One hundred and fifty years ago, Union Major J.J. Reynolds drafted a dispatch to Major General E.R.S. Canby noting that the White River had, ” three and a half feet on bars, and boats cannot run at night.” Reynolds continued, “I left at Devall’s Bluff Colonel Dye’s brigade and two sections of Seventh Massachusetts Battery, Captain Storer; at Saint Charles, the Fifty-third Colored Infantry, about 500 aggregate, also one section Seventh Massachusetts Battery, and two companies Eighty-seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry, about eighty-five effective.”
Such was the order of the day: keep the areas under Union control staffed with enough troops and supplied to ward off any Confederate attack that might come. He noted that General Steele in Little Rock would be sending a wagon train to Fort Smith to resupply the north Arkansas Union garrison. Amid concerns of Confederate General Price’s whereabouts, standing orders were given to protect the Union interests in north Arkansas.
If General Price were to attack the Union garrison in Fayetteville, the force was ordered, “to fall back on Fort Smith if attacked in heavy force. The distance is about fifty miles. If Price should pass west [of] Fort Smith General Steele cannot touch him.”
Other military actions that took place in Arkansas one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish in Fayetteville on the 28th; a skirmish in Brownsville on the 30th; an affair at Hogan’s Farm near Devalls Bluff on November 2; and an expedition from Little Rock to Benton on November 2-3. For a complete list of military actions that took place during the Civil War in Arkansas, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.