On August 16, 1862 General Mosby Parsons was reported to be present at the Post of Arkansas, according to a communication from Thomas Hindman’s HQ. Also sent from Thomas C. Hindman was a question to Colonel Charles A. Carroll at Fort Smith, inquiring about the “Bronze Guns which I directed you some time ago to have brought up from Ft. McCulloch.” This date in 1862 also marked day thirteen of a fourteen day expedition to Helena and Clarendon (August 4-17) and the first day of an expedition from Helena, down Mississippi and up Yazoo River.
August 16, 1863 saw a skirmish at Harrison’s Landing and it marked day fourteen of a fourteen day expedition up White and Little Red Rivers.
On this date in 1864, First Arkansas Cavalry (US)’s Lieutenant Colonel Albert W. Bishop drafted a detailed report about an encounter he had on August 16, 1864. Bishop’s report noted he left out of camp at 1am on August 16 on a mission to search for a group, or band of bushwhackers in the vicinity of Fayetteville. His report related that the group he was looking for was known as Tuck. Smith’s company. He wrote, “My command moved out promptly, intending to enter the haunts of this gang eastward of Fayetteville as soon as it would be possible to track them.” By daybreak Bishop was on “the disputed ground” thirteen miles east of Fayetteville. With the help of the morning light, Bishop commented, “very soon thereafter discovering their signs our march was quickened.”
Lieutenant Clark (First Arkansas Cavalry) was in command of the advance guard and was on the alert by 7am when he, “dashed up to the house of Royal Williams, on Richland Creek, in front of which from ten to fifteen saddled horses were tied.” The horses’ riders were at that moment eating breakfast, “and were so completely surprised that they abandoned their horses and took immediately to the woods in the rear of the house, passing through an adjacent corn-field that partially concealed their movements.”
The dispatch relayed that before they all escaped, two were killed, “and the party was scattered in every direction.” As they were fleeing for their lives, the Federals found all their horses still tied up, “and equipment were taken, and our men returning to the house finished the breakfast intended for the stampeders.”
The party of Federals under Bishop trekked up Richland Creek about a mile when they came upon another band of irregulars, except this group, it was believed, was headed by Smith himself. After a brief skirmish the Federals drove the bushwhackers into the wooded bluff. Major Galloway and Captain Worthington, both of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) led the Federal force in the action. After scattering the second group of irregulars, Bishop continued.
In another mile, near Phillips’ Mill, Bishop related in his report, “another portion of the column, led by Lieutenant Riggs, Sixth Cavalry Missouri State Militia, met a party of seven…” of which Bishop continued, “were quickly dispersed with a loss of one killed.”
After the third action of the day Bishop starts up toward Huntsville, “in search of a convenient place for foraging, looking well meantime to our flanks and rear.” Bishop recounts near Green Gibson’s, “four miles from Phillips’ Mill” their rear was fired upon. It was later discovered that the party firing upon them was in fact that advance guard of an enemy force that had been following the Federal party.
Upon discovery of the enemy, Captain Hughes of the 6th Cavalry Missouri State Militia, commanded the pursuit of the irregulars. Bishop later reported about Hughes’ pursuit, that it, “was so vigorously prosecuted that after an exciting chase of a mile or more nothing could be developed but flying bushwhackers.” By the time Bishop recalled the pursuit, it was just 11 am, only four hours into the mission.
Bishop remembered that by now his horses had not had anything to eat since the previous evening. His party retraced back to Gibson’s where they, “rested, fed, and foraged until p.m., when the column moved eastward, the main body of the bushwhackers being known to be in that direction.”
By two or three that afternoon, Bishop was by then near Phillips’ Mill when he met the 1st Arkansas Cavalry (US) and their wagon train. It was then that Bishop learned the 1st Arkansas Cavalry (US) had been fired upon at Andy Smith’s, where one of their horses was killed.
As Bishop urged his column forward, they were fired on yet again at about 4 pm by a group of bushwhackers, “reported to be advantageously posted on a bluff that commanded the highway.” It was then that Bishop realized this action would be more involved than any of the others leading up to it all day. Taking in the serious situation he found himself in, Bishop detached a party under the command of Major Galloway. His instruction was to hit the enemy party in the rear.
Bishop called the irregulars “pests of the hills.” Not to stay and fight, the bushwhackers retreated to the relative safety of the hill beyond. Recalling the encounter, the commander wrote, “At times the bullets rattled like hail through the woods, and if no harm was done our men shot less accurately than usual.”
Throughout the action, the Federals learned several of the enemy had, in fact, been killed. “At one place a wagon is known to have been used to carry off the wounded.” The Federals ended up capturing twenty-five horses and mules.
By his best estimate, after his several encounters with the enemy, Bishop did not believe Smith would be able to muster up 125 men and he believed the actual number to have been much smaller than that. By tracking the irregulars, Bishop noted, “He changes his camping-ground frequently.” Another observation included, “His men are fed in small squads at different houses, and his horses forage off the country.”He describes Smith as, “dangerous” and that the Federals, “must be proceeded against with great caution, and though his command has been dispersed, and he has acknowledged himself whipped, his final defeat I am convinced is yet to come.”
Also on this date in 1864 there was a skirmish on Richland Creek and it marked day eleven of an eleven day expedition from Little Rock to the Little Red River and it was also day two of ten of operations in North West Arkansas and South West Missouri.
The James Ginnett Collection includes:
-On August 16, 1864, Private Elias Cowan, aged thirty-two, born in Maine, died in Pine Bluff. Cowan was from Clearwater and was in Wright’s Company from Minnesota.
-John V. Montgomery, aged thirty-six, from Minneapolis in Hennean County, serving in Company A, 3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry died today in 1864 in Little Rock.
-William Boster, Company H, 13th Illinois Cavalry, from Lovilla, Illinois died today in 1864 at Pine Bluff.
-Quartermaster E.D. Hillyer, from Grasshopper Falls, Kansas resigned on this date in 1864 from the 5th Kansas Cavalry.
-Private Josiah A. Snively, Company G of the 5th Kansas Cavalry, died of congestion in Pine Bluff.
-Corporal Alexander S. Neeman, Company G. 5th Kansas Cavalry, was reduced in Rank.
-Michael Carr, from Waukesha, Wisconsin enlisted in Company C. 28th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.
-George H. Miller, Company E 1st Indiana Cavalry Regiment, died in 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.”
Tuesday, August 16.-The general commanding and staff, with Twenty-second Ohio Mounted Infantry (forty men), left Bull Bayou at 5 o’clock and pushed on to Brownsville, where took cars for Little Rock. Colonel Stuart, with Second Brigade, went on to Bayou Metoe, and camped; repaired the bridge, and on the 17th marched on to the Rock. The train sent from Searcy with the sick put into Brownsville in distress, owing to the weakness of the mules, and the men were transferred to Devall’s Bluff by cars. Colonel Geiger’s command arrived safe.
From Little Rock to Austin, twenty-five miles; Austin to Searcy Landing, twenty-six miles and a half; Searcy Landing to Augusta, twenty-five miles; Augusta to Searcy, twenty-five miles; Searcy Landing to Goad’s, eleven miles and a half; Goad’s to Searcy, nine miles; Searcy to Little Rock, fifty miles; total 172 miles.
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.