Battle of Van Buren

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Battle of Van Buren[1]
Part of the American Civil War
Date December 28, 1862
Location Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas
Result Union victory
Belligerents
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
James G. Blunt
Francis J. Herron
Thomas C. Hindman
Units involved
Army of the Frontier First Corps, Trans-Mississippi Army
Strength
7,000 4,000
Casualties and losses
1 killed, 5 wounded[2] Unknown

The Battle of Van Buren was a battle of the American Civil War fought on December 28, 1862, that resulted in a Union victory that secured northwest Arkansas for the Union.

Strategic situation[edit]

Following the Battle of Prairie Grove, on 7 December 1682, the victorious Union Generals James G. Blunt and Francis Herron pressed their prusuit of Major General Thomas C. Hindman's 1st Corps, Army of the Trans-Mississippi across the Boston Mountains to the Arkansas River port city of Van Buren, in Crawford County, Arkansas.[3]

Maneuvering to battle[edit]

Following the Battle of Prairie Grove, December 7, 1862, General Thomas C. Hindman withdrew under cover of darkness back towards Van Buren, Arkansas. The Confederates reached Van Buren on 10 December, demoralized, footsore, and ragged. Hindman immediately began reorganizing his forces. Hindman found it impossible to forage General John S. Marmaduke’s Cavalry Division in Northwest Arkansas, and so Marmaduke was ordered to move his command to Lewisburg, 100 miles (160 km) below Van Buren. Hindman's force was thus reduced and continuing to diminish in strength daily due to desertions and a frightful increase of sickness, the latter caused by unprecedented hardships that the men were exposed during the retreat from Prairie Grove. Hindman decided that it was unadvisable to keep the main body of his army on the north side of the Arkansas River and moved it to the south side, with most going into camp in the vicinity of Fort Smith, Arkansas. One infantry regiment from General Fagan's brigade with a section of West's Arkansas Artillery, remained at Van Buren, and one regiment of cavalry, under Lieut. Col. R.P. Crump, was posted at Dripping Springs, 9 miles (14 km) to the north of Van Buren. Crumps force was instructed to picket at Oliver’s 19 miles (31 km) north, and at corresponding points on all other roads leading toward the Northwest.[4]

On December 28, at 10 a.m., Lieutenant-Colonel Crump reported by courier that Union forces were advancing on the Cove Creek road in heavy force of cavalry, infantry and artillery. A few minutes afterward, Brigadier General Cooper, who was at Scullyville, in the Choctaw Nation, 15 miles (24 km) from Fort Smith, reported by courier that a Federal cavalry force of three or four regiments, with artillery, under Colonel Phillips, had crossed to the south side of the river, at Fort Gibson, the preceding day. Immediately after, information was received by telegraph from a detachment of cavalry posted at Borland’s, 35 miles (56 km) below Van Buren, on the north side of the Arkansas River, covering the roads from Fayetteville to Ozark and Clarksville, that a regiment of Federal cavalry was within 20 miles (32 km) of that position, moving south. General Fagan’s brigade was on the march 25 miles (40 km) below Van Buren. Colonel Frost’s was 10 miles (16 km) below Van Buren and Colonel Shaver’s brigade, less than 1,000 strong, with one battery, was in camp 2 miles (3.2 km) below Van Buren.[5]

General Cooper was ordered to retire southward upon his depots of supplies, the nearest of which was Johnson’s Station, on the Canadian, about 90 miles (140 km) from Fort Smith. Shaver’s brigade was put under arms, and moved forward to the river opposite Van Buren. Frost was ordered back to Shaver’s position, detaching enough artillery and infantry to hold the crossing at Strain’s, 6 miles (9.7 km) below Van Buren; and orders were given to remove by boat and wagon, as rapidly as possible, the public property at Van Buren and Fort Smith. At the same time General Hindman telegraphed General Marmaduke, at Lewisburg, to move northward and strike the enemy in flank and rear.[6]

The battle[edit]

At 11.05, one hour and five minutes after Hindman received the first notice of the Federal advance, the Federal cavalry and light artillery were in Van Buren. As they approached the landing, West’s battery, of Shaver’s brigade, drove them back, killing and wounding several. Skirmishing continued there till nearly sunset, when the Federal infantry appeared, and two batteries of heavy rifled pieces opened from the commanding heights in and above the town. Meanwhile a cavalry force pursued and captured Colonel Crump’s train and part of a train laden with supplies for my wounded at Cane Hill, and also captured three steamboats, the Notre, which had grounded on a bar 1 mile below Van Buren, the Key West and Rose Douglass, which had been ordered down, but had stopped for some cause unknown on the south side of the river, opposite Strain’s Landing. This was before there was time for Frost’s detachment to reach that point. The steamers Eva and Arkansas, being still above Van Buren, were burned on Hindman's orders, after transferring to wagons all their freight for which transportation was available.[citation needed]

About dark, artillery firing commenced at Strain’s Landing, between Frost’s detachment, posted there, and a Federal force on the opposite side, having field pieces of large caliber. It continued for two hours, until the Federal forces retired.[7]

The aftermath[edit]

Hindman removed all the public stores from Van Buren and Fort Smith for which he had transportation. Hindman reported that his whole force at the time of the Battle of Van Buren did not exceed 4,000. He believed that Federal Forces in and near Van Buren was not less than 7,000. With Federal Cavalry moving on both his flanks, Hindman determined to move his command southward, cross the river near Clarksville, unite with General Fagan's Brigade, and there take position.[8] While Confederate Forces held on to Fort Smith through the summer of 1863, Hindman's retreat marked the last major Confederate effort to contest northwest Arkansas. Following the Prairie Grove Campaign, Northwest Arkansas became a virtual no-mans land. While the area would see cavalry raids, bushwacking and guerillia war for several years, including well after the formal end of the war, no large Confederate Army would ever again enter this area of the state.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cox, Dale "The Battle of Van Buren - Van Buren, Arkansas", ExploreSouthernHistory.com, Accessed 15 January 2013, http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/vanburenbattle1.html
  2. ^ Capture of Van Buren - Encyclopedia of Arkansas
  3. ^ United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/citation/?q=Van Buren : accessed January 15, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  4. ^ United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/citation/?q=Van Buren : accessed January 15, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  5. ^ United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/citation/?q=Van Buren : accessed January 15, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  6. ^ United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/citation/?q=Van Buren : accessed January 15, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  7. ^ United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/citation/?q=Van Buren : accessed January 15, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  8. ^ United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/citation/?q=Van Buren : accessed January 15, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.

Further reading[edit]

  • Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove. University of Arkansas Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-55-728591-1
  • Smith, Ronald D. (2008). Thomas Ewing Jr., Frontier Lawyer and Civil War General. Columbia:University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0-82-621806-3. pp. 181–183.
  • Castel, Albert, (1958). A Frontier State at War: Kansas, 1861-1865. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
  • Shea, William L. (2009). Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-80-783315-5.
  • Hatcher, Richard W.; Hess, Earl J.; Piston, William G.; Shea, William L. (2006). Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road. Bison Books. ISBN 978-0-80-327366-5.

External links[edit]