One hundred and fifty years ago, the Union Army was scouting South West Arkansas for any sign of the enemy. In his report to the headquarters of the 1st Arkansas Infantry (US), Colonel JAMES M. JOHNSON concentrated his intelligence gathering in the neighborhood of Arkadelphia, Okalona, and the Ouachita River area. While on patrol, his forces were able to ascertain that the Confederate forces in the area were in dire straits, or perhaps that is what General Marmaduke wanted the Yankees to think:
“They say that Marmaduke had a force of 600 men in there on the morning of the 4th instant, they reaching there in the evening. Part of them were State troops. The report there was, they were going to attack Benton, where a small force of ours is stationed. Shelby and the rest of Marmaduke’s forces are together, stationed at Okolona, on the Ouachita River. Both commands, it is said, have 4,000 men. They are deserting fast; their transportation is very poor. Colonel Dorsey is in the mountains between Benton and Hot Springs, and has 400 men.”
Military actions that occurred within the borders of Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago included a skirmish near Benton and a skirmish at Devalls Bluff on December 1. The Union army sent a scout from Waldron to Mount Ida (Caddo Gap and Dallas County) from December 2-7, including a skirmish at Caddo Gap on December 4; followed by a reconnaissance mission from Little Rock from December 5-13.