county seat of Independence County, and contained at the commencement of the war a
population of about 2,000 souls. Out of a voting population of 9,200, the county gave 1,100
votes for Union delegates to the convention which seceded Arkansas from the Union. When
captured, the sentiment of Batesville was divided, but principally of a rebel cast. The women
were especially bitter. The sour looks of the rebel maidens were at first disheartening to the
gallantry of the soldiers. They, however, eventually became more amiable and agreeable.
Several prominent rebels were captured in the town. At the post-office, a heavy mail, with the
latest Little Rock and Memphis papers, and at the court-house, some hundred stand of arms, as
well as a considerable amount of contraband property, were also seized.
The remainder of the army rapidly approached Batesville, and camped in its vicinity, and as
far east as Sulphur Rock, ten miles distant, on the Jacksonport road. A cavalry force was at once sent east along the northern bank of White River to Jacksonport, situated at the junction of White and Black Rivers, twenty-six miles from Batesville. This force arrived in Jacksonport on the morning of May 4th, and found the town already occupied by a portion of General Steele's
command. The remainder of Steele's army rapidly arrived at Jacksonport, and Steele reported,
for orders, and the strength, position and condition of his command, to Curtis. Rope ferries were
immediately put in operation at Batesville, and new and more commodious boats were
The arrival of the Union army at Batesville was marked by a flowery and lengthy
proclamation from the rebel Governor, Rector, dated May 5th. It recited that the enemy was
ravaging the northeastern part of the State, while Arkansas troops were called to the defense of
other portions of the Confederacy; portrayed the beauties of democratic liberty, State
sovereignty, secession, etc., contrasted with the despotism of Lincoln and his hirelings; called for
4,500 men to act as home guards until the Confederacy would protect the State, and especially
urged "gentlemen of leisure and wealth" to go and fight, leaving the tillers of the soil to raise
something for subsistence.
An expedition was sent out which destroyed extensive saltpeter works of the rebels, about
fourteen miles northwest of Batesville. Large numbers of citizens came into Batesville to take
the oath of allegiance. It was apparent that a very considerable Union sentiment existed
throughout the country, and only needed encouragement and protection to become everywhere
conspicuous. A newspaper, " The Independent Balance," which had formerly existed in
Batesville, advocating, variously, as they were the more popular, Union and rebel doctrines, was
revived and set in operation by the military power. It was edited by Sergt. Maj. Tinkham, of the
4th Iowa cavalry, and served as a medium for disseminating Union doctrines and the latest news
to the troops and to the people, and for the publishing of general orders and other military
The 1st division and the 4th, 5th and a detachment of the 6th cavalry Missouri volunteers,
under Osterhaus, crossed White River and pushed forward to Little Red River and the vicinity of the town of Searcey, in White County, about forty miles south of Batesville, on the direct road to and distant about forty-nine miles from Little Rock. Reconnaissances were thrown forward into the town of Searcey.
A cavalry expedition, under Lieut. Col. Wood, of the 1st Indiana cavalry, was also sent out
by Steele, from Jacksonport, and penetrated as far as Augusta, on the east bank of White River.
This expedition had two unimportant skirmishes with the enemy.
Halleck had intended to have the army of Curtis progress as rapidly as possible to some point
on the Mississippi, where it would be of assistance in the capture of Memphis and in the opening
of the Mississippi, and where it would be more accessible for supplies by water communication.
It was also designed to capture Little Rock, and for this purpose Osterhaus had advanced to
Little Red River.
At this period the Mississippi was flooded, and the low, swampy country east of Jacksonport
was converted into a vast lake. Scouts sent eastward were unable to progress more than a few
miles beyond Jacksonport. The country was perfectly impassable. Our gunboats were at the time besieging Fort Pillow, and it was even thought that the noise of the cannonading was heard near Jacksonport. The Army of the South-West was thus prevented by a flood from progressing
eastward and assisting in any attempt to capture Memphis.
The army not being able to move eastward, Curtis intended to advance a6 rapidly as possible,
via Searcey, and capture Little Rock. In addition to the line of communication with Rolla, an
additional line was opened with Pilot Knob, and supplies were received over both routes.
Garrisoned posts were established and maintained on the Rolla line at Houston and West Plains,
Missouri, and at Salem, Arkansas; and also on the Pilot Knob, route at Smithville, Pocahontas
and Pittman's Ferry, Arkansas, and at Reeves' Station, Pattersonville and Greenville, Missouri.
Hatters were thus being rapidly arranged for the capture of the rebel State capital.
But at this juncture a telegraphic order, dated May 6th, was received by Curtis on May 9th,
through department headquarters at St. Louis, from Halleck, at Pittsburg Landing. Curtis was to
send, " as rapidly as possible," a portion of the infantry of the army to Halleck, at Pittsburg
Landing, Tennessee, either via Rolla, Pilot Knob or the Mississippi. Their services were needed
in the great concentration of national troops which occurred in front of Beauregard's position at
Corinth. The order further said that Curtis "must operate in Arkansas mostly with cavalry and
artillery. Van Dorn and Price are both here" (at Corinth). "Curtis' infantry must make forced
marches, so as to reinforce us as soon as possible."
In obedience to this order, the 36th and 44th Illinois, 2d and 15th Missouri infantry
volunteers, and Company C, Benton Hussars, were placed under command of Brig. Gen. Asboth, and called the 2d division. The 25th, 35th and 59th Illinois and 22d Indiana infantry volunteers and Company F, 1st Missouri cavalry volunteers, Capt. Clifford, were placed under command of Brig. General Jeff. C. Davis, and called the 3d division. In accordance with orders, Steele also detached two regiments from his command, the 21st and 38th Illinois infantry volunteers, under Colonel Carlin. All these troops were ordered to proceed by the most direct route, and as rapidly as possible, to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, there to await further orders.
In parting with officers and troops who had so long and so faithfully served under him,
sharing alike the long and weary marches and the dangers of battle, the feelings of the
commanding General were expressed in the following farewell order:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST,
BATESVILLE, ARK., MAY 10th, 1862
II. The troops moving under Brig. Gen. Asboth will bear the name of the 2d division, Army
of the South-West, and those under Brig. Gen. J. C. Davis will be known as the 3d division,
Army of the South-West. In parting with the officers and soldiers of these divisions, the General
commanding feels an abiding confidence that they will show themselves, when called upon, no
mutter in what trying occasions, worthy of the fame that has gone before them, and he trusts they
will add to the glory they have achieved under his command, and do more distinguished service
for their country. The General tenders his thanks to Generals Asboth and Davis for their services
and support, and to each and all the troops who march with them to Tennessee
By command of Major General Curtis,
E. Z CURTIS, Asst. Adjt. Gen.
Asboth and Davis both expressed their regrets at parting with one who had for so long a time
been their commander, and promised that their troops would maintain, in Tennessee, the glory
already won during the campaign and at Pea Ridge, and that the honor of the Army of the South-West should remain, by them, forever untarnished.
The departure of these troops broke up the original organization of the Army of the South-West.
The sudden withdrawal of so large a force, temporarily deranged all plans, and delayed the
capture of Little Rock. A portion of Osterhaus' command had been withdrawn and departed for
Cape Girardeau, but he still held his position at Little Red River. Steele had hitherto been
camped at and in the vicinity of Jacksonport. He was now ordered to Batesville, and on May
15th left Jacksonport with the greater portion of his command. Only a small force of cavalry was
left in that vicinity, on the west bank of Black River.
The troops remaining were at once reorganized in three divisions. The following statement
will show the disposition of the forces under the new organization, and during the remainder of
the campaign until the army arrived at Helena:
ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST, AS REORGANIZED AT BATESVILLE, ARKANSAS,
MAY, 1862, COMMANDED BY MAJOR GENERAL SAMUEL RYAN CURTIS, U. S.
lst Division, Brigadier General FREDERICK STEELE
11th infantry Wisconsin volunteers, Colonel Harris.
23d infantry Illinois volunteers (normal regt.), Colonel C. E. Hovey.
8th infantry Indiana volunteers, Colonel David Shunk.
18th infantry Indiana volunteers, Colonel Thomas Pattison.
1st cavalry Indiana volunteers, Colonel Conrad Baker.
3d cavalry Iowa volunteers, Colonel Cyrus Bussey.
5th cavalry Illinois volunteers, Colonel Hall Wilson.
9th cavalry Illinois volunteers, Colonel Albert G. Brackett.
13th cavalry Illinois volunteers, Colonel Bell.
"Kane County cavalry" Illinois volunteers (2 Cos.), Captain Dodson.
1st battery Indiana volunteers, Captain Klaus.
1st battery Missouri volunteers.
16th battery Ohio volunteers.
Peoria battery Illinois volunteers, Captain Davidson.
2d Division, Brigadier General EUGENE A. CARE.
4th infantry Iowa volunteers, Colonel J. B. Williamson
9th infantry Iowa volunteers, Colonel Wm. Vandever
13th infantry Illinois volunteers, Colonel John B. Wyman.
1st cavalry Missouri volunteers, Lieut. Colonel Frederick Wm. Lewis.
3d cavalry Illinois volunteers, Colonel L. F. McCrillis.
4th cavalry Iowa volunteers, Colonel A. B. Porter.
"Elbert's dying battery" Missouri volunteers, Captain Elbert.
1st battery Iowa volunteers, 1st Lieutenant Virgil J. David.
3d (Dubuque) battery Iowa volunteers, Captain H. H. Hayden.
3d Division. Brigadier General PETER JOSEPH OSTERHAUS.
3d infantry Missouri volunteers, Colonel Isaac F. Shepard.
12th infantry Missouri volunteers, Major Hugo Wangelin.
17th infantry Missouri volunteers, Colonel Franz Hasseudeubel.
1st infantry Missouri volunteers (U. S. res. corps, det.) Col. Robt. I. Rombauer.
4th cavalry Missouri volunteers (Fremont Hussars), Colonel Geo. E. Waring.
5th cavalry Missouri volunteers (Benson Hussars), Colonel Joseph Nemett.
6h cavalry Missouri volunteers (detachments), Major Henry P. Hawkins and
Lieutenaut Colonel Saml. N. Wood.
5th cavalry Kansas volunteers, Colonel Powell Clayton.
2d battery Ohio volunteers, Lieutenant Chapman.
Welfley's battery Missouri volunteers, Captain Martin Welfley.
Hoffman's battery, Captain Hoffman.
"Bower's battalion" cavalry Missouri volunteers (4 Cos.), Maj. Wm. D.
24th infantry Missouri volunteers (6 Cos.) Provost Guard, Maj. Eli W. Weston.
2d cavalry Wisconsin volunteers (2 battalions), Brig. General Cadwallader
10th cavalry Wisconsin volunteers (1 battalion), C. Washburn.
1st infantry Arkansas volunteers (6 mouths' men), Lieut. Col. J. C. Bundy.
1st brigade, 1st division, Brig. General W. P. Benton
2d " " " Colonel C. E. Hovey
3d " " " " Conrad Baker.
1st " 2d " " Wm. Vandever.
2d " " " " John B. Wyman.
3d " " " " A. B. Porter.
1st " 3d " " Franz Hassendeubel.
3d " " " " Geo. E. Waring.
THE ARMY AT BATESVILLE.—MARCH TO LITTLE RED RIVER AND RETURN.—
VARIOUS ENGAGEMENTS.—CORRESPONDENCE AND ORDERS.—ARKANSAS
TROOPS.—EVACUATION OF BATESVILLE AND MARCH TO JACKSONPORT.—
PREPARATIONS TO MOVE DOWN WHITE RIVER.
The telegraph line was extended south from Pilot Knob and over the Pilot Knob route to the
headquarters of Curtis, at Batesville. It was continued from Batesville eastward to a point in the
woods about ten miles distant from Jacksonport, but it was not completed to these points until a
short time before the evacuation of Batesville, about the last of June.
On May 12th, Halleck sent the following telegram to Curtis, which was forwarded from the
end of the line and received by the latter on May 15th:
St. Louis, May 12th, 1862.
TO MAJOR GENERAL CURTIS, BATESVILLE:
On reaching Little Rock, you will assume the direction of affairs in Arkansas as Military
Governor. All civil authorities who are untrustworthy, or who will not take the oath of
allegiance, will be removed from office and others appointed in their place. The telegraph will
follow you as rapidly as possible.
H. W. HALLECK, Major General.
Although the army under General Curtis never arrived at Little Rock, the duties of Military
Governor were by him performed, in the organization of the 1st regiment of Arkansas infantry
volunteers, and in other ways, until his arrival at Helena, when John S. Phelps, of Missouri, was
appointed Military Governor of the State, by the President.
On May 15th, by order of Halleck, the command of southwestern Missouri, and the line of
posts from Rolla to Cassville, was relinquished to Brigadier General Egbert B. Brown, of the
Missouri State Militia. The army of Curtis was thus left in a comparatively unencumbered
situation to continue its operations in Arkansas, having only to sustain a portion of the garrison
posts on its lines of communication in the rear.
The removal of the greater portion of the infantry from the army, although perhaps necessary
to Halleck at Corinth, together with an order from the quartermaster department at St. Louis,
which temporarily stopped all trains going to Curtis, delayed and ultimately prevented an
advance on Little Rock by the Army of the South-West. Curtis appealed in strong terms to
Halleck for reinforcements. His pickets and outposts were constantly assailed in the front and on
the flanks by an ever-vigilant enemy, and the country in his rear swarmed with guerrillas and
partisan bands, rendering large escorts necessary to every train, and endangering the week
garrisoned posts on his extended lines of communication. He was in the heart of an enemy's
country. Troops temporarily left on post, garrison and other duties in southwestern Missouri, had been taken from his command by the order placing General Brown in command at Springfield.
The departure of most of his infantry left the army too weak to move forward, but it was not until after the 5th of June, when the army had fallen back from Little Red River to Batesville, that a letter was received from Brigadier General Scoffield, commanding the "District of the State of
Missouri, who, by order of Halleck, placed under the command of Curtis all the troops in
southern Missouri, including the peculiar organization known as the " Missouri State Militia,
who were regularly enlisted into the United States military service, but retained, to a certain
extent, under the control of the Governor of their State, upon condition that they were not to
leave it except in its defense. This order did not, however, very materially increase the strength
of the army, beyond enabling troops that had been detached from their divisions on post duty to
rejoin their commands. The Missouri State Militia garrisoned posts in Missouri, and Col.
Rombauer's regiment of the "United States Reserve Corps," a home guard organization
originated by Fremont, refused to cross the State line from Missouri into Arkansas. The terms of
its enlistment provided that it should remain in Missouri. A portion of the regiment under Col.
Rombauer was afterwards induced to march with the army to Helena. The remainder was left in
Missouri, and the lack of patriotic spirit displayed by the regiment in refusing to march to the
succor of its fellow soldiers in the front, was censured alike by Curtis and Scoffield. General
Washburn's command, the 13th Illinois cavalry, and the 5th Kansas cavalry, were also enabled to join the army of Curtis. These events, and the reorganization of the army, and changes in the
lines of operation, caused a delay, which, joined to other circumstances, proved fatal to the
forward movement on Little Rock. Whether, at the time, it would have been possible to maintain
communication overland between Little Rock and Pilot Knob and Rolla, with the force then
composing the army, is problematical. It was the opinion of Halleck that it could not be done, but Curtis thought otherwise, and was anxious to make the attempt.
An advance had been attempted via Searcey. A severe conflict occurred near "Searcey
Landing," Little Red River, on May 19th, between the enemy and a foraging party from
Osterhaus' division, composed of detachments of infantry and cavalry, numbering about two
hundred, under command of Major Kielmansegge, of the 17th Missouri cavalry, subsequently
reinforced by Colonel Waring and the 17th Missouri infantry, under Colonel Hassendeubel and
Lieutenant Colonel Cramer. The Union troops were attacked by about eight hundred Texan
rangers, and a portion of the infantry, after a proper resistance, offered to surrender; but the
rebels continued firing on them, refusing to accept them as prisoners, and barbarously
maltreating and murdering all who fell into their hands, and destroying ambulances sent to pick
up the wounded. Being thus compelled to fight, the Union troops again attacked the enemy. The
noise of the firing soon brought the Union reinforcements, when the rebels retired from the field.
The Union loss was seventeen killed, thirty-two wounded and two missing. The rebel advance
was reported to have been commanded by General Rust and subsequently by General Hindman.
Their entire loss was unknown. Eighteen of their dead were left upon the field.
As soon as the troops of Steele's division were drawn in from Jacksonport, on the remote left
flank, to Batesville, on the direct line to Little Rock, and the army reorganized and the lines of
communication with Rolla and Pilot Knob arranged, with a view to the better securing of
supplies, the advance on the capital of Arkansas was attempted.
On May 19th, leaving Steele in command at Batesville, Curtis crossed White River and
moved to Searcey with as much rapidity as was possible in a terrible rain-storm lasting thirty-six
hours, which rendered the roads almost impassable. He remained at the front until summoned
back to Batesville to attend to pressing duties.
At Searcey and on Little Red River were the divisions of Carr and Osterhaus. Little Red
River had been bridged by the Union troops, and it was hoped that the army could soon move
forward. But the muddy roads were rendered entirely impassable for a large force by the
extremely severe rains occurring at this time. Little Red River, and other streams, swollen by the
rains, could not be crossed by the army. The continual interruption of supply trains by guerrillas
in Missouri, and the order from the quartermaster department at St. Louis, stopping these trains,
deranged plans and prevented movement. Forage became entirely insufficient, and it was the
opinion of Generals Steele, Carr and Osterhaus, in a consultation at Little Red River, whither,
after the return of Curtis to Batesville, Steele had gone for that purpose, that the position on
Little Red River must be abandoned. Skirmishes were of almost daily occurrence. The enemy
was rallying in force, and with his newly recruited conscripts, was above the Union position, on
Little Red River, endangering our right flank. " For God's sake," wrote Winslow, the chief
Quartermaster of the army, to Curtis, " consider the practicability of getting trains over the road
you are going to take!" Carr, in particular, urged many reasons for the return of the army to
Batesville, in good order, before it was attacked in its exposed position and overwhelmed by
numbers. The impracticability of a further advance via Searcey became evident. Within forty-nine miles of Little Rock, the army had halted in its onward march. About the 5th of June it
retraced its steps to the vicinity of Batesville; Carr remaining for a brief time in camp a few miles
south of White River.
It is to be regretted that the occupation of the State capital was thus prevented by bad roads,
inadequate force and the difficulty of transporting supplies. Rector, the rebel Governor, had
ordered out 4,400 militia to oppose an advance, and the proclamation forbade troops leaving the State which it was necessary for them to defend. There was, at the time, at or near Little Rock, a small force of about two and a half regiments of Texan rangers and the rebel gunboat
"Kentucky." There were rumors of other troops, and the enemy was rapidly reinforced, but the
place was very feebly protected. The gunboat, driven out of the Mississippi after the naval
victory at Memphis, had sought refuge in the Arkansas River, and on its arrival at Little Rock
had shelled the camp of the Texan rangers, supposing them to be Union troops. This reveals the
reign of terror which existed among the enemy. The order of Rector calling out the militia met
with a chilly reception by the people. Considerable Union sentiment existed, although
everywhere, except within the Union lines, held in check and overawed by superior rebel power.
Union men promised supplies of forage on the line of march. Prominent rebel citizens fled before
the anticipated advance. Rector himself left Little Rock, and the State archives were removed
from the city for safe keeping. Had it been possible to occupy the State capital and regularly
inaugurate a provisional State government, comparative order and quiet might have been
restored to Arkansas at a much earlier date than the time they were subsequently established.
Once more rebellion was protected, not so much by its own strength and valor, as by the
difficulty of penetrating its vast territory. A few roving bands of guerrillas and partisan cavalry,
aided by a small regular force of rebels in the front, and by roads almost absolutely impassable,
were enabled to check the movements of an army, by hovering on its rear, cutting off its supplies
and harassing the feebler garrison posts on its lines of communication.
About the 2d of June a pontoon train was received, the first that had ever been with the Army
of the South-West. At Rolla, in January, Curtis had applied to Halleck to send a pontoon train to the army, then about to advance over deep and flooded streams to attack Price. The reply was, that the only one available was needed elsewhere and could not be spared. The bridge received at Batesville was not of sufficient length to cross White River, but it was subsequently thrown across Black River at Jacksonport. It was placed in charge of Captain Van Sant, of the 24th Missouri infantry, and did good service among the swamps and bayous encountered between Jacksonport and Helena.
A cavalry reconnaissance under Lieut. Col. Sickles, of the 9th Illinois cavalry, was sent by
Col. Brackett from Jacksonport, on May 26th, to Augusta, Cache River, and Cotton Plant. The
object was to ascertain the positron and condition of the enemy, and to capture the telegrams in
the office of the Memphis and Little Rock telegraph line at Cotton Plant. The operator had,
however, taken the alarm and fled, and all important document were removed. In a skirmish with the enemy, on May 28th, at Cache River bridge, Col. Sickles had two men wounded. The rebel loss was four killed, four wounded and one taken prisoner. Col. Sickles returned with his
command to Jacksonport on May 29th.
On May 27th a Union force under Lieutenant Colonel Lewis, of the 1st Missouri cavalry,
attacked a rebel force at "Jeffrie's Mills," on the south side of White River, and a number of
miles west of Searcey. The rebels were defeated with a loss of four killed and about twenty
wounded. The Union loss was two wounded.
On May 29th, an expedition under command of Major Bowen, consisting of a detachment of
the 3d Iowa cavalry, under Major Drake, and Bowen's battalion, had a severe skirmish with the
enemy fifty-five miles west of Batesville. The engagement was variously styled "Richwoods,"
"Kickapoo Bottom," and "Sillamore." The Union loss was one killed, and Capt. Israel Anderson, of the 3d Iowa, and one other wounded. The rebels lost three killed and twenty-two taken prisoners. Major Bowen captured thirty-four rifles and shot-guns, about forty bowie knives, several swords and pistols, and thirty horses, with which he returned to Batesville.
Skirmishes by the outposts and scouting parties were in fact of almost daily occurrence, both
at Batesville and during the remainder of the march to Helena. Many occurred of which no
reliable official reports were ever given. It is impossible to present accounts of any save the more important of these engagements. In no instance were the Union forces defeated, and generally the rebels were dispersed with little difficulty. But they continually hovered upon the clanks, rear and front of the army, lying in wait for foraging parties, stragglers, and small detachments.
While the army remained at Batesville, and during its march through Arkansas, it was evident
that very many of the citizens of Arkansas were still loyal to the Constitution and the old Union.
They had been juggled out of the Union by the tricks of a convention which they had elected to
op. pose secession. Hitherto their State had escaped the devastation of war. The most bitter rebels had generally found their way into the rebel army. The Union citizens, unable to escape, had remained at home. The rebel law of conscription had not then been put in force, and these men had escaped the rebel army. Under the protection of the Union arms, hundreds voluntarily came forward and took the oath of allegiance. No compulsion was used, and the nature and obligations of the oath were fully explained to them before its administration. The fact that no government vouchers for forage or other property received by the Union army, were ever paid until the applicant had established his loyalty by taking the oath, probably influenced many rebels to perjure themselves to their government. This fact became afterwards evident when many of these men were captured fighting as soldiers in the rebel army. Their invariable excuse under such circumstances was that the departure of the Union army from their vicinity compelled them to enter the rebel ranks. But it is also true that many took the oath with no other view than to attest their loyalty to their government. These were generally the poorer and illiterate classes of the people, small farmers and others, the so styled " poor white trash " of the South, but the
yeomanry of Arkansas. They had no supplies for the army for which to receive vouchers, and
most frequently lived at distant and exposed points where loyalty to the Union was certain to be
visited with outrage and persecution. The rich and leading men of the community generally held
aloof. Their sympathies were with the slaveholding aristocracy of the South. Some even of these,
desired also to take the oath, but as they were generally regarded with more or less suspicion,
they were often required to give bond in large sums for its faithful observance. As the civil law
did not recognize these military bonds, the method subsequently adopted where they were
violated was to try the offender by "Military Commissions," courts resembling "Courts Martial,"
but assuming a jurisdiction over civilians, guerrillas, and others not exercised by the latter. In
cases of conviction a fine either less or equal to the amount of the bond was collected by the
The guerrillas and partisan bands of the enemy did all in their power to injure the Union
cause. The rebels were unable to cope with the national army in the open field, but they sought in every way to harass it and cut off its supplies. McBride with a force of rebel guerrillas was active in the vicinity of Yellville. In Missouri, the operations of Coleman's band and other guerrilla forces, numbering about four hundred men, near Houston and West Plains, were directed against the lines of communication with the army. Several valuable supply trains were captured en route.
Over forty wagons were burned and the supplies appropriated by the guerrillas. Lieut. Col.
Samuel N. Wood, of the 6th Missouri cavalry, was very active in the pursuit of Coleman, giving
him no rest, but he eluded capture or an open fight
The system of "partisan warfare" had been adopted by the rebel government as a part of its
policy. However justifiable in theory or from former experience in other lands, in the United
States during the rebellion, it proved a system of lawless marauding, licentious rapine and brutal
murder. Yet nevertheless, the rebel Generals in Arkansas now recognized the services of such
men as McBride, Schnable, a renegade Methodist clergyman, Coleman and other guerrilla chiefs, and Gen. :Hindman, in a published order, devised a plan of guerrilla operations and directed the details of the system. The Union armies had ever eschewed guerrilla warfare. Curtis, in a general order, denounced the operations of Coleman and deplored their effect, not upon the army, which could not thereby be materially injured, but upon the innocent and defenseless inhabitants of the country. The rebel Generals filled with impotent rage, by a fag of truce, sent letters to Curtis, in which they avowed their system and threatened a war of extermination if these guerrillas when captured were not treated as prisoners of war. General Hindman claimed to have received information that the rebel prisoners captured by Bowen at "Sillamore" were to be hanged, and that Curtis had declared a war of extermination. Gen. Roane had received equally reliable information that the national authorities were compelling the unhappy Confederate citizens of the country to take an oath of allegiance to the federal government—an oath, which as he protested, could not be respected by the Confederate authorities.
Of these claims to the Half-Breed lands, Reed's right, and those who claimed through him,
was known as the judgment title. Those who were made parties to the suit of partition and
claimed their right by purchase from the Half-Breeds, designated their claims as the decree title.
And those claims which had been acquired by squatting on the lands, were known as the settler's title. And in addition to those there were other claims set up to portions of those lands by individuals who claimed to be of those for whom the lands had been reserved, or had purchased interests from them, and through fraud had never been made parties to the suit of partition, and endeavored to assert their rights to a portion of the lands by trying to get the decree of partition set aside.
Elizabeth DeLouis, formerly Elizabeth Hunt, a Half-Breed, and her husband, Henry DeLouis,
and John Wright, on the 20th of August, 1845, filed a bill of complaint against Wm. Meek and
others, in the District Court of Lee County, charging fraud in the rendering of a decree in
partition of the Half-Breed lands, made on the 8th of May, 1841, in the case of Spaulding and
others vs. Antaya and others, and stating among other things that they had a good and valid title,
regularly derived through the treaty, making a reservation to the Half-Breeds of the Sac and Fox
Indians to a portion of the lands decreed and partitioned to others.
To this bill there was a demurer interposed which was sustained by the District Court. The
parties appealed from the rulings of this court to the Supreme Court, but before it was submitted
to the Supreme Court, the bill was dismissed as to DeLouis and his wife on their own motion,
and Wright left to prosecute the suit by himself. Wright had joined in this suit to obtain
one-fourth of a share for which he had a regular chain of title from Francoise Hebert, whom he
claimed, was one of the parties for whom the reservation was made.
In the Supreme Court, the rulings of the District Court were reversed and the case remanded
back to the District Court, for that court to proceed and by the case on its merits.
Before the case was again reached for hearing, Wright conveyed his interest in the lands to
his children, and when the case again came up for trial in the District Court, this conveyance was
pleaded in bar to the action, and the plea sustained by the court. And in this decision the case
was again taken to the Supreme Court, and again reversed, and sent back for further hearing, but before the case was tried the defendant came forward and tendered to Wright a deed for
one-fourth of a share, the amount of land which he claimed, and thus ended the contest as far as
these parties were concerned.
At the October term in 1847, Peter Powell, James Hay and several others, filed their joins bill
against Josiah Spaulding and others, in the District Court of Lee County. This bill set forth the
several interests of the complainants alleging that they in common with others mentioned in the
bill, as far as the same were known, were seized in fee as tenants in common of all the lands
commonly called "the Sac and Fox Half-Breed reservations." After stating their several interests
in the lands, they proceeded to charge that Josiah Spaulding and others on the 14th of April,
1840, filed in the clerk's office of the District Court of Lee County, a petition for a partition of
the Half-Breed lands; that after going through the requisites required by law, at the April term of
the Court for 1841, there was a decree entered up by the court partitioning the lands. The petition then charged that the proceedings in obtaining the decree were fraudulent, and set out the frauds in twenty-nine distinct and separate counts. To this bill the defendants demurred, and the demurrer was sustained by the District Court, and judgment entered thereon, from which
complainants appealed to the Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court this demurrer was overruled and the case remanded back to the court below for trial on the merits. On the rehearing of this case by the District Court, it was again decided adverse to the interest of the plaintiffs, and by them again taken to the Supreme Court. When the case came up for hearing again in the Supreme Court, J. C. Hall appeared on the part of the appellants, and proposed to have the case dismissed and the decision of the court below affirmed; while Daniel F. Miller, who appeared as attorney for part of the complainants, objected to the propositions of Hall, and insisted on having the case argued and tried before the Supreme Court on the merits, but Hall prevailed in his efforts, and the decision of the District Court was affirmed.
A part of the complainants were very much dissatisfied at the way in which the case was
finally disposed of, and claimed that it was "determined by a fraudulent decree in favor of the
defendants; that the defendants compromised, and bribed a part of the complainants, or those
having in part charge of the complainants' suit; had a sham trial and sold out a decree to the
defendants," and this was the last effort made in the State courts to set aside the decree of
partition, and the division made by the partition suit began to be regarded as a permanent thing.
Hugh T. Reed, after he had obtained his deed to the Half-Breed tract, by virtue of the sale
made on the executions issued on the judgment in favor of Johnstone and Brigham, undertook to
test the validity of his title by obtaining a legal decision. He brought an action of ejectment or
right against Joseph Webster to recover possession of the North-east quarter of section number
twelve, in township number sixty-seven north, of range five west, containing one hundred and
sixty acres, a part of which was in cultivation and in the possession, and was the home of
Webster. This case was tried in the District Court of Lee County at the May term of 1845, the
Hon. Charles Mason, presiding. On the trial Reed offered in evidence the judgment in favor of
Johnstone and Brigham against the "owner of the Half-Breed lands lying in Lee County," to
which the defendant objected on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction to render
judgment. The plaintiff then offered in evidence the execution and levies and the deed of the
sheriff, to the introduction of which the defendant objected. The plaintiff then proved the
possession of the defendant at the time of commencing the suit, and then gave in evidence a plat
of the survey of the Half-Breed reservation, duly certified from the general land office, and
proved by a surveyor who had traced the lines of this reservation, that the land in controversy
was in and a part of the reservation. The plaintiff also introduced the laws of 1838, appointing
Johnstone and Brigham commissioners to hear testimony, for the purpose of ascertaining the
relative interest and the real owners of the land, and the laws of 1839 repealing the acts of 1838,
and authorizing Johnstone and Brigham to bring suit for the recovery of their fees, which was all
the evidence offered by the plaintiff.
The defendant having objected to the introduction of the plaintiff's testimony at the proper
time, and made all the rulings of the court and the evidence introduced a matter of record by bills
of exceptions at the close of the plaintiff's testimony, moved for a non-suit, for reasons set forth,
"1. That the plaintiff had failed to show title in the defendants to the judgment of Johnstone
and Brigham, inasmuch as the act of Congress, approved June 3, 1834, which ceded the lands to
the Half-Breeds, was a private act, and not having been given in evidence, the court could not
take notice of it.
"2. That the Indian title to the land had never been extinguished, and therefore it was not
subject to sale on execution.
"3. That the plaintiff had failed to prove that any one of the owners was a resident of Iowa
territory during the pendency of the suit of Johnstone and Brigham, and the judgments not
having been rendered against any person by name, they were therefore mere nullities, and if not
nullities, could not authorize an execution against the Half-Breed tract in satisfaction.
"4. The laws of the Territorial Legislature, referred to, were unconstitutional and void, and
therefore the judgments rendered in pursuance of them, were void.
"5. That the jurisdiction of the court in respect of the suit of Johnstone and Brigham was
special and limited, and therefore the plaintiff should have proven the regularity of all the steps
in the suit antecedent to the judgment."
This motion was overruled by the court, and Webster then offered to prove that the
judgments, executions, sheriff's sale and deeds offered in evidence by the plaintiff were all
procured by fraud, and that the whole title of plaintiff was based upon fraud, which proof was
ruled out by the court. Webster "for the purpose of showing title in himself to the land in
controversy, having given proof by hearsay from sundry persons, that one Na-ma-ton-pus was a Half-Breed of the Sac and Fox nations, and also that certain Indians had so stated, and had made oath to the fact; also that certain persons who had married Half-Breeds (not proved to be
relatives to Na-ma-ton-pus by either blood or marriage, but who were intimate with the Indians,
and talked their language,) had stated, while living, that Na-ma-ton-pus was a Half-Breed; also
that his complexion indicated such an origin; then offered in evidence a deed from Na-ma-
ton-pus to one Joseph Bond, and from said Bond to one Theophilus Ballord, both duly
executed and acknowledged, and conveying to said Ballord all the interest of said
Na-ma-ton-pus as a Half-Breed, in the reservation referred to, and also a deed from Ballord and wife to the defendant Webster, for all of said interest, also duly executed and acknowledged." To the introduction of these deeds in testimony, the plaintiff objected, and the objection was sustained by the court. Webster then proved that he came into possession of the land in 1838 by virtue of a title derived from Na-ma-ton-pus, that when he purchased there were improvements on the land, and that he had been in possession ever since the purchase.
Webster "then offered to prove by parol testimony that no service had ever been made upon
any person in the suit of Johnstone and Brigham; that no notice was given by publication of the
pendency of said suit; that the plaintiff Reed was one of the council who procured said
judgments; that said judgments were rendered upon fictitious demands, and were never proven
before the auditors; that Webster and some of the other owners of the Half-Breed tract of lands
were prevented from appearing and defending said suit of Johnstone and Brigham by fraudulent
representation of plaintiff; that the sales were in fact never made by Sheriff Taylor, and that the
whole returns of the sheriff on the execution were false and fraudulent."
The introduction of this testimony was objected to by the plaintiff, and the objections
sustained by the court. When upon the foregoing testimony and rulings of the court, the parties
rested their case and submitted it to the jury, when the defendant asked the court to instruct the
jury as follows:
"1. That unless it was proved to the satisfaction of the jury that there were some person or
persons within the territory of Iowa at the time of the issuing of the process, or who appeared at
the trial or at some stage of the proceedings, that were within the jurisdiction of the District
Court of Lee County, during the pendency of the suit of Johnstone and Brigham, upon which the
title accrued, that owned or had an interest in the lands, they must find for the defendant.
"2. That unless they find from the evidence that there were owners and persons, or
Corporations other than the Government, who were owners, or had an interest in said lands at the commencement of these suits by Johnstone and Brigham, that they must find for the defendant.
"3. That unless it has been proven to the jury that the defendants sued by Johnstone and
Brigham, and upon whose judgment plaintiff claims his titles, were a corporation by virtue of
laws, and acting as such, and are liable as such, or a partnership firm by that name, or some kind
of an association, who had assumed the name of owners of the Half-Breed lands in Lee County,
that the plaintiff cannot recover.
"4. That if it is not proven to the jury that the judgments of Johnstone and Brigham were
rendered against some person or persons, body corporate or association of individuals, whose
existence has been proved to exist at the commencement of this suit, or at the rendition of the
judgments, that they must find for the defendants.
"6. That a judgment against a dead person, who has no existence whatever, is no judgment at
all in contemplation of law, and a sale under such a judgment is void."
These several instructions were refused by the court, and the jury returned a verdict for the
plaintiff, and judgment was rendered accordingly.
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court and there ably argued. Daniel F. Miller and J.
C. Hall appeared for Webster, and Henry W. Starr and Cyrus Walker for Reed, and the decision of the Supreme Court was adverse to the claims of Webster.
This suit virtually decided that the whole Half-Breed tract belonged to Reed, which decision,
if he could have sustained, would have made him one of the richest men in the West. But a
matter in which so many persons were interested, and involving so large an amount of property
as was disposed off if this decision was to be taken as settling the title to those lands, did not rest on this decision. Reed found others who, notwithstanding this decision, were disposed to contest his right to certain portions of the Half-Breed tract.
This decision was made by Charles Mason, Joseph Williams and Thomas S. Wilson, (who
were the three district judges of the territory, and jointly formed the Supreme Court) after Iowa
had assumed a State constitution, and just as the territorial judges were about to retire from the
After Iowa became a State the Supreme Court was changed, so that none of the old judges
except Williams, remained on the bench.
Reed found that notwithstanding his success over Webster, that all of the settlers on the
Half-Breed tract, were not willing to acknowledge the validity of his title and quietly yield to
him their possessions, but if he wished to get possession, he had yet again to resort to the strong
arm of the law. He brought another suit against one Wright to obtain possession of the
South-east quarter of section two, in township sixty-five, north of range five west, and on this
trial he proved that the defendant was in possession of the land; and other testimony was
introduced similar, as had been in the case against Webster, and he undertook to offer in
evidence the judgment in favor of Johnstone and Brigham, the execution and the returns thereon,
and the sheriffs deed. To the introduction of this testimony, the defendant objected, and his
objections were sustained by the court.
Without this testimony the plaintiff could not sustain his case, and judgment was rendered in
favor of the defendant, and Reed appealed to the Supreme Court.
This case involved the same questions as were argued in his case against Webster, but they
were either presented in a different light than they were in the previous trial or the new bench
had a different opinion of the law governing the case, for the State Court did not sustain the
decision of the territorial bench
In this case they held "that it was the right and duty of the judicial power in the State to
decide all acts of the legislature made in violation of the constitution to be void. That the
legislature of Wisconsin Territory could not curtail rights conferred nor confer rights withheld by
the ordinance 1787. An act of the legislature of the territory of Wisconsin entitled an act for the
partition of the Half-Breed lands and for other purposes, approved January 16, 1838, and an act supplementary thereto approved January 22, 1838; and also an act passed by the Iowa
Legislature approved January 25, 1839, to repeal both of said acts, are repugnant to the
ordinance of 1787, and also the organic law of Wisconsin and Iowa, and are therefore void. So
also are judgments rendered by virtue of said laws. Void judgments are never binding, but
judgments merely voidable may be enforced until reversed by a superior authority. Judgments
from courts of general jurisdiction cannot be collaterally impeached unless absolutely void upon
their face. In an action of right the plaintiff must recover upon the strength and validity of his
own title, and should show a valid subsisting interest in the land, that no such interest can accrue
from a void judgment."
In this case the highest judicial tribunal of the State decided adverse to Reed's judgment title.
But the contest did not stop here; suits were brought in the Federal Courts and appealed to the
Supreme Court of the United States, and the same rulings were given by that court as those made by the Supreme Court of Iowa, and Reed was forced to abandon all interest which he had
claimed by virtue of his judgment title.
The troubles growing out of the Half-Breed reservation, in various ways, was a fruitful
source of litigation in Lee County for about twelve years. But after Reed's judgment title was
declared by the courts to be based upon unconstitutional laws, and his pretended right to the land of no validity, and the courts had held that the decree of partition was valid and binding upon all parties, or at best had made no decision impairing that decree, the principal difficulties seemed to be between the real owners of the lands and those who had squatted upon them.
The decisions which had incidentally been made in the several suits pertaining to the
Half-Breed lands, were such that stripped the settlers of nearly all the rights which they supposed were guaranteed to them by the several territorial laws enacted for their special benefit. By the decisions of the court the settlers could not claim for any improvements which they had made on the lands, other than as an offset to damages which the owners of the land might claim by way of rents.
When the settlers found that they were stripped of their supposed rights by the rulings of the
courts, their feelings became very hostile against those who had been instrumental in prosecuting
suits adverse to their interests, and attempts were made among the settlers to organize an armed
force for the purpose of resisting the officers of the law if they attempted to execute any legal
process by which the settlers were to be ejected from their possession in the Half-Breed lands.
About the time the litigation in relation to Reed's judgment title and the attempt to set aside
the decree of partition had ceased, Judge Mason, who had been on the bench when the litigation
commenced, and was familiar with the titles of the several claimants to these lands, purchased
the interest of the New York Company, and Mason, feeling disposed to pursue a conciliatory
course towards the settlers, proposed to sell the lands to those settlers upon them at a fair price or pay them for their improvements. The leading men who were occupying the lands which Mason had purchased, being satisfied to comply with his propositions, the spirit of opposition to the enforcement of the law died away, and the litigation about the Half-Breed tract ceased, and the titles become fixed and settled.
These disputes about the title to the Half-Breed lands, among those living on them, assumed
to some extent a political cast. At the first election in the State for district judge, which took
place the next April after the organizing of the State government, the interest of the settlers on
the Half-Breed tract controlled the election.
In the judicial district embracing Lee County, Lacon D. Stockton, of Des Moines County,
was the whig candidate, and George W. Williams, of Lee County, the democratic candidate.
Stockton was a man about thirty years old, a good lawyer, of unimpeachable integrity, and a man every way calculated to make a good judge. But under the territorial government he held the office of prosecuting attorney for that judicial district, and in the course of his official duties had been called upon to give his opinion in relation to some legal questions concerning the
difficulties about the Half-Breed lands, in which he gave his views of the law in writing adverse
to the interests of the settlers on these lands.
Williams was a worthy young man but had had but very little experience in the practice of
law, and under ordinary circumstances would not have been thought of for a position of this
kind, but being a partner of Daniel F. Miller, who had been regarded as the settlers' lawyer from
the commencement of these difficulties, and having entertained, like his partner, opinions
favorable to the settlers' rights, gave him favor with them, and at the election he received nearly
every vote in the Half-Breed tract, which, though the district had a decided whig majority,
secured the election of Williams, the democratic candidate. But notwithstanding he owed his
election to the votes of those interested in these local questions, when he came to act as judge on questions involving the settlers' rights, he did not, as judge, sustain the opinions of the law
expressed as a lawyer, but decided right the reverse.
In electing representatives to the first State legislature, men were voted for with regard to
their view in relation to these disputes, without reference to their political principles. At this
election, Lee County, notwithstanding there was in the county a large democratic majority for
State officers, sent to the legislature a representation partly composed of democrats and partly of whigs, the ticket elected having been made up of men who were favorable to the interests of the settlers on those lands without reference to their other opinions.
If Lee County had elected a full representative ticket of whigs, or of democrats, there would
have been a decided majority in both branches of the legislature. The representatives from Lee
County, to a certain extent, acted independent of the two political parties, and the result was, the
first legislature of the State failed to elect Supreme Judges or United State Senators, and for the
first two years of the State government Iowa was not represented in the United States Senate.
This combination of parties in Lee County created much interest in the State at the time, which
will be noticed hereafter in connection with other matters.
The order of Curtis in relation to guerrilla operations in Missouri, as well as his order
announcing the victories of Bowen and other officers , the letters of Hindman and Roane, and
the reply of Curtis thereto, are here inserted, together with the plan of Gen. Hindman, whereby
he proposed to reduce a warfare which had hitherto been conducted comparatively in accordance with the humane rules of an enlightened civilization, to worse than savage ferocity and barbarity:
HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST.
BATESVILLE, ARK, MAY 28, 1862.
Trains bearing provisions to this command have been attacked, and a small portion destroyed
by marauders or guerrilla bands. Unorganized parties, such as these, cannot make war, and in
their attempt so to do, they become outlaws, robbers and marauders, and will be treated as such.
All acts of violence by them will be punished with death, now or hereafter. Timely notice of
such villainy must be given by the neighborhood, and the persons and property of all
sympathizers or secessionists in the vicinity of their depredations, will be arrested and seized
An army like this will not fail for want of supplies so long as anything remains in the
country. An interference with its ordinary channels of support only compels it to use its power to
maintain itself, and cause the inhabitants of all classes and conditions perchance to suffer. The
destruction of provisions, therefore, by the unlawful bands falls upon the weak, unarmed people
the poor, including women and children—not so hard on the army, which can provide against
disasters. hence, destruction of property and provisions is atrocious, impoverishing the innocent,
and will be most certainly and severely punished. The officers of this command will see that all
such marauding parties are attacked with vigor, and the severe penalty of death inflicted
summarily in the field, or by military commission.
The burning of mills and cotton is a public calamity and crime, and Union soldiers and
citizens are prohibited from such outrages. If the enemy burn his own stores. his own mills, and
his own cotton, he impoverishes himself, and should be encouraged and given ample time for
such acts of self-humiliation and destruction, but when the Union flag prevails, let us check as
far as possible the waste of private property, and strive to preserve the peace and restore the
prosperity of our once happy country.
By command of Major General Curtis,
H. Z. CURTIS, Asst. Adj. Gen.
HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE SOUTH-WEST, |
BATESVILLE, ARK., May 31, 1862.
I. The Major General Commanding announces to the Army of the South-West, that, by
telegraph from St. Louis, he is informed that Corinth is ours, and the rebels are retreating
II. He also desires to return his thanks to Lieut. Col. F. W. Lewis, of the 1st Missouri cavalry,
Lieut. Col. H. F. Sickles, of the 9th Illinois cavalry, and Major W. D. Bowen, commanding
detachments of Bowen's battalion and the 3d Iowa cavalry, and the officers and soldiers under
their respective commands, for the venturesome spirit, the gallant and daring action, shown in
their several forays this week. Each have met, charged, and routed the enemy. Lieut. Col. Lewis, on an expedition to the west of Searey; Col. Sickles, at Cacho Run Bridge, in Jackson County, and Major Bowen, on a most successful expedition up the south side of White River. By these several excursions we have captured a large amount of camp and garrison equipage, ordnance, and ordnance stores, a number of prisoners of war, and scattered and driven the enemy. Officers and soldiers of the cavalry! emulate the example of the renowned in your arm! keep your sabres polished! drill daily in the use of them, and watch the opportunity to show the heroic deeds you may accomplish.
By command of Major General Curtis.
H. Z. CURTIS, Asst. Adj. Gen.
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., May 24, 1862.
GENERAL S. R. CURTIS:—
In a skirmish which took place near Searcy between the two belligerent forces, Surgeon A.
Krauswiek, 3d Missouri volunteers, U. S. A., was taken by my troops and brought to this city,
where he now enjoys the limits of the city, awaiting an opportunity to be returned to the federal
In the campaign about to open before us, I desire to have some distinct understanding with
you on several points, which I shall clearly define, and to which I beg as distinct replies:
1. I propose that surgeons and their assistants belonging to either army, as agreed upon by
Gen. Beauregard and Maj. Gen. Buell shall be allowed to visit the field of battle to attend to the
wants of the wounded on both sides, without any molestation from either party.
2. It having been stated that you or your officers are in the habit of arresting citizens of this
State (who are not in arms) and making their release conditional upon taking an oath of
allegiance to the United States, forcing them to accept conditions wholly obnoxious to their
wishes and our laws. I sincerely trust this is not the case and that you or your officers do not
arrest unoffending citizens without arms. I am therefore compelled to inform you that I cannot
respect an oath taken under such circumstances as are referred to above. Should any person who has thus been forced to take the oath engage in the service of the Confederate States and be, subsequently taken prisoner by you, I shall expect that they be treated with the same
consideration which civilized warfare demands from belligerents.
I take this occasion to say however, that should you inflict upon any such person the penalty
of the violation of an oath, I shall deem it my duty to retaliate, man for man, as fast as authentic
information of the fact reaches me. I desire, General, to conduct this war, so far as I am able, in
the limits of the most enlightened warfare, and to that end I do not seek to arrest unarmed
defenseless, or molest helpless women and children; and I am willing to believe that you desire
to conduct your campaign on any other principles, and to this end I have addressed you this
communication. All of your prisoners held by me are daily walking about the streets, under no
confinement, and I shall always hold myself ready to exchange "rank for rank " with you for
Confederate soldiers, provided the same willingness be shown by you.
JOHN SELDON ROANE, Brig. Gen. Confed. Army.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISS. DISTRICT, 1
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., June 8, 1862.
I have received information that you have in prison at Batesville certain citizens of Izard
County, Arkansas, captured a few days since by a detachment of your cavalry, who are charged with firing upon your men while attempting to arrest them, and whom it is your intention to hang as outlaws.
Without stopping to inquire whether they did actually fire upon your soldiers or not, I assert
it to be the duty as well as the right of every citizen of this State, to fire upon the soldiers of the
United States Government, so long as that government persists in the invasion of their homes,
and they have the arms to defend those homes with, and, in the performance of that duty, I shall
sustain them at all hazards.
I have in custody several officers and soldiers of the army of your government, and I write
this to warn you that if your threat is carried into execution against one single citizen of
Arkansas, who now or hereafter may fall into your bands, I shall avenge his death by hanging
every federal officer and soldier of war, and from that time forward, this becomes a war of
extermination between us—neither asking nor granting quarter. I shall put to death, without
mercy, every soldier and citizen of the United States who falls into my hands.
I am further informed, that, in a published order, you have already declared this to be a war
of extermination, and that you expect to wage it as such. I request, sir, that you specifically
advise me as to the truth of such information, and, if compatible with your duty, furnish me a
copy of the order in question. If such proves to have been your declaration, however, you can
consider this as an acceptance of the issue tendered, and we will ignore all recognized rules of
civilized warfare, and make our campaign one of savage cruelty and unsparing butchery.
Hoping, General, that there is some mistake in this matter, and that the rules of civilized
warfare will continue to influence us both in conducting the campaign in which we find
ourselves engaged, I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant,
T. C. HINDMAN, Maj. Gen. Com'd'g.
To Brig. Gen. Curtis, Commanding United States forces in Arkansas.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISS. DISTRICT, 1
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., June 11, 1862.
Your letter of the 8th inst, stating that you had been informed I was going to hang men who
had fired on United States soldiers in Izard County, and that I had published an order declaring
this a war of extermination, and in the probability of such reports being true, expressing a
remarkable zeal on your part to avenge such conduct by "hanging every federal officer and
soldier" you hold, and declaring that you " will put to death without mercy every soldier and
citizen of the United States who falls into my (your) hands," is duly received.
As there is no truth of the reports you have received of my threat to hang or exterminate, the
terrible vengeance so lavishly avowed by you will not require notice. There was a company of
about seventy rebel soldiers attacked by my body-guard in Izard County, and twenty-two taken
prisoners, fifty guns, revolvers, and some twenty bowie-knives, were taken. They were supposed to be regularly organized troops, and were sent to the rear as prisoners of war.
To prevent this war descending into one of rapine and assassination, I have published the
following order, [General Order, No. 21,] which I intend to apply to such unauthorized bands as
Gen. Price, in a former negotiation with me, refused to exchange as prisoners of war, because
they were private marauders.
I will call your attention to the conduct of some of your soldiers who recently robbed and
burned the house of Mr. Peoples, who fled to the Union flag for Shelter. I have heard of many
threats, and have proofs of innumerable acts of barbarity practiced by your troops, which I trust
will receive proper attention on your part, so that your soldiers may not extend that species of
warfare which you so graphically enunciate.
The United States soldiers are here to restore peace, not to invade the homes of the citizens of
Arkansas; and the people who fire upon us only prolong an unfortunate and unnatural civil war,
that destroys the peace of society.
I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully
Your obedient servant,
S. R. CURTIS, Major General.
To Brig. Gen. T. C. Hindman, Confederate Army
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISS. DISTRICT, 1
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., June 17, 1862.
1. For the more effectual annoyance of the enemy upon our rivers and in our mountains
and-roads, all citizens of this district, who are not subject to conscription, are called upon to
organize themselves into independent companies of mounted men, or infantry, as they prefer,
arming and equipping themselves, and to serve in that part of the district to which they belong.
2. When as many as ten men come together for this purpose, they may organize by electing a
Captain, one Sergeant and one Corporal, and will at once commence operations against the
enemy, without waiting for special instructions. Their duty will be to cut off federal pickets,
scouts, foraging parties and trains, and to kill pilots and others on gunboats and transports,
attacking them day and night, and using the greatest vigor in their movements. As soon as the
company attains the strength required by law, it will proceed to elect the other officers to which
it is entitled. All such organizations will be reported to these headquarters as soon as practicable.
They will receive pay and allowances for subsistence and forage, for the time actually in the
field, as established by the affidavits of their Captains.
3. These companies will be governed, in all respects, by the same regulations as other troops.
Captains will be held responsible for the good conduct and efficiency of their men, and will
report to these headquarters from time to time.
By command of Major General Hindman.
B. C. NEWTON, A. A. General.
As before stated, the telegraph line was pushed forward until it finally extended to Batesville,
and easterly to within about ten miles of Jacksonport, but for some unknown reason it was
difficult to communicate with Halleck at Corinth through the military headquarters at St. Louis.
Halleck complained that he was almost entirely ignorant of the movements of Curtis, although
frequent dispatches were sent to him, while orders mentioned by the former as having been
telegraphed to the latter, were by him never received. Telegrams were unaccountably delayed,
and the interests of the public service were somewhat embarrassed in consequence. Curtis had
desired the privilege of raising ten regiments from the loyal Arkansans, but it was not until a
short time before the departure of the army from Batesville, that he received the requisite
authority. It was at this time that the rebels first enforced their conscription, and hundreds of
loyalists formed themselves into companies for the purpose of resistance. Many of these
companies came within the Union lines and tendered their services to the national government.
All incomplete regiment was speedily formed, and, upon the request of all the officers of the
regiment, Lieut. J. C. Bundy, of the Kane County Illinois cavalry, was appointed Lieutenant
Colonel and placed in command. The regiment was mustered into the service for the period of
six months. It was principally composed of men who left families at home, at the mercy of the
rebels, to engage in the defense of the old flag and the national constitution and government.
The sacrifices and patriotism of these Arkansas soldiers cannot be too highly appreciated.
Everywhere, except in the immediate vicinity of the Union army, a reign of terror existed. The
rebel conscription was rigidly enforced, and to be suspected of loyalty to the national
government was an offense often visited with death, or the most barbarous punishment. The
savage barbarities practiced upon loyalists and Union soldiers were numerous and well
authenticated, while many instances must have escaped notice. At Grand Glaize, near Searcy, a
young man from the north fell into the hands of the refuels. He was accused as an abolitionist,
and was tortured during the greater part of one day. The rebels placed a rope around his neck
and repeatedly hung him until life was nearly extinct, all the time threatening him with death.
He was finally placed in a box of such a size and shape that he could neither sit, comfortably
stand, nor lie down. Slats were nailed over the box to give him air, and thus caged in a way that
would have been cruelty to a brute, he was left upon the river bank to await the arrival of a
steamboat. In the meantime an old woman went to the box and exerted all her feeble strength to
force it into the river, with the fiendish object of drowning the prisoner, but her physical power
was unequal to the accomplishment of her purpose. Upon the arrival of a boat, the box, with the
prisoner, was placed on board labeled "an abolitionist," directed " to Abe Lincoln," and sent to
Memphis. What was the subsequent fate of the prisoner is unknown. These facts were related by loyal eye-witnesses who dared not interfere in behalf of the prisoner. A soldier of Osterhaus'
division, Corporal Tossen, of company "C," 3d Missouri infantry, swam across Little Red River
from his encampment. While resting upon the opposite bank, naked and defenseless, in sight of
his comrades, he was shot by guerrillas, and barbarously beaten and mangled with clubs, dying
soon afterwards from his wounds. The deliberate attempt at poisoning Union soldiers at
Mudtown, scalping and shooting of the federal dead and wounded at Pea Ridge the treatment of
the surrendering foraging party from Osterhaus division near Searcy, the subsequent firing upon
a hospital boat on White River, filled with sick and wounded Union soldiers, and after its
character had been fully made known; the savage malignity of the system of guerrilla warfare
planned by Hindman, and of his letter to Curtis and his subsequent plan to cut off " the retreat "
of the latter through Arkansas, all evince a blood-thirsty, vindictive barbarism rarely found in a
people with pretensions to civilization.
In the subsequent history of the war in Arkansas, it is a well attested fact that loyal
Arkansans, captured by guerrillas, have been lashed to trees, and their finger and toe-nails
extracted, one at a time, with bullet-moulds. Has savage barbarity, or the oft cited horrors of the
inquisition ever exceeded the cruelty of tortures such as these? Volumes might be filled with the
cruelties practiced by rebels in the South-west during the war. The outrages perpetrated by
Forrest at Fort Pillow by Quantrell, at Lawrence and Baxter's Springs, by Todd, Anderson and
others in Missouri and Arkansas, were far from being exceptional. It is not wonderful if in the
course of a long war, replete with such outrages by the enemy, Union troops may have been
tempted to retaliate, but have Union troops ever, in the moment of wildest excess, perpetrated
such enormities, or sum; to such degraded and brutal barbarism ? Civil wars are proverbial for
their ferocity, but, to the honor of the Union army be it said, such conduct has been very seldom
imitated, and never equaled by Union soldiers, and the public opinion of the Union army has
uniformly condemned such iniquity.
Such were the men who constituted the rebellious element in Arkansas, the self-styled "
chivalric sons of the South;" and men who preferred to leave their wives and families surrounded
by such neighbors, and fight under the old flag rather than join the fortunes of the rebellion, then
in its most prosperous days, were certainly deserving of great glory for pure and undoubted
patriotism, and for a spirit which sacrificed almost every personal interest for the honor and
welfare of their country.
Upon the withdrawal of Steele's command from Jacksonport to Batesville, the regiment of
Col. Brackett was left encamped upon the west bank of Black River, at the junction of that
stream with White River, as an outpost of the army, and to observe the town of Jacksonport and the movements of rebels in that vicinity and on White River. Brig. Gen. Benton's headquarters were established at Sulphur Rock, on the road from Batesville to Jacksonport, ten miles from the former and sixteen miles from the latter place. Besides the troops at Sulphur Rock, his command extended over the regiment of Col. Brackett.
A rebel gunboat had made its appearance in White River. It was called the " Maurepas," a
name commonly corrupted "Mon Repose," by the Union army. It mounted three heavy guns of
the largest calibre, and was commanded by Capt. Fry, of the rebel navy. On June 2d it made its
appearance at Jacksonport, supported by cavalry on the river banks. Col. Brackett removed his
camp two and a half miles back from the river, in anticipation of its arrival. The was unwilling to
attack it with artillery while at Jacksonport on account of the danger which would ensue to the
women and children in the town, and in fact no opportunity was accorded for an attack, as the
boat remained protected by a point of land extending into the river, and which shielded it from
the carbines of the cavalry. The gunboat burned all the cotton found near White river, and
shelled the woods where Col. Brackett's regiment had lately been encamped, after which it again moved down stream.
Several plans were proposed for the capture of this vessel. An attempt was to be made to
seize her as she lay under the high banks at Des Arc. A detachment was to proceed to the mouth of Bayou Des Arc, there station artillery, and sent infantry across to attack and board the boat.
The guns were entirely exposed and could not be fired at an object above their level, and the
boat, a very unwieldy affair, was only iron-plated about the boilers. After being captured, she
was to have been, if possible, taken up the river to Jacksonport. A subsequent plan was arranged for her capture by a simultaneous attack from both sides of the river. One obstacle to the navigation of White River would thus have been removed and perhaps made an auxiliary to the movements of the Union army. But all these plans proved futile, for the reason that the boat kept moving and out of the reach of the national troops She was subsequently destroyed in the great naval engagement of Fitch's expedition on White River, at St. Charles.
On June 12th, Col. Brackett reported an engagement at "Waddell's farm," as follows:
HEADQUARTERS 9TH REGIMENT ILLS. CAV., CAMP TUCKER, NEAR
JUNCTION OF BLACK AND WHITE RIVERS, ARK., JUNE 12
It gives me great pleasure to report to you that I have this afternoon had a most successful
fight with the rebels.
This morning I sent out a train of thirty-six wagons, for the purpose of getting corn and bacon
at the Waddell farm, near Village Creek, Jackson County, Ark I sent as an escort, parts of four
companies of the 9th regiment of Illinois cavalry under Major Humphreys. The farm is about
five miles from Jacksonport, and when the train was within about half a mile of it, my men were
suddenly attacked by a large force of the enemy. Maj. Humphreys, seeing his command was too
weak to cope with the rebels, sent word to me to join him as soon as possible with
I started with two companies of Bowen's battalion, with two small howitzers. I found the
train halted in the road about half a mile from the farm, and the enemy in strong force in front,
and shooting at my men, and occasionally exchanging shots. I removed the fence on the right
and unlimbered the howitzers in the road. I then formed companies A., M., E., and C., 9th
Illinois cavalry under Capts. Burgh, Knight, Cameron and Blakemore, on the right in a
cotton-field, with orders to charge the enemy as soon as Lieut. Madison, of Bowen's battalion
should fire the howitzers, which were supported and defended by Capt. Williams and Lieutenant
Ballou, of Bowen's cavalry battalion. I fired two shots directly into the enemy, when the four
companies of the 9th Illinois cavalry rode forward with drawn sabres, and made the finest charge I ever witnessed. The enemy was scattered in every direction, being completely routed and broken up. I continued to fire several rounds into Waddell's building, and then advanced upon it with Capt. Blakemore's company.
I then filled my thirty-six wagons with corn and bacon, and returned to this place, arriving
after dark. Capt. Cameron behaved with the greatest gallantry, as did his company, K., 9th
regiment Illinois cavalry.
I must particularly recommend to your notice the conduct of Maj. Humphrey, Capts.
Cameron, Cowan, Blakemore and Perkins, Lieuts. Benton, Hillier, Shear, Conn, Butler and
Smith, and 1st Sergeant Clark, of the 9th Illinois cavalry, and Capt. Williams, Lieuts Madison
and Ballou, and 1st Sergeant Miller, of Bowen's cavalry battalion.
My thanks are due to Surgeon Jas. A. Brackett, for his care of the wounded, and to Bat. Adj.
Blackburne, Quartermaster Price, and Sergeant Major George A. Price, 9th Illinois cavalry.
The enemy lost twenty-eight in killed, wounded and prisoners. Private Futrel, of Hooker's
company, one of the prisoners, is mortally wounded. Captain Shuttleworth, in command of
Hooker's company, is also wounded.