One hundred and fifty years ago, armies on both sides of the Civil War in Arkansas had a difficult time maintaining adequate numbers of troops in their respective garrisons. As the term of service was close to expiration for the 11th Ohio Artillery Battery, a dispatch sent this week in 1864 from Colonel Powell Clayton in Pine Bluff to Lieut. Colonel W.D. Green asks “Can I expect this battery to be relieved by another battery?” The dispatch continues, ” I desire this information, so that should they not be relieved by another battery I can make arrangements to have the guns manned by details.”
Having to replace a professional cannoneer with someone in the detail was Clayton’s fear, knowing the Confederate army was in the surrounding countryside. Clayton closed his dispatch, “I would be glad if this could be avoided, as there are eight guns at this post already manned in that way, and it is difficult to find officers and men competent for that duty.”
The garrison at Pine Bluff was not alone in this matter. The artillery batteries in Helena were, by the close of 1864, manned by the USCT rather than a designated artillery unit. Neither Pine Bluff nor Helena would see another battle to test the batteries.
Military actions that took place in Arkansas one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish at Fayetteville on the 12th; a skirmish in Fort Smith on the 14th; a skirmish in Crawford County on the 19th; and skirmishes on the 20th in Benton County, Fayetteville, and Van Buren. For a complete list of over 800 military actions that took place in Arkansas during the Civil War, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.