Volume 3, Number 9
As Excerpted from his diary of those years and annotated by
Hardy A. Kemp, Colonel, AUS, Rtd.
The autobiographical sketch that serves as an introduction to the war-time diary of W.B. Cox gives us (1) a vivid and moving description of the circumstances and events which led up to his enlistment in Company B, 6th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, United States Army, at Rolla, Missouri, on 1 December 1861.
At the start his "diary" itself is not a day-by-day chronicle. Such a record does not begin until January 1863. From that date forward, however, there are, and with few exceptions, daily enteries of some sort. It is interesting that the earlier ones begin and end, "Remained in camp," "On duty", "I went on dress parade", and the like. But as our farrier becomes more of a cavalryman and thus to an increasing degree more knowledgeable of the war in which he was taking part, his observations assume a wider perspective which in turn associates itself with a degree of sound critical judgement not commonly found in "G.I." diaries, whatever the war.
Whatever the case, Farrier Cox's first notes do not include to any significant extent such back-ground happenings as would serve to explain his whereabouts from time to time. Taken solo, and thus without some sort of explanation, much would be lost in the appreciation Farrier Cox deserves, and the appreciation of those who served with him.
It is, then, with a view toward furnishing a background for center-stage action that these accompanying explanations are offered here. Moreover, they are offered with all deference to the many honors hard won by the native courage and stamina of the "Sixth Missouri", and to "Chronicler-Farrier" Cox in particular.
Cox's "autobiography" (1) ends with, "I went to Springfield (about Nov. 1, 1861) and stayed a few days and the Army left there. I went home and then went to Rolla and joined the 6th Mo. Cavalry, the first day of December, 1861."
His notes also state that the "6th Mo." was made up of two battalions, one under Capt. Clark Wright (a Dade County, Missouri man, and an ardent Unionist), the other under Captain S.N. Wood.
Cox then says, "Myself and brother James enlisted in Company B. which was mustered into the U.S. service on the 8th of December 1861 under command of Captain William M. Hackney, James A. Melton (a great-uncle of mine, H.A.K.), First Lieutenant, and Stephen Mr. Wood, Second Lieutentant."
Cox's next entry begins, "We took a 12 day scout in December."
Meanwhile, what had been happening in the Ozarks during the fall and early winter of 1861?
For one thing the "hills and hollers" had hardly stopped echoing the clank, thump, and jangle of the Federal withdrawal from Spring field before the vociferous citizenry of South west Missouri were screaming their heads off for "protection" now that "protection" had been "so completely" withdrawn.
Thus under the date of 20 Nov. 1861 a certain "Colonel" A. Williamson of Dade County headed a Committee which "memorialized" (2) "General Halleck, commanding the U.S. Forces in Missouri," to the effect that "3000 to 5000 men, women, and children had been driven from their homes in Southwest Missouri without money and many in suffering condition."
Further, his Committee gratuitously advised the General that "15,000 troops under a competent general would be sufficient to drive the rebels from our land restore peace to the country." Incidentally, the Committee asked that Sigel be returned f or the job.
Parenthetically, more than a few then and later took advantage of his kind offer. Others, as is better known, stayed on to face and to suffer the pillage and bloodshed of guerilla warfare and local outlawry along with the devastating raids caused by both the Union and the Confederacy.
So, also, the "hills and hollers" must have still been echoing when Price and McCulloch first heard of the retrograde movement of Hunter's forces. Castel (3) in his excellent and fully definitive study, "General Price", places the time of the receipt of this surprising news as being a week after the withdrawal began, a commentary of significance, Castel says, on the Confederate scouting and information-G2 work. (Not that Federal "intelligence" was any better there in the West. It was worse. (H.A.K.))
Castel goes on to say that the belatedly appraised McCulloch immediately made a cavalry dash up to Springfield in hopes of overtaking Hunter's rearguard but found on arrival that the Union troops were miles away on their retreat. McCulloch, although he considered further pursuit useless, did remain in Springfield until late in November before returning to his base in Arkansas. Cox, it seems, must have passed through or around his lines unchallenged.
In this maneuvering Price moved back into Missouri as far up as Osceola but gradually fell back toward Springfield when and as it became apparent that support for a drive for St. Louis would not be forthcoming, at least at the time, from any Confederate source.
Then, too, the approach of winter, the lack of subsistence, a severe shortage of munitions and a mass expiration of enlistments had and was reducing his "Army" to the point of ineffectiveness.
Thus by late December, Price was in Springfield where he went into quarters for a long winter's nap, near enough, he hoped, for McCulloch to bail him out if necessary,-more realistically, if McCulloch should condescend to do so.
Less than two months later a tough old gentleman by the name of Samuel Ryan Curtis pushed an equally tough Union force down from Rolla through an incredibly tough winter and thus succeeded not only in disturbing, "Old Pap's", slumbers but in driving him out of Missouri and all the way to the Bostons.
Then Curtis dropped back behind Little Sugar Creek, let the whole Confederate force in Northwest Arkansas (then under VanDorn) snap back and smash themselves against his anvil lines at "Pea Ridge", (March 7, 8, 1862.
Clark Wright's Battalion of the "Sixth" played an important part in that campaign but "Company B", having become part of S.N. Wood's Battalion, was held for the time being in Rolla for further outfitting and training, and for added support of the rail- head defense there. Even as late as Feb. 16, 1862 that Battalion was still receiving carbines,(4).
Returning to Cox's early notes, the next entry after the organization and "mustering in" of the "Sixth" is, "We took a 12 day scout in December. About the first of January we went to Lebanon, Laclede County."
The "OR's" show (5) that "Wright's Battalion, Missouri Cavalry, took possession of Lebanon Jan. 20, 1862".
In that fight Capt. Tom Craig, a "notorious" Confederate Officer, was killed and his body "delivered to his widow.
Wright's detachment then swept on down to Marshfield where they "routed and pursued" a small party of Confederates who were running the mill there.
Company B, or at least part of it, must have taken part in that expedition since Cox next remarks,"-we fell back to the James River".
He was "falling back" toward Galena, to be sure, since James River does "head" several miles to the south and west of Marshfield.
If he was correct in his location, that particular "scout" was fairly close not only to Springfield, but to "home" as well.
It is likely that he was correct since his next entry is, "Brother James was very sick, so I took him to Mr. Mosier's (unidentified) and remained there with him until about the 25th of February."
Cox continues, "I took him home and on reaching home, to my sad disappointment, I found a motherless little son, six weeks old, in the home of its grandmother, 60 years old, and a helpless grandfather. The baby was born on the 14th of January while its mother died on the 17th."
(An additional quotation: "The baby mentioned, who bore the name of John L.
Cox, again, "After a few days I started for Rolla. I reached there the 7th of March and started the same day for Houston, Missouri. We stayed there until the 15th of March when we met up with Coalman (Coleman) near Salem, Ark., and had a fight and returned to Houston and remained until the 15th of April when we started for Arkansas."
The "fight" with Coleman deserves a bit more attention than a nod in passing.
BATESVILLE - HELENA (ARK.) THEATER OF OPERATIONS 1862-3
The proximity of major water courses and bayous illustrate the great difficulties of communication and maneuver whenever floods turned the area into, "a vast inland sea of mud and water." Minor streams and bayous are not shown. Some 85 water-miles from the last point shown here the White joins the Arkansas 25 miles below Arkansas Post on that stream, and, in those times, some 30 water-miles from the confluence of the Arkansas and the Mississippi.
As for "Spring River," or "Salem, Arkansas," S.N. Woods, at the time, "Lt. Col. S. N. Wood," reported the date of action as," 3 March 1862" (6) and places it as Spring River, Ark."
This was indeed a "right smart little scrap" in which about 120 men of Wood's Battalion together with 130 men of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry fought about an equal number of Coleman's people for more than four hours with a Federal loss of 4 killed and 18 wounded. Wood broke off only after a successful counter-counter attack fearlessly led by Second Lieut. Stephen Wood of Company B. This attack all but dispersed Coleman's men. This was all to the good since Col. Wood's troops were almost out of ammunition. The shortage of carbines mentioned above was of no help to them either.
So ended this little battle and while Coleman and his subordinates, Woodside and McFarlane, had been soundly whipped then and there they were to be heard from quite often during the ensuing spring and summer in their raids against Curtis' supply line from Rolla southward to Batesville. As a matter of fact Coleman's interdictive actions along that 250 mile trail were greatly instrumental in turning Curtis toward Helena, Arkansas, and the Mississippi River once Curtis had to choose (a) between going toward Little Rock from Batesville, with dependence on supply by land from Rolla, Coleman or no Coleman, and (b) going toward Little Rock with dependence upon supply by the Mississippi and the White Rivers, assuming that such Confederate fortifications as Arkansas Post and Devall's Bluff could be neutralized in advance of such a move and kept that way.
But these speculations anticipate Cox's earliest experiences in Arkansas. Consequently we return to his notes which follow the return to Houston, Missouri, from "Spring River, Arkansas" and his stay there until 15 April 1862 when, "We fell in with Curtis' Army at Salem [Arkansas] on or about 30 April 1862; then went to Batesville, on white River, crossed and went to the [Little] Red River [in Arkansas] and back to Batesville, where a part of the Sixth took up picket duty on the mountain across from White River to the south Batesville."
There is need here for some explanation as to what Curtis was doing over in Northeast Arkansas after his smashing victory at Pea Ridge.
To begin with, Halleck, on 19 March 62 ordered Curtis, "to keep the enemy south of the Boston Mountains until he can be turned and cut off from his source of supplies. He has already evacuated Pocohontas and we hope soon to hear of his leaving Jackson port. If Van Dorn does not fall back for the defense of White River and leave Arkansas, he will be obliged to retreat south of the latter river and you will be relieved of his presence", (7).
When Halleck realized that Van Dorn and Price had already moved over into North east Arkansas, Halleck wired Curtis (then at Cassville, Missouri) on 5 April 1862, "Captured letters received today say that Van Dorn is at Jacksonport and is expecting re-enforcements from Price via Clinton and Batesville. General Cabell is at Pocohontas with about 3000 men but expects Van Dorn daily. If you are satisfied with this information, move with your main body via Forsyth thence on Salem, Arkansas, or down White River on Batesville. General Steele will be ready to cooperate wity you," (8). Incidentally, Steele's troops made contact with Curtis' advance near Jacksonport, 4 May 1862, and were placed under Curtis by Halleck's orders, (9).
With the conjunction of these two forces and with the transfer of a considerable body of Price's veterans over into Mississippi, Halleck began to have high hopes for moving in on Little Rock thereby taking over at least the northern half of the state and its seat of government, (10). Unforunately for such ideas heavy rains throughout the winter and spring had literally turned Northeast Arkansas into a vast sea of mud and water in which military action was impossible, (11).
At first Curtis was willing enough to try provided he could be supplied by water. Even then, however, he clearly foresaw that with out such assistance he could not long remain in Batesville, let alone undertake an expedition against Little Rock. Already raids on his Rolla line were taking a heavy toll and had thus forced him to provide escort from his main body of troops. A second supply line down from Pilot Knob, similarly affected, was yielding only a trickle of supplies. Schofield and Brown back in Missouri would not (they
pled they could not) protect the Rolla line nor could they send substantial
reenforcements. Their trouble was that Hindman's psychological warfare was
working wonders for Hindman, not that he had ever heard of it by that name.
None the less, he was immensely successful in keeping "Federal Brass" from
Missouri to Washington scared witless of a new and ever-increasing large body
of Confederates in Northwest Arkansas which was ready at any minute to pour
into Missouri and lay waste to everything in sight all the way to St. Louis
and even farther. Yet no such invasion ever took place. Hindman had neither
the men nor the munitions to mount anything of the sort even up to and including
"Prairie Grove". However, through the smart use of a few barn-burnings
here and there plus Shelby's spectacular dash (1862) up to his home in Waverly,
Missouri, and back, Hindman thus immobilized hundreds of "Blue Coats" and
kept the abdominal viscera of their "Brass" in a state of constant uproar.
All told the anxieties of indecision at higher levels and the incessant business
of skirmish and raid all around him were costing "Ryan" Curtis more than
he could afford to pay. Moreover, his Brigadiers, Carr, Osterhaus, and Steele,
were counselling either a move back to Missouri or a strike for Helena. (12),
and he was listening intently (13). Finally, Halleck, now equally uneasy about
the situation, strongly urged Stanton to produce naval support and munitions
since it was certain that Curtis no longer could be sustained by overland effort.
Be it said for Samuel Ryan Curtis, he did not panic, nor was he about to. First, after sending out strong cavalry detachments to the west and to the south for reconnoitering purposes, Curtis began to pull his forces into the neighborhood of Jacksonport in preparation for a movement toward Helena.
Next, he successfully fought a small action at Jacksonport on 12 June 1862, (15). A few days later Curtis reported to Department Headquarters in St. Louis, "My cavalry has been my main dependence, but it is breaking down for want of forage and here in front I cannot bring 1000 men into line," (16). A few days later with the return of substantially all of his widely dispersed troops, Curtis finally reported to Dept. Head quarters (26 June 1862). "I shall move my forces down White River. I dislike to leave and I cannot cross the country garrisoning posts behind me all the way. I am hoping gunboats will soon come up. I may be in Augusta in 6 days unless the enemy is largely increased. I can get down to Devall's Bluff but there is just as good navigation up to Augusta and a proper escort should be furnished to bring my supplies up to that point. I hear nothing of supplies. I shall try to reach Helena" (17)-He did on the 12th of July, according to W.B. Cox's notes which are quoted here, in full, as follows, "The Army left Batesville in June and marched down White River by way of Jackson port to Clarendon. We left there on the 6th of July for Helena on the Mississippi and reached there the 12th of July. We were stationed in town until the first of September when we marched out to the Smithers farm 6 miles west of town and remained about 6 weeks. We then moved back to within one mile of town and remained until the 10th of October. We then moved to a hollow one mile north of town.
Although Cox makes no mention of it, the march to Helena was not without incident. A sharp skirmish took place at Bayou Cache on the 6th of July when the 3rd Iowa ran into a stubbornly held barricade. On the next day an action which assumed the proportions of a battle took place at the crossing of the Cache River, (18). There Federal experience and discipline made hash of the Confederate effort thus relieving the confederacy of "General" Rust's incompetent services whereupon he soon became a "brawling Unionist",-according to John Edwards, Shelby's extrapolating amanuensis, (Shelby & His Men, p. 65. Cincy. 1867.)
About this time a small but well equipped command was sent over from Grant's forces to ascend White River by transports under gunboat protection with the mission of finding Curtis and placing itself under his command. It does not appear that Curtis was aware of this at the time of his departure from Jacksonport, and, while the expedition (under Colonel G.N. Fitch) was reasonably successful all the way to Devall's Bluff, rapidly falling stages of the river sent them hurrying back without ever having made contact with Curtis who, at least at the start, was only a few miles away, albeit marching steadily away from White River toward Helena.
Fitch's story is told in, "Operations on the White River-10 June 1862 to 14 July 1862", (19). Briefly it seems that Grant as early as June 1862, in response to Halleck's requests, apparently, detached Col. G.N.
Fitch and some 1000-1500 Federal infantry to go to Curtis' help. Grant
seems to have been able to persuade the Navy "to go along" against their
earlier reluctance to attempt this trip even though falling levels of the river
made the trip all the more hazardous.
At this point let us use General Hindman's report to Jefferson Davis, (20) for its brevity and accuracy, "Memphis had long since fallen and the enemy controlled the Mississippi from St. Louis to Vicksburg securing access for his gunboats and transports into White River. That stream afforded 10 feet of water to Devall's Bluff, 175 miles from the mouth of the river and 60 miles east of Little Rock with which place there was railroad communication.
"On 16 June 1862 a Federal fleet appeared in White River near St. Charles. It consisted (note this "intelligence") of Iron clad gun-boats 'St. Louis', and 'Mound City' each mounting 13 guns; the 'Lexington' and 'Conestoga', partly iron-clad, each 17 guns; the tug 'Tiger' with one 24 pound howitzer, and 3 transports with 1000-1500 Infantry under Col. G.N. Fitch."
(In an engagement against a fortified position above St. Charles the "Mound City" was blown up by a single Confederate shell which fortuitously entered a suddenly opened port. The remainder of the expedition fell back out of range but the Federal troops which then landed on shore carried the rebel position without difficulty. Hindman concludes, (somewhat in error) "No longer able to prevent the junction of Curtis and Fitch, I withdrew my infantry from White River evacuating Devall's Bluff without loss of any kind and taking up a new line, that of Bayou Metre (Meto)",-where the falling river on one hand and the undependable overland supply route would keep him safe for months to come, not to mention certain more imprtant military committments elsewhere.
Hindman did send W.F. Parsons and certain selected (Confederate) cavalry units to attempt to keep Curtis occupied (and still uneasy) in Helena. They were not "overly" successful.
Further operations in, near, and even out of Helena up until about the first of September 1862 were of little consequence. Skirmishes, "scouts," and minor expeditions made up the lot of them. Steele assumed command in Helena on 29 August '62 when Curtis was elevated to the command of the Department of Missouri on 24 September '62 following a month's leave.
We may now end W. B. Cox's year of 1862 with his very brief mention of participation in what was, up to this point, "the biggest war" in which he had yet taken part.
Cox says, "In December we went on a scout in Mississippi. About 1500 Cavalry went to Penold [Panola] on the [Mississippi] Central Railroad and burned several cars and bridges and returned to Camp."
Actually this was a strategic operation of considerable magnitude. It was worked out late in November, 1862, by Grant and Sherman (21) and designed as a part of their first plan to take Vicksburg. Had it been successful the war in the West would undoubtedly been greatly shortened.
Cox's "Company B of the Sixth" took an active part in the job assigned to the Helena troops. Thus they were worthy of more of an explanation as to what they did and what was the outcome of that particular strategy.
Essentially the plan called for Grant, then moving south from Holly Springs, Mississippi, to hold Pemberton's forces engaged with him on Pemberton's Tallahatchie River line while Sherman, taking all the troops he could reasonably gather, "would dash" with an amphibious expedition down-river against Vicksburg which was then lightly held by garrison troops and artillery.
It was, then, with a view toward disrupting Pemberton's communications back toward the interior, "which action would, in turn, pull him out of his strong Tallahatchie line," that Steele then commanding at Helena was ordered by Curtis in St. Louis to send out a hard-hitting, highly mobile force across from Helena to a point near Grenada, Mississippi, an important rail and communication's center, with orders to destroy as much property of military importance as possible and thus create enough confusion to aid in making Grant's holding action a success.
Steele himself needed no great urging to get into the action. Without delay he selected some 2000 cavalrymen from his command (this included a re-enforced Company B under a Major Hawkins) and put them under Brig. Gen'l. C. C. Washburn, and experienced commander of cavalry. To this body Steele added 8 small guns and a supporting column of some 5000 infantry and 24 field guns under Brig. Gen'l. A. P. Hovey and ordered them, "to make a dash on the railroad near Grenada,
Miss., and to create a diversion in favor of Grant's holding
movement." Washburn was to get across the Tallahatchie and damage both branches
of the Mississippi Central above Grenada and then fall back on his support at
Charlestown. Washburn got within a few miles of Grenada itself spreading his
cavalry wide enough to give the distinct impression that the Federal raid was
one of great intent. It seems that he was quite successful in that maneuver
since he reported, "Our cavalry, seemingly ubiquitous, appeared so suddenly
that the rebels thought a mighty force had crossed and gotten well in behind
them. With Grant pressing against them at Abbeville they broke for the east
and south." The break was not so complete that a large rebel force of cavalry
sent down from Abbeville failed to send Washburn and Hovey in a great rush for
their transports. Whatever the case they did accomplish the narrow mission assigned
to them, (22).
As for the Great Plan, Van Dorn rushed in behind Grant at Holly Springs and totally destroyed a very large supply base that Grant had purposely established there.
Then falling back toward Memphis Van Dorn so completely damaged Grant's communications system and dispersed his thinly spread garrison forces that Grant had to retire all the way back to Memphis to re-group and restore and start over again, (23).
Sherman, assuming that, "the Plan" had gone well (21) (assuming much too much, actually) set out by river transport from Memphis and Helena with a large body of troops along with strong gunboat support and "one-each", John A. McClernand, a bete-noire for both Grant and Sherman, if ever there was one, and McClernand was.
Meanwhile, Pemberton, now well aware of the Federal intention moved down to Vicksburg, got sthere before Sherman, and heavily fortified the bluffs above the mouth of the Yazoo.
As Grant (23) points out, "The rebel position was impregnable against any force that could be brought against its front. Sherman could not use even one-fourth of his force. His efforts to capture the city, or the high ground north of it, were necessarily unavailing. Sherman's attack was very unfortunate, but I had no opportunity of communicating with him after the destruction of the road and telegraph to my rear. He did not know but what I was in the rear of the enemy and depending upon him to open (farther down in Mississippi) a new base of supplies for the troops with me.
We leave this grand excursion, in which we can safely assume that W. B. Cox took an appropriate part, to return with him "to Camp" in Helena noting that his part of "Company B", at least, was not taken out with Sherman at the time. They were to follow from Helena on 5 March 1863.
Meanwhile there was "work" to be done in and around the Helena neighborhood and Curtis (in St. Louis) wanted to learn what if anything was happening back toward Batesville and Little Rock following another smashing defeat of the Confederates this time under the redoutable Hindman at Prairie Grove (December 6-7, 1862).
Accordingly, Brig. Gen'l. W. A. Gorman (who had replaced Steele at Helena (3 December 1862) mounted a search-and-destroy expedition with Devall's Bluff in mind.
Cox's "diary", as mentioned above, begins its day-by-day record on 1 January 1863 with such items as "Remained in camp"; "On duty"; and the like. On 11 January 63 his "chronicle" of Gorman's expedition begins. "The 6th Mo. with several regiments started to Clarendon. We left camp at day break and marched to Helena. We remained until dark. We then marched 12 miles and encamped". (Jan.)-12. "The bugle sounded at 4 a.m.-6 o'clock found us on the march. 8 miles brought us to Big Creek. The bridge being burned we swam it and crossed our saddles on a raft. and marched 2 miles and camped. We found plenty of pork." Jan. 13- We left camp at 7 a.m. Marched 20 miles in rain and mud and camped.
Jan. 14-6 o'clock found us on the march, mud and water to our horses bellies and still raining. We marched 15 miles and camped. I went on picket. It rained till mid-night and raining. We marched 15 miles and camped. I went on picket. It rained till mid-night and snowed till day. Jan. 15- We left camp at 7 a.m. Snow knee-deep and still snowing. Marched 4 miles to Clarendon. Every house was full but we found a mill and some out buildings which we took possession of. Still snowing and cold as "blazes".
Jan. 16- We remained in camp. The Fleet passed up for Deauvall, (Devall's Bluff) but still cold. Snow 13 inches deep.
Jan. 17-I remained in camp. The sun shone warm and nice.
Jan. 18-Still in camp. Ice 2 inches thick, cold and cloudy.
Jan. 19-The 6th went out, 2 miles, and carried in corn in our blankets. A cold wet day. The Fleet went [back] down (stream).
Jan. 20-We left camp at 7 a.m.
for Helena. Marched 13 miles and took 2 prisoners and camped.
Jan. 21-8 o'clock found us on the march. 6 miles to Big Creek and bridge it with lumber of an old ware-house. We built a bridge 60 yds. long and crossed 1500 cavalry on it the next morning.
Jan. 22-7 o'clock found us on the march. We crossed the bridge and went to Lick Creek, bridge it and marched 10 miles to Helena and camped on a high point above the town and it raining.
Jan. 23.-We spent the day in erecting camp. Jan. 24.-Rained all day-mud and water knee deep.
Jan. 25-Cloudy and foggy-dull times.
Jan. 26-All quiet still raining.
Jan. 27-Still raining and cold.
Jan. 28-All quiet in camp. Clear and cold and awful for soldiers.
Jan. 29-I remained in camp. Weather clear and cold.
Jan. 30-All quiet, clear and warm.
Jan. 31-Nothing new-raining.
General Gorman's reports (24) to Head quarters, Department of Missouri, on this reconnaissance are, of course, more detailed. For instance, on reaching St. Charles, Arkansas, Gorman's men found the place had been evacuated only the day before (in anticipation of this Federal visit, very likely) and that the de-camping rebel forces had sent ahead by steamer two eight-inch seige guns and six lighter pieces. The infantry and supply train left at the same time burning their bridges behind them. Federal cavalry was sent in pursuit while another group under Gorman himself proceeded at once with the iron-clad "St. Louis," toward Devall's Bluff in the hope of overtaking the artillery shipment before it could be carried off by the (restored) railroad to Little Rock. The Federal force succeeded in arriving just as the guns were being loaded onto the rail-cars. The captured ordnance included not only the 8-inch Columbiads but 90 new Enfield rifles and 25 prisoners as well. The Federal cavalry (brought along) could only penetrate about 7 miles toward Little Rock until mud and water made the going impossible thus precluding the possibility of approaching the interior until after the winter smows and rains. Another cavalry force sent to Clarendon found that snow and rain had filled the vast bayous thereabouts so full that getting their horses out was a truly serious problem, what with insufficient transports to bring them out by water.
Two gun boats and a strong detachment of the 24th Indiana Infantry took Des Arc without difficulty. One hundred prisoners were captured there. The taking of several hundred rounds of fixed 6-pounder ammunition, several thousand bushels of corn, some additional military stores and a large amount of Confederate mail completed the job.
Hindman, Gorman found, was in Little Rock with the remnants of his command from Prairie Grove and was in no disposition to show further fight at the time.
Gorman then returned to Helena to outfit additional troops for the re-planned Vicksburg campaign complaining, as all commanders do when called upon to give up some of their "empire," that he was being crippled beyond redemption.
Cox's outfit was among those shipped out on 5 March 1863. It is of interest however to study his notes for the month of February 1863, and down to the time of his leaving Helena.
"February 1st Sunday. All quiet in camp- weather cold.
2-Mon.-I remained in camp-clear and cold.
3-Nothing new, weather clear and cold.
4-All in camp-weather scloudy-snow now 3 in. deep.
5-I remained in camp-clear-north wind.
6-I remained in camp-weather thawing.
7-I went to work again.
8-I went on inspection-west wind.
9-I worked in the shop.
11-At work-nothing new.
12-I went on drill and dress parade.
13-I went on drill-weather warm.
14-At work-all quiet in camp.
15-All quiet in camp.
17-Rained all day long.
18-At work on an old wagon and signed the pay-roll.
19-At work and prospects of clear weather.
20-I washed my clothes etc.
21-Rained all day-all quiet.
22-Clear north wind.
24-Fine warm weather.
25-Rained all day.
26-Warm and cloudy-spring-like weather.
27-The 6th was paid off for two months, Nov. and Dec. '62 I received $54.40.
28-We mustered for pay by Capt. Price of Co. A.
March 1st, Sunday, weather warm. A scout went to Clarendon-60 miles from Helena.
2-Warm, all quiet in camp.
3-North wind but clear.
4-Col. Wright took command of our Batallion.
5-We were ordered to move. We packed our duds and marched to the warf and loaded our horses and equipment on the NINEVEH and one other small boat, leaving our train behind. We left the wharf at dark."
(To be continued)
Unless otherwise noted, "0. R.," re presents a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, and Published by the United States Printing Office in Washington, D.C., by Direction of the Secretary of War. Unless otherwise noted all these references from the Official Records are from series one, part one, each volume listed by the number, 8, for example. Page numbers are set off from this by a comma and end with a period. For example, the first reference of this sort, number 4, is taken from volume 8, pages 558-559 inclusive. Other references taken from magazine articles or books are listed in the usual manner.
1. Kemp, Hardy A. "War 'Bloody Bill' Anderson in the White River Country
in 1861?'' White River Valley Historical Quarterly, 3, (Spring) 1-3, 1969.
2. 0. R., 8, 370-371.
3. Castel, A. "General Sterling Price and the War in the West," pp. 60, 62, 63. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1968.
4. 0. R., 8, 558-559.
5. 0. R., 8, 56.
6. 0. R., 8, 336-339.
7. 0. R., 8, 626.
8. 0. R., 8, 661.
9. 0. R., 13, 369.
10. 0. R., 13, 369.
11. 0. R., 13, 370, 371.
12. 0. R., 13, 416, 417.
13. 0. R., 13, 417, 418.
14. 0. R., 13, 423.
15, 0. R., 13, 428.
16. 0. R., 13, 441.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly