One hundred and fifty years ago, the Union army reorganized troop levels around the state again. With the Confederate threat ever-weakening, Major-General J.J. Reynolds wrote to Major-General Halleck in a dispatch a list of minimum numbers of troops per post, including, “Little Rock, 9,000; Pine Bluff, 2,000; Saint Charles, 600; Brownsville and railroad, 1,500; Devall’s Bluff, 2,000; Lewisburg, 1,500; mouth of White River, 600; total, in round numbers, 17,000.”
At one point during the Civil War, Helena was among the most important garrisons the Union occupied. In July 1862 over 10,000 Union troops were encamped in the Delta community. By mid-February 1865, “Helena at present has no military importance, but I would leave there one colored regiment and a battery to protect colored laborers on plantations, and would transfer the remainder of the garrison, say 2,000, to Gaines’ Landing, and establish a post there.”
Gaines’ Landing, located in Chico County near present-day Lake Village, according to Reynolds, “has been a crossing place for the rebels, and is the most convenient place for a cavalry depot, if the 5,000 dismounted cavalry in this department are furnished with horses.” Reynolds continued, “Also, transfer the garrison of Fort Smith and its dependencies to Gaines’ Landing, where they can be conveniently subsisted and held ready for service at any point.”
Military actions in Arkansas one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish on the 11th at Clear Creek; a skirmish near Lewisburg and Madison on the 12th of February. For a complete list of military actions during the Civil War in Arkansas, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.