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sources from having had to contribute to the large Con-
federate forces which had been stationed or operating in
and about Fort Smith since the beginning of the war;
that the recent retreat of General Hindman had left the
people, with few exceptions, gloomy, desponding, and
thoroughly demoralized ; that he found only about 350
men for duty under Colonel J. C. Monroe, First Arkansas
Confederate Cavalry, and Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. Crump,
of Lane's Texas Regiment, Partisan Rangers, with about
fifteen hundred inmates of the numerous hospitals of the
place in a wretched condition ; and that in view of the
difificulty of obtaining supplies for his command from
Red River or Texas, he urged the commanding general
of the Department to send a sufficient force of cavalry
for service along the north side of the Arkansas River to
protect the boats bringing up army stores from Little
Rock, and to annoy the Federal troops at Fayetteville.
He also strongly encouraged the formation of partisan
companies, or guerilla bands, as the Federal troops
called such organizations.

It will thus be seen that very soon after the different
divisions of the Army of the Frontier were withdrawn
from the vicinity of Fayetteville, Colonel Harrison would
have all that he could do to maintain his position. From
Unionists south of the Arkansas River, and from desert-


ers from the Southern army, he ascertained that General
Steele had a brigade of cavalry under Colonel Carroll at
Roseville, about forty miles below Fort Smith, and about
a regiment above that point on the north side of the
river to protect his boats bringing up supplies from Little
Rock. Colonel Harrison determined if possible to cap-
ture the boats employed in transporting supplies to the
enemy, and to break up or demoralize the force of cavalry
guarding them, and for this purpose, on the 23d of Jan-
uary, directed Lieutenant-Colonel James Stuart, Tenth
Illinois Cavalry, to take sixty men of his own regiment
and ninety men from the First Arkansas Cavalry, under
Captain Charles Galloway, and two howitzers, and pro-
ceed to Van Buren, or some point on the river in that
vicinity where he might obtain definite information of the
movements of the enemy. He crossed the Boston Moun-
tains on the Frog Bayou road and arrived at Van Buren
the next evening, where he received information that a
steamboat, the Julia Roan, in the service of General
Steele, had recently gone up the river to Fort Smith with
a cargo of corn and other supplies for the Southern troops,
and was expected down that night or early the next
morning. He at once placed a patrol guard on the bank
of the river to watch for the boat, and with the remain-
der of his detachment patrolled the town and captured
twenty-five Confederate soldiers with their horses and
arms. Shortly after daybreak the next morning the boat
was sighted coming down the river and he made arrange-
ments to receive her and soon brought her to, opposite
the levee. He found on board 248 Confederate officers
and soldiers who were on their way to Little Rock, part
of the men being of the sick from the hospitals at Fort
Smith. All the officers and men thus captured were
paroled, subject to exchange for Federal prisoners, and
the boat allowed to proceed down the river. A small
Confederate force came down from Fort Smith and fired


on Colonel Stuart's command from across the river oppo-
site Van Buren that day, but he soon dispersed it with a
few rounds from his howitzers which he had along.
After stopping nearly two days in Van Buren, Colonel
Stuart returned to Fayetteville without the loss of a man
on the expedition. He received important information
to the effect that General Steele had only four hundred
or five hundred men at Fort Smith fit for duty; that
there was great demoralization among the Southern forces
in that section, and that there was such disaffection
among the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek Indians that
they were ready to join the Federal side.

In about ten days after the abovementioned expedi-
tion. Colonel Stuart returned to the Arkansas River with
a scout of 225 men and two howitzers for the purpose of
attacking and dispersing any Confederate troops found in
that section. Shortly after he had advanced south of the
mountains he ascertained that a small force of the enemy
was encamped about three miles below the mouth of Frog
Bayou on the south side of the Arkansas at Threlkeld's
Ferry. He determined to make an effort to capture this
force, and at once obtained some skiffs and had others
constructed with which he had one hundred of his men
ferried over to the south side of the river, with instruc-
tions to proceed cautiously to the enemy's camp and at-
tack them. When he got his men ferried over the river,
he moved down on the north bank with the balance of his
command and the two howitzers, opposite the camp of
the enemy, for the purpose of driving them out of their
log buildings should they take to them for defence. The
attacking party moved forward as directed and engaged
the enemy, and a sharp skirmish took place in which
several of the Southern men were killed and wounded
and seven taken prisoners. The movement of the Fed-
eral detachment was discovered by the enemy in time to
enable many of them to escape.


A day or two after this affair while marching along
the Ozark road, some eight miles below Van Buren,
Colonel Stuart's detachment was attacked by about one
hundred men of Colonel C. A. Carroll's Arkansas Con-
federate Cavalry, who were taking down the telegraph
wire along the road to Ozark. The Federal commander
quickly formed his men in line and directed Captain W.
A. Chapin to take fifty men and charge the enemy,
which he did in a gallant manner, dispersing them in
every direction.

On this scout Colonel Stuart captured and brought
into Fayetteville thirty bales of Confederate cotton, and
captured and paroled twenty-one Confederate soldiers.
His casualties were one man drowned in crossing the
Arkansas River, and one taken prisoner.

Within a few days of the movement under Colonel
Stuart, another scout was sent out from Fayetteville
under Captain Charles Galloway, with eighty-one men of
the First Arkansas Cavalry, via Huntsville to the Arkan-
sas River. After winding through the mountains south
of Huntsville, the Captain marched to Ozark, on the
Arkansas, where he was informed there was a small Con-
federate force waiting for the arrival of a steamboat.
On his arrival at that place, and finding no enemy or
steamer, he proceeded on the march up the river on the
Van Buren road until he came to White Oak River, where
his advance was attacked by 180 men of Colonel Dor-
sey's Confederate Cavalry. After exchanging shots with
the enemy, his advance under Lieutenant James Rose-
man fell back on his main column, which he had drawn up
in line in a strong position, and then awaited the further
movements of the enemy. In a few moments the Con-
federates advanced, charging furiously and yelling like
demons. They were allowed to approach within 150
yards when Captain Galloway ordered his men to fire.
The volley from his rifles emptied some saddles and

VOL, II. вАФ 4


brought the assailants to a sudden halt, after which they
soon retreated and were pursued about ten miles. Captain
Galloway reported that his casualties were two horses
killed and one of his men slightly wounded, and that
the enemy lost eight men killed and fifteen to twenty
wounded, besides six horses killed.

The next day Captain Galloway sent Captain R. E.
Travis of his detachment, with eight men, to reconnoitre
a canebrake near the mouth of the Mulberry, where he was
informed there were a number of men belonging to Man-
kin's Partisan Company. Captain Travis was not long
in finding the enemy, thirty strong, as he was informed,
in a log house, and he at once attacked them with seven
men, leaving one man to hold his horses. He kept up
the attack for about half an hour, when the enemy re-
treated, leaving most of their horses. But in the mean-
time the Captain had been seriously wounded in the hip ;
two of his men had been killed and one mortally wounded,
so that he was unable to profit by his success. On re-
turning to Fayetteville, Captain Galloway reported cap-
turing on this scout three Confederate officers and nine

When General Hindman was driven from Fort Smith
the last of December, he ordered General Cooper, com-
manding the troops in the District of the Indian Territory,
to retire on his depots on the South Canadian, about
ninety miles southwest of Fort Smith, and to furlough
his Indian troops as far as practicable for periods of sixty
to ninety days.

On assuming command of his district at Fort Smith
General Steele found the regiments of Speight's Texas
Brigade in such a demoralized condition that he was
obliged to send them to Red River to be subsisted, re-
cruited, and equipped until they could be made available
for active service. As an illustration of the demoraliza-
tion that existed, he found Lane's Texas Regiment, which


originally consisted of fourteen full companies, able to re-
port only 150 men present for duty. He could not there-
fore assume aggressive operations north of the Arkansas
River until he reorganized his forces, which could not be
efficiently done before spring. This demoralized condi-
tion of the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory
and Western Arkansas enabled the Federal commander
at Fayetteville to scout the country to the Arkansas
River with very little opposition, except such as came
from the partisan bands which had sprung up in differ-
ent localities, until towards spring. The reduction in
numerical strength of the Confederate regiments. Gen-
eral Steele asserted, was due in large measure to deser-
tions; and he seems to have been disturbed more by
the operations of what he termed " traitors, deserters,
and Union men " around him than by the regularly or-
ganized Federal forces in his front. Indeed, the Union
men and deserters from the Southern army collected in
the mountains south of Fort Smith in such numbers as
to give the Confederate forces a good deal of trouble.
Early in March, Captain Brown, a Union man from Ark-
adelphia, arrived at Fayetteville with eighty-three men
from south of the Arkansas, some of whom were recruits
for the First Arkansas Infantry, and reported that on the
15th of February he was attacked in the mountains of
Washita River by three hundred Southern men ; that the
action was a hotly contested one and lasted from early
morning until noon, when the enemy were driven from
their position with a loss of sixteen killed and twelve
wounded. He reported his own casualties at two killed
and four wounded.

When the skeleton Texas regiments had been sent back
from Fort Smith to Red River to be subsisted, equipped,
and reorganized for service, the success of the Federal
arms in Western Arkansas and the Indian Territory
gradually became known among the people of Northern


Texas. The knowledge of this success encouraged the
Union men, who were numerous enough in some counties
to have secret organizations of their own, and who had
been much persecuted on account of their suspected loy-
alty to the Government, to collect together in small par-
ties with the view of making their way to the Federal
lines. At Gainesville, Texas, sixteen men were hung on
one tree on account of their Union sentiments. This
hard action of the Confederate authorities created con-
sternation among the Unionists and those suspected of
Union sentiments in Northern Texas, and they deter-
mined to get out of the country if possible. Captain
Martin Hart, a prominent lawyer of Greenville and the
leader of the Union men of Hunt County, and Captain
Joseph R. Pratt, a leader of the Unionists in the section
around Gainesville, Texas, were able after many hard-
ships and dangers to make their way through Southern
Arkansas to the Federal lines with a few followers. They
represented that the Union men of Northern Texas were
hunted down by the Southern men with bloodhounds,
and in many instances treated with great cruelty, and
that others had great difficulty in getting out of the State
when the bloodhounds were put upon their tracks.
These men travelled overland upwards of three hundred
miles to reach the Federal lines, and they were then in
nearly an exhausted and destitute condition, for their
long journey over mountains and through swamps, and
in rain, mud, sleet, and snow, with scanty clothing and
shelter, had taxed their power of endurance to the utmost

In Texas and Arkansas, and even in some parts of
Missouri, it cost a man a terrible sacrifice when his judg-
ment and conscience led him to afifirm his allegiance
to the Government and to oppose secession. The in-
terest in the institution of slavery had made it impossible
for toleration and the free discussion of political issues to


gain a footing as rapidly in the slave States as in the
Northern States of the Union. The leaders, and indeed
the creators, of public opinion in the South had been
in the habit of presenting only their own side in the dis-
cussion of political questions, and of suppressing or mis-
representing and painting in the darkest possible colors
the views of their opponents, so that the great mass of
the people were kept incorrectly informed of the true
situation, and were easily led not only to adopt but to
clamor for harsh treatment towards their opponents.
When the Southern soldiers, who were mostly from the
poorer classes of Southern men, saw, from the prisoners
they had taken, or when they were themselves by the
fortunes of war made prisoners, how well the Federal
soldiers had been provided with clothing, subsistence,
and medical supplies, and how neat and clean they were
in personal appearance, and contrasted all this with their
own untidy, half-clothed and half-starved condition, it
commenced to dawn upon their minds that the " Yan-
kees " were not such bad people as had been represented.
It was not therefore surprising that General Steele
should feel obliged to refer to the numerous desertions
from Confederate regiments, and of the general demoral-
ization that existed in his district. But in spite of the
embarrassments with which he had to contend, he seems
to have been not without hopes of accomplishing some-
thing for the Confederate cause in his field of operations,
for he urged General Holmes, commanding the Depart-
ment, to send a cavalry force to the rear of Colonel Har-
rison at Fayetteville, and to instruct Colonel Carroll,
commanding a brigade of Arkansas cavalry at Roseville,
to move against the Federal front, with the view of
beating or forcing the Federal commander to evacuate
Northwestern Arkansas. The movement to the rear of
Fayetteville was not made with any Confederate force ex-
cept by partisan companies; but early in March Colonel


Carroll moved his brigade to the north side of the Arkan-
sas River, a few miles below Van Buren, and commenced
sending out scouting detachments in the direction of
Fayetteville. In the meantime Colonel Phillips moved
the Indian Brigade from near Pineville, Missouri, to
Bentonville, Arkansas, and was in position not only to
cooperate with Colonel Harrison, but to send mounted
detachments to the neighborhood of Van Buren to guard
his own front. Colonel Harrison's force had also grown
stronger, for the First Arkansas Infantry had nearly com-
pleted its organization, which enabled him to use most of
his cavalry for scouting purposes. It was upwards of fifty
miles from Fayetteville to Van Buren and points on the
Arkansas River, and as the roads over the Boston Moun-
tains were very rough, every scout to the south of them
made a severe draught on the strength and endurance of
his cavalry horses. But the safety of his command de-
pended upon his vigilance, and as spring advanced, which
came a week or so earlier south of the mountains than
north of them, the Confederate leaders began to display
greater activity by sending scouting detachments of up-
wards of one hundred men north of the mountains, even
to the neighborhood of Fayetteville. They were also
making every possible effort to obtain recruits to fill up
their depleted regiments, promising pardon to all desert-
ers who returned to their commands at once. They de-
termined, as soon as reorganization and equipment put
their troops in condition for the field, to open an aggres-
sive spring campaign in Northwestern Arkansas, and if
practicable drive out the Federal forces and occupy that
section with Southern troops.

The latter part of March, Brigadier-General William
L. Cabell was assigned to the command of the Confed-
erate forces embraced in the District of Northwestern
Arkansas, and, on his arrival at Ozark, immediately
commenced collecting his troops to prepare for a move-


ment north of the mountains, with the view of attacking
Colonel Harrison, commanding the post of Fayetteville.
He knew that Colonel Phillips, commanding the Indian
Brigade, had marched from Northwestern Arkansas into
the Cherokee Nation and had captured and was occupy-
ing Fort Gibson, thus leaving Colonel Harrison's position
at Fayetteville isolated. He saw that the distance from
Fayetteville to Fort Gibson was upwards of sixty miles,
a distance too great to allow the forces at those places to
support each other in an emergency, and a distance
greater than he would be obliged to march to attack
Fayetteville. And when he got ready to move he knew
that General Steele had ordered his Texas and Indian
troops, under General Cooper, from Red River to the north
bank of the Arkansas, to threaten the front and flank of
Colonel Phillips. He had a section of artillery, six-
pounder guns, which would give him an advantage over
Colonel Harrison, who, he was informed, had no artillery,
and was on the point of leaving Fayetteville to join
Colonel Phillips. General Cabell was also led to believe
that Colonel Harrison's command was composed of de-
serters from the Southern army and of Union men from
the mountains of Arkansas, who would not fight and who
could be easily stampeded by his artillery. Early in
April, Colonel Harrison commenced constructing earth
fortifications and rifle-pits, that he might be prepared to
meet an attack from a superior force of the enemy. He
was informed of General Cabell's presence at Ozark with
several regiments of cavalry, and of his intention of shortly
moving north of the mountains, so he kept his scouts
well out in that direction. His troops had been well
supplied with subsistence, and Colonel Johnson's First
Arkansas Infantry had recently been armed and equipped,
so that he determined that the enemy would be obliged
to do some hard fighting before he would evacuate his
position. Most of his men were familiar with the use of


firearms and were good marksmen even before entering
the service, and with the new long-range rifles recently
issued to the infantry he felt that he would be able to
annoy the enemy a good deal before they could approach
very near his fortifications. And then any of these in-
fantrymen detached as sharpshooters would also be able
to render effective service if the troops should have time
to prepare for action.

Lieutenant J. S. Robb returned to Fayetteville from a
scout in the direction of Ozark on April 17th, and re-
ported to Colonel Harrison that he could hear of no
preparation of the enemy to advance north. Having
obtained information of the strength and position of the
Federal force at Fayetteville, General Cabell determined
to attack it, and for this purpose left Ozark before day-
break on the morning of April i6th, with Colonel Carroll's
regiment, Arkansas Cavalry, commanded by Colonel John
Scott, Colonel Monroe's regiment, Arkansas Cavalry,
Major Caleb Dorsey's battalion, Arkansas Cavalry, Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Noble, commanding battalion of

Parsons' Texas Cavalry, a section of artillery under
Captain W. M. Hughey, and the partisan companies of
Mankins, Palmer, and Brown, and crossed the moun-
tains on the Frog Bayou road. After he got his command
over the mountains about noon on the 17th, he halted to
feed and rest until sunset, when he resumed the march
with the intention of reaching Fayetteville at daybreak.
The night was dark and the roads so rough that he was
obliged to make a few short halts for his artillery to come
up. This delayed him so that he did not get his troops
in position to open the attack until some time after day-
light. He managed, however, to surprise and capture
Colonel Harrison's picket, but not before the picket dis-
charged his rifle, which alarmed the Federal camp and
enabled the officers to get their men in position to receive
the Confederates as they came up within range. On


hearing the shouting and yelling of the Confederates as
they approached the town, Lieutenant-Colonel E. J.
Searle, assisted by Major E. D. Ham, quickly formed
the First Arkansas Infantry on their parade-ground.

They soon left this position, however, for Colonel Har-
rison ordered Colonel Searle to retire slowly towards the
camp of the First Arkansas Cavalry, Union, where Lieu-
tenant-Colonel A. W. Bishop was forming his men, dis-
mounted, for action. As the First Arkansas Infantry
had not yet received their uniforms, it occurred to Colonel
Harrison that they might be taken for the enemy and
fired upon by his cavalry if assigned to a position requir-
ing separation from the cavalry. He therefore ordered
Colonel Searle to post five companies of his regiment in
a sheltered position in the rear of the line as a reserve.
In forming his line. Colonel Harrison took command of
the centre in person, composed of four companies of the
First Arkansas Cavalry and three companies of the First
Arkansas Infantry. Major Ezra Fitch, with the Third
Battalion, First Arkansas Cavalry, commanded his right
wing, and Lieutenant-Colonel Bishop, assisted by Major
T. J. Hunt, with the Second Battalion, First Arkansas
Cavalry, and two companies of the First Arkansas In-
fantry, commanded the left wing. The Federal force
thus formed had only a few moments to wait when they
were furiously charged by a regiment of Confederate
cavalry led by Colonel Monroe from the east side of the
town. A well-directed volley from the Federal line and
from sharpshooters posted in houses and sheltered posi-
tions repulsed the attack and sent the Confederate cav-
alry in confusion back to the timber and brush from
whence it had emerged, with the loss of a number of men
and horses killed and wounded. Immediately after the
charge of his cavalry failed to penetrate the Federal line.
General Cabell ordered Captain Hughey to take position
on the hillside east of the town with his section of artillery


and open fire on the camp of the First Arkansas Cavalry,
which he did, with canister and shells, but without wound-
ing any men or doing any serious damage to property.

The fire from the battery was kept up but a short time
when two companies of the First Arkansas Union Cavalry,
under Lieutenant Robb, advanced within rifle range, and
guided by the smoke from the discharge of the guns,
which were nearly concealed by brush, poured several
volleys into the position, killing and wounding four
horses, killing one man, and wounding several others,
including Captain Hughey. This disaster caused General
Cabell to withdraw his battery from that position and
use it at a safer distance. But it was practically useless
afterwards, for he believed that the range of the Federal
rifles was equal to the range of the guns of his battery.
After some further skirmishing he ordered another cav-
alry charge, which was made by Colonel Scott, command-
ing Carroll's regiment and Dorsey's squadron, Arkansas
Cavalry. Colonel Harrison had advanced his entire line
and was prepared for this movement, so that the Confed-
erates were under a heavy fire from the moment they
came within range of his rifles until they passed beyond
range in their precipitate retreat. The firmness of the
Federal line and the heavy casualties in killed and
wounded in each charge convinced the Confederate ofifi-

Online LibraryWiley BrittonThe Civil War on the border.. → online text (page 6 of 44)