One hundred and fifty years ago, Union commander Brigadier-General N.B. Buford resigned his commission as commander of Union forces in Eastern Arkansas. Citing poor health among his list of reasons for his request for relocation, Buford gives a state of things from his post in Helena. In a letter to Major-General J.J. Reynolds, Buford notes, “I have been in the South four summers, and at this unhealthy post for seventeen months, and I find my health so seriously affected by the climate and the perplexing duties that I feel compelled to ask you for a change or a respite.”
Buford told Reynolds of some of the negative goings-on in the Delta community on the Mississippi River. He related, “At this post I have watched the guerrilla parties on both sides the river, the smugglers, whose name is legion, and the lessees of plantations, some of whom are as bad as the enemy.” He continued with more evidence of illegal activities active in Helena. Buford noted, “I have positive evidence of corruption at headquarters during my absence in September… I beg leave to suggest to you this post requires an experienced and firm officer.”
While a change in leadership in Helena became a concern for the Union Army, the Confederate Army likewise was going through a change. General Order number 30 was drafted to place Missourian Major-General M.M. Parsons at the head of the District of Arkansas, “during the temporary absence of Major-General Magruder. By command of Maj. Gen. J. Bankhead Magruder.”
Military actions that occurred one hundred and fifty years ago included a skirmish in Washington County and near Bayou Meto on the 17th; an expedition was launched from Helena to Friar’s Point from 19th-22nd; a skirmish at Douglas Plantation on the 22nd; and a skirmish near Voches Plantation outside Pine Bluff on the 23rd. For a complete list of military actions during the Civil War in Arkansas go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.