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The conquest of Arkansas.1

Colonel Thomas L. Snead.
I have already sketched in this work the chief events of the war west of the Mississippi, down to the defeat of Van Dorn and Price by Curtis, in the battle of Elkhorn [see Vol. I., p. 263], and the withdrawal of the Confederate forces to Des Arc, whither boats were to be sent by Beauregard to transport them to Memphis.

Van Dorn, after issuing orders for the transfer of the army from Des Arc to Memphis, to reinforce the army of Albert Sidney Johnston, in west Tennessee, went, on March 29th, 1862, to Corinth, accompanied by Colonel Dabney H. Maury, in order to confer personally with Johnston and Beauregard as to the movement of his command. He was directed to return forthwith to Arkansas and bring every man that he could to Corinth, in all haste, so as to take part in the projected attack upon Grant, who was then at Pittsburg Landing.

Until Van Dorn returned to Des Arc, on April 5th, it was not generally known that the Trans-Mississippi :army was to be sent across the river, and that Missouri and Arkansas were to be abandoned to the enemy. The governors of both of these States protested earnestly against the movement, and the troops themselves manifested the greatest unwillingness to leave their homes in possession of the enemy, while they should go far away to fight for others. But Van Dorn assured them that they were to be brought back to Arkansas as soon as the impending battle on the Tennessee had been [442]

Map: campaign of the Mississippi Valley.

[443] fought, and Price, though he utterly disapproved of the movement, used his influence with the men to induce them to go willingly. They all consented to go, and the mounted men were even persuaded to leave their horses behind them. On the 8th of April, 1862, Little's Missouri brigade embarked for Memphis, quickly followed by the remainder of the Army of the West, twenty thousand men. Few of these ever got back to their Western homes, and Arkansas and Missouri were abandoned to their fate; moreover, Van Dorn was too late for the battle of Shiloh.

The transfer of Van Dorn's forces to Corinth resulted before the middle of May not only in the abandonment of Missouri and northern Arkansas to the enemy, but in the transfer by Halleck of more than thrice as many Union troops from the Trans-Mississippi to the Tennessee to meet them there. This policy of depleting the forces west of the Mississippi, persisted in by the Confederate authorities, thenceforth down to the fall of Vicksburg, was one of the gravest of those blunders whereby the downfall of the Confederacy was precipitated.

Curtis meanwhile moved without opposition from Elkhorn into northeastern Arkansas, and on the 3d of May occupied Batesville, a small town on White River within ninety miles of Little Rock. His effective force, after sending two divisions, under Generals Asboth and Jeff. C. Davis, to the Tennessee, still amounted to 12,422 men2, Nothing now prevented him from moving against the capital and the valley of the Arkansas, but the difficulty of subsisting his army so far from its base of supply, which was St. Louis.

In spite of this difficulty he had begun to advance to Little Rock, and his outposts were within thirty-five miles of that city (where he was to assume the position of military governor), when the evacuation of Corinth and the consequent opening of the Mississippi to Vicksburg also opened the White River to the Federal fleet and furnished him, as he hoped, a safe and convenient water communication with his base. While waiting for the opening of this new line of communication, for which gun-boats and transports were being made ready, he lay inactive at Batesville.

Van Dorn, on leaving Arkansas, had assigned Brigadier-General Roane to the command of that State. There were no troops there except a few companies of State militia, and these were badly organized and poorly armed; and Roane, though he had been governor of the .State and was a brave and estimable gentleman, amiable and popular, was wholly unfit for a military command. Besides these militia companies there were some 5000 or 6000 Indian and mixed (Indian and white) troops in the Indian Territory under Brigadier-General Albert Pike, but they could hardly be accounted a force, as they were of no value except on furlough, and had even then to be fed and clothed, and supplied with all sorts of things, and treated with great consideration and gentleness.

Arkansas was thus utterly undefended, and her people, feeling that they [444] had been abandoned by the Confederate Government, were fast becoming despondent or apathetic. Those living to the north of the Arkansas among the mountains which rise west of the White and Black rivers were fast submitting to the authority of the Union, and many of them were enlisting in the Union army. The slave-holders that lived in the valley of the Arkansas and on the rich alluvial lands south of that river and along the Mississippi were in despair. The governor and State officers were making ready to abandon the capital, and that part of the population which still remained loyal to the Confederacy was panic-stricken. In these straits a delegation was sent to Beauregard, to whose Department the Trans-Mississippi still belonged, to beg him to appoint Major-General Hindman to the command, from which Van Dorn had been taken, and to authorize him to raise an army for the defense of the State.

Hindman was consequently assigned, on the 26th of May, to the command of the Trans-Mississippi District, comprising the States of Missouri and Arkansas and that part of Louisiana north of the Red River and the Indian Territory. He had commanded a brigade at Shiloh, was wounded there, and had been promoted for good conduct.

Lieutenant-General T. H. Holmes, C. S. A., from a photograph.

Leaving Corinth at once Hindman went to Memphis, which the Confederates were preparing to evacuate as soon as Corinth should be abandoned. There he collected a few supplies for his army, and “impressed” a million dollars that was in the banks. Thus equipped, he hastened to Little Rock, where he assumed command of his district and established headquarters on the 31st of May, 1862. With great energy and with administrative ability of the highest order, he went to work to create an army and provide supplies for it. He declared martial law, and scattered his provost-marshals all over the State; enforced the Conscript Law3 remorselessly; collected thousands of stragglers that were skulking in all directions; arrested deserters and shot scores of them; sent recruiting officers into north Arkansas and Missouri; stopped five Texas regiments that were on their way to Beauregard; established workshops for making powder, shot, arms, clothing, and other supplies [445] for his forces; and worked in every way so intelligently and earnestly that early in July he had an army of about 20,000 armed men and 46 pieces of artillery.

Not only had Little Rock and the valley of the Arkansas been saved to the Confederacy, but Curtis's position at Batesville was fast becoming untenable. In front he was threatened by Hindman, who was growing stronger and bolder every day, while behind him the Missourians were organizing in all directions to break his long line of communication with St. Louis. The failure of a gun-boat expedition4 to relieve him from this precarious situation determined him to retreat across the swamps to Helena. Hindman resolved to attack him. Sending a considerable force under Brigadier-General Albert Rust to get between the retreating army and Helena, and to hold the crossing of the almost impassable Cache, he himself set off in pursuit. But Rust, though a very successful politician, was one of the most incompetent of all “political generals,” and was easily brushed out of the way by Curtis, who, conquering the greater obstacles which Nature opposed to his march, got safely to Helena on the 13th of July.

Meanwhile the Confederate Government, yielding to the importunities of General Price and of the representatives of the States west of the Mississippi, and alarmed by the progress of the Union armies in that direction, determined to prosecute more vigorously the war in the West, and to make some effort to recover Missouri and that part of Louisiana which the Union armies had conquered.

Accordingly, just after McClellan's “change of base” to the James, General J. B. Magruder, who had won distinction in the Virginia campaign and was believed to be an officer of great ability and force, was assigned to the command of the Trans-Mississippi, which was now, for the first time, made a separate department. He was told that Hindman, Dick Taylor, and Price would be ordered to report to him — Taylor to command the forces in Lousiana, Hindman

Major-General T. C. Hindman, C. S. A., from a photograph.

the District of Arkansas, and Price the army which was to be sent into Missouri. But hardly had this wise plan been, agreed upon before it was set aside. Magruder, who was already on his way to the West, was recalled to Richmond, and subsequently ordered to Texas; Price was directed to remain in Mississippi;5 and Major-General Theophilus H. Holmes was assigned to the command of the Trans-Mississippi. [446]

General Holmes reached Vicksburg on the 30th of July, and on the 12th of August established the headquarters of his department at Little Rock. The force which Hindman turned over to him consisted of about 18,000 infantry “effectives,” some 6000 mounted men, 54 pieces of artillery, and 7000 or 8000 unarmed men in camps of instruction.

Hindman was now ordered by Holmes to concentrate the greater part of this force near Fort Smith on the western border of the State, and to organize there an expedition into Missouri, which State was at that time in the utmost commotion.

When Halleck went to the Tennessee in April, 1862, to assume, command of the armies which he was to lead against Corinth, he left Schofield in command of the Union troops in Missouri. This force consisted chiefly of the State militia which Schofield had himself organized. Before the end of the summer this militia had an effective strength of about fifty thousand men. Great as this force was, Schofield did not find it sufficient to hold the Missourians in subjection and to disperse the roving bands which kept up the fight for their State upon its own soil, and he had to call to his assistance several considerable bodies of Union troops. With the aid of these he was gradually driving the Confederate bands out of the State when he learned, toward the last of August, that Hindman was

Major-General John S. Marmaduke, C. S. A., from a photograph.

gathering an army for the invasion of Missouri. Rumor so magnified the greatness of this invasion that Schofield fancied that Hindman was at the head of from 40,000 to 70,000 men. He accordingly called eagerly for help. The Department of the Missouri was thereupon enlarged by the addition of Kansas; and on the 24th of September Curtis was assigned to the command of it. Curtis ordered Schofield, who was then at Springfield, to take command of all the troops in the south-west. At the same time he ordered General J. G. Blunt, who was commanding in Kansas, to reinforce Schofield with all his available men. This order was promptly obeyed, and Schofield found himself by the 1st of October at the head of about 11,000 effectives with 16 pieces of artillery. This force he called the “Army of the Frontier.”

Hindman assumed personal command of the Confederate troops in northwestern Arkansas on the 24th of August. These consisted of between 9000 and 10,000 men, of whom about 3000 were Indians, under command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper. With this force he moved to the borders of Missouri, and took position along the line between that State and Arkansas. His advance consisted of a brigade of Missouri Cavalry (two thousand strong, perhaps), lying in and around Newtonia under Colonel Joseph O. Shelby, one [447] of the very best officers I have ever known. The men had all just been recruited in Missouri, and were as fine a body of young fellows as ever fought under any flag.

Hindman had hardly entered Missouri when, on the 10th of September, he was recalled to Little Rock by General Holmes, in order to help organize the troops in that neighborhood for his expedition. He left Rains in command, with orders not to provoke an engagement. Matters remained quiet till the 30th of September, when General Frederick Salomon with a part of Blunt's reinforcements approached Newtonia. Cooper with 4000 or 5000 Indians and mixed troops had previously joined Shelby. Together they attacked Salomon and drove him back in confusion. Schofield marched at once to the assistance of Salomon, and on the 4th of October reached Newtonia. Cooper and Shelby fell back toward Rains. Thereupon Schofield continued to advance, driving the Confederates before him out of Missouri and into the mountains of Arkansas. Thence Cooper continued to retreat toward the Indian Territory, while Rains made his way to Huntsville. Schofield sent Blunt in pursuit of Cooper, who was overtaken at Old Fort Wayne near Maysville on the 22d of October and completely routed and driven into the Indian Territory.

Hindman had meanwhile returned to Fort Smith on the 15th of October. Learning there of the disasters that had befallen his army, he hastened to the front, relieved Rains, assumed command himself, and was about to take a strong position near Fayetteville, whither reenforcements were hastening to him, when Schofield on the 27th of October again advanced. Hindman thereupon retreated somewhat precipitately to the banks of the Arkansas, whence he wrote to Holmes that with another division he could “move into Missouri, take Springfield, and winter on the Osage at least.”

Schofield, whose effective strength had

Major-General James G. Blunt, from a photograph.

been increased by reinforcements to over sixteen thousand men, having accomplished the object of his expedition, now returned toward Springfield with two divisions of the Army of the Frontier, leaving Blunt with another division in the vicinity of Fayetteville to guard the mountain passes. Believing that hostilities were ended for the winter, and being ill, he turned over the command of the Army of the Frontier to Blunt on the 20th of November, and went to St. Louis.

Blunt was a typical Kansas man of that period. Born in Maine, he had practiced medicine in Ohio, and gone thence to Kansas when that territory was the battle-field between slavery and freedom. Deeply inspired by the fierce passions which that savage conflict generated, he was one of the first to enlist [448]

Fayetteville, Arkansas, from a photograph.

for the defense of the Union and the abolition of slavery. He was rapidly promoted, and on the 8th of April, 1862, was made brigadier-general and assigned to the command of the Department of Kansas. He was then 36 years old.

While Hindman was actively reorganizing his army on the Arkansas, about fifty miles south of Fayetteville (where Blunt was), and getting ready to move again into Missouri, Holmes, who was doing all that he could to reinforce him, was ordered by reason of the exigencies of the war on the eastern side of the Mississippi to abandon the Missouri expedition.

The disastrous defeat of Van Dorn at Corinth in October, 1862, opened the way to Grant to move overland against Vicksburg, which stronghold and Port Hudson were the only places that the Confederates then held on the Mississippi. Leaving Grand Junction on the 4th of November Grant advanced toward Holly Springs, Van Dorn falling back before him. McClernand was at the same time concentrating at Memphis a large force which was to move by the river and cooperate in the attack upon Vicksburg. Alarmed by these great preparations the Confederate Government, which had sent Pemberton, who had been in command of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia, to supersede Van Dorn, instructed Holmes, under date of November 11th, to send ten thousand men to Vicksburg if possible. Holmes, on receiving this order, straightway ordered Hindman to abandon the invasion of Missouri and return to Little Rock with his army. Hindman protested; and to entreaties from Van Dorn, Pemberton, and Joseph E. Johnston (who on the 24th of November had been assigned to the command), and to the reiterated orders of the President and Secretary of War requiring him to reinforce Vicksburg, Holmes only replied that he could do nothing as “two-thirds of his force was in north-western Arkansas to meet a heavy advance from Springfield.” He nevertheless again ordered Hindman to bring his army to Little Rock without further delay. [449]

Hindman, however, had made up his mind to attack Blunt before obeying Holmes's order. He had already sent Marmaduke toward Cane Hill with a division of cavalry; and skirmishing was taking place almost daily between him and Blunt, who had some 7000 or 8000 men. At last Blunt attacked in force on the 28th of November, and drove Marmaduke back to the vicinity of Van Buren. Blunt then took position at Cane Hill.

Hindman resolved to attack him there with his whole available force. Leaving Van Buren on the 3d of December with 9000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, and 22 pieces of artillery, about 11,500 men in all, he drove in Blunt's pickets on the evening of the 6th, and was getting ready to attack him the next evening, when he learned that General F. J. Herron was coming to reenforce Blunt with about 4000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, and 30 guns, and was already entering Fayetteville.

Blunt had learned on the 24th of December that Hindman was moving his infantry from the south side of the Arkansas to the north side of that river. He immediately ordered Herron, who was encamped with two divisions of the Army of the Frontier near Springfield; to come instantly to Cane Hill. That excellent officer broke camp on the morning of the 3d, and, marching 110 miles in 3 days, reached Elkhorn on the evening of the 6th of December.

There seemed nothing to prevent Hindman from first destroying Herron and then turning upon Blunt and defeating him; for Herron and Blunt were twelve miles apart and the Confederates lay between them. Indeed that was what Hindman determined to do. Masking his movement from Blunt by so [450] disposing a brigade of cavalry as to deceive him into believing that it was he whom he was about to attack, Hindman moved at 3 o'clock on the morning of December 7th against Herron. His cavalry under Marmaduke soon encountered Herron's on the march to Blunt, and drove them back upon the main body. Herron brought up his entire force, and Marmaduke gave way in turn. Hindman thereupon brought up his infantry, but, instead of attacking, as he ought to have done, took a strong position and awaited Herron's attack. This fatal mistake gave the victory to Blunt. Herron did attack at noon. The moment that Blunt heard Herron's guns he rushed to his assistance, and Hindman had then to confront the united army, which was not only stronger than his own in numbers, but very much stronger in organization, arms, artillery, and leadership. Darkness ended the battle. During the night Hindman withdrew his army and retreated toward Van Buren. Blunt did not pursue. Hindman's loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 1317; Blunt's was 1251, of which 918 belonged to Herron's two divisions, which bore the brunt of the battle, known as “the battle of Prairie Grove.”

Hindman sheltered his demoralized

Brigadier-General T. J. Churchill, C. S. A., from a photograph.

army behind the Arkansas, opposite Van Buren, and tried to reorganize it. It was still lying there when, on December 28th, Blunt dashed into Van Buren at the head of a small mounted force, and hastened the long-projected Confederate retreat to Little Rock, which place was reached toward the middle of January. During the long and dreary march thither the troops, who were not clad to withstand the snows and rains of winter, suffered severely. Sickness increased alarmingly; the men straggled at will; hundreds deserted; and Hindman's army faded away. Hindman “was a man of genius and could have commanded a department, or have been a minister of war; but he could not command an army in the field, or plan and execute a battle.”

A disaster almost as great as that which had befallen Holmes in western Arkansas befell him in the eastern part of the State while Hindman was retreating to Little Rock. The Confederates had strongly fortified the Post of Arkansas, on the north bank of the Arkansas, 50 miles above the mouth of the river, and 117 miles below Little Rock. The fort was primarily intended for the protection of that city and of the valley of the Arkansas, but it was also useful to the Confederates in obstructing the navigation of the Mississippi. Several unsuccessful attempts to capture it had been made, but now it was about to fall. [451]

When Grant was ready to move overland against Vicksburg he ordered Sherman, in the absence of McClernand,6 to take all the troops at Memphis and Steele's division at Helena, and to move with Porter's fleet by the river and cooperate in the attack. Grant had advanced a part of his own immediate army as far as Holly Springs, where he established a great depot of supplies, and was about to move forward when Van Dorn, by a splendid dash upon Holly Springs,7 on the 20th of December, and Forrest, by a brilliant raid into east Tennessee, so broke Grant's communications and destroyed his supplies that he was forced to abandon his [452]

Map: battle of Arkansas Post, Jan. 11, 1863.

movement;8 and on the 23d of December he ordered Sherman to delay his expedition. But Sherman was already on the way to Vicksburg, whence, after making an ineffectual attempt to capture the place [see p. 462], he reimbarked his army and retired to Milliken's Bend.

McClernand arrived at Milliken's Bend on the 3d of January, 1863, and the next day assumed command of the expedition. Having nothing better to do, he determined to capture the Post of Arkansas, and to occupy the State. Accordingly, on the 4th of January, he embarked his army, 32,000 strong, on transports, and set sail for the Arkansas, accompanied by Porter's fleet--3 iron-clads and 6 gun-boats. Reaching the vicinity of the Post on the 9th he disembarked his men the next day. The garrison consisted of about five thousand men under command of Brigadier-General Thos. J. Churchill. The iron-clads began the attack on the 10th. It was renewed the next day by [453] both army and navy, and after a terrific bombardment of nearly four hours Churchill surrendered. The Confederate loss was 60 killed, 75 or 80 wounded, and 4791 prisoners; the Union loss was 1061 killed and wounded. The next day MeClernand received peremptory orders from Grant to return forthwith to Milliken's Bend with his entire command.

Plan of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post.

By the disasters in the northwestern part of the State and the capture of the Post of Arkansas, and through the demoralization consequent upon those events, the fine army which Hindman had turned over to Holmes on the 12th of August, 1862, had been reduced within less than five months to about 10,000 effectives, most of which were in camp near Little Rock.

The ill consequences of Holmes's incompetence to command a department and of Hindman's unfitness to command an army, now began to be seriously felt by the Confederacy. For not only was Holmes wholly unable to do anything for the relief of Vicksburg, but his weakness relieved the Federal general-in-chief of all apprehension of another invasion of Missouri, and of all fear for the safety of Helena. Halleck consequently ordered 19,000 of the force at Helena, including those with which Steele had joined Sherman in December, to be sent to Grant, leaving a garrison of only about 5,000 men for the defense of the place. All this was done before the 19th of January, 1863. Curtis was also ordered to send all the men that could be spared from Missouri to the Mississippi to cooperate in the capture of Vicksburg.

Schofield, who had resumed command of fthe Army of the Frontier, immediately after the

Section of a casemate of Fort Hindman.

battle of Prairie Grove, began in consequence of this order to withdraw the greater part of his army, which was then 18,000 strong, from north-western Arkansas and put it on the march through Missouri to north-eastern Arkansas, where it was to be joined by Davidson with six thousand cavalry from St. Louis. [454]

Schofield proposed that ten thousand of these men should be sent to Grant instead. This led to the culmination of long-existing differences between Curtis and Schofield, the former of whom represented the Radical or Abolition faction of the Union men of Missouri, while the latter represented the Conservative faction, at whose head was Governor Gamble. Curtis desired to retain the 45,000 “effectives” that were in the State in order to dragoon the Southern sympathizers into submission. Schofield thought that a part of these men could be better employed elsewhere. Curtis was sustained by the Government, and on the 1st of April Schofield was, at his own request, relieved from duty in Missouri. Curtis's conduct, however, soon raised such a storm in Missouri that the President on the 10th of March ordered

Casemate on the eastern curtain of Fort Hindman, showing the effect of shot from the Union guns.

General E. V. Sumner, from the Army of the Potomac, to relieve him. Sumner died on the way to St. Louis, and thereupon the President, on the 13th of May, ordered Schofield to relieve Curtis.

Schofield at once postponed further operations against Arkansas until after the all-important struggle for Vicksburg had been decided, and sent nearly twelve thousand of his men thither and to Tennessee, making more than thirty thousand men that were sent out of Missouri to reinforce Grant at Vicksburg, a force which gave him the victory there and opened all the Western waters to the Union fleets and armies.

Even President Davis at last saw that General Holmes was unfit for his great command, and on the 7th of February, 1863, ordered LieutenantGeneral Edmund Kirby Smith to relieve him, and sent General Price to report to Smith. The latter assumed command of the Department of the TransMississippi at Alexandria, in Louisiana, on the 7th of March, 1863. Taylor was left in command of Louisiana, and Magruder of Texas. Holmes was put in command of the District of Arkansas. The change resulted in very little, if any, advantage to the Confederacy, for Smith was even feebler than Holmes, and though attempting to do a great deal more did almost nothing.

General Price reached Little Rock on the 25th of March and was assigned to the command of Hindman's division. The state of affairs in Arkansas at that time is quite accurately depicted in a letter which the Confederate Secretary of War addressed to General Smith on the 18th of March. He says:

From a variety of sources, many of which I cannot doubt, the most deplorable accounts reach this department of the disorder, confusion, and demoralization everywhere prevalent both with the armies and people of that State. The commanding general [Holmes] seems, while esteemed for his virtues, to have lost the confidence and attachment of all; and the next in command, General Hindman, who is admitted to have shown energy and ability, has rendered him- [455]

Helena, Arkansas, from a photograph made in 1888.

self by alleged acts of violence and tyranny perfectly odious. The consequences as depicted are fearful. The army is stated to have dwindled by desertion, sickness, and death from 40,000 or 50,000 men to some 15,000 or 18,000, who are disaffected and helpless, and are threatened with positive starvation from deficiency of mere necessaries. The people are represented as in a state of consternation, multitudes suffering for means of subsistence, and yet exposed from gangs of lawless marauders and deserters to being plundered of the little they have.

Such was the outlook in Arkansas when Price assumed command of a division at Little Rock on the 1st of April. Holmes's entire force in Arkansas and the Indian Territory at that time (exclusive of Walker's division which was soon sent to Taylor in Louisiana) aggregated less than 12,500 officers and men. Seven thousand of these constituted Price's division, which was stationed near Little Rock. With them Price

Map of the battle of Helena, Arkansas.

[456] would have done something had he not been repressed by both Smith and Holmes.

At last toward the middle of June Kirby Smith determined to do something for the relief of Vicksburg, and as the President had frequently suggested an attack upon Helena he ordered Holmes to move from Little Rock for that place. He could hardly have done anything more unwise, for Helena was garrisoned by 5000 men, and was strongly fortified. It was also protected by gun-boats, and could not have been held 24 hours even if it had been taken.

The Confederates bivouacked within five miles of Helena on the evening of the 3d of July, and Holmes then learned for the first time the difficulties which he was to encounter. Between him and the city rose a succession of precipitous hills over which it was impossible to move artillery, and difficult to manceuvre infantry. The hills nearest the city were occupied by strong redoubts,--Graveyard Hill in the center, Fort Righter on the north, and Fort Hindman on the south,--and these redoubts were all connected by a line of bastions. In the low ground between these hills and Helena was a strong work,--Fort Curtis,--and in the river lay the gun-boat Tyler, Lieutenant Commanding James M. Prichett, whose great guns were to do no little execution. The Union forces were under the command of General B. M. Prentiss. [See organization, p. 460.]

Holmes, nothing daunted, for he was both brave and fearless, ordered the attack to be made at daybreak of the 4th of July. Price with 3095 men was to take Graveyard Hill; Pagan with 1770 men to attack Fort Hindman; and Marmaduke and L. M. Walker were sent with 2781 men against Fort Righter. The attack was made as ordered; Price carried Graveyard Hill in gallant style and held it, but Fagan and Marmaduke were both repulsed, and the fire of the forts, rifle-pits, and gun-boat was then all concentrated against Price. By half-past 10 o'clock in the morning Holmes saw that his attack had failed and withdrew Price's men from the field. Holmes's force aggregated 7646 officers and men. His losses were 173 killed, 687 wounded, and 776 missing, 1636 in all. Prentiss's force aggregated about 5000, but he says that he had only 4129 men in the fight, and that he lost 57 killed, 146 wounded, and 36 missing, 239 in all. All this happened on the day that Grant's victorious army entered Vicksburg, and that Lee began his retreat from Gettysburg.

Holmes withdrew his army to the White River, and, being ill, turned over the command of the District of Arkansas to General Price on the 23d of July. Price at once urged General Smith to concentrate his scattered forces on the Arkansas and to do something, but Smith was then too busy organizing a sort of independent Trans-Mississippi Confederacy to have time for anything else. All that Price could do was to concentrate his own force for the defense of Little Rock, the approaches to which on the north side of the river he now began to fortify.

The capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson (the former on the 4th and the latter on the 8th of July) opened the way to the Union armies for active operations in Arkansas. Major-General Frederick Steele was accordingly [457] sent with a force to Helena, and instructed to form a junction with Brigadier-General Davidson, who was moving south from Missouri, by Crowley's Ridge, and to “break up Price and occupy Little Rock.”

Steele organized his expedition at Helena on the 5th of August, and moved thence with two divisions

Map of the capture of Little Rock.

of infantry, a brigade of cavalry, and 39 guns to the White River, where he effected a junction with Davidson, who had 6000 cavalry, taught as dragoons, and three batteries. On the 18th of August Steele moved from Devall's Bluff upon Little Rock with 13,000 officers and men and 57 pieces of artillery. He was reinforced a few days later by True's brigade, which raised his aggregate to nearly 14,500 “present.” Of this number 10,500 were “present for duty.” On the morning of the 10th of September he had come within eight miles of Little Rock.

Price had “present for duty” 7749 men of all arms. About 6500 of these occupied the trenches on the north side of the Arkansas, and about 1250 were disposed on the south side with orders to prevent the enemy from crossing the river. This was not easy to do, as the river was fordable at many points, and Davidson did in fact effect a crossing below Little Rock, about 10 o'clock, without much difficulty.

As soon as Price learned that his fortified position on the north side of the river had been turned by Davidson he withdrew his troops across the Arkansas, and evacuated Little Rock about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Two brigades of Steele's cavalry, under Colonel Lewis Merrall, started in pursuit, followed Marmaduke for a day, and returned to Little Rock on the 12th. General Price's total casualties in the series of operations around Little Rock amounted to 64 killed, wounded, and missing; General Steele's to 137.

Price continued his retreat undisturbed to Arkadelphia. There Holmes resumed command on the 25th of September. On the 7th of October Smith ordered him to fall back to Camden, whence he could either safely retreat [458] to Shreveport or cooperate with Taylor, who was concentrating his forces on the Red River. General Holmes's “present for duty” then aggregated 8532 officers and men; General Taylor's 13,649; and General Kirby Smith's entire force in the Trans-Mississippi amounted to 41,887, of whom 32,971 were “present for duty.”

Schofield's force in Missouri and Arkansas at this time aggregated 47,000 officers and men. Nearly eighteen thousand of these were in Arkansas under

Steele. Halleck, who was still general-in-chief, ordered Steele to hold the line of the Arkansas, and to wait till Banks was ready to cooperate with him from Port Hudson in an attack upon Shreveport, and in taking possession of the Red River and its valley.

Holmes, not being pressed by Steele, settled his infantry quietly at Camden, while his cavalry indulged in a sort of spasmodic activity, the main object of which was to procure forage for their horses.

A division of infantry — consisting of Churchill's Arkansas brigade and Parsons's Missouri brigade, the two having some five thousand effectives — was near Spring Hill. On their left flank was Cabell's brigade

Major-General Frederick Steele, from a photograph.

of Arkansas cavalry; and on their right, toward Camden, was Marmaduke with a division of Missouri cavalry — Shelby's and Greene's brigades. Cabell had about 1200 men for duty; Marmaduke about 2000. East of the Washita were Dockery's brigade of cavalry and some other mounted men.

Lieutenant-General E. Kirby Smith was kept very busy at Shreveport organizing bureaus and sub-bureaus; fortifying his capital; issuing orders and countermanding them; and planning campaigns that were never to be fought.

Throughout all his great department hostilities were virtually suspended during the autumn, throughout the winter, and far into the spring. His soldiers lay idle in their camps, and the people gave themselves up to cottontrading and money-getting. Neither soldiers nor civilians did anything to sustain, or even to encourage, the armies which were fighting in Virginia and Tennessee against overwhelming odds.

It was to no purpose that Dick Taylor and General Price begged Kirby Smith to concentrate the troops that were scattered through Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas, and to move them northward and into Missouri, where [459] they would at least create a diversion in favor of Lee and of Johnston, even if they did not regain Arkansas and Missouri. Smith listened, but did nothing. Yes!--he asked the President to relieve General Holmes from service in the Trans-Mississippi, and toward the middle of March this was done.

General Price was then put in temporary command of what was left of the District of Arkansas--that small portion of the State which lies south of a line drawn east and west through Camden.

General Price's lines extended from Monticello in the east to the Indian Territory in the west, where General Samuel B. Maxey (who, from March, 1875, till March, 1887, represented Texas in the United States Senate) had a mixed command of Texans and Indians, some two thousand strong.

1 including the battles of Prairie Grove and the capture of Arkansas Post, Helena, and Little Rock. See also “naval operations in the Vicksburg campaign,” to follow.-editors.

2 The Army of the South-west consisted, May 13th, 1862, of three divisions under Generals Frederick Steele, E. A. Carr, and P. J. Osterhaus. General Sigel was assigned to duty in the East by orders dated June 1st, 1862.--editors.

3 The first Confederate Conscript Law, entitled “An act to provide for the public defense,” was approved April 16th, 1862. This act annulled all previous contracts made by volunteers, and virtually constituted all men over eighteen years of age and under thirty-five, soldiers during the continuance of the war. The provisions withdrew from State control all male citizens within the ages prescribed and made them subject to the control of the President of the Confederacy during the war. The act further provided that all persons under the age of eighteen years or over the age of thirty-five years, who were in military service at the time of the passage of the act, should be held to duty in the organizations where they were then serving, for a period of ninety days, unless their places in the ranks should be filled by other recruits.-editors.

4 See “Naval operations,” to follow.-editors.

5 See “With Price east of the Mississippi,” Vol. II., p. 717. After the battle of Corinth and the retreat to Ripley, General Price and his forces continued to be attached to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana.-editors.

6 On the 21st of October, 1862, Secretary Stanton by a confidential order authorized Major-General John A. McClernand, then in Washington, to proceed to the States of Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa for the purpose of raising and organizing troops for an expedition, to be commanded by him, having for its object the capture of Vicksburg, the freeing of the Mississippi, and the opening of navigation to New Orleans. On the 9th of November General Banks was ordered to relive General Butler, at New Orleans, and proceed to open the Mississippi from below. General McClernand was authorized to show his confidential orders to the governors of the States named, but they were not communicated to General Grant, who, on October 16th, was formally assigned to the command of the Department of the Tennessee, a command he had been exercising ever since Halleck went to Washington in July.* Being advised, however, of the President's strong desire for a movement against Vicksburg, General Grant made his preparations for a combined attack on that stronghold by a force descending the river on transports from Memphis and a heavier force under his own command moving by land along the general line of the Jackson railroad. Some correspondence took place by telegraph between General Grant and General Halleck, as General-in-Chief, regarding a commander for the river column, to which McClernand's levies were assigned as they reported at Cairo, and General Grant was authorized to designate the commander, unless otherwise ordered. General Grant had already indicated to Halleck his purpose of assigning Sherman; General Halleck replied, December 9th, that Sherman would be his choice, but that the President might insist-on naming the commander. Finally, just as the expedition was ready to start from Memphis, General Grant, at Oxford, Mississippi, received General Halleck's telegram of December 18th, directing him to give the command to McClernand. General McClernand, who had also been in correspondence with the Government on this subject and had now received corresponding orders direct, was at that moment on his way to report for duty. General Grant's telegram to him at Cairo did not find him promptly, and General Grant's telegram to Sherman, intended to cause him to wait for McClernand, did not reach Memphis until after Sherman with the advance of his troops had started. The capture of Holly Springs on the 20th of December broke up General Grant's cooperating movement by land. Sherman, knowing nothing of the enforced change of Grant's plans, attacked alone the reinforced garrison of Vicksburg, at Chickasaw's Bluffs, and was repulsed with heavy loss. [See p. 462.] The following day, January 4th, General McClernand arrived and took command of the expedition, to which he gave the name of the “Army of the Mississippi,” dividing it into two corps, commanded by Major-General Sherman and Brigadier-General George W. Morgan. Without waiting for further instructions, McClernand at once moved up the Arkansas River and captured the works known as Arkansas Post, with about five thousand prisoners. Grant at first disapproved of the movement as having been made without orders. McClernand, however, considered himself an independent commander. All question as to McClernand's position disappeared in the reorganization of the forces under General Grant, December 18th, 1862, into four army corps: the Thirteenth to be commanded by Mc-Clernand, the Fifteenth by Sherman, the Sixteenth by Hurlbut, the Seventeenth by McPherson.


*The origin of the expedition down the Mississippi, December 12th to January 4th, under Sherman's command, is given in General Grant's “Personal Memoirs” (C. L. Webster & Co.), as follows:

During the delay at Oxford in repairing railroads, I learned that an expedition down the Mississippi now was inevitable, and, desiring to have a competent commander in charge, I ordered Sherman, on the 8th of December, back to Memphis to take charge. . . . As stated, my action in sending Slierman back was expedited by a desire to get him in command of the forces separated from my direct supervision. I feared that delay might bring McClernand, who was his senior and who had authority from the President and Secretary of War, to exercise that particular command,--and independently.


7 The post at Holly Springs was commanded by Colonel R. C. Murphy, 8th Wisconsin Volunteers, and the force there consisted of the 8th Wisconsin and a portion of the 62d Illinois Infantry, and six companies of the 2d Illinois Cavalry. The surprise was made at daylight, and was complete, but many of the soldiers resisted capture. The cavalrymen distinguished themselves by bold attacks on isolated parties of the enemy, and lost nine killed and thirty-nine wounded in these affrays. The value of the stores destroyed was estimated by Grant at $400,000, and by Van Dorn at $1,500,000. Fifteen hundred prisoners were taken by Van Dorn.--editors.

8 On the 11th of December General N. B. Forrest moved with his brigade from Columbia, Tennessee, toward the Tennessee river, at Clifton, crossing on the 15th, under instructions from Bragg, who was at Murfreesboroa, to operate against Grant's communications in west Tennessee. On the 16th Forrest captured Lexington, securing a number of prisoners, including Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll and Major L. H. Kerr, 11th Illinois Cavalry. Two detachments were now sent to cut the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at points north and south of Jackson, and on the 19th Forrest, with the remainder of his men, about four hundred, advanced on the town. A force, consisting of the 43d and 61st Illinois Infantry and portions of the 11th Illinois, 5th Ohio, and 2d West Tennessee Cavalry, under Colonel Adolph Engelmann of the 43d Illinois, disputed the advance of Forrest, and kept up a running fight until within reach of the fortifications and reinforcements had arrived from the south. General Forrest now withdrew and moved with united forces on Humboldt and Trenton, capturing both posts and destroying the stockades and garrison stores. From Trenton, Forrest moved north to Union City, near the Kentucky line, capturing that point and destroying railway bridges and trestling northward. From Union City the raiders passed along the North-western Railway to McKenzie's Station, at the junction of the North-western and the Memphis and Ohio Railroads. On the 28th Forrest started from McKenzie southward toward Lexington. Meanwhile the Union troops along Forrest's line of march that had escaped capture, strengthened by reinforcements from below Jackson, had resumed their stations at Trenton and Humboldt, and were preparing to cut off Forrest's retreat. On the 31st the main body of the raiders was intercepted at Parker's Cross Roads, on the road to Lexington, by a brigade under Colonel C. L. Dunham, subsequently joined by Colonel J. W. Fuller's brigade, and after a desperate engagement Forrest retired toward the Tennessee. Forrest's estimate of his force in this battle is 1800 men. On January 2d, the whole command recrossed the Tennessee at Clifton.-editors.

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