Events

Entries - Entry Category: Events - Starting with W

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 War

The Waldron War was a decade-long period of violence that began during the Reconstruction era and was characterized by arson, general lawlessness, personal and political feuds, electoral misconduct, and violence—including murder—throughout Scott County. The civil strife resulted in Governors Augustus Garland and William Read Miller dispatching the state militia to the county on at least three occasions to restore order. With much of Waldron (Scott County) burned by departing Union troops in 1864, the citizens faced the reestablishment of the infrastructure of the town. While hostile feelings remained between those sympathetic to the Union cause and the Confederate cause, much of the strife was attributed to personality conflicts within the local Republican Party. Although there was the occasional outburst of …

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 …

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was the first conflict that the involved the United States after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. While it did not have a direct impact within the state’s current borders, the war did influence events that would continue to shape Arkansas for decades. Modern-day Arkansas was at that time part of the Missouri Territory, which was renamed from the Louisiana Territory on June 4, 1812, when the new state of Louisiana joined the Union. The population in Arkansas was recorded at just over 1,000 in 1810, and the area did not have any major towns or cities. The territorial government in Missouri created the first county in the future state in 1813 with the establishment of Arkansas …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

Williwaw War

The “Williwaw War” has become the common term for the World War II conflict between American and Japanese troops in the Arctic Aleutian Islands. The term “williwaw” apparently dates to the nineteenth century, though its origin is uncertain; it describes sudden violent gusts of wind, often accompanied by rain, snow, and fog. The Aleutian theater in the war held particular interest for Arkansans: according to a story widely believed at the time (and which may actually be true), the loss of a coin toss in July of 1941 resulted in assignment of the 206th Coast Artillery Regiment of the recently federalized Arkansas National Guard to Aleutian duty. The winners (as they then thought), New Mexico’s 200th, were dispatched to the tropical …

World War I

aka: The Great War
World War I had less impact on the state of Arkansas than the Civil War or World War II. Still, World War I did deplete the young male population of the state for a time, brought new institutions into the state that continue to the present time, and gave many Arkansans a new view of the world and of Arkansas’s place in an increasingly connected world community. World War I was the result of many complex factors, including a network of alliances linking the larger powers in Europe and the growing power of nationalism in some regions of the world. The Balkan region of southeastern Europe—which had been part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and …

World War II

During World War II, Arkansas underwent fundamental social and economic changes that affected all parts of the state. From the creation of ordnance plants to the presence of prisoners of war (POWs) and Japanese-American internees, the impact of the war meant that the Arkansas of 1945 was vastly different from the Arkansas of 1941. In some ways, this reflected issues particular to Arkansas, while in other ways it reflected the profound changes that the United States as a whole underwent during the war. Along with the lingering effects of the Great Depression, the transformations that were brought about by World War II were to form a clear break between prewar and postwar Arkansas. Industrialization, urbanization, and migration all dramatically transformed …