On September 23, 1862 Brigadier-General Fredrick Steele wrote to Brigadier-General John M. Schofield that he would be cooperating with Schofield immediately by moving a force of men to Batesville or he could cooperate by moving his effecting force to Little Rock. One debate against Batesville included Steele noting, “I know of no means by which a considerable force could be furnished with supplies at Batesville.” Knowing the necessity of supplies while operating in enemy territory in Arkansas, Steele relates, “I might succeed in getting supplies enough to Little Rock to enable me to strikeout from that point.” Steele then turns his attention to the White River, which he says, “is navigable for light-draught steamers to Devall’s Bluff, but not for gunboats.”
Noting that he has receive no orders, he then tells Schofield that he believes he would be more effective, all things considered, including the issue of supplies, from Helena. “At present I hold the rebels in check on both sides of the Mississippi and keep Price and munitions of war from crossing into Arkansas.” Steele closed his communication, “You should get re-enforcements from the North if the necessary is urgent; they could reach you much quicker than I can.”
On September 23, 1864 Powell Clayton in Pine Bluff wrote to Captain C.H. Dyer, the Assistant Adjutant General of the District of Little Rock. He told Dyer that a group of about three hundred Confederates crossed the north side of the river twenty-five miles above Pine Bluff “the day before yesterday”. To be certain, Clayton sent a scout to gather for information. He then wrote, “The spy Hicks was hung this morning at 10 o’clock.”
Later that evening Dyer wrote to Clayton noting that a “detail for teamsters, which was reffered to the 126th Illinois and 106th Illinois Infantry, By Lt. Col. Thrall, commanding brigade, was countermanded by you and that you directed that the order should not be complied with.” He continued, “The Brigadier General commanding wishes to know if such are the facts [and] The detail for teamsters must be filled at once.” Written by Dyer, the dispatch was ordered by Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr.
It was not long afterwards that Clayton responded. “Yes, sir; I did countermand the order of Lieutenant Colonel Thrall, or rather I rirected the commanding officer of those regiments not to comply with that order, and shall do so in the future should that officer attempt in a similar manner to interfere with my command.” He then tells Captain Dyer that the 106th and the 126th Illinois Infantry Regiments were pulled from Thralls command and placed under his command. “I do not recgonize his authority to command those troops or to make details upon them.” Clayton continued in his disapproval of Thrall, “Indeed he was very ignorant of his military duty, or he had a great deal of assurance in sending an order direct to the commanding officers of those regiments whereby, had it been complied with, part of my command would have been withdrawn from me without my knowledge.”
Clayton was indeed upset with Thralls’ actions. “If that way of doing business were permitted I might prepare myself some morning to find that, under orders sent direct by Lieutenant-Colonel Thrall, those two regiments had marched off to DeVall’s Bluff, for if he has a right to order a part of those regiments away he has the same right to order them [all].”
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 email@example.com.