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

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 …

Van Dorn, Earl

A noted Mexican War veteran and Indian fighter, Earl Van Dorn was the Confederate general defeated at the Battle of Pea Ridge and at Corinth, Mississippi. Following the defeat at Pea Ridge, he stripped Arkansas of badly needed Confederate troops, leaving the state nearly destitute of defenders. Earl Van Dorn was born near Port Gibson, Mississippi, on September 17, 1820, to Sophia Donelson Caffery, a niece of Andrew Jackson, and Peter Aaron Van Dorn, a lawyer and judge. He married Caroline Godbold in December 1843. They had one son, Earl Jr., and one daughter, Olivia. Some believe that Van Dorn fathered other children through adulterous affairs prior to, and possibly during, the Civil War. Graduating fifty-second of fifty-six cadets from …

Velazquez, Loreta

In late spring of 1861, a Cuban woman named Loreta Janeta Velazquez adorned herself with a Confederate uniform and fake facial hair, assigned herself the rank of lieutenant in the Confederate army, and adopted the name of Harry T. Buford. According to her own account, Velazquez embarked on a remarkable career as both a Confederate soldier and spy during the turbulent years of America’s Civil War, partially in Arkansas. As professor Jesse Alemán points out in the introduction to Velazquez’s memoir, there are historical inaccuracies in the memoir (which was put together by Velazquez and her editor, C. J. Worthington) that cast some doubt on Velazquez’s authenticity. However, Alemán stresses that the memoir holds its own as a Civil War …

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 …