One hundred and fifty years ago, the Union garrison in Devall’s Bluff concerned themselves with the repair of telegraph lines. Since the Battle of Arkansas Post in January, 1863, Confederates have been in the area cutting telegraph line, disturbing the Union communications. In the particular case, it seems that the Union army has erected new poles for additional telegraphlines in the Delta.
According to a dispatch sent this week one hundred and fifty years ago, a directive was given to Lieutenant G.W. Knight noting, “You will move out along the line of telegraph poles now erected until you reach the working party…[and] You will make such disposition of your men as will insure the best protection to the workmen and the telegraph properties, keeping your party always in such close proximity to each as to make it easy to unite on any one point.”
The crews were instructed to work on the lines from Devall’s Bluff to Saint Charles, from which the work crews, “may take river transportation back, if it is to be had, without delay, or otherwise you will march into camp as soon as the line is completed to Saint Charles.”
The countryside was full of bushwhackers bent on disturbing the Union army at every given opportunity. The bands of irregulars were scattered from South Arkansas to the Arkansas River. Because of this, the dispatch continued, “You are particularly enjoined not to allow your men to straggle during the trip, but keep them constantly on the lookout for small parties that might annoy the telegraph party. No marauding or pillaging will be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Military actions that took place one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish at Clarksville on the 18th; skirmishes at Marion January 20-21; an affair on the 22nd on the Benton Road near Little Rock; and skirmishes on the 24th at Bogg’s Mill and at Fayetteville. For a complete list of military actions that took place in Arkansas during the Civil War, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.