White Cloud, as it remained in port taking in coal. At 3:00 a.m. on August 6, the fleet reached Old Town (Phillips County), where the gunboats continued their operation along the river and the other ships …

White River Expedition (December 13–15, 1864)

The purpose of the White River Expedition (December 13–15, 1864) was to gain information about the Confederate whereabouts along the White River. The successful Union expedition played an important role in gathering intelligence in the White River and Augusta (Woodruff County) area. On December 13, Union colonel Hans Mattson, under the orders of his commanding division, proceeded to board the Third Minnesota Infantry, with 400 infantry and 150 cavalry, from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) onto the steamers Sir William Wallace and Kate Hart. At 8:00 that evening, Col. Mattson dispatched Captain John Flesher along with seventy-five cavalry at Peach Orchard Bluff, along the White River. Later that evening, ninety-five infantry under the command of Captain O. F. Dreher disembarked at …

White River Expedition (February 20–26, 1864)

  The White River Expedition of February 20–26, 1864, resulted in Union forces capturing numerous troops from different Confederate infantry and cavalry units. To the dismay of the Union cavalry involved in this expedition, the Confederate troops in the area were able to attack Union forces, recapture some of their own troops, and retreat without Union forces keeping up. Without the proper rations, the Union forces returned to Helena (Phillips County) with the remaining Confederate prisoners to regroup. After receiving orders to travel up the White River, Major Eagleton Carmichael, commander of the expedition, and Captain Ezra King of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry embarked on February 20, 1864, from Helena aboard the Cheek, leaving at 5:00 p.m. Arriving at the …

White River Expedition (February 4–8, 1864)

Embarking on the steamer Cheek on a scouting expedition on February 4, 1864, Captain Charles O’Connell led a Union expeditionary force from Helena (Phillips County) up the White River. He commanded 100 men of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry; forty men of the Third Arkansas Infantry, African Descent under Captain John W. Robinson; and one piece of artillery and seven artillerymen of the Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery, Battery E under Lieutenant John C. Haddock. Embarking from Helena at 9:00 a.m., the small collection of Union forces destroyed one flat boat prior to reaching Friars Point at 11:00 a.m., where they saw four cotton boats and discovered their gunboat had been ordered to Memphis, Tennessee, and the steamer White to return …

White River Expedition (January 13–19, 1863)

Conducted in support of early operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi, this expedition helped Federal forces maintain control of the strategically valuable Memphis and Little Rock Railroad between DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Shortly after the capture of Arkansas Post in January 1863 by Major General John A. McClernand, Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman—commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas—moved his command from St. Charles (Arkansas County) toward DeValls Bluff onboard the gunboat USS St. Louis. By a rapid advance on January 17, Gorman surprised two companies of Confederate infantry and forced them to flee, interrupting their attempt to load two large cannon onto a steamboat. An additional assault upon the Confederate rear defeated and captured most of …

White River Station, Skirmish at

The Skirmish at White River Station was a small but important push for Union forces along the White River. On the evening of June 21, 1864, a detachment of 300 Confederate men from the Tenth Missouri Cavalry under Colonel Robert R. Lawther crossed the Arkansas River in small boats near the mouth of the White River. Leaving their horses on the opposite side of the river, the Confederate cavalry marched through the night and arrived on the White River at 4:00 a.m. on June 22. With a Union garrison of only fifty soldiers traveling along the White River, the Twelfth Iowa Infantry under the command of Captain Joseph R. C. Hunter defended its encampment, near the mouth of the White …

White River, Skirmish at (March 22, 1863)

  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 …

White Springs, Skirmish at

The Skirmish at White Springs took place at the start of Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke’s Expedition into Missouri. On December 31, 1862, Brigadier General Joseph Orville Shelby’s command began its march northward from the vicinity of Lewisburg (Conway County) toward Missouri, with three regiments of Missouri cavalry, Elliott’s Battalion of Scouts, and Quantrill’s Company (commanded by First Lieutenant William H. Gregg). The first two days of marching proved comfortable due to temperate weather. By the third day, however, a cold rain began to fall, lasting for three days and causing much suffering. Shelby’s force made no contact with the enemy for the first two days. On the third day, Elliott’s Battalion of Scouts came upon a force of bushwhackers …

Whiteley’s Mills, Skirmish at

Shortly after mustering into service, on orders of Brigadier General J. B. Sanborn, the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) moved into the Buffalo River region in an attempt to kill or capture Confederate guerrilla forces and increase Union patrol activity in the area north of the Buffalo River. On April 5, 1864, a Union force attacked a band Confederate guerrillas at Whiteley’s Mills on the headwaters of the Buffalo River. The skirmish was part of a larger operation aimed at Union control of the northwest region of Arkansas in April 1864. The Second Arkansas, while encamped near the Buffalo River, had encountered some resistance from Confederate guerrilla forces in the area before the Skirmish at Whiteley’s Mills. Major James A. Melton, …

Whitmore’s Mill, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Whitten's Mill
Fought on the same day as the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry (April 30, 1864), the Skirmish at Whitmore’s Mill took place in Grant County as part of the larger Camden Expedition. On April 28, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Orville Shelby ordered Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Elliott and the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion (CS) to reconnoiter in and around the village of Princeton (Dallas County) to ascertain if all of Major General Frederick Steele’s force had left Camden (Ouachita County). Elliott began his operation by sending First Lieutenant W. B. Walker and Company B toward Princeton, with orders to report as soon as possible. Elliott also sent scouting parties on the roads leading from Tulip (Dallas County) to Princeton. Elliott arrived at …

Whitney’s Lane, Action at

aka: Skirmish at Searcy Landing
The Action at Whitney’s Lane was the first major contact between Federal and Confederate forces in Arkansas after the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 6–7, 1862. This action and subsequent events led the Union army to give up its objective to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County) in May 1862. Little Rock did not fall under Federal control until September 1863. Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s defeat of the Confederate forces under Major General Earl Van Dorn at the Battle of Pea Ridge had not been altogether decisive, but he could claim victory. Consequently, Confederate command staff in the east conceded much of the western region of the Confederacy known as the Trans-Mississippi and ordered Van Dorn to take …

Wild Haws Expedition

aka: Strawberry Creek Expedition
Ordered to screen the movements of Colonel W. D. Wood of the Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry through the Izard County area, Captain Edward Lawler of Company K, First Nebraska Cavalry Volunteers, moved through Wild Haws (Izard County) to the Strawberry River (named “Strawberry Creek” in the reports) before returning to Batesville (Independence County) from March 10 to March 12, 1864. While completing this assignment, no enemy contact was made. On March 10, 1864, Capt. Lawler received orders to move with a detachment toward Wild Haws, which was renamed LaCrosse (Izard County) in 1869. Lawler’s detachment, whose strength was not identified in official reports, was to aid in the movement of six squadrons from the Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry under …

Yellville Expedition (November 25–29, 1862)

The five-day expedition to Yellville (Marion County) in late November 1862 was a successful Union raid to disrupt Confederate saltpeter mining operations and destroy a rebel arsenal. Arkansas’s Confederates mined saltpeter, an important ingredient in creating gunpowder, from limestone caves in the Ozark Mountains, and Union forces periodically attacked the mining facilities, resulting in such actions as the April 19, 1862, Skirmish at Talbot’s Ferry. After learning of saltpeter operations in Marion County in late November 1862, Brigadier General Francis J. Herron sent an expedition from southwestern Missouri to attack them. Colonel Dudley Wickersham of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment led his regiment, along with the First Iowa Cavalry and a battalion of the Second Wisconsin Cavalry, into Arkansas on …

Yocum Creek, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Duncan Springs
  Part of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) was stationed at Elkhorn Tavern, near Bentonville (Benton County), in late October 1862 to help control part of southwest Missouri until the army could enter Arkansas. On November 15, 1862, Company G under the command of Captain Rowman E. M. Mack and Company K under Captain Theodorick Youngblood, along with elements of an additional unidentified company, arrived in the area of Yocum Creek in Arkansas to evacuate loyal Union families to Elkhorn Tavern. While at the Jeremiah Youngblood farm, local Confederates attacked the Unionists and then withdrew to the south and west along Yocum Creek, with the Federals in pursuit. The fight continued southward, down the valley to Duncan Springs. At this junction, …