One hundred and fifty years ago, river levels prevented river traffic near DeVall’s Bluff. According to a dispatch sent from the White River, “This river is falling, and there is not now over 5 feet of water on some of the bars.” The communication continued, “If this is to be your base of supplies, the low water coming requires your prompt attention, as at 3 feet, the low-water stage, steamers could bring up very little freight indeed, while we have but one or two gunboats of sufficiently light draft to act as convoy.” The dispatch concluded, “It is probable that all the gunboats except two will be obliged to leave this river within two weeks’ time.”
As river levels at DeVall’s Bluff hindered river travel, another dispatch noted Confederate troop levels in the area. “The rebel cavalry under Fagan, reported from 3,000 to 4,000, with a large train is moving up the Arkansas [River] for the purpose of joining Shelby on the east side and to take possession of the railroad.” The Federal army was doing all it could to hold off the enemy throughout the countryside.
The dispatch continued “I can defend this place against Price, but would be very likely with my small force to lose the railroad and depot at Devall’s Bluff. If you can send the 8,000 mentioned in your dispatch to General Andrews I hope you will do so at once. My situation is a critical one.”
Military actions that took place in Arkansas one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish near Glass Village on the 8th; an affair near Clarendon on the 9th; a skirmish on the 11th at Brewer’s Lane, Fort Smith, and Pine Bluff; skirmishes on the 13th at Searcy, and a skirmish on the 14th at Rogers Crossing on the White River.