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FIRST ARKANSAS CAVALRY
HISTORICAL MEMORANDA
FROM REPORT OF THE ADJUTANT GENERAL OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
BY ALBERT W. BISHOP, ADJUTANT GENERAL OF ARKANSAS, 1867
(Submitted by Mike Schab)

 1862 - On the 29th day of March, 1862, while in the “Army of the Southwest” was lying at Cross Timbers, Missouri, M. La Rue Harrison of the 36th Illinois Infantry volunteers applied for and received authority from General Curtis to recruit a company for the 6th Missouri Cavalry volunteers, and proposed to enlist citizens of the State of Arkansas, many of whom had escaped conscription and were then entering various regiments in the national army.

     On the 12 of May, 1862, eleven men from Washington County, Arkansas, made their appearance at the post of Cassville, Missouri, and were sworn into the service of the United States; on the 18th of the same month about twenty more were added and on the 1st of June the organization, numbering forty-five men, moved from Cassville to join a battalion of the 6th Missouri Cavalry volunteers, then stationed at Forsyth, Missouri.  On the march, Captain Harrison learned that many more than me enough to complete one squadron were on their way from Arkansas to join him, and he telegraphed to Hon. John S. Phelps, tendering through him, too the President, a regiment of loyal Arkansians for the United States volunteer army.  On the following day a reply was received that the President would accept the regiment, provided it was completed within twenty days.  Subsequent telegrams prolonged the time for an additional twenty days; and on the 3rd day of July 1862, the following letter was received:

Adjutant General’s Office
Washington, June 16, 1862
M. La Rue Harrison, Esq., Springfield Missouri
     SIR:  The Secretary of War hereby authorizes you to raise a regiment of cavalry from the loyal men of Arkansas, to be completed by the 20th of July, and to be mustered into service, subsisted, clothed, mounted, and armed at Springfield, Missouri, by the United States government.

     The regiment will be mustered into the service for three years or the war, and will be organized as prescribed by act of Congress, approved July 29, 1861, entitled, “An Act to increase the present military establishment of the United States,” as follows:

     (the form of organization, being substantially like that of other cavalry commands, is omitted.)

     Lieutenant Colonel Mills, of the 24th Missouri volunteers, commanding at Springfield, Missouri, or other officer who may be placed in command at that place, will act as mustering officer, and will make the necessary requisitions  for arms, accouterments, horses, subsistence, medical stores, clothing, camp and garrison equipage, and all other supplies that may be required for the regiment, on the proper staff officers at St. Louis Missouri, or other convenient place in the department of the Mississippi.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. Thomas, Adjutant General
 

     Recruiting parties had already been sent into various parts of Arkansas, and squads of from six to thirty men were constantly arriving at Springfield and enlisting in the regiment.  On the 20th of June a raid was made in to Fayetteville, Arkansas, from Cassville, by a detachment of the 1st Missouri and 2nd Wisconsin cavalry, under command of Major Hubbard, at which time 115 recruits were brought out, mostly from Washington County.

     July 1, Captain Harrison, withabout200 recruits, left Cassville with the 37th Illinois infantry, and established his rendezvous at Springfield, Missouri.  July 3, the authority for mustering having been received, four companies were mustered into the service, and on the 7th day of August a minimum regiment.  On the 11th day of August colonel Harrison was, by order of brigadier General E. B. Brown. Appointed chief engineer for the district of southwest Missouri.  About the 1st of September the 1st battalion, under Major Johnson was ordered to join the command of General brown in the field, west of Mount Vernon, Missouri.  It was engaged, September 15 and October 13, in the battles near Newtonia, Missouri, and during the campaign furnished most of the scouts, guides, and messengers for the army, besides being frequently engaged in skirmishes with the ememy’s scouting and reconnoitering parties.  On the 2nd day of October, 1862, the regimental organization of twelve companies was completed.

     On the third day of October the 2nd battalion, having been mounted and armed, was sent to the southwest to join the Army of the Frontier, under General Schofield, and during that month it, with the 1st, constituted the advance of that army in its march through northwestern Arkansas.  On the return of General Schofield, about the 20th of October, these battalions were stationed at Elkhorn Tavern and Cassville as outposts, and there remained until the next forward movement of that army.  November 11, three companies of the 3rd battalion, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Bishop, left Springfield and joined the regiment at Elkhorn Tavern, on Pea Ridge, which place was held by him as the extreme outpost south of the 2nd and 3rd divisions of the Army of the Frontier, until its second advance, which resulted in the battle of Prairie Grove.

     On the 5th of December, in obedience to orders from General Herron, Colonel Harrison, who had been relived from duty as chief engineer of the district of southwest Missouri, left Elkhorn with eight companies of the regiment and a train of twenty wagons, and moved forward to join General Blunt, then at Cane Hill, Arkansas.  On the night of the 6th the detachment camped at Prairie Grove, ten miles southwest of Fayetteville.  During the night orders were received from General blunt for the detachment to move at daybreak and join General Solomon near Rhea’s Mill.  Messengers also brought information from General blunt that the enemy were west of Cane Hill, and would probably attack him in the morning; that the road between himself and Colonel Harrison was clear.

     At daylight on the morning of the 7th the detachment moved forward, but at sunrise was met by detachment of Missouri troops retreating, who had been attacked by Hindman’s advance at their camp, two miles south of Illinois Creek.  A determined attack was made by the enemy at this point and within half an hour a serious panic ensued, which resulted in the capture of the train of the 1st cavalry and the temporary demoralization of the regiment.  Falling back to the Walnut Grove Church, Colonel Harrison rallied his men upon the right of General Herron’s army, which was met at that point, and advanced with it to Prairie Grove.

     On the following day Colonel Harrison made a raid south to the Boston Mountains, pursuing some of the routed detachments of Hindman’s army, and capturing twenty-nine prisoners.

     1863 - On the 8th of January detachment, under command of Lieutenants Thompson and Vaughan, participated in the defeat of Marmaduke at Springfield, Missouri; Lieutenant Vaughn and Sergeant L.D. Jernigan were severely wounded during the engagement.  About the 25th of January a detachment, commanded by Captain Galloway, participated in a raid into Van Buran, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Stuart, 10th Illinois cavalry, at which time a steamer and 315 prisoners were captured.  On the 3rd of February a detachment of 83 men under Captain Galloway, routed 180 rebels near White Oak Creek, in Franklin County, and on the following morning captain R.E. Travis was mortally wounded in an attack upon a party of guerrillas who had fortified themselves in a log house near Thurlkill’s Ferry, on the Arkansas River.

     On the 18th of April, at sunrise, the post of Fayetteville was attacked by the rebel General W.L. Cabell with a force of 1,200 men and two pieces of artillery.  After four hours’ severe fighting he was routed with serious loss.  The defending force consisted of about 350 men of the 1st Arkansas cavalry and a portion of four companies of the 1st Arkansas infantry.  The remainder of the 1st infantry and one company of the 1st cavalry were held in reserve.  Neither artillery nor defensive works of any kind were used by the national troops.  About this time, owing to the ordering of a large numbers of troops from the department of Missouri to Vicksburg, most of the distant outposts were withdrawn, and, in obedience to orders from General Curtis, Fayetteville was abandoned on the 25th of April, and its garrison arrived in Springfield, Missouri, on the 4th of May.  On the 9th of August captain R.H. Wimpy, with two mountain howitzers and a detachment of the regiment, joined Colonel Catherwood, 6th cavalry, Missouri State militia, in a raid southwest across the Arkansas River, participating in the engagements at Pineville, Missouri, Backbone Mountain, Arkansas, and in several skirmishes, marching over 500 miles.

     In September Colonel Harrison attacked a detachment of rebels under Coffee, in the Seneca nation, pursuing them down the Indian line to Round Prairie, Arkansas, and on the 22nd of that month the 1st cavalry reoccupied Fayetteville.  On the 4th of October a detachment of the regiment, 450 strong, with two sections of battery A, 1st Arkansas light artillery, and one section of mountain howitzers, under command of Colonel Harrison, left Fayetteville in pursuit of the rebel General Shelby, who at the time was moving north from Neosho, Missouri, with 2,000 men and two pieces of artillery.  Marching through Pineville, Newtonia, Granby, Carthage, Lamar and Greenfield towards Warsaw, countermanding orders turned the column towards Bower’s Mill, and thence by way of mount Vernon and Cassville to Fayetteville to relieve the garrison at that place, which was being seriously threatened by a superior force under the rebel Colonel Brooks.  At sunrise on the 15th day of October, a part of the detachment, while in camp at Cross Timbers, and having in charge a train of 25 wagons loaded with supplies for Fayetteville, was attacked by Brooks, but through the timely return of Colonel Harrison, who, having gone forward towards Fayetteville with a portion of his men, had heard the firing, the attack was repelled.  On the 23rd of October a portion of the regiment, with its howitzer battery, under command of Major Hunt, joined General McNeil at Huntsville, taking the advance in the pursuit of General Shelby across the Arkansas River.

     On the 7th of November an expedition, 435 strong, under Colonel Harrison, left Fayetteville, moving eastward, and on the morning of the 9th routed a force of rebels near King’s River; and again on the following day, at sunrise at Kingston, at noon on the Dry Fork of King’s River, and in the evening near Mulberry Mountain. On the 11th and 12th Captain John L Worthington drove the same irregular forces across the Arkansas River, carrying his howitzers by hand across the Frog Bayou Mountain; and on the 23rd and 25th engaged and routed bands of guerrillas near Sugar Loaf mountain, in Marion County, and on Richland  Creek, in Searcy County – the last time with considerable loss. Lieutenant L. D. Jernigan was here severely wounded and taken prisoner.

1864 – During the months of January and February a detachment of the regiment, commanded by Captains Galloway and Botefuhr, served in Carroll, Marion and Searcy Counties under orders from Brigadier General C.B. Holland, from the district of southwest Missouri.  They were engaged repeatedly with the enemy, and received high praise in General Holland’s official report.

     During the year detachments of the regiment were very frequently engaged with guerrillas, who were still infesting northwestern Arkansas, and on the 28th of October a concerted attack upon Fayetteville was defeated.  On the 3rd of October the town was again attacked by a largely superior force detached from General price’s army then lying at Cane Hill, the whole under the command of major General Fagan.  The defending force consisted of about 800 of the 1st Arkansas cavalry and such home guards, citizens, and stragglers as could be brought together, the whole numbering 1,128 men.  A fort and rifle pits had been constructed, and the attack, though not pressed with all the vigor that was apprehended, was continued persistently through the day, several attempts to gain the fort and rifle pits being gallantly repelled.  On the following morning the army of General Curtis, then in pursuit of Price, arrived, and, re-enforced by the 1st cavalry, continued the pursuit to the Arkansas River.  Here the great raid terminated, and with it active operations on this portion of the frontier.

     All summer long the 1st cavalry had been actively employed against the enemy, who increased in strength until in the autumn they swarmed through the country; but Price’s retreat and the approach of winter secured, for a time, comparative quiet.

     1865 – During this year a warfare was carried on against the small bands of guerrillas who infested northwestern Arkansas, and many were killed.  The news of the surrender of General E. Kirby Smith, then commanding the Trans-Mississippi department of the Confederate States, was not received in northwestern Arkansas until about the 1st of July,
after which quiet was mainly restored; and on the 23rd of August the 1st Arkansas Cavalry was mustered out of the service.  From may, 1863, until the disbanding of the regiment a cornet band was maintained at the private expense of the officers, and at the close of the war the instruments were presented to the city of Fayetteville.


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