30Sep/16

Today in Arkansas During the Civil War (September 30)

The Civil War Hub of ArkansasOn September 30, 1861 Governor of Arkansas Henry M. Rector wrote a dispatch to the new Secretary of War for the Confederacy. Instead of adding a narrative or interpretation to what Rector had to say on this date in 1861, the whole of the letter is presented to our readers for two reasons: first of all we do not want to misinterpret what is written and secondly, it is important for our readers to read this interesting primary source:

EXECUTIVE OFFICE,
Little Rock, September 30, 1861.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR of the Confederate States:

SIR: In accordance with suggestions contained in a communication addressed to me by your predecessor, bearing date the 5th instant, I issued a proclamation calling for five regiments of men designed for General McCulloch’s command, and so informed the general, a copy of the letter addressed to him being inclosed to your Department.

On the 10th instant a proclamation was also issued by General McCulloch calling for 15,000 men from the State of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas-a printed copy herewith transmitted*-the 5,000 from Louisiana to be rendezvoused at the capital of this government, whether organized or to be assembled here as a mass of individuals I have not been apprised. The authorities of Arkansas were neither consulted as to the property of making this call nor advised in any manner that such was the purpose of the general.

To all demands made upon me by the Confederate Government I have therefore and shall continued to comply with as a constitutional duty, besides the personal gratification it affords of being able to minister something to the great cause in which we are all engaged. To the gallantry and patriotism of General McCulloch none can accord higher admiration than myself; nevertheless, I esteem it to be my duty, as the executive of this State, irrespective of considerations personal to myself, to express my disapproval of the attitude assigned the authorities of this government and that assumed for Confederate officers in the proclamation alluded to. May idea of the rights relatively belonging to the States and to the Confederate Government is that those pertaining to the former were by no means abridged by the withdrawal from the old Confederacy an a union with the new Government, but that all theretofore claimed upon the most liberal construction were conceded, both upon policy and principle.

The history of the United States, I believe, furnishes no precedent for the raising of men by proclamation emanating from generals commanding nor from the President. If such had been law or precedent, the intervention of State authority would doubtless have been dispensed with by Mr. Lincoln in his demand for troops from Arkansas. Such, fortunately, was not the practice or the law; and with all deference I submit that no example by authority ought to mar the next sheet of Confederate history.

I am aware that, by an act of the Provisional Congress, approved 28th February last, the President is authorized to receive into the service of the Government such forces then in the service of the States as might be tendered, “or who may volunteer by consent of their State,” meaning its authorities; but I am unadvised if legislation has trenched so far upon State prerogative as to authorize the calling of troops by any but State authority, and shall, if such is the law, reluctantly yield my assent to so serious an innovation upon State rights.

But, apart from policy and law, the practice is attended with discordant effort, confusion, contrariety of opinion, unsatisfactory results, and great waste and improvidence in expending the resources of the country. For instance, if the men called for by General McCulloch are raised by him, those assembled by my proclamation, after great expense to the State and sacrifice to the citizen, will be useless, and have to be disbanded. Again, if General McCulloch may issue proclamation, so may one or a dozen other officers do likewise, destroying all harmony of action, and putting aside State authority entirely. Again, an economy of men henceforth will be as important as that of money. Illy-advised calls, appealing strenuously to the people of particular sections of this State which have sent but few men to the field; others, by applying constant stimulants, have already turned out an overdue proportion. Of these facts Confederate generals can know nothing, whilst the right and knowledge for discrimination rest exclusively with the authorities of the States, and cannot be so well lodged anywhere else.

On a former occasion, July —, General McCulloch issued a proclamation calling for the entire military force of the State, evidently with the most laudable purposes, which met with approval from the necessity of the case, not deeming it probable that an isolated act would ripen into settled practice. I though it unnecessary to call attention to it at Richmond, unless supervenient facts determined that that call was assumed to have been made by an exercise of rightful authority, which now seems to be apparent. There are other persons and officers of the confederate Government of lesser rank then General McCulloch who, claiming to act by direction of your Government, are issuing addresses and proclamations, calling for troops from Arkansas, all which perplex and distract the minds and loyal purposes of the people, and are highly detrimental to the public service and offensive to the rights and dignity of this Government. In view of al which, I beg leave most sincerely and respectfully to request that henceforward all demands which it may be though proper to make upon this State for troops for Confederate service may be addressed to the proper authorities thereof, land that the military officers placed upon our frontiers be advised of the propriety in future of addressing themselves to such authorities in the procurement of troops needed for the Confederate Army.

Very respectfully,
H. M. RECTOR,
Governor of Arkansas.

* * *

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

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On September 30, 1862 Confederate General T.H. Holmes drafted Special Order Number 42, which consisted of six sections. The order is presented unedited:
I. Special Orders, No. 39, from these headquarters, is hereby suspended so far as the same relates to relieving Major-General Hindman from command of the District of Arkansas, and Brigadier-General Roane of the command of the troops at Pine Bluff, including Garland’s brigade.

II. Brigadier-General Roane will immediately proceed with his command toward Clarendon, and take post on the highlands near that place.

III. Brigadier-General McCulloch, with his entire infantry force, Haldeman’s and Edgar’s batteries, and the cavalry of his division, will move immediately to Devall’s Bluff, take post near that place, and report by telegraph to Major-General Hindman for further instructions.

IV. Brigadier-General Nelson, with his entire infantry force and Daniel’s battery, will proceed immediately to Clarendon, and report to Brigadier-General Roane.

V. Colonel McRae, with his entire infantry force and Woodruff’s battery, will proceed immediately to Des Are, and take post near that place. He will assume command of Pratt’s battery, and report to Major-General Hindman for further instructions.

VI. Colonel Parsons’ cavalry brigade is placed under the orders of Brigadier-General McCulloch.

* * *

Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.

29Sep/16

Today in Arkansas During the Civil War (September 29)

The Civil War Hub of ArkansasOn September 29, 1862 Major-General William T. Sherman wrote to Samuel R. Curtis in Saint Louis. He began by noting Confederate General Thomas Hindman was back in Little Rock and had reestablished his communications. Since Hindman’s letters dealt with matters west of the Mississippi River, Sherman forwarded those matters to Curtis.

So as to keep Curtis informed, Sherman tells his that he responded to Hindman’s questions about Lieutenant Tollisen, who was, “arrested on the river for being concerned in some guerrilla raid, but had escaped prison; that of the others I know nothing and would refer to you.”

Sherman continued, “Of course I mentioned incidentally the ridiculous portion of his [Hindman’s] communication, his claiming the rights of civilized warfare for ununiformed, cowardly guerrillas, firing form ambush on unarmed steamers loaded with women and children, and his regret that his efforts to teach us the rules of civilized warfare had proven a failure.”

A previous question was raised by Sherman: “To my inquiry, ‘Why this flag of truce from Hindman–where is Holmes?’ I received answer. ‘Holmes is sick.’ [and] Hindman has no right to use a flag of truce if Holmes be at Little Rock; so I infer Holmes is on the march and Hindman sent to Little Rock to kick up a dust.” Sherman pokes, “You can draw your own inference.”

* * *

On September 29, 1864 Lieutenant William Chandler, the Acting Assistant Adjutant General for the District of Eastern Arkansas in Helena drafted for Lieutenant A.F. Rice, commander of a scouting mission, a report of a scout from September 22 through the 28th. Written from Headquarters on Battery D Fortifications in Helena, it leaves historians believing it was drafted from the Colored Troops barracks on Military Road in Helena. The six day scouting mission is recorded in this dispatch.

Rice, having left out from Helena on September 22 at 5pm with twenty-one men from the 60th USCT (United States Colored Troops), they marched out to Ramsey’s Ferry situated on the St. Francis River. There, they crossed the river and murched pstream a mile and camped for the evening at Staton’s where they arrived at 2am.

The following morning of the 23rd they moved out from camp at 6am and continued upriver where at 8pm they made camp in a cane break less than a mile from Alligator Bayou. It was here that they captured a horse found tied in the brush. The horse beloned to John Maley. They picketed the roads in the vicinity and ended up sending six soldiers to observe a few homes for deserters from the 4th Arkansas Cavalry. The troops ended up capturing a deserter Benjamin Davis who belonged to Company I of the 4th Arkansas Cavalry (US). Stephen Oatman was also captured the same night. The latter turned himself in.

By 7am on the 24th the scouting mission made their way a mile to the mouth of Alligator Bayou. Pickets were thrown across the roads and it was here they camped until the following morning.
The morning of the 25th the command marched to Ball’s Point and, “pressed in horses enough to mount ten men.” Rice noted there was no Confederate force to be found in the area. He then, “sent a sergeant and ten men in charge of the prisoners, with a guide, through the canebrakes to Hamlin’s Landing, with orders to keep themselves secreted, with a picket to watch the road, and for them to remain there until I arrived.”

Rice noted that he took ten mounted men, “with Hardin and two citizens, proceeded to Burnt Cane Bend and Cut-Off, on Saint Francis River, also to the head of Fifteen Mile Bayou and Mud Lake.” He wrote that he ended up capturing, “in the rounds 4 prisoners, 3 horses, 1 mule, and 1 revolver; camped at Palmer’s plantation midnight; moved on the morning of the 26th to Council Bend, arriving there at 11 a. m.”

On the 26th at 3pm he took five men and went to Alligator Bayou where they collected some cattle. He wrote that he, “left Hardin with the men and prisoners at Council Bend, with instructions for him to take five men on the morning of the 27th and proceed up the river some five miles to collect some cattle.”

The report continued, “He, hearing of some rebels when he got there, started in pursuit, came upon their party, numbering six, and he reports that he killed 2 of them; the rest escaped.” In the action he ended up capturing three double-barreled guns, which he destroyed. This took place near Fifteen Mile Bayou.

“He came back in the evening, capturing on his return 2 prisoners, 1 a deserter from Battery E, Second U. S. Colored Artillery (light); the other claimed to be a citizen, but had a furlough on his person, which he claims to have written himself, for the purpose of keeping him from being conscripted in the rebel army.”

The morning of September 27, he reported, Rice began at daylight to round up some cattle, “and proceeded with them to Council Bend, bringing some belonging to a man by the name of Cook, that was out with me on the scout, arriving at Council Bend at 12 o’clock.” He continued, “The boat having arrived we proceeded to put the cattle on board.”

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

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Rice continued his report, “The second squad that were after cattle succeeded in getting about sixty head within one mile and a half of the boat, then had to leave them on account of its being too dark to see to drive them [and] That night left Hardin and eight men on shore mounted, taking the prisoners and balance of the men on the boat, and anchored out in the river until morning.”

On the morning of September 28, they, “landed and took six men and went in search of the cattle, but could not find them, they having strayed off in the canebrake, then went on board the boat, started for Helena, and arrived here at five o’clock last evening.”

Before closing he reported that two prisoners, Benjamin Davis and John West, escaped on September 26. “Davis escaped in the morning at daylight, through neglect of duty of the guard, he going asleep. West escaped in the evening, through the window of the house where the prisoners were kept. We captured and brought in all, told, 5 horses, 1 mules, 14 head of cattle, and 1 revolver.”

* * *

Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.

28Sep/16

United States Colored Troops in Helena, Arkansas

USCT in HelenaOn April 6, 1863 Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas made a speech at Fort Curtis seeking to enlist former slaves into the U.S. Army. The next day, hundreds of black men joined the 1st Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). Later designated U.S. Colored Troops, these soldiers took an active role in winning freedom for Arkansas slaves. The 54th, 57th, and part of the 69th U.S.C.T. were raised from Phillips County men. U.S.C.T. were in Helena from April 1863 until war’s end. The U.S.C.T. faced hardship and prejudice but fought well and received distinction.

28Sep/16

Today in Arkansas During the Civil War (September 28)

The Civil War Hub of ArkansasOn September 28, 1862 United States Major-General William T. Sherman wrote to Confederate Major-General General Thomas Hindman. Aparently Hindman wrote to Sherman accusing he and his command of incidents on the White River and others. Though we do not know exactly what Hindmand’s questions were, Sherman’s response related, “I have no official knowledge of anything that transpired on White River last summer [and] I will refer that letter to General Curtis, now in Saint Louis.” Sherman then continued, “Nor have I any knowledge of the affair of Samuel Beanter, a citizen of Crittenden County, nor do I believe one word of it.” Because, he said, “Certainly the men of my command never do such acts as you describe.”

The accusations were multiple and Sherman addressed each one. He continued, “As to Lieutenant Tollisen, he was in the Irvin Block here, but escaped last week through the negligence of the guard.” He continued, “Had he remained he would have been tried, and, if convicted of murder, his sentence, after approval by the President of the United States, would surely have been executed.”

“So jealous is our Government of life that no general of whatever rank can inflict the punishment of death except by sentence, after approval by the President of the United States, would surely have been executed.” Said Sherman. “So jealous is our Government of life that no general of whatever rank can inflict the punishment of death except by sentence of a general court-martial, and that must be approved by the President of the United States.”

William T. Sherman then told Hindman, “You know the laws of Congress as well as I do. Now, whether the guerrillas or partisan rangers, without uniform, without organization except on paper, wandering about the country plundering friend and foe, firing on unarmed boats filled with women and children and on small parties of soldiers, always from ambush, or and children and on small parties of soldiers, always from ambush, or where they have every advantage, are entitled to the protection and amenities of civilized warfare is a question which I think you would settle very quickly in the abstract.”

“In practice we will promptly acknowledge the well-established rights of war to parties in uniform, but many gentlemen of the South have beseeched me to protect me to protect the people against the acts and inevitable result of this war of uniformed bands, who, when dispersed, mingle with the people and draw on them the consequence of their individual acts.”

“You know full well that it is to the interest of the people of the South that we should not disperse our troops as guerrillas; but at that game your guerrillas would meet their equals, and the world would be shocked by the act of atrocity resulting from such warfare. We endeavor to act in large masses, and must insist that the troops of the Confederacy, who claim the peculiar rights of belligerents, should be known by their dress, so as to be distinguished from the inhabitants. I refer you to the proclamation of your Kirby Smith in Kentucky on this very point.”

He then tells Sherman that he will refer his dispatches onto Curtis at St. Louis, “with whom I beg you will hereafter confer on all matters under a flag of truce.” Sherman concluded, “He commands our forces west of the Mississippi, and I am not aware as yet that any question has arisen under my command at Memphis that concerns your command.”

Before closing Sherman threw one last punch at Hindman before closing, “The idea of your comments on the failure of ‘your efforts to induce our army to conform to the usages of civilized warfare’ excites a smile. Indeed, you should not indulge in such language in official letters.”

* * *

Also on September 28, 1862 Phelps writes to Major-General H.W. Halleck, commander of the U.S. Army. He begins his report reminding Halleck that he has been ill for the past three weeks and not able to take care of business. In hindsight, he tells Halleck that about July 1 of this year was about the best time the U.S. forces could have taken Little Rock, then still in the hands of the Confederates. He tells Halleck that it was at the time, “the conscription law was being enforced; the people were opposed to it, and many have been forced into the ranks of the rebel army.” Intelligence reports showed there were only a few poorly armed Confederate troops in Arkansas. Since, conscripted reinforcements have arrived from neighboring Texas and were, with some reluctance, “are now performing service willingly.”

He then reminded Halleck of the state of things later in the summer of 1862 when, on August 17 he wrote to Halleck, “stating the rumors in relation to the seizure of cotton and the speculations in that article, in which it was said officers of the conduct of some of the officers, and the late commander of this Army of the Southwest is not exempt from such charges.” He noted that he has not investivated the rumors, however.

Writing Halleck from Helena, he notes, regarding that when the U.S. Army marched from Batesville to Helena and while in Helena, the army was, “much demoralized.” He then told Halleck that, “Much property has been taken from the citizens in this vicinity and but little of it has been accounted for the Government.” One example he gies is, “Horses and mules are owned by private soldiers in the army not doing duty on horseback which were taken from citizens, and they justify their conduct by that of their officers.”

When he reached Helena he urged on an immediate movement upon Little Rock to General Samuel R. Curtis, which was declined. Phelps then writes, “The command of the army devolved on General Steele, who is exempt from the rumors to which I have referred (as are also the greater part of the general officers of this army).” Regarding the army he found in Helena, Phelps related that Steele found the garrison at Helena, ”deficient in many supplies such as he deemed necessary… These have been obtained and he now proposes to move.”

The dispatch Continues:

This town is filled with contrabands, who have been forcibly in many instances brought from their plantations–men, women, and children. Much sickness and mortality prevails amongst them.
A fort was commenced by General Curtis at this place, which the engineer in charge thinks will be of no service, and I suppose was commenced in order to give employment to the slaves. One gunboat in the river near the town will be of more service than this fort. There are two if not three hills in the vicinity which command the hill on which the fort is located. Free papers have been given by the late general commanding to many negroes, and in many instances to slaves who have never worked on fortifications, and whose masters have not been engaged in this rebellion. They we generally granted, as I am informed, on the statement of the negroes themselves. Some of these negroes are here and some of them have gone up the river.

The force in the interior of the State is reported 30,000 and upward, of every description. The largest body is stationed north of Little Rock about 20 miles, at Austin, a town on the line of the Little Rock and Cairo Railroad survey.

The rebels manufacture gunpowder, caps, and ammunition at Arkadelphia, on the Washita, about 60 miles from Little Rock. At this time there is no large force on the northern line of this State. McBride was recently at Batesville with 2,200 (1,500 only effective), and marched in the direction of Greenville, Mo., via Pocahontas. Hindman was reported at Cross Hollows, Benton County, but was only about a week ago at Little Rock.

Now let General Schofield immediately advance from Springfield in the direction of Little Rock and this army move in that direction, as it will unless otherwise ordered.

The enemy may give us a fight at some point northeast of Little Rock. He will have a larger force than we shall have, but we must whip him. If so, he will retreat either to Arkadelphia, crossing Arkansas River at Crystal Hill, 20 miles above Little Rock, or retire toward Fort Smith, up the valley of the Arkansas. The rebels declare they will drive this army into the Mississippi River and march on Saint Louis.

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

The longer a movement is delayed in this State the more difficult it will be to obtain forage and other supplies from the country. The longer we delay a movement the less probability is there of recruiting for our army in the State and of desertion from their conscripts. It is rumored cattle are brought from Texas to this State. Now, if so, I believe they are designed for the army east of the Mississippi. General Joseph E. Johnson is assigned to the command of the rebel army west of the Mississippi. His name and presence to their army will be worth 5,000 men. I believe the force we can send from this point can whip the rebel army, yet the disparity in the force will be great. Every day’s delay gives the enemy an opportunity to increase his numbers and to discipline his troops.

* * *

Also on this date in 1862, Special Orders Number 39 was drafted and distributed among the command of the Trans-Mississippi Confederates. There are several parts to this order. This first eleven sections are followed by orders for the First Division then the Second Division, Garland’s Brigade, Colonel W.H. Parson’s Cavalry Brigade. There are a total of eighteen sections to General Orders Number 38. The Order follows in italics verbatim:

I. 1st. McRae’s brigade, consisting of McRae’, Matlock’s, Johnson’s, Pleasants’, McNeill’s, and Morgan’s regiment of Arkansas Infantry, and Woodruff’s Arkansas, Battery, will move on Monday next, 29th instant, and report to Brigadier General J. S. Rains, at Elkhorn.

2nd. Burford’s regiment of Texas Cavalry will move immediately, and take post at Elk Mills, reporting to Brigadier General J. S. Rains, at Elkhorn.

3rd. Etter’s Arkansas battery will move at once to Elkhorn, and report to Brigadier General J. S. Rains.

4th. Grinsted’s regiment Arkansas Infantry will move at once to Yellville, and report to Brigadier General M. M. Parsons.

5th. The infantry of Brigadier-General McBride’s command will move to Yellville, and report to Brigadier General M. M. Parsons.

6th. Colonel R. G. Shaver is relieved of the command of Shaver’s brigade, of Roane’s division, and will assume command of his regiment, at Pocahontas.

7th. Cols. James Deshler and F. A. Shoup are relieved from staff duty, and will report to Major General T. C. Hindman, to be assigned to the command of brigades.

8th. Brigadier General J. S. Roane will proceed immediately to Fort Smith, and report to Major General T. C. Hindman, to be assigned to the command of troops in the Indian country.

9th. Major General T. C. Hindman is relieved from the command of the District of Arkansas, and will assume command of the troops in Northwestern Arkansas, Southwestern Missouri, and the Indian Territory, and will organize the same into an army corps, to be styled First Army Corps, Army of the West.

10th. By authority of the War Department, Cols. J. S. Marmaduke and A. Nelson are assigned to duty as brigadier-generals. Brigadier-General Marmaduke will report to Major General T. C. Hindman for duty. Brigadier-General Nelson is assigned to the command of the division composed of his own and Flournoy’s brigades.

11th. The following arrangement of troops not included in the First Army Corps, Army of the West, is announced, viz:

FIRST DIVISION, Brigadier General H. E. McCULLOCH commanding.
First Brigade, Colonel O. Young commanding.-First, Young’s regiment Texas Infantry; second Ochiltree’s regiment Texas Infantry; third, Hubbard’s regiment Texas Infantry; fourth, Burnett’s regiment Texas Infantry.

Second Brigade, Colonel H. Randal commanding.-First, Randal’s regiment Texas Infantry; second, Clark’s regiment Texas Infantry; third, Roberts’ regiment Texas Infantry; fourth, Speight’s regiment Texas Infantry.

SECOND DIVISION, Brigadier General A. NELSON commanding.
First Brigade, Brigadier-General Nelson commanding.-First, Nelson’s regiment Texas Infantry; second, Sweet’s regiment Texas Infantry; third, Darnell’s regiment Texas Infantry; fourth, Taylor’s regiment Texas Infantry; fifth, Gould’s battalion Texas Infantry.

Second Brigade, Colonel George Flournoy commanding.-First, Flournoy’s regiment Texas Infantry; second, Waterhouse’s regiment Texas Infantry; third, Allen’s regiment Texas Infantry; fourth, Fitzhugh’s regiment Texas Infantry.

GARLAND’S BRIGADE (unattached).
First, Garland’s regiment Texas Infantry; second, Wilkes’ regiment Texas Infantry; third, Gillespie’s regiment Texas Infantry; fourth, Portlock’s regiment Arkansas Infantry; fifth, Denson’s company Louisiana Cavalry; sixth, Hart’s Arkansas Battery; seventh, Nutt’s company Louisiana Cavalry.

CAVALRY BRIGADE, Colonel W. H. PARSONS commanding.
First, Parsons’ regiment Texas Cavalry; second, Carter’s regiment Texas Cavalry; third, Chrisman’s battalion of cavalry, composed of Rutherford’s, Anderson’s, and Corley’s companies, with McGehee’s company, to be mounted (Major Chrisman will immediately report, with his battalion, to Colonel Parsons, at Cotton Plant); fourth, Pratt’s Texas Battery.

12th. Colonel J. W. Dunnington is assigned to the command of the river defenses of Arkansas. He will, with the least possible delay, erect fortifications at suitable points on the Arkansas and White Rivers.

13th. Colonel Dawson’s regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Crawford’s battalion will report to Colonel Dunnington for duty in the fortifications. Colonel Garland will afford him whatever aid may be necessary, and these officers are charged to act in concert with each other.

14th. Captains Fitzhugh and Williams, Corps of Engineers, will report to Colonel Dunnington for duty. Captain Clarkson’s company of sappers and miners will report to Colonel Dunnington for duty, and be under his orders.

15th. Colonel Garland will immediately issue an order to concentrate his brigade at some point near the Post of Arkansas, and is made responsible for the defense of the fortifications against any land attack of the enemy.

16th. Colonel Flournoy will report immediately, with his regiment Texas Infantry, to Brigadier General A. Nelson, at his camp near Austin.

17th. Major General G. H. Hill, commanding battalion of light artillery, will move from his present camp, on Bayou Metoe, to a position near Austin.

18th. The proper staff officers will provide promptly for the movement, subsistence, and equipment of the troops referred to in the preceding paragraphs of this order.

By order of Major General T. H. Holmes;

* * *

Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.

27Sep/16

Today in Arkansas During the Civil War (September 27)

The Civil War Hub of ArkansasOn September 27, 1862 Major-General Samuel R. Curtis wrote from St. Louis to General-in-Chief Major-General H.W. Halleck telling him that he had intelligence reports coming into his headquarters noting Confederate movements into the State of Missouri from the southeast and the southwest corners. “Have moved from Helena to make diversion, but that force is so far away it cannot avail much.” He continued, “Picket were fired on near Greenville, Wayne County, last night; 1 of our men killed and 2 wounded.” After coordinating movements of troops and ideas on how to defend against the Confederates inching their way northward, Curtis states, “The storm sets this way just now.”

* * *

Also on September 27, 1862, Major-General Samuel R. Curtis wrote to Brigadier-General Fredrick Steele telling him that, “Since I made the order and sent out dispatches, which will go by the steamer War Eagle, I have seen your dispatch to Schofield, saying you would move on Little Rock.” He told Steele, “If you have moved beyond 20 miles when this reaches you, go ahead at least to White River [and] If what is stated here be true there is little or no force left at Little Rock, and if such be your information, when you get to Devall’s Bluff send forward a cavalry or light force to take that place, destroy military stores, and bring away archives, if any such things are left by the rebels, and immediately fall back to the Mississippi, to carry out the orders I have sent or such others as I may send.” But Curtis then tells Steele, “If you have not advanced 20 miles, let a cavalry force dash on some distance to cover your return, to carry out my Special Orders, Numbers 2.”
* * *

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

On September 27, 1864 Powell Clayton in Pine Bluff wrote to Captain C.H. Dyer, General Carr’s Adjutant, telling him that the scouting expedition that was sent out in the direction of Monticello returned in this date and the commanding officer of that scout, Lieutenant Grove, reported that, “the disposition of the rebel army [is] about the same as before, except that they have established an out-post of 75 men on this side of Branchville and a continuous line of pickets from there to Mount Elba.” The report noted that Lieutenant Gove, “dashed upon one of these posts” and ended up capturing one prisoner and seven horses, “with equipment.”
* * *

Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.

26Sep/16

When you buy these Arkansas specialty license plates, Arkansas State Parks benefit

asp_img_license-plate_2016When you purchase one of these license plates, Arkansas State Parks receives $25.00 which goes into a fund used for educational purposes.* For more information on these Arkansas specialty license plates, please visit the Department of Finance and Administration Page. Get your own specialty plate to support Arkansas State Parks today.

* “Provide funding to a cash fund to be used by the Department of Parks and Tourism for sponsoring college scholarships in the state parks profession and state parks education programs” (HB1558 of 2011)

Each month Arkansas State Parks’ Field Trip Grant Program awards travel funds up to $1000 for public, private, charter, and home school groups in Arkansas, grades K-12. Learn more about the program and download an application.

Info on this page was found at: https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/support-parks/license_plates.aspx

26Sep/16

Today in Arkansas During the Civil War (September 26)

The Civil War Hub of ArkansasOn September 26, 1862 Major-General Samuel R. Curtis wrote to Brigadier-General Eugene A. Carr telling him that, according to recent intelligence reports, McBrice moved with a large force to Pocahontas. He tells Carr that more than likely Parsons has already joined up with McBride. “I will probably re-enforce Helena again, but try to get the front in complete order and be ready for all emergencies.” He then notes that General Thomas C. Hindman has already created a considerable-sized force in the western part of the state.

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Sometimes dispatches got help up for one reason or another. Consider the below dispatch drafted by Brigadier-General Fredrick Steele on September 26, 1862. It Gets to General Halleck “via Cairo” on September 30 at 10:15 pm. In this dispatch Steele informs Halleck that there is not, in fact, a large force that was trying to threat Missouri from Arkansas. He noted that the “principal” part of General T.H. Holmes’ force was still in Little Rock.
Intelligence gathered from a prisoner-soldier revealed about 15,000 Confederate troops at Brownsville, “and it is reported that there are more at Austin, 25 miles from Little Rock.” He continued, “Refugees and deserters say there are from 25,000 to 40,000 about Little Rock.”

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

The dispatch continued:

“McBride moved from Batesville on the 11th instant, with 2,200 men (only 1,500 armed), toward Greenville, via Pocahontas. Cause of movement; He supposed this army was advancing upon Batesville. Eight thousand troops at Cross Hollows. Schofield requested me to move on Batesville. It is impracticable. My troops would starve. I shall move on Holmes directly. He seems standing off between me and Schofield. My force will be reduced by sickness and those to guard the depots to about 12,000. This command could do splendid service in Mississippi. The fort cannot be completed in less than five weeks. I regard it as an incumbrance, and recommend that it be blow up. I anticipate great difficulty in keeping my command supplied in the interior of Arkansas until the fall rise in White River. It is not navigable for gunboats now.”

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Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.

25Sep/16

Today in Arkansas During the Civil War (September 25)

The Civil War Hub of ArkansasSeptember 25, 1862 General Samuel Curtis told Brigadier General that, because he was so far from Helena, any immediate support from General Fredrick Steele would not be possible. He did relate that, however, the best diversion by Steele at this point would be a move onto Little Rock. He wanted to know any reports on spies and refugees. “I do not see how Hindman could raise so large a force and subsist it when I stripped the country.”

His dispatch continued, “Hindman is sharp in deceit and pretenses; his army was in a wretched condition at last accounts.” Intelligence reports that, “Spies direct from his lines gave me full, reliable reports up to the time of my leaving Arkansas. A warning was included in his communication noting to, “be on the alert; the wants of the rebels make them desperate.”

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On December 22, 182 a full report was sent to Brigadier-General John M. Schofield correcting errors found in some of the reports written back in the late summer of 1862, “which are not very important, but for the sake of history should be corrected.” The following report written by Major-General Samuel R. Curtis is placed here verbatim:

For instance, you say you sent me two cavalry regiments. You only sent me a part of two.

In regard to Colonel Daniels’ regiment, you are mistaken in saying it found me at Helena. It arrived after I left there, although, apprehending danger to it, I had sent out re-enforcements to bring it in. It was nevertheless attacked and much injured. I ordered it back to Missouri on my return to the command.

Your speak of my detaining regiments at Rolla. Colonel Glover and General Davidson had attempted to stop troops at Rolla and sent out four to Salem to check reported rebels coming up by Houston.

You think a wrong inference has been drawn as to your communications relating to General Steele, saying it was “but to place him in condition to move immediately and effectively on Little Rock.” As some question has been raised as to this matter, it would seem proper for you to place in your report more than a mere reference to an exhibit showing two items of the evidence, and I present to you fuller details. On the 17th September you telegraphed General Halleck that “Pilot Knob and Rolla are threatened.

* If General Steele’s force is not strong enough to move from Helena would it not be well to bring it up to Cape Girardeau?” Next day General Halleck telegraphed to you, “Communicate with General Steele and endeavor to arrange some system of co-operation with your forces.” The same day you wrote to General Steele relative to the necessity of immediate co-operation:

* A force of probably 30,000 men, under Hindman, is now invading Missouri in the southwest while another force, the strength of which I have not yet learned (but it is by no means small) is moving up from Batesville toward Rolla.

* Indeed I fear the move on Little Rock has been too long delayed to be effective now, even if made successful.
See now only two ways in which your force can be made available to assist in checking the rebel movement upon Missouri, and it is my opinion that one or the other of them should be adopted at once. The one is to retrace your steps to Batesville and strike in the rear of the force now threatening Rolla; the other is to move your force by the river to Cape Girardeau and thence across the country for the same purpose.

General Steele, in reply, September 23, shown the impracticability of going to Batesville, and saying:
If this command is to co-operate with you, the surest and quickest way would be for us to go to Rolla by way of Saint Louis. The Cape Girardeau plan is impracticable.

This shows how General Steele understood your views of co-operation. In the same letter he says he will probably move on Little Rock. On my arrival on the 24th you specially called my attention to the telegraph of General Halleck, directing you to secure Steele’s co-operation. The remoteness of Steele’s position from you made me doubt the possibility of any salutary co-operation by General Steele, and I telegraphed to you:

General Halleck must have supposed Steele was at or near his old point-Reeves’ Station. Little Rock would be the best diversion by Steele.

You replied:
General Halleck knew that Steele was at Helena. If he can move on Little Rock immediately it will undoubtedly be the best diversion, if it is not already too late. If Hindman, by a bold move, can get into Missouri he will not hesitate on account of a force in his rear.

* My only fear is that a move may be made upon some point east of him to cut my Rolla line and stop my re-enforcements.

On the 26th you wrote me in reply to my inquiry about the enemy:

Rains states his whole force, including those just mentioned, at 42,000. This statement was made for our ears. It is doubtless from 20,000 to 25,000.

And in the same letter you state:
The force below, under McBride and Parsons, at 8,000, coming up White River.

All these facts show how very natural it was for me to understand that General Halleck and you desired immediate co-operation by Steele; that you considered the best way by Cape Girardeau, but you acquiesced in a move on Little Rock if immediate. Hence I ordered Steele,if when my message reached him he had (as he said he would in his letter of the 23rd) moved toward Little Rock, he should go ahead and try to take it. If, however, he had not moved (falling in with your repeated expression as to time, as being too late to move on Little Rock), he was to adopt your preferred plan of co-operation by coming up to Cape Girardeau. As you were going farther west, the move on Little Rock obviously became less use to you; and when, about the 1st of September, Governor Phelps came to Cairo and telegraphed General Halleck urging the move on Little Rock, and General Halleck expressed views in favor of that move, but still left it to me, I declined the order, as several more days would have been lost, when you considered time the essence of the movement.

I therefore allowed the orders to be carried out, and do not perceive any material danger growing out of it. Mc Bride and Parsons, seeing troops re-enforcing Pilot Knob, moved back and went to retrieve the repulse given by the Army of the Frontier at Prairie Grove. I have a right to ask a statement of all the facts bearing on this subject to accompany your statement, because I acted promptly on suggestions of yours and General Halleck’s, and, as I think, consistent with them, and properly in view of the circumstances.

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Also on September 25, 1862 Major-General Samuel R. Curtis wrote to Major-General Halleck, Genera- in-Chief of the United States Army that he took command yesterday (September 24, 1864) and admitted that he knew little about the strength and position of his forces. “They seem to be too much scatted.”
He then asked Halleck for copies of recent commands/instruction distributed to his various commanders in the several districts he found himself over. He noted that the Confederate troops in Arkansas under the command of General T.H. Holmes were moving his way, “probably to invest Helena.”
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Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

A communication dated September 25 from Fort Curtis is one of several instances where the Helena garrison was referred to by the name of its fort. Addressed to General Schofield, General Davidson relates information received by Boyd, who reported, “McBride had not advanced yesterday morning from his camp [and that] A very heavy re-enforcement had arrived at Pocahontas, but could not tell where from.” The intelligence report continued, “Coleman is on Eleven Points River [and] Jeffers and Kitchen have moved in several directions…I think a body of them will interrupt the railroad, taking to the Knob.”
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Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.