One hundred and fifty years ago, Helena was a busy garrison for the Union army. According to a dispatch sent from General Buford, a large number of Confederate scouts was captured in the Delta. Buford related that 28 Confederate privates were sent to Alton and 6 officers were sent to Johnson Island- both of which were notorious prisoner of war camps.
It was also this week one hundred and fifty years ago that Colonel J.E. Josey was shot and captured by the Union army. Josey was the commander of General Patrick Cleburne’s 15th Arkansas. He was shot with a pistol, breaking his arm and wounding his adjutant. “Colonel Josey is in a private house here [Helena] receiving careful treatment from my surgeons.”
Other concerns, however, were on Buford’s mind in his dispatch. He related that General McRae was in St. Francis County, “trying to organize his brigade and dealing in cotton, which is smuggled into Memphis by his employees and every kind of supplies received in return.” To this, Buford noted that, “I suggest that a cavalry raid of 1,000 men be sent from four points on White River, in detachments, 250 strong, across the country to the Mississippi River, which, if properly led and guided, would so clean out the enemy’s force as to enable the loyal people to hold their elections in all the counties between the White and Mississippi Rivers on the 14th of March next.”
Military actions in Arkansas include a skirmish on the 17th at Horse Head Creek and Black’s Mills; a skirmish at Waugh’s Farm (near Battesville); an expedition from Helena up the White River from the 20-26; and a skirmish at Luna Landing on the 22nd.