Talk:Powell Clayton

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Parked photograph(s)[edit]

Powell Clayton

Moved from the article until it can be expanded. Appears to show him in military uniform. Megapixie 13:13, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

working on text[edit]

I'm working on the text below, it was copied from else where but I'm trying to format it to be more just about Clayton --The_stuart (talk) 03:31, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Skirmish at Longview[edit]

Possibly foreseeing problems on his expedition to the southwest, before leaving Little Rock, Steele ordered Col. Powell Clayton at the Union post in Pine Bluff to keep a close watch on Confederate forces in the Monticello area which might threaten the expedition. It was that order which eventually led to the skirmish at Longview.

On March 27 when Colonel Clayton reported to Union Brigadier General Kimball his plans to launch an attack at Mount Elba, a community on the Saline in Cleveland County. He wrote that he planned to create a temporary bridge across the Saline River. He would leave a small reserve force and cross with his cavalry and they would destroy a confederate pontoon cutting them off from a reserve he beleived they had at Monticello. He would then attack any paties left between Saline and Washita.

Clayton then changed his plans somewhat, moving first toward Monticello, then toward Mount Elba, bridging the Saline, and, feinting in the directions of Camden and Princeton, marching rapidly to Longview to capture the Confederate pontoon bridge as well as any supplies that might be there, 42 miles from Mount Elba. In beginning his campaign, Clayton selected seven officers and 230 enlisted men from the 18th Illinois Infantry, a detachment of five officers and 260 men from the 28th Wisconsin Infantry, and 600 men, four mountain howitzers and two steel rifled guns from the First Indiana, Fifth Kansas and Seventh Missouri Cavalry units. In addition to the men and guns, Clayton's forces also carried eight pontoons, mounted on wagon wheels, along with them to bridge streams as they came to them as well as a small wagon train of supplies.

Arriving at Mount Elba in Cleveland County about 4 p. m. on March 28, the Union troops killed one and captured four of the Confederates defenders there. They then began assembling their wheeled pontoons and completed a bridge across the river by midnight. Confederate troops at Mount Elba were returning from Gaines Landing on the Mississippi River near Eudora where they had picked up supplies to be taken to the Confederate command in Camden. With the attack on Mount Elba, many of those soldiers withdrew to the Longview area.

At daylight on the morning of March 29, the Union troops left their encampment at Mount Elba and moved rapidly toward Camden to the vicinity of Mark's Mills. From there, Clayton sent Lieutenants Frank M. Greathouse of the First Indiana Cavalry and Grover Young of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry with 50 picked men from each unit "to move with the utmost rapidity by the way of Warren to Long View, to destroy the pontoon bridge, the enemy's trains, etc."

The Union cavalrymen moved quickly, arriving on the west side of the river at Longview just after sundown. A number of Confederate soldiers were encamped on the west side of the river.

However, due to a shortage of uniforms, many of the Confederate soldiers were dressed in captured Union uniforms, and the Confederates on the west side of the river apparently thought that the Union cavalrymen were fellow Confederates and made no attempt to resist them.

The Union cavalrymen moved past the Confederate camp on the west banks of the river, and still unrecognized, ordered some of the Confederates at the main camp on the east side of the river to cross to the west where they were taken prisoners. The Union troops then cut the pontoon bridge and destroyed a Confederate supply train they found on the west side of the river.

By 9:30 the next morning, the Union lieutenants and their cavalrymen were back in camp at Mount Elba, reporting that they had destroyed the pontoon bridge, burned a loaded train of 35 wagons of supplies, captured a large amount of arms and ammunition, about 260 prisoners, nearly 300 horses and mules, and "a large number of contrabands."

Clayton's report to his superiors highly praised the two lieutenants who had commanded the raid on Longview. He said, "The Long View raid reflects the highest credit to Lieutenants Greathouse and Young, and for brilliancy and success is almost without a parallel. One hundred men (50 from the First Indiana and 50 from the Fifth Kansas Cavalry) marched 40 miles into the enemy's country, captured and destroyed a train of 35 wagons loaded with stores of great value (their paymaster's safe containing over $60,000), destroyed their pontoon bridge over the Saline River, captured and brought to Mount Elba 260 prisoners, nearly 300 horses and mules, and a large number of contrabands, all, including the march of 80 miles to Long View and back, in the surprising short space of twenty-four hours. Our loss throughout the expedition was but two killed and eight missing. The conduct of the officers and men throughout was most gallant and energetic, and deserves the highest commendation."

True to his word, Clayton on April 6 commended both lieutenants in a dispatch to Assistant Adjutant-General Major W. D. Green. The two, he said, "are deserving of the highest praise for the masterly manner in which they created a diversion in the direction of Monticello, and more especially for their gallantry, energy, and skill in the execution of the raid to Long View and return."

The written report that the two lieutenants prepared was not so elaborate. They wrote to Clayton, "When we came to the fork of Long View and Camden Road, which is some two miles from Long View, we took four prisoners, and learned from them that there had been a train of nine wagons and 25 men passed out a short time ahead of us. We sent a party out after them, burnt the wagons, and captured the men. We learned from them that there was a large train crossing, which had come out from Monticello that day. We moved on, and reached their camp just at dark. We charged into their camp, surrounded them, and demanded their surrender, and ordered them to fall into line. We coming on them so unexpectedly, and they being in such confusion, they obeyed immediately. There were 250 men, 7 or 8 officers. We destroyed their bridge, threw about 175 or 200 stand of arms in the river, burnt 30 wagons, which were loaded with baggage and camp equippage, also ammunition; took some 300 horses and mules. We then mounted our prisoners, and returned to our most worthy commander all O. K."

To Union newspapers, such as the National Democrat in Little Rock, the raid on Longview was a brilliant success. Titling its story on the raid "Good News from Gen. Steele and Col. Clayton," the National Democrat said: "We are furnished by Adjutant General Green with news received from rebel sources placing Price at Camden on the 28th of March, and General Steele at Arkadelphia on the 26th. Steele's march has been a complete success so far, meeting with but little obstruction. The army is said to be in excellent health and fine spirits."

"Col. Clayton, commanding the expedition from Pine Bluff, destroyed the pontoon bridge at Longview--burned a train of thirty-five wagons loaded with camp and garrison equipage, ammunition, quartermaster's stores, etc., and captured over three hundred prisoners."

"He engaged (General Thomas) Dockery's division, of about 1200 men, from Monticello, on the morning of the 30th ult., routed and pursued him ten miles, with a loss on his side of over one hundred killed and wounded--capturing a large quantity of small arms and two stands of colors. Our loss did not exceed fifteen in killed, wounded and missing." "Three hundred horses and mules and many wagons were captured. Col. Clayton by this expedition has added fresh laurels to his brow. He is worthy of all honor, and deserving the highest reward at the hands of the government. He has been in every instance successful and will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General for valiant service to the Union cause. He justly deserves the honor."