Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, April 5, 2013

E Is For Elkins Crossing

Since history is my topic and I seem to be stuck on Civil War battles at the moment I found another lesser known battle.  If you live in Arkansas you may have visitied Elkins Ferry Battlefield.  It is not somewhere I have ever been but it sounds like a stamp I would like in my Passport of Parks.  What do you think?
"While Steele continued to march toward Shreveport, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, who had recently been placed in command of the Confederacy's District of Arkansas, prepared to counter his advance. Three understrength cavalry divisions, led by Brig. Gens. John S. Marmaduke, James F. Fagan, and Samuel B. Maxey, were assigned to Price's command. Price had at his immediate disposal five brigades of cavalry, including Crawford's and Dockery's brigades of Fagan's division stationed to the east of Saline River near Monticello and Mount Elba. Marmaduke was in command of the other three brigades as a division based at Camden; Brig. Gen. Joseph O. Shelby's and Col. Colton Greene's brigades were with Marmaduke in Camden, while Brig. Gen. William L. Cabell's brigade was on the Red River 16 miles west of the Confederate state capital in Washington. Although Marmaduke's three brigades totaled only 3,200 effective troops, they were seasoned and well-trained.  On receiving news of Steele's advance, Price ordered Shelby to Princeton and Cabell's brigade to march for Tate's Bluff, at the confluence of the Ouachita and Little Missouri Rivers north of Camden, where he would be met by Marmaduke and Greene's brigade. From these positions, Cabell and Greene would harass the vanguard of the Union column while Shelby attacked its flanks and rear. Marmaduke was to harry the enemy column until it reached the Little Missouri, where he would attempt to prevent the Federals from crossing. On arriving at Tate's Bluff and learning that the Yanks were en route toward Arkadelphia, Marmaduke ordered Shelby to cross the Ouachita and attack the rear of Steele's army. Gen. Price, fearing that Steele was advancing on Washington, diverted Cabell to Antoine.
Skirmishing was fierce as Cabell's brigade attempted to counter Steele's advance toward Washington on April 1. That night, as Steele camped near the community of Hollywood (also known as Spoonville or Witherspoonville), Marmaduke ordered Greene to move most of his brigade to Cottingham's Store, three miles south of the Little Missouri River on the Old Military Road. The following day, Cabell's brigade withdrew to Cottingham's Store as well, leaving just one regiment near Antoine as a rear guard. Falling back slowly, this regiment sharply repulsed the Federals' advance at Wolf Creek on April 2, then rejoined the rest of the brigade south of the Little Missouri.
Early on the afternoon of April 2, Confederate scouts brought word to Cottingham's Store that the Federals had unexpectedly turned off the Old Military Road and were now marching toward Elkins' Ferry on the Little Missouri by way of Okolona. One section of the 9th Wisconsin Infantry under Capt. Martin Voegele, guarding the rear of the Union train, skirmished continually with Shelby's cavalry division and three pieces of artillery beginning four miles south of Hollywood near Gentry's Creek. Brig. Gen. Samuel A. Rice moved quickly to the rear of the train to assess this new threat, and ordered the 50th Indiana back to reinforce Col. Thomas Benton's 29th Iowa. The attackers were soon repulsed and Benton fell back about half a mile to the summit of a ridge near Terre Noir Creek, where he placed his artillery in position and prepared to meet the enemy again. The Confederates reformed to the left of Benton's line on the summit of a nearby hill, but a Union charge soon drove them back in confusion and disarray with heavy losses. Benton then rapidly fell back to regain the train, reported to be menaced on another front by the approach of Cabell's forces from Washington to the south. The Confederates mounted another attack on Benton's rear guard as they established camp late that afternoon but were summarily repulsed, and Benton rejoined the Union train at 9:30 that evening. Aware of the importance of seizing and holding the strategic Elkins' Ferry crossing to the south of the Union train, on the afternoon of April 2 Salomon told Col. William E. McLean of the 43rd Indiana Infantry to lead his brigade on a forced march through the evening to reconnoiter the ford. Arriving at the river after dark, McLean ordered a squadron of cavalry sent forward across the shallow Little Missouri as advance pickets, while the remainder of his forces -- the 36th Iowa Infantry under Col. C. W. Kittredge, the 43rd Indiana Infantry under Maj. W. W. Norris, and Company E of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery under Lt. Peetz -- encamped near the river for the night. On the morning of April 3, skirmishing and occasional firing along the Union picket line alerted McLean to the presence of the enemy and prompted him to order Norris to cross the river with four companies of the 43rd Indiana to support the cavalry pickets and flush out the Confederates. Norris succeeded in driving back the enemy skirmishers, cutting off and capturing 16 Confederates in the process.  Satisfied that a Confederate attack was imminent in the morning, that evening McLean ordered Lt. Col. Francis Drake to have three companies from the 36th Iowa and three companies from the 43rd Indiana to position themselves on the left and right of the road leading from the ford to resist possible rebel encroachments. One section of artillery under Lieutenant Peetz was deployed so as to command all possible approaches to Elkins' Ferry. Meanwhile, Marmaduke's division prepared itself nearby, deployed along a ridge overlooking the river bottom to the northeast. In an attempt to relieve pressure on Shelby's forces to the north and counter the Union advance, the 1,600 men of Cabell's brigade attacked Drake's positions early on the morning of the 4th and a lively skirmish ensued for the following two hours. On discovering the location of Peetz's battery, the Confederates moved four pieces of artillery into position and forced the Union pickets and advanced companies back toward the river, but an effort to flank the Union left and capture the battery was met by a well-coordinated defense by the 36th Iowa under Col. Kittredge and turned back. Soon after Cabell's charge had been repulsed, the arrival of the 29th Iowa Infantry and the 9th Wisconsin Infantry as reinforcements convinced the Confederates that the main body of the Union train was approaching, and the attack was called off. Losses on both sides in the Battle of Elkins' Ferry were light, with 30 Union soldiers slightly wounded, 50 Confederates wounded, and 18 Southerners killed. On the evening of the 4th, Shelby's brigade joined Marmaduke, and together they withdrew 16 miles south to Prairie DeAnn the following morning."  The Confederacy suffered another blow at Elkins Ferry.

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