On August 18, 1862, Brigadier-General E.B. Brown wrote to Brigadier-General Schofield in Springfield, Missouri about the presence of spies from Arkansas. He related that these spies were as far south as Huntsville. He observed, “twenty spies have been sent to the southeast daily for a week.” Brown then tells Schofield that he sent the 10th Illinois Infantry, “with six howitzers, on the road to Lebanon and at Marshfield to protect the [wagon] trains with arms.” The dispatch continued, noting that five companies of militia infantry arrived on this date. He then tells Schofield that he is in want of trenching tools. Brown states, “I have issued a call to the people to bring in shovels, spades, axes, &c.” He concludes, “Block-houses are being erected at several posts by the militia.
Also on this date in 1862, the Federals were on day three of an expedition from Helena, down Mississippi and up Yazoo River (August 16-27).
On this date in 1864, Captain Miles Kehoe of the 1st Missouri Cavalry reported that after arriving in Benton on August 18, 1864 at 4:30 pm, he was fired upon by about one hundred Confederates after which they retreated immediately across the Saline River. Kehoe reports that one wounded Confederate was captured. He told Federal authorities that, “a brigade of cavalry who occupied Benton had left two hours previous to my [Kehoe’s] arrival, owing to information they had gained from a woman who had ridden to this place from Little Rock ahead of me that the rebel army was all about to move toward Little Rock.”
Kehoe also reports of learning of a large Confederate force moving in the direction of Monticello and Pine Bluff. By questioning the wounded prisoner, Kehoe ascertains there are two brigades of Confederate cavalry on the opposite side of the Saline River under the command of Colonel Crawford. This group, Kehoe relates, was expected to cross the River tomorrow on the 19th of August.
From this intelligence, Kehoe relates that it was his intention to cross the Saline River on Crawford’s left flank in the direction of Hot Springs in the morning.
The dispatch went on to note Kehoe had fallen back about two miles from Benton to allow better feeding of his horses. Kehoe was the Captain commanding the 3rd Brigade, First Division, 7th Army Corps.
Colonel Powell Clayton received a dispatch from Brigadier-General Eugene A. Carr on August 17 outlining a movement of troops to begin on August 18. The plan was to move 300 or 400 men in a reconnaissance from Pine Bluff to Princeton, Arkansas. “Cooperate, if you can, by sending toward Mount Elba or Jenkins’ Ferry.” The communication continued, “We intend to try to get out the corn below here on the north side.” Clayton was urged by Carr to “operate freely to the north and east, going as far as possible down the river on the north side.”
ON August 20, 1864, Powell Clayton tells General Fredrick Steele in a dispatch that, “Lieutenant Grove made a very gallant dash [on this date].” Grove was sent to reconnoiter Cabell’s Confederate camp on the Mount Elba Road when he ended up surprising a Confederate outpost at a mill in the vicinity. Several Confederates were captured plus fourteen horses. Over forty sets of “horse equipments and a large amount of other stores” were destroyed.
Also on this date in 1864, the Federal army was on day four of ten of operations in North West Arkansas and South West Missouri.
The James Ginnett Collection had a few entries for August 18:
-Skirmish near Pine Bluff and a skirmish near Benton involving detachments of the 1st Missouri Cavalry on this date in 1864.
-William J. Duckworth of Burnt Prairie, Illinois, died at Pine Bluff. He served in Company E of the 13th Illinois Cavalry (1864)
-John Williams of Du Quoin, Illinois, died at Pine Bluff. He served in Company F of the 13th Illinois Cavalry. (1864)
-James Kitts of Centralia, Illinois served in Company E of the 62nd Illinois Infantry Regiment. He died on this date in Pine Bluff. (1864)-Jabez Jones from Ottawa, Wisconsin, served in Company B of the 28th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. He died of disease at Pine Bluff on this date in 1864.
-John Conner, aged 18, was born in Indiana. He served in Company H of the 3rd Minnesota Infantry Regiment. He lived in Fairbault in Rice County, Minnesota. He died in Pine Bluff on this date in 1864.
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.