Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 14, 1863 (Wednesday): Fort Hindman Falls

Confederate General T. J. Churchill, Commanding at Arkansas Post

Saint Charles, White River, January 14, 1863.
GENERAL: General McClernand's attack and capture of Post Arkansas, with about 6,000 prisoners, 13 guns, and all their stores and munitions of war, has been heretofore reported to you. I arrived at this placed last night, and found the place evacuated, they having left day before yesterday evening, carrying away, by a little steamer, two 8-inch siege guns, and six light pieces. Their train and infantry left by land at the same time. I have started the cavalry in pursuit of their train, but I think they have burned one bridge, which will prevent its capture. I have left one regiment of infantry, one battery of six guns, two companies of cavalry, and the iron-clad gunboat Cincinnati here, as a temporary garrison. I proceed at once, with the iron-clad gunboat Saint Louis and the remainder of the command, to Devall's Bluff, where I hope to overtake their little steamer with their artillery aboard, before they can
carry it off by railroad from Devall's Bluff to Little Rock. No accident has occurred, and all is going well. I expect to meet 1,500 of my cavalry at Clarendon. I shall try and communicate with our forces at Batesville, if they are there.
     I am, general, respectfully, &c.,

    W. A. GORMAN,
    Brigadier-General, Commanding.

    Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS,
    Commanding Department of the Missouri.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 22, Part 1, Page 216.

Major General McClernand had gained approval in October for an operation against Vicksburg.  Neither Halleck nor Grant were consulted by the President.  Initially his force was diverted to Sherman in the unsuccessful Chickasaw Bluffs operation.  McClernand, ranking Sherman, took over the 20,000 men in the new command and decided to capture the 4,500 man Confederate detachment at Arkansas Post (Fort Hindman).  On January 10th, Union forces enveloped the fort from the land side while naval forces moved into range to batter the guns in the fort.  On the morning of the 11th a coordinated attacked was launched, and by 3 P.M. the fort had surrendered.  The importance of the fort was it gave the Confederates a a place from which to send gunboats into the Mississippi. General T. J. Churchill, Confederate commander at Fort Hindman, was governor of Arkansas after the war and made official today's pronunciation of "Arkansas". 


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