Time Period: Civil War through Reconstruction (1861 - 1874) - Starting with B

B. M. Runyan [Steamboat]

The steamboat B. M. Runyan was carrying a regiment of Union soldiers when it struck a snag in the Mississippi River off Chicot County on July 21, 1864, and sank, killing as many as 150 people. The B. M. Runyan was a sidewheel paddleboat built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1858 for Captain James Miller and his partners, who intended to use it for runs between Cincinnati and New Orleans, Louisiana. A Mr. Mitchell of Alton, Illinois, bought the Runyan in June 1862 for voyages between Alton and St. Louis, Missouri. The vessel sank in shallow waters below Alton that December and was raised and sent to St. Louis for repairs. Returned to service in 1864, the B. M. Runyan again …

Bailey’s, Affair at

aka: Affair at Crooked Creek
A brief encounter between a Union scouting party and a band of Confederate guerrillas, this skirmish was one of many used by Federal forces to disrupt enemy efforts in northwestern Arkansas during the Civil War. Colonel John E. Phelps of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) received orders from Brigadier General John Sanborn to move from Cassville, Missouri, into Arkansas in an effort to interrupt Confederate efforts to launch a raid into Missouri. On January 17, 1864, Phelps led two companies of his regiment into Arkansas and arrived at Berryville (Carroll County) the next day, joining three more companies already in the town. Due to a large number of sick and absent men, Phelps remained at Berryville until January 20, when …

Batesville after Freeman’s Command, Expedition from

The Expedition from Batesville after Freeman’s Command was an attempt by the Union garrison at Batesville (Independence County) to attack Confederates led by Colonel Thomas R. Freeman, who had recently fought Federals from the garrison at Lunenburg in Izard County, Sylamore in Stone County, and Morgan’s Mill in Sharp County. Union troops under Colonel Robert R. Livingston’s First Nebraska Cavalry (US) occupied Batesville on December 25, 1863, and shortly afterward Confederate major general Sterling Price commissioned Colonel Freeman to maintain a regiment of Confederate cavalry in northern Arkansas, which Livingston described as “pestiferous hybrids who infest the swamps and mountains of the district.” On February 12, 1864, Lieutenant Colonel William Baumer led the First Nebraska Cavalry Regiment out from Batesville …

Batesville Expedition

While escorting a treasury agent to Batesville (Independence County), a detachment of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) commanded by Captain William F. Orr defeated various Confederate units around the area of Independence County in late March and early April 1864. Accomplishing their mission, known as the Batesville Expedition, the unit returned to its base at Rolling Prairie (Boone County) with no reported losses. Surprising Confederate forces in Batesville on Christmas Day 1863, Union colonel Robert R. Livingston occupied the town with no real resistance, reestablishing the Union presence there. An outstanding victory for Livingston, the Federals soon discovered that yet again they lacked the strength to occupy Batesville continually due to supply issues. The necessity to maintain a strong link …

Batesville to Denmark, Fairview, Hitcher’s Ferry and Bush’s Ford, Scout from

The Scout from Batesville to Fairview, Denmark, Hilcher’s Ferry, and Bush’s Ford took place on June 16–17, 1862, as the Union’s Army of the Southwest sought to determine the location of Confederate troops in the uncertain days that followed the abandonment of its advance on Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the Pea Ridge Campaign. Following the Union victory at Pea Ridge on March 7–8, 1862, Major General Samuel R. Curtis pulled his Army of the Southwest back into Missouri to protect that border state from other possible incursions by Confederate troops. By late April, though, Curtis’s commander, Major General Henry Halleck, concluded correctly that Major General Earl Van Dorn had moved his Confederate Army of the West across the Mississippi …

Batesville to Elgin, Expedition from

The expedition from Batesville (Independence County) to Elgin (Jackson County) in mid-January 1864 was conducted primarily to round up cattle to help feed the Union garrison at Batesville. The First Nebraska Cavalry occupied Batesville on Christmas Day 1863, joined soon after by elements of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) and Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry (US). While much of the garrison’s time would be spent in anti-guerrilla patrolling, the troops also needed supplies for their remote outpost, leading to foraging expeditions through the region. Second Lieutenant Almeron N. Harris of Company K, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, led forty troopers out of Batesville on such an expedition on January 15, 1864, seeking “possession of a herd of beef-cattle said to be grazing …

Batesville to near Searcy Landing, Expedition from

The expedition from Batesville to near Searcy Landing was one of a series of operations conducted by Union forces based in Batesville (Independence County) to locate and fight Confederate troops and guerrillas in the region. After occupying Batesville on Christmas Day 1863, Union commander Colonel Robert Livingston began sending detachments of his troops on search-and-destroy operations throughout the region. On January 30, 1864, Captain Albert B. Kauffman of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry (US) led a party of seventy-five troopers from his regiment out of Batesville in search of Confederate brigadier general Dandridge McRae, who was recruiting troops in the area. They took the Jacksonport Road east, turning south on Dupartee Creek and eventually reaching Grand Glaize (Jackson County) around sundown …

Batesville to West Point, Grand Glaize, Searcy Landing, etc., Scout from

The wide-ranging scouting expedition of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) that left the Union base at Batesville (Independence County) on March 15, 1864, was one of an almost continuous series of sorties seeking information on the location of Confederate troops and guerrillas in the region. Major Lewis C. Pace led 200 Eleventh Missouri troopers out of Batesville on March 15, sending half of them under Captain James A. Collier to head toward the Little Red River by way of Fair View (White County) and West Point (White County), while Pace took the remainder down the White River to Oil Trough Bottom (Independence County), where they made camp. On March 17, Pace’s column headed to Grand Glaise (Jackson County), then …

Batesville, Skirmish at (February 4, 1863)

On December 31, 1862, General John S. Marmaduke and 8,000 cavalry launched a raid into Missouri from near Lewisburg (Conway County) in the Arkansas River Valley, only to meet defeat at Hartsville, Missouri. The Confederate retreat back into Arkansas took them to Independence County, retracing the steps of Brigadier General Samuel Curtis’s army eight months earlier. Gen. Marmaduke established his troops at Oil Trough (Independence County), and Colonel Joseph O. Shelby set up camp at the farm of Franklin Desha. Both bivouacs were south of the White River, but Marmaduke’s headquarters were at the Cox house in Batesville (Independence County). Union forces in Missouri gathered at West Plains, Missouri, on January 29, 1863. The next day, Brigadier General John Davidson …

Batesville, Skirmish at (May 3, 1862)

On March 6–8, 1862, one of the most important Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River was fought at Pea Ridge (Benton County) in northwest Arkansas. The Army of the Southwest under Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis defeated the Confederate army of Major General Earl Van Dorn, with the result that Missouri remained in the Union and the path into Arkansas was open to the Union army, hampered only by Confederate units who were trying to block the paths south and east of Pea Ridge. Gen. Curtis was following his orders to take his large army of more than 20,000 and seize Little Rock (Pulaski County), thus securing Arkansas for the Union. His Army of the Southwest contained regiments from …

Batteries A, B, C, and D (Battle of Helena)

Batteries A, B, C, and D are fortifications used by the Federal army during the Civil War to protect the city of Helena (Phillips County) from enemy attack. Along with Fort Curtis, these fortifications formed the core of the Helena defenses, most notably during the July 4, 1863, Battle of Helena. When the Army of the Southwest arrived in Helena after the Battle of Pea Ridge, Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis immediately began to fortify the approaches to the city. As Helena was deep in Confederate territory, the forts were necessary to prevent the destruction of the Union army in the town. The batteries were named A, B, C, and D, with A at the northern edge of the line …

Battery E, Second U.S. Colored Artillery (Light)

Battery E, Second U.S. Colored Artillery (Light) was one of two artillery units raised in Arkansas during the Civil War that were manned by formerly enslaved men. The recruiting of African American military units to serve in the Union army was approved with the creation of the U.S. War Department’s Bureau of Colored Troops on May 22, 1863. At least seven regiments of Black troops were raised in Arkansas, but only two artillery batteries were recruited in the state: the Third Louisiana Light Artillery Battery (African Descent), recruited at Helena (Phillips County), and the First Arkansas Light Artillery Battery (African Descent), raised at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The Third Louisiana Light Artillery Battery (African Descent) was organized at Helena on …

Baucum, George Franklin

George F. Baucum was a Confederate officer and a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman. He served in many major battles of the Civil War’s western theater, including at Murfreesboro in Tennessee and Chickamauga and Atlanta in Georgia. After the war, he became a prominent grocer, cotton broker, and banker who owned plantations in central Arkansas. George Franklin Baucum was born on February 1, 1837, in St. Charles, Missouri. He was the son of Daniel Baucum and Kathryn Baucum, both of whom were natives of Mississippi. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1851. Two years later, the Baucums settled in Searcy (White County). At the outbreak of the Civil War, Baucum was working as a grocer in Searcy. He joined …

Baxter, Elisha

Elisha Baxter, a Unionist leader during the Civil War and a jurist, is best remembered as Arkansas’s last Republican governor during Reconstruction. The attempt to overthrow him became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. Baxter’s victory resulted in the end of Reconstruction and the adoption of the Constitution of 1874. Elisha Baxter was born on September 1, 1827, in Rutherford County, North Carolina, to William Baxter and his second wife, Catherine Lee. She was the mother to five sons and three daughters out of William Baxter’s twenty children. His father had emigrated from Ireland in 1789 and prospered in Rutherford County in western North Carolina, acquiring land and slaves. Baxter received a limited education and sought to better himself by obtaining …

Bayou Fourche, Engagement at

aka: Battle of Little Rock
The Engagement at Bayou Fourche, also known as the Battle of Little Rock, was a Civil War battle fought on September 10, 1863, as Confederate troops sought to stop Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army from capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County). Steele had advanced steadily across eastern Arkansas during August with a combined force of infantry from Helena (Phillips County) and cavalry that had come down Crowley’s Ridge from Missouri. With the exception of the short Action at Bayou Meto (or Reed’s Bridge) on August 27, the Union approach to Little Rock had seen relatively light resistance. As the Union army prepared for its final assault on the Arkansas capital, Steele had some 10,477 men present for duty and fifty-seven …

Bayou Meto, Action at

aka: Action at Reed's Bridge
The Action at Bayou Meto, also known as the Action at Reed’s Bridge, was a Civil War battle fought on August 27, 1863, as Confederate troops sought to hinder the advance of Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army toward Little Rock (Pulaski County). Steele had advanced steadily across eastern Arkansas during August with a combined force of infantry from Helena (Phillips County) and cavalry that had come down Crowley’s Ridge from Missouri. Though they were harassed by Confederate cavalry and partisans, the Union troops had encountered little opposition, with the exception of a sharp clash around Brownsville (north of present-day Lonoke) on August 25. A Union probe toward the Confederate works on Bayou Meto (at present-day Jacksonville) was turned back …

Bayou Meto, Skirmish at (February 24, 1865)

By 1863, guerrilla activity had become so prevalent in the territory surrounding Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) that local citizens requested that Federal forces move into the area to reduce the threat of violence. Later that year, forces under the command of Colonel Powell Clayton were ordered to Jefferson County. The city remained occupied for the remainder of the war. To secure the area, scouting patrols were regularly sent out to assess enemy activity. On February 22, 1865, Captain George W. Suesberry took a detachment of eighty troopers of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Volunteers to the north side of the Arkansas River to monitor enemy movements. Only sixty-five troopers crossed the river but were shortly joined by twenty-five additional men. As …

Bayou Meto, Skirmish near (February 17, 1865)

  On February 16, 1865, a seventy-five-man scout detachment of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry (US) was sent out from its headquarters at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The scout detachment, commanded by Captain John H. Norris (US), was sent to search for Confederate troops along Bayou Meto. Early in the morning of February 17, the scout detachment, fifty miles downriver from Pine Bluff, began crossing Bayou Meto. After one platoon had successfully crossed the bayou, Capt. Norris ordered Lieutenant Z. P. Curlee to take the platoon and search an area two miles surrounding the bayou. Lt. Curlee was instructed to engage any Confederate force he encountered and report to Norris no later than noon. During the scout detachment’s search of the …

Beall, William Nelson Rector

William Nelson Rector Beall served as a Confederate brigadier general from Arkansas during the Civil War. He most notably served as an agent for the Confederate government to raise funds to purchase supplies for Confederate troops held in Federal prisons. William Beall was born on March 20, 1825, in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Samuel Beall and Sally Rector Beall. Sally Beall was a member of the Rector family, which was prominent in Arkansas politics. The Bealls moved to Arkansas in 1840, settling in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Both of Beall’s parents died soon thereafter, orphaning him and his four siblings. Beall graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1848, ranking thirtieth in a class of …