On this day in 1860, the country was in a state of panic following false reports of abolitionists burning cities in Texas and the like. Amid the panic and paranoia of a slave rebellion, the Little Rock-based newspaper Arkansas True Democrat reported an account from out of Springfield, Texas: “Our country has been thrown into excitement in consequence of the burning of several towns and residences. After examination it was found that Abolitionists had placed in the hands of the negroes a great quantity of poisonous medicines and had the plan laid for an insurrection which was to have come off on the fourth of August. The plan was to poison all the melons to be taken to the Election, on the night before, and on the Election day, to burn all the houses and graneries; kill all the women and children; then make wives of the young women; then kill all the men as fast as they returned from the Election! But greatly to their disappointment several white men have been convicted and hung!” Though the accuracy of these reports in 1860 were in question, the propaganda machine was preparing the country for a revolution.
August 12, 1862 marked day nine of a fourteen day expedition to Helena and Clarendon and it marked day ten of a fourteen day expedition up White and Little Red Rivers.
On this date in 1864 there was a skirmish at Van Buren. It was likewise day two of a three day expedition from Helena to Kent’s Landing; day four of seven of operations in Central Arkansas (including multiple skirmishes); and day seven of an eleven day expedition from Little Rock to the Little Red River.
Also on this date in 1864, Powell Clayton, commanding officer over Union troops in Pine Bluff, sent General Fredrick Steele a dispatch noting that, “no doubt but that the enemy have withdrawn their forces from the Arkansas River.” The dispatch continued with General John S. Marmaduke having gone to the Old Lake and Cabell had taken his command to the south side of the Saline River above Mt. Elba (now in Cleveland County near Kingsland and Rison, Arkansas). It also noted that General Fagan had gone to Camden to meet with General Price and General Kirby Smith in a council of war.
The same dispatch related that veterans of several regiments of 670 men were sent to Little Rock, including men in the 62nd Illinois Regiment and the 3rd Minnesota Infantry Regiment, and five companies of the 5th Kansas Cavalry.
August 12, 1864 was also the day dispatches were received from Colonel Ryan, commanding Lewisburg, stating that Lieutenant-Colonel Fuller, while on a scout to Clinton, Kinderhook, Richwoods, and Wiley’s Cover, killed 1 and captured 12 Confederates. A dispatch received from General Andrews, commanding Devall’s Bluff, stated that a lieutenant and 12 men of the Fifty-Fourth Illinois Infantry, belonging to Hay Station, while going after water with wagon, were captured by a superior force and the lieutenant was wounded. A party of Eleventh Missouri Cavalry was started out after them, recaptured the lieutenant and men, killing 2 of the enemy and captured 2 horses.
-Also on this date in 1864, the 62nd Illinois Infantry Regiment started back to Illinois for their furlough.
-Alfred Parks, aged 31, born in New York, served in Company B of the 3rd Minnesota Infantry Regiment. He died in Pine Bluff. He lived in Lewistown, Dakota County in Minnesota before the war.
-Private James M. Biowell, in Company H of the 5th Kansas Cavalry mustered out of service in Pine Bluff.
-Private Paul H. Davenport, in Company G of the 5th Kansas Cavalry, died of disease at Pine Bluff.
-Corporal James L. McCarty of Company G in the 5th Kansas Cavalry died of dysentery at Pine Bluff.
-Jasper Cattrell, from Decatur, Illinois in Company N of the 62nd Illinois Infantry Regiment, died at Pine Bluff.
-Samuel S. Kellogg, from Genessee, Wisconsin in Company K of the 28th Wisconsin died from disease at Pine Bluff.
The following is from the report of Major James F. Dwight of the 11th Missouri Cavalry Regiment, Aide-de-camp. Dwight kept a journal of events from August 6 through August 16, 1864 having set out from the vicinity of Little Rock. Dwight was under the command of Brigadier-General J.R. West of the U.S. Volunteers. General West was directed through the August 4, 1864 Special Order telling him to “proceed with all the available cavalry of this district in pursuit of the enemy’s, reported to be on Little Red River, and will pursue them until they are captured or dispersed.”
Friday, August 12.-Moved back from river with First Brigade. The Third Michigan crossed unopposed at Augusta. Joined at Glaize bridge and command took up march for Searcy; reached it at 3 and went into camp on south side, with pickets at fords above and below. Sent guides and three men Eighth Missouri through to General Steele, with messages at evening.
The following is from the Itinerary of the Third Brigade, Second Division, Seventh Army Corps, commanded by Colonel Washington F Geiger, Eighth Missouri Cavalry. He sat out on August 6, 1864 to join in a cavalry expedition under Brigadier-General West against the rebel forces in the vicinity of Jacksonport and Batesville, Ark.: “August 12.-Proceeded to Searcy Landing, twenty-five miles, and encamped.”
Brigadier General E.A. Carr compiled a list of military actions, including, “combats, skirmishes, &c.,in District of Little Rock, during the fifteen days ending August 15, 1864. The August 12 entry notes: “Dispatches received from Colonel Ryan, commanding Lewisburg, states Lieutenant-Colonel Fuller, while on a scout to Clinton, Kinderhook, Richwoods, and Wiley’s Cover, killed 1 and captured 12 of the enemy. Dispatch received from General Andrews, commanding Devall’s Bluff, states that a lieutenant and 12 men of the Fifty-Fourth Illinois Infantry, belonging to Hay Station, while going after water with wagon, were captured by a superior force and the lieutenant wounded. A party of Eleventh Missouri Cavalry was started out after them, recaptured the lieutenant and men, killing 2 of the enemy and captured 2 horses.”
Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.
If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.