Zzzits fall, January 11, 1863.Report of Colonel R. R. Garland, commanding 1st Brigade, Army of Lower Arkansas and White River.
The following, in the handwriting of the gallant Colonel Garland, has been kindly furnished by his son, Mr. Walter Garland, Baltimore, Maryland. Colonel Garland was a member of the well-known Virginia family of the name:
Camp Chase, Ohio, April I, 1863.I have the honor to submit the following report of the ‘First Brigade,’ Army of Lower Arkansas and White River, in the action at Arkansas Post, on the 10th and 11th of January, 1863: The brigade was composed of the 6th Texas infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson, commanding, commanders 27, enlisted 515, aggregate 542; 24th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Colonel Wilks, commanders 41, enlisted 546, aggregate 587; Arkansas Light Battery (6 guns), Captain Hart, commanders 4, enlisted 79, aggregate 83; Missouri Cavalry, Captain Denson, commanders 2, enlisted 31, aggregate 33. Total present, Friday evening, January 9th, 1863: commanders 107, enlisted 1,690, aggregate 1,797. Late in the afternoon of Friday, the 9th, I received orders to proceed with my command to the rifle pits, a mile and a quarter below the fort. On arriving there a little after dark, the following disposition was made of the brigade, viz: Five companies of infantry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Swearengen, 24th Texas (dismounted) Cavalry, and Major Phillips' 6th Texas Infantry, were ordered to take position several hundred yards in front of the rifle pits, deployed as skirmishers. Hart's Battery on the right of the line of rifle pits, the rest of the brigade was held in reserve several hundred yards in rear of the line of rifle pits, occupied by the 2d and 3d brigades. Denson's Cavalry was detached throughout the action. This ordered, was maintained with slight exceptions, whilst we held this position. Saturday, the 10th, about 8 o'clock A. M., the enemy's gunboats commenced shelling our position and continued to do so until we  were ordered to fall back to the fort, between 1 and 2 o'clock P. M. On arriving at the fort (agreeable to instructions) the brigade took position to the left of the 19th Arkansas Regiment, of Dunnington's brigade. Hart's Battery on the right, the 6th Texas Infantry, 24th and 25th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), in succession, formed the right to the left. The line was on a prolongation with the north front of the fort, nearly at right angle with the river, extending westward toward the bayou. I directed a company from each regiment to be thrown well to the front, deployed to cover it, and each regiment to proceed immediately to throw up such defences in front of its line as the means and circumstances would admit of. About dusk the enemy's gunboats commenced bombarding the fort and shelling our position generally, continuing it for about three hours, fortunately doing but little damage on our part of the lines, save to artillery horses. The command, although totally unprotected, continued to work on the defences during this trying ordeal; and diligently throughout the night and the next day, until we had to resume arms to receive the attack of the enemy's infantry. Owing to the scarcity of tools and materials, but little progress was made, and the works, thus hastily and imperfectly constructed, afforded but slight protection. Sunday, the 11th, about sunrise, the 19th Arkansas Regiment, of Dunnington's Brigade, with four pieces from Hart's Battery, were ordered from my right to the extreme left of our line, to cover the interval thus made. I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson to take ground to the right with his regiment by extending intervals, which consequently rendered their part of the line rather scattering. About noon the gunboats renewed the attack on the fort on the opposite side of the river, and to the rear of our position opened fire. Lieutenant McIntosh, in charge of a section of Hart's Battery, opened fire as soon as he could do so, with effect, repeatedly driving the enemy's sharpshooters from under cover of some buildings in front of his position, as well as otherwise greatly annoying the enemy, until all of his ammunition was blown up by a shell from one of the enemy's batteries and sharpshooters, who opened on our front. There was heavy and rapid firing on the extreme left, which induced me to believe that the enemy were attempting to turn our left flank. Just at this time I received a message from Colonel Deshler, calling on me for large reinforcements, and having previously received instructions from the brigadier-general commanding to furnish  reinforcements to Colonels Deshler and Dunnington (commanders of brigades) when called upon, and the enemy, up to this time, having made no serious demonstration of an immediate advance on this part of the line, I ordered the alternate companies of the 24th and 25th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), with two companies of the 6th Texas Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Swearengen and Neiland and Major Phillips, respectively, to repair to the left, and report to Colonel Deshler (commanding the 2d Brigade). Whilst this movement was being executed, and the remainder of the brigade was endeavoring to fill up, as far as possible, the intervals made by the detached companies ordered to the left, the enemy advanced, and made a vigorous attack on our entire line, and, notwithstanding our line was very much weakened, they were promptly and handsomely repulsed. The enemy made three different attempts, in quick succession, to carry our line, but were as often promptly repulsed. About 4 o'clock P. M., Colonel Dunnington, commanding the fort, called on me for reinforcements, and although half of my command was already detached and I was aware that my line could not be further weakened or extended without great risk; yet, deeming the holding of the fort of vital importance, I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson to throw two companies of his regiment into the fort. Whilst this was being executed, two iron-clad gunboats passed the fort, delivering their fire immediately opposite and very near to the fort, completely silencing it, as well as the two guns on this part of the line. The enemy's gunboats and batteries had now complete command of our position, taking it on the right flank, front and rear, literally raking the entire position. It was at this particular crisis, about 4.30 o'clock P. M., that my attention was attracted by the cry of ‘Raise the while flag, by order of General Churchill; pass the order up the line,’ and on looking to the left, to my great astonishment, I saw a number of small white flags displayed in Wilks' Regiment, 24th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), from the right company so far as I could see toward the left. As I could not believe it possible that a white flag could be thus treacherously displayed in any part our lines with impunity, I was deceived, and by this sudden and simultaneous display of white flags, as well as by the cessation of all firing on the left, together with the repeated and emphatic manner in which the order came up the line, coupled with the name of the commanding officer, I was convinced, at the  time, that the order must have originated from the proper source, and consequently, did not feel authorized to countermand the order to prevent the order passing up the line to the fort, in the same way in which it had reached me. And no order could have been of any avail in counteracting the consequences, as the act had already been consummated, and the enemy had taken advantage of it before it came to my knowledge. As no white flags were displayed from the right of Wilks' Regiment to the fort, the enemy's batteries kept up their fire on this part of the line for some minutes after all firing had ceased on the left, and until they had taken possession of the fort. Both the officers and men of the command (with but few exceptions) exhibited commendable coolness and courage throughout the engagement. Much credit is due Lieutenant-Colonels Swearengen, of the 24th Texas Cavalry, and Nieland of the 25th, and Major Phillips, of the 6th Texas Regiment, for the prompt and gallant manner in which they led the reinforcements from their respective regiments, ordered from the right to the extreme left of our line, under the heaviest fire. The officers of my staff did effective service in their respective departments. Lieutenant Marsh, of the 6th Texas Infantry, acting Assistant Adjutant-General, and Lieutenant Hunter, of the 24th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), acting Aide de-camp, afforded me great assistance in the prompt transmission of orders to different parts of the line, under the hottest fire.