Entries - Entry Category: Events

Greene’s Operations on the West Bank of the Mississippi River

Colonel Colton Greene led Confederate brigadier general John Sappington Marmaduke’s Confederate cavalry brigade into southeastern Arkansas in late May to disrupt Federal traffic on the Mississippi River and to stop the cotton trade between Union speculators and local plantation owners. His effective tactics crippled movements on the Mississippi and led to the Engagement at Old River Lake (a.k.a. Ditch Bayou). Greene’s command consisted of five understrength Missouri cavalry units along with Captain J. H. Pratt’s six-gun Texas artillery battery; they were joined at the end of May by detachments of two Arkansas cavalry regiments and Captain G. W. Hughey’s Arkansas Battery, armed with four cannon. Greene centered much of his activity around the Greeneville Bends, a section of the Mississippi …

Greensboro to Helena, Expedition from

The Civil War expedition from Greensboro (Craighead County) to Helena (Phillips County) was undertaken in July 1863 as Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson’s Union cavalrymen descended Crowley’s Ridge in search of Confederate troops in the early stages of the Little Rock Campaign. Davidson led his 6,000-man cavalry division across the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff (Clay County) from southeastern Missouri on July 19, 1863, to face a reported advance by Confederate troops under Major General Sterling Price. The poorly supplied Union column moved rapidly down Crowley’s Ridge while foraging for food. As one Union artilleryman put it, “our fast marching…is for grub.” As they neared Greensboro, likely on July 24, Davidson sent a party of fifty troopers of the …

Guerrilla Executions of 1864 (Fort Smith)

Four young Confederate-allied guerrillas were executed on July 29, 1864, at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) for the murder of a civilian and for a fatal attack on an outpost of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) by bushwhackers wearing Union uniforms. On April 7, 1864, ten men of Companies A and E, First Arkansas Cavalry (US) were guarding the regiment’s corrals at Prairie Grove (Washington County) when a group of men wearing blue uniforms and purporting to be from the Fourteenth Kansas Cavalry Regiment approached them; these men were actually members of Major William M. “Buck” Brown’s band of Confederate irregulars. The Unconditional Union newspaper reported that the Arkansas troopers “shook hands and conversed with them. All at once the bushwhackers …

Haguewood Prairie, Skirmish at

By late September 1863, Little Rock (Pulaski County) had just fallen to Union forces, and Arkansas Confederate forces were in disarray. Surrendering the state capital with little more than token resistance, the Rebel forces moved the seat of government to Washington (Hempstead County), leaving Union forces in control of most of the state north of the Arkansas River. Colonel Joseph Shelby proposed a raid into his native state of Missouri. His commanding general, John Marmaduke, saw little chance of success but backed Shelby nevertheless, hoping that the diversion would slow Union general Frederick Steele’s further advance, as well as rally the discouraged Southern sympathizers. On September 22, 1863, Shelby and 600 troops filed through Arkadelphia (Clark County) past Missouri Confederate …

Hahn’s Farm, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Waldron
Positioned on the western border of Arkansas and south of the strategically important Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Scott County saw a significant amount of activity during the Civil War. The Attack on Waldron occurred on December 29, 1863, leaving several dead and wounded. Other activity in Scott County included troops traveling through to other destinations, scouting, and foraging expeditions. Brigadier General John M. Thayer received orders by telegraph from the Assistant Adjunct General of Little Rock (Pulaski County), Lieutenant Colonel W. D. Green, to have a detachment from Little Rock met by Federal troops from Fort Smith. He sent troops south from Fort Smith to pass through Scott County en route to Dallas (Polk County). On June 17, 1864, Lieutenant …

Halfway House, Skirmish near the

The Skirmish near the Halfway House took place on October 25, 1864, when Confederate cavalrymen confronted a Union force protecting a telegraph line repairman. The telegraph lines that connected the various Union outposts in Arkansas were a favorite target of Confederate soldiers and guerrillas, and Captain Gurnsey W. Davis of Company D, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry, led fifty troopers of his regiment out from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the morning of October 25, 1864, to escort a man who would repair the cut line between Pine Bluff and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Their ride was uneventful until they were a mile and a half from a place known as the Halfway House. There, Illinois cavalrymen patrolling along the left flank …

Harrison’s Landing, Skirmish at

  Shortly after completion of a successful expedition along the White and Little Red rivers, which resulted in the destruction of a Confederate warehouse and a pontoon bridge, along with the capture of two steamers, Union forces were again dispatched upon White River transports on a reconnaissance mission. On August 16, 1863, a force consisting of portions of the Thirty-second Iowa Infantry and the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry boarded transports docked at Clarendon (Monroe County) and headed down the White River to Harrison’s Landing. The force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Eberhart, arrived at the landing at about nightfall. Upon disembarking from the transports, the Union force was fired upon by hidden Confederates. At about 2:00 a.m. on August 17, Major …

Hatch’s Ferry, Skirmish at

By late May 1864, Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby was in command of all Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River and was tasked with recruiting a fighting force from the local populace. Over the next three months, Shelby bolstered his command from an estimated 1,200 men in early May to more than 7,000, and his success in frustrating Union garrisons and supply lines along the White River prompted Union command at Little Rock (Pulaski County) to launch several expeditions to neutralize him. During the summer, Shelby established his headquarters at Jacksonport (Jackson County) and set about harassing railroad lines and plantations being used to supply Union forces. In mid-July, Colonel Thomas H. McCray and his brigade made a successful …

Hay Station No. 3, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Brownsville (July 30, 1864)
This brief Civil War engagement took place during the summer of 1864 in eastern Arkansas. This area saw much action during this period, most notably by Joseph O. Shelby and his Confederate cavalry. This engagement, however, was not part of that action. Hay stations were important Federal outposts along the railroad line in eastern Arkansas. The army needed vast quantities of hay on a daily basis to feed the thousands of animals it required. Union commanders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) established small fortified outposts along the railroad to meet several needs. These outposts were tasked with protecting the nearby railroad and disrupting Confederate operations in the area. The outposts were also responsible for growing large amounts of hay to …

Helena Expedition (March 5–12, 1863)

aka: St. Francis River Expedition
aka: Little River Expedition
Traveling up the St. Francis River from Helena (Phillips County) on March 5, 1863, Colonel Powell Clayton’s command moved into the Little River in Poinsett County, dispersing Confederates along the way and seeking the steamer Miller. The Union forces engaged the Confederates traveling upriver at Madison (St. Francis County), found the sunken Miller, and engaged Confederates north of, and again in, Madison while traveling back downriver. Overall, Clayton’s expedition took a number of prisoners and supplies that Confederates could not afford to lose in this region. With a firm hold on Helena, state-level Union leadership focused on the wearing down of Confederate resistance in Arkansas, but commanders in occupied cities like Helena had to remain aware of the immediate area. …

Helena to Alligator Bayou, Scouts from

The Civil War scouts from Helena (Phillips County) to Alligator Bayou were Union operations undertaken in September and October 1864 to hunt for Confederate soldiers and Union deserters and to seize cattle for the Federal base at Helena. Lieutenant Alexander F. Rice of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) led three separate scouting expeditions from Helena to Alligator Bayou near the St. Francis River in present-day Lee County in the fall of 1864. The soldiers in the scouts likely came from Companies C, E, F, and G of the Sixtieth, all of which reported being involved in scouting operations in September and October. Rice led troops from Helena on September 9, 1864, and marched to Thomas’ Station about five miles …

Helena to Arkansas Post, Expedition from

A Union expedition against the Confederate forces at Arkansas Post in November 1862 was defeated due to low river levels and bad weather. Confederate officials in Arkansas, fearing a possible Union move against the capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County) via the Arkansas River, ordered fortifications built at high points along the river. One of the places selected was Arkansas Post, where construction began on a large earthwork to be named Fort Hindman and defended by the big guns of the CSS Pontchartrain under the command of Colonel John W. Dunnington. In November, Brigadier General Alvin P. Hovey, commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas in Helena (Phillips County), determined to take a combined army-navy taskforce and attack the Confederate base …

Helena to Buck Island in the Mississippi, Expedition from

Brigadier General Napoleon B. Buford ordered the expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Buck Island on the Mississippi River to determine whether a shipment of guns and ammunition had crossed the river to supply the troops of Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby operating in eastern Arkansas. Captain Rudolph Schoenemann of Company E, Sixth Minnesota Infantry Regiment, led forty-three men from Company E and a detachment from Company F of the Sixth, along with troops from either Company E or L of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment, out of Helena on the evening of July 13, 1864. Boarding the steamboat Dove, the expedition headed upriver. After disembarking the cavalrymen at a Doctor Peterson’s plantation on the Arkansas side of the …

Helena to Clarke’s Store, Scout from

Union soldiers conducted the February 24, 1865, Civil War scout from Helena (Phillips County) to Clarke’s store to capture Confederate soldiers and sympathizers in St. Francis County; they also uncovered some shady business dealings. Captain John A. Wasson of the Eighty-Seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry loaded fifty of his men aboard the steamboat Curlew on February 24, 1865, for a scouting expedition up the Mississippi River, joining fifty men of the Sixtieth United States Colored Troops (USCT) under Captain Eli Ramsey of Company C. The Curlew sailed up the Mississippi River to the foot of Ship Island, where the Illinois horsemen went ashore; the Black soldiers remained with the steamer. After reaching the Rodgers Plantation, Wasson split his troops, leaving Lieutenant …

Helena to Coldwater, Mississippi, Expedition from

The Civil War expedition from Helena to Coldwater, Mississippi, was one of many Union operations proceeding from the Federal base at Helena (Phillips County) following its July 12, 1862, occupation by Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Southwest. At 8:00 p.m. on July 23, 1862, some 100 troopers of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry (US) and ninety soldiers from the Eighth Indiana Infantry Regiment, along with two mountain howitzers, all commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel N. Wood of the Sixth Missouri, boarded the steamboat Catahoula at Helena to steam up the Mississippi River for a raid on targets on the east side of the river. The Indiana troops landed near Austin, Mississippi, at daybreak on July 24 and quickly …

Helena to Friar’s Point, Mississippi, Expedition from

The expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Friar’s Point (usually spelled Friars Point) was the last of a series of Civil War military operations originating in the Union base at Helena against targets in Mississippi. Union troops occupied Helena in July 1862, and the town became a base supporting efforts to take the rebel stronghold at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and to conduct other offensive actions against Confederate activities across the river. The last such raid recorded in the Official Records took place in late February 1865. Colonel Charles Bentzoni of the Fifty-Sixth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) ordered a sizeable detachment from the Helena garrison to board the steamboat Curlew at 1:00 a.m. on February 19, 1865, for an expedition across the …

Helena to Harbert’s Plantation, Expeditions from

The January 11–13, 1865, Civil War expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Harbert’s Plantation in Mississippi appears to have been conducted to arrest a deserter from a United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment. Captain Eli Ramsey of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment led two officers and fifty men of the Sixtieth’s Company C and a dozen men and a lieutenant of the Eighty-Seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry out of Helena around 8:00 p.m. on January 11, 1865. Boarding the steamboat the Dove, the Federals crossed the Mississippi River and landed in Mississippi about fifteen miles north of Helena between the McNeal and Halbert plantations. The infantry disembarked, and Ramsey ordered the Illinois horsemen to follow in an hour as he …

Helena to Kent’s Landing, Expedition from

The expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Kent’s Landing (Desha County) on the Mississippi River was undertaken to track down deserters from a U.S. Colored Artillery unit and seek information on Confederate forces in the area. Captain Eli Ramsey of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) left Helena at 5:30 p.m. on August 11, 1864, at the head of four officers and seventy-five men of the Sixtieth and an artillery battery. Though Ramsey identified the artillery unit as Battery C of the Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery, it appears that the gunners were actually from Company I of the Sixtieth USCT, which reported that Lieutenant Joseph A. Goodnough participated in the expedition with “a gun squad of six men.” The …

Helena to Mount Vernon, Scout from

The scout from Helena (Phillips County) to Mount Vernon (St. Francis County) was undertaken to seek Confederate forces that were organizing in the area and to arrest citizens thought to be collaborating with the rebels. Union major Eagleton Carmichael of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment led a detachment of the regiment, including a lieutenant and thirty-five men of Company I, out from Helena on August 22, 1864. The cavalrymen boarded the steamboats Dove and H. A. Homeyer and traveled up the St. Francis River to a point four miles past the mouth of the L’Anguille River, where they disembarked. They headed into St. Francis County, scouting local plantations. They began at Hughes’s farm then proceeded to a Dr. Ward’s place, …

Helena up the St. Francis River, Expedition from

On the afternoon of February 13, 1864, Captain Charles O’Connell of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry boarded the steamboat Hamilton Bell with 100 men of his regiment and thirty soldiers of the Third Arkansas Infantry (African Descent) and left Helena (Phillips County) to travel up the St. Francis River in search of a Confederate officer. Arriving at Shrimp’s Landing around 10:00 p.m., the cavalrymen disembarked, and O’Connell ordered the steamboat to anchor at a nearby island overnight and then proceed up the St. Francis at daylight on February 14 to Linden (St. Francis County), where the Fifteenth Illinois troopers would rejoin the Hamilton Bell. The Illinois cavalrymen rode up onto Crowley’s Ridge, with O’Connell leading part of the troops to the …

Helena, Affairs at

A pair of brief engagements near the Federal outpost of Helena (Phillips County), these actions demonstrate just how dangerous serving in Arkansas was for Union troops. After the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Federal Army of the Southwest moved across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in an effort to take Little Rock (Pulaski County). Unable to do so, the Union troops eventually took Helena on the Mississippi River and held the town for the remainder of the war. Deep in enemy territory, the Federals in Helena worked hard to establish defensive positions and regularly launched patrols into the surrounding countryside to gather intelligence on Confederate troops in the area. On December 13, 1862, twenty-six men of Company …

Helena, Battle of

The Confederate attack on the Mississippi River town of Helena (Phillips County) was, for the size of the forces engaged (nearly 12,000), as desperate a fight as any in the Civil War, with repeated assaults on heavily fortified positions similar to the fighting that was to be seen in 1864 in General Ulysses Grant’s overland campaign in Virginia and General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta, Georgia, campaign. It was the Confederates’ last major offensive in Arkansas (besides cavalry raids and the repulse of the Camden Expedition) and the last Confederate attempt to seize a potential choke point on the Mississippi. But the Battle of Helena has been little noted and not long remembered because it was fought the day the Confederate …

Helena, Expedition from (November 14–17, 1863)

On November 14–17, 1863, Union forces sent a small expedition along the Mississippi River to gauge Confederate strength around Helena (Phillips County). The fighting that ensued is typical of the combat that both sides engaged in during this period. On the evening of November 14, 1863, a detachment of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry under the command of Major Eagleton Carmichael departed Helena on the steamer Hamilton Belle. The steamer first patrolled along the Mississippi side of the river, before halting for the night. The next morning, the steamer continued to patrol and troops disembarked at the house of a man named Gillen. There, the Federals captured a member of the Third Arkansas Cavalry and a commissary sergeant, as well as a …

Helena, Expeditions from (July 1862)

aka: Expedition from Helena to Marianna (July 24–26, 1862)
aka: Expedition from Helena to Old Town and Trenton (July 28–31, 1862)
A pair of late July 1862 Union expeditions following the Union occupation of Helena (Phillips County) illustrate the continuing need of Federal forces to determine the size and location of Confederate troops in the area around the isolated Mississippi River port. The Union’s Army of the Southwest occupied Helena on July 12, 1862, after marching across eastern Arkansas, liberating slaves throughout the region, and ending the campaign that began with the March 7–8, 1862, Battle of Pea Ridge. As Major General Samuel Curtis’s troops began to fortify the town, which would remain in Union hands throughout the war, the Federal forces aggressively patrolled the region to keep from being surprised by Confederate attackers. On the evening of July 24, 1862, Colonel …

Helena, Expeditions from (September 26, 1862)

aka: Expedition from Helena to Jeffersonville and Marianna
aka: Expedition from Helena to LaGrange
Two separate Union expeditions left Helena (Phillips County) in search of Confederate guerrillas on September 26, 1862, resulting in a tragic friendly fire incident. Captain James T. Drummond of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry led a force of two squadrons from his regiment and four squadrons from the First Missouri Cavalry (US) from their camp near Helena at 8:30 a.m. on September 26, 1862, heading toward LaGrange (Lee County) in pursuit of Confederate troops and guerrillas. Major Thomas W. Scudder of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, meanwhile, left Helena with 275 men from the Fifth Kansas, Fourth and Fifth Missouri Cavalry (US), and Fifth Illinois Cavalry Regiments—100 of them taking a small steamboat—and headed to Jeffersonville (Lee County). After riding for a …

Helena, Skirmish at (September 19–20, 1862)

A small and inconsequential action, the September 19–20, 1862, Skirmish at Helena is typical of the war fought around Helena (Phillips County) after that city’s capture by Federal troops. Following the capture of Helena by the Federal Army of the Southwest in July 1862, Confederate leaders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) continued to fear that an attack on the capital would be launched from the Mississippi River port town of Helena. With few troops available to defend Little Rock, Texas cavalry units were tasked with harassing the Union troops in Helena and gathering information about the enemy. A brigade under the command of Colonel William Henry Parsons was the only unit available to perform these tasks and soon began attacking …

Helena, Skirmishes near (October 11, 1862)

aka: Battle of Jones's Lane
aka: Battle of Lick Creek
aka: Battle of Shell Creek
As Confederate cavalry harassed the Federal forces occupying Helena (Phillips County), the Union troops slowly began to learn how to fight back effectively. The October 11, 1862, Skirmish at Helena saw an initial Confederate success but ended with an overwhelming Federal victory. Confederate cavalry were tasked with patrolling around Helena and observing the enemy after the Union Army of the Southwest captured the city in July 1862. The Confederates were part of a brigade of Texas cavalry under the command of Colonel William Henry Parsons. As part of the brigade, the Twenty-first Texas Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel DeWitt Clinton Giddings was tasked with scouting near the city in October 1862. Giddings decided to lead the scout on …

Hickory Plains, Skirmish at

This skirmish was part of a larger expedition launched to gather information and destroy Confederate supplies north of the Arkansas River. Several Confederate forces, including troops under Brigadier General Joseph Shelby, operated in this area during the summer of 1864. Federal forces used expeditions like this one to gather intelligence. In August 1864, Federal commanders in Little Rock (Pulaski County) learned about Confederate cavalry operating near the Little Red River in north-central Arkansas. Brigadier General Joseph West received orders to lead a force of Union cavalry to capture or disperse these troops. Divided into two provisional brigades, the force was stationed at both Little Rock and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). West departed the capital city with one brigade, while a …

Hickory Station, Skirmish at

This brief engagement occurred on the Little Rock and DeVall’s Bluff section of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad and was one of the final Civil War engagements in Arkansas. On the morning of April 2, 1865, Captain Michael F. Mayberry led twenty-six men from Company D of Colonel Charles H. Carlton’s Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry in an attack against the railroad approximately four miles from Hickory Station, located in what is now Lonoke County. Mayberry’s men removed two rails, as well as the spikes from eight or nine additional rails, all of which caused the morning train to derail, except for the passenger car. Captain Richard C. Custard (who served previously in Arkansas as a sergeant with the Third …

Hill’s Plantation, Action at

aka: Action at Cache River
aka: Action at Cotton Plant
aka: Action at Round Hill
The major Confederate attempt to halt General Samuel Curtis’s march across northeast Arkansas and destroy his army took place near the Cache River in July 1862. The Confederates were decisively defeated, allowing Curtis to proceed on to Clarendon (Monroe County) and ultimately to Helena (Phillips County), where he resupplied his army. The Federals turned Helena into an important river base and held the town for the rest of the war. Troops from Helena captured Little Rock (Pulaski County) the following year. In the summer of 1862, Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis led the Army of the Southwest through northeast Arkansas in an attempt to capture Little Rock. Facing shortages and a supply line stretching to Rolla, Missouri, Curtis decided …

Hopefield, Burning of

This punitive expedition relates to Union army efforts to secure Memphis, Tennessee, as a supply and hospital base capable of supporting ongoing operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. It stands as an early example of the shift toward hard war tactics that would increase throughout the remainder of the war. The decision to burn the village of Hopefield (Crittenden County), directly across the Mississippi River from Memphis, had roots in events initiated in January 1863, including a similar expedition conducted against Mound City (Crittenden County). In early January, under orders from Trans-Mississippi Department commander Lieutenant General Theophilus H. Holmes, Captain James H. McGehee led his unattached company of Arkansas cavalry on an extended raid through Crittenden County with orders to scout the …

Huntersville and Clinton, Scouts from

The scouts from Huntersville—modern-day North Little Rock (Pulaski County)—and Clinton (Van Buren County) were conducted in an effort to locate Confederate troops under Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby who were recruiting soldiers and attacking Union targets in central and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Shelby drove off the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) troops garrisoning Dardanelle (Yell County) in the early hours of May 17, 1864, and spent the next two days moving about 1,200 Confederate soldiers across the Arkansas River to begin operations behind Federal lines along the river. Union forces struggled to determine the location of the Confederate force and, by late May, had abandoned their bases at Batesville (Independence County) and Jacksonport (Jackson County). Shelby officially …

Huntersville, Skirmish at

A brief and unimportant clash between small units, this skirmish is a great example of the majority of fighting that took place in the state in the latter half of 1864 and afterward. With the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Union forces under the command of Major General Frederick Steele returned to the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area. Camping in numerous forts and other fortifications constructed in the area, the Federal troops rarely launched major offensive operations in Arkansas for the remainder of the war. However, in an effort to keep Confederate forces off balance, Federals did patrol regularly. These patrols engaged enemy forces when they encountered them and prevented the Confederates from launching major …

Huntsville Massacre

In the midst of the Civil War, on January 10, 1863, nine men were taken from a guardhouse and led to a field on the Samuel P. Vaughn farm about one mile northeast of Huntsville (Madison County), where they were shot by Union soldiers on the bank of Vaughn’s Branch near the road that led to Carrollton (Carroll County). One survived. Although the reason for the execution may never be known, it may have been in response to the ambush of a Union army escort and the mistreatment of the daughters of Isaac Murphy by locals. Isaac Murphy was elected in 1861 to the Secession Convention from Madison County on the Unionist platform, receiving eighty-five percent of the vote and …

Hurricane Creek, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Hunter's Crossing
The Skirmish at Hurricane Creek was a Civil War battle fought on October 23, 1864, at Hunter’s Crossing, two miles south of present-day Bryant in Saline County. Confederate forces ambushed a Union cavalry force on its return to Little Rock (Pulaski County) from a raid on Princeton (Dallas County). On October 19, Major George Avery’s Union cavalry command left Little Rock and proceeded to Princeton in order to capture and destroy weapons reportedly stored there. On October 21, they were met near Tulip (Dallas County) by the advance pickets of Colonel John L. Logan’s cavalry, resulting in constant skirmishing until reaching Princeton. Here, the Confederates were pushed south of town approximately two miles. The Union forces returned to Princeton, where …

Indochinese Resettlement Program

aka: Operation New Life
In 1975, the state of Arkansas was tapped by the federal government to be one of four main entry points for Indochinese refugees. The presence and availability of the facilities at Fort Chaffee, located adjacent to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), made it an ideal location for processing tens of thousands of Indochinese seeking refuge from their war-torn country. When the United States evacuated its remaining personnel from Vietnam in the spring of 1975, it left in its wake a wide segment of the Indochinese population who had assisted the American military and political effort. Without the American presence, they were left vulnerable to retaliation by the North Vietnamese government. Many fled in the days and weeks leading up to the …

Jacksonport, Affair at

aka: Skirmish at Stoney Point
A brief engagement along the banks on the White River, this event was part of a Federal push to disrupt Confederate recruiting and organizational efforts in northern Arkansas. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Black of the Third Missouri Cavalry (US) led his command north from Little Rock (Pulaski County) in late November 1863. Passing through Old Austin (Lonoke County), the Federals joined a unit of Arkansan Unionists in engaging an enemy force. Pushing the Confederates back to Bayou Des Arc, Black dispersed the enemy before moving on to Searcy (White County). On November 21, Black sent a battalion under the command of Major John Lennon to Jacksonport (Jackson County) with orders to capture the ferry across the White River. About 100 Confederate …

Jacksonport, Attack on

Having moved to Jacksonport (Jackson County) from Batesville (Independence County) in April 1864 to improve supply allocation, communication, and potential access to reinforcements, Colonel Robert R. Livingston’s camps were attacked by a combined Confederate force commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Love on April 20, 1864. The attack was unsuccessful. Commanding the District of Northeastern Arkansas, Union colonel Robert R. Livingston was finding his post at Batesville difficult to maintain due to a lack of resources aggravated by guerrilla harassment of foraging expeditions. Over time, it became clear that movement down the White River to a more practical location such as Augusta (Woodruff County), or even as far as DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), was necessary. Leaving 450 men in Batesville, …

Jacksonport, Skirmish at

aka: Augusta Expedition (April 22–24, 1864)
On April 24, 1864, the advance guard of Colonel Robert R. Livingston’s column returning from an expedition to Augusta (Woodruff County) briefly engaged elements of J. H. McGehee’s Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry outside of Jacksonport (Jackson County). After a short skirmish, Livingston’s column returned to Jacksonport as planned. Moving from Batesville (Independence County) to Jacksonport, Colonel Livingston, commanding the District of Northeastern Arkansas, had planned to fortify a camp and gather much-needed supplies there before marching on to Augusta to clear supply lines further and obtain reinforcements. On April 20, 1864, Livingston’s men successfully defended Jacksonport from a surprise attack by Confederates. Later that night, he received a dispatch from Brigadier General Christopher C. Andrews in Augusta requesting that Livingston …

Jenkins’ Ferry, Engagement at

The Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry occurred April 29–30, 1864, when Confederates caught the Federal army retreating from Camden (Ouachita County) near the Saline River. After intense combat, the Union troops crossed the river and returned to Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Camden Expedition had not gone well for Major General Frederick Steele. Poor logistical conditions and an increasing Confederate presence in southwestern Arkansas led to the abandonment of his planned invasion route toward Shreveport, Louisiana. Shifting eastward and capturing Camden, Steele hoped to find the logistical support necessary to continue his movement toward northwestern Louisiana. From Camden, Steele dispatched troops to obtain supplies. On April 18, 1864, the first foray resulted in the disastrous loss of some 301 combatants and …

Jonesboro, Skirmish at

In 1862, Jonesboro was a small hamlet and the Craighead County seat on Crowley’s Ridge. Captain Mitchell A. Adair, fresh from the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Corinth, was sent home to Jonesboro (Craighead County) with some of the Twenty-third Arkansas Infantry for rest and relaxation. Memphis, Tennessee, fell into Union hands in June 1862, and Adair and his men were not able to rejoin the Twenty-third Arkansas on the east side of the Mississippi River. As there was no local Confederate force to protect local property and citizens, Adair and the men of Craighead County volunteered and helped form Company I of the Thirtieth Arkansas Infantry on July 2, 1862, at Jonesboro. They were assigned to the …

Kendal’s Grist Mill, Affair at

Part of a Union expedition to disrupt Confederate operations in eastern Arkansas, this action helped deny Confederate forces needed food and other supplies. In late August 1864, Colonel John Hudson of the Sixtieth U.S. Colored Infantry received orders to lead an expedition of troops against suspected enemy concentrations along the White River. Hudson created a force of approximately 500 men, including detachments from his regiment as well as troops from the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry, Fifty-sixth U.S. Colored Troops, and Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery. The planned route took the troops down the Mississippi River to the White River before marching back to Helena (Phillips County). Aboard the steamers Dove and Hamilton Bell, the expedition departed Helena at 8:00 p.m. on …

Kickapoo Bottom, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Sylamore (May 29, 1862)
During the Civil War, present-day Stone County was part of Izard County. The county seat was at Mount Olive five miles upriver from Sylamore, present-day Allison (Stone County), on the west side of the river. (Due to the rail station established on the east side of the White River in 1902, the name Sylamore was usurped by the east side, and the western community was rechristened Allison.) The first military encounter in the area occurred here on May 29 and 30, 1862, at a place called Kickapoo Bottoms (or Kickapoo Bottom), today known as Harris Bottoms, three miles north of present-day Allison. An “‘uprising” at Sylamore followed the November 1861 Izard County Investigative Committee’s arrest, detainment, hanging, shooting, and forced …

King’s River, Skirmish at

One of a number of skirmishes fought in northwestern Arkansas in April 1864, this engagement was part of an effort by Federal forces to disrupt Confederate operations. Major James Melton received orders to lead 200 men of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) on a mission to find and defeat Confederate forces under the command of Colonels Bailey and Sissell (first names unknown). Separating from the regiment on April 15, 1864, the Union troops found and engaged the enemy on April 17 at Limestone Valley. The Confederates fled, but not before suffering casualties and losing armaments and other equipment. Melton continued his pursuit of the enemy force, reengaging the Confederates on April 19 on the King’s River. Moving against the enemy, …

Kingston, Skirmishes at

Only two Civil War skirmishes are known to have occurred near Kingston (Madison County). One of the best-known area skirmishes occurred when a detachment of the First Iowa Cavalry captured and destroyed a saltpeter works southeast of Kingston on January 10, 1863. (Saltpeter is a major component of gunpowder.) Information about the operation of these works reached General Francis J. Herron in early 1863, and he was determined to destroy the works at once, thus depriving the Confederacy of the means of obtaining powder for its troops that were so near his lines. He ordered Major J. W. Caldwell of the First Iowa Cavalry, then encamped at Huntsville (Madison County), to take 300 men of his regiment and proceed to …

Klepper’s Sawmill, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Clapper's Sawmill
In early 1863, Confederate general John Sappington Marmaduke moved his forces out of Lewisburg (Conway County) to attack Springfield, Missouri. This action caused Union general Francis J. Herron to move to reinforce Springfield and defend against the Confederate forces. After the battle, the Federals retained control of the town, and Confederate forces filtered back down into Arkansas. General Herron sent Colonel William Weer to disrupt the Confederate forces in the Crooked Creek valley, forces which were concentrated between Carrollton (Carroll County) and Yellville (Marion County). Confederate captain E. G. Mitchell was also in the area recruiting. On March 31, 1863, Confederates under one Colonel Woodson and Colonel John F. Hill of W. H. Brooks’s command were in camp when attacked …

Knight’s Cove, Skirmish at

In the absence of Colonel Thomas Freeman (CS), who had been captured at the Battle of Pea Ridge, a somewhat disorganized band was left in charge of protecting the Confederate munitions efforts in the White River valley under the direction of William Chitwood. On May 11, 1862, ferry owner Charles Grigsby and Chitwood, the husband of Grigsby’s cousin, Sarah Fulks, had rigged the ferry, a vital means of crossing the White River, with explosives mimicking a snag in the water, thus sinking the Grigsby Ferry and killing eleven Union soldiers, including Captain Thomas McClelland. “The Union army has very little options in crossing the White River,” General Samuel Curtis wrote in his report. The Union officially deemed it an accident …

Korean War

On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea after failed negotiations for the reunification of the country. Unprepared for this show of force, Seoul, the capital of South Korea, fell in only four days. As the conflict grew, North and South Korea became a Cold War battleground. Officially considered only a “police action” by the United States, the ensuing three-year military conflict included twenty-two countries and resulted in the deaths of an estimated two to four million military personnel and civilians, including 36,940 American soldiers. Although it had little direct impact on civilian Arkansans, approximately 6,300 Arkansans fought in the Korean War, and 461 were killed. Six Arkansans—Gilbert G. Collier, Lloyd “Scooter” Burke, Charles L. Gilliland, Herbert A. …

L’Anguille Ferry, Skirmish at

On August 3, 1862, a skirmish took place at L’Anguille Ferry, just north of Marianna (Lee County). The skirmish was in direct response to a Union victory at the Action at Hill’s Plantation, which took place July 7. The Confederate victory at L’Anguille Ferry resulted in Union troops in eastern Arkansas remaining near the Mississippi River until the following year. One of the regiments so affected by the Action at Hill’s Plantation in Woodruff County was that of Colonel William H. Parsons of Texas. He planned to avenge his loss to the Union at Hill’s Plantation. With the blessing of General Thomas C. Hindman, he went searching for a target. The First Wisconsin Cavalry, under the command of Colonel Edward …

LaGrange, Skirmish at

The Skirmish at LaGrange was fought on May 1, 1863, as Federal cavalrymen from the Union base at Helena (Phillips County) sought Confederate horsemen operating in the area. Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman ordered Captain John Q. A. DeHuff of Company B, Third Iowa Cavalry, to lead 160 men of his regiment toward LaGrange (Lee County) on the morning of May 1, 1863, “and endeavor to learn the movements, if any[,] of the enemy”—most likely Confederate horsemen in Archibald Dobbins’s Arkansas Cavalry Regiment who were operating “between [the] White and Mississippi Rivers” at the time. The Federal column had advanced to within a mile of LaGrange when its advance guard, twenty-nine men of Company D under Lieutenant William C. Niblack, …