On September 3, 1861, Brigadier-General William J. Hardee wrote to Major-General Leonidas Polk regarding the significance of Arkansas early in the war. He told Polk that the Confederate Secretary of War assigned him to command Arkansas, “directed in Missouri contiguous thereto.” He went on to tell Polk that, “with every disposition to co-operate with you, I must not lose sight of my instructions or my duty to Arkansas.”
If Memphis were attacked by the Union, he told Polk, “you should get authority from the War Department to order me in that event to your assistance.” In that event, Hardee related that he would be able, “fight more effectively for Arkansas east of the Mississippi than anywhere else, for if Memphis fell the mouth of the Arkansas would also fall into the possession of the enemy, and this would be the greatest calamity which could befall the State and the army within its borders.”
In closing, Hardee reassured Polk that, “I shall devote all my energies to putting this command in fighting order; it needs instruction, organization, and discipline.” Addressing the great need for clothing for his troops, Hardee told Polk that Arkansas, “is making efforts to supply clothing, which is much needed.”
On September 3, 1862, Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Raynor drafted his report of his expedition from Helena to Eunice, Arkansas. The expedition began on August 28. Having received his orders on the 27th of August, Ryan and his command of two hundred infantry were verbally ordered by General Samuel Curtis to capture a wharf boat in Eunice and tow it back to Helena. His command consisted of the 56th Ohio Infantry Regiment and two 12-pounder howitzers from the 1st Iowa Battery. He boarded the gunboat Pittsburg and proceeded down the Mississippi River to Eunice. Another part of the expedition was for Ryan to, “annoy the enemy and obtain whatever information concerning them that I could.” The following posts include his report dealing with activity or information on that day:
Regarding the wharf boat, Raynor explains that it was very large and heavy, and she, “towed very hard and slow, and the expedition only returned this (Wednesday, September 3) morning, being out six days.” Though their orders were for four days’ rations, Raynor admits that the meat that was captured earlier in the expedition was partly eaten by the time they arrived back in Helena. “The wharf-boat and contents have been turned over to Quartermaster Winslow, the mules and horses to Quartermaster H. B. Hunt, and the prisoners to be provost-marshal.” Concluded Raynor.
Continuation of Hudson’s report:
On Saturday, September 3, 1864, Colonel John G. Hudson and his command were on an expedition from Helena to Clarendon that started out on August 30 from Helena. They were encamped at Lick Creek the previous night and camp was struck on Saturday morning at 6am and they reached Helena by 5pm after marching seventeen miles, “making in total from Maddox Bayou to Helena by land fifty-eight miles, making the march in three days.”
On September 3, 1864, the 15th Illinois Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Collins, was dispatched to burn Kendall’s grist mill. It was then that they saw a Confederate Major, “who had a rebel escort of a lieutenant and sixteen of the Nineteenth Texas Cavalry, and captured one soldier of the party with two revolvers.”The report went on to note that, “The rest crossed on the east side of Big Creek and took to the canebrakes, where they escaped.”
Hudson reported intelligence that showed one of Dobbin’s companies left Trenton to meet up with Dobbin, “who was reported to be near Casa.” It was also reported that Captain Swan was at Big Creek with a company of conscripts. “He is doing picket duty there and gathering up conscripts for the rebel service.”
When the dust settled, Hudson related that his command during the expedition ended up capturing nineteen horses and sixteen mules as well as seventeen head of beef-cattle. Also on the expedition his command burnt sixty-five buildings, “including houses, cotton-gins, presses, and Kendal’s grist-mill.” He continued, “I burnt nothing only known to be rebel buildings and where rebel soldiers were in the habit of quartering.”
Hudson gave the following list of prisoners captured during the expedition: Charles E. Williams (citizen); William Guble (citizen); James F. Humphreys (citizen); T. W. Yates (discharged soldier); S. C. McComas (Private in the 19th Texas Cavalry.” The series of Colonel John G. Hudson’s report, broken down by date, can be seen on the following posts:
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.