Sunday, February 24, 2013

150-years-ago -- THE FALL OF ARKANSAS POST

The Richmond Dispatch
February 24, 1863
(Library of Congress)
A Southern account of the fall of Arkansas Post.
           The public has never been satisfied with the vague and meagre reports which have reached us of the surrender of the Post of Arkansas. The following is a trustworthy account of the disaster, derived from a Southern officer of high rank:
Maj. Gen. T. J. Churchill
(Southern Illustrated News)
          The Post on the Arkansas River, distant from its month some fifty miles by water, and twenty by land, and from Little Rock by land 110 miles, was under the immediate command of Gen. [Thomas J.] Churchill. During the last summer and fall some defences were thrown up there, consisting of an embankment surrounded by a ditch, and with such guns as could be procured--one nine inch Dahlgren and two eight-inch Columbians, with a battery of small pieces arranged to resist an attack by land. This armament, with a corps of about 4 000 men, constituted Gen. Churchill's entire resources for meeting an attack of seven Yankee gunboat's and the land forces of sixty-eight, transports — from thirty to forty thousand men, who, having been just whipped out at Vicksburg, had come up the river in search of a force small enough to insure them a victory. On Friday, Gen. Churchill, apprised of the advance of the enemy in large force, sent a dispatch for reinforcements. The nearest point from which such and could be received was fifty miles distant. During that night the enemy landed their forces, and early on Saturday morning commended a most furious attack from both land and water.
           Our men fought not only gallantly but desperately through all Saturday and Sunday, sometimes driving back the enemy from their earthworks with  their bayonets, and at other times encountering their dense masses in the open field. No reinforcements reached them from first to last. Mc-och's division and two regiments of cavalry, under command of Col. Geo. W. Carter, were on their way, but arrived only in season to lock the stable after the horse had been stolen. It is gratifying to learn that Gen. Churchill, though carried off a prisoner, was not wounded in the fight.
          It is reported and believed that the enemy intended to proceed immediately to an attack on Little Rock. But the reduction of the Post was glory enough for one expedition, and they departed the next day as they came, leaving the guns unharmed as they found them, and the horses, mules and wagons to shift for themselves in the adjoining fields. The capital, if taken, would afford them no advantage, as the archives are already removed therefrom, and the country is so far exhausted that the enemy could not subsist for any length of time without importing supplies.
          A detachment of the Yankee army, numbering about 4000 infantry and artillery, made a very unlooked for entrance  into Van Buren during the Christmas week. Driving in and dispersing our pickets, they rushed through the town to the river, where they seized and scattered some commissary stoves. They soon found occasion to leave, however, for, while in the immediate area, an undiscovered battery on the opposite side of the river poured upon them a deadly fire, which induced them to doubt whether the place was altogether as safe as they had thought it. Those who escaped slept elsewhere, and have forgotten-to return since.
           Arkansas possesses vast mineral wealth as well as an incomparable soil and climate for agricultural products, and immense resources for the purposes of war. It is out recently that much attention has been given to the development of the latter; yet we are informed that already great progress has been made in the martial arts, and the nearly all the ammunition used by our army there is supplied by the Confederate Ordnance Works at--,which are under the direction of a citizen of Petersburg. Va. 

No comments: