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Skirmish at McGraw's Mill

Location:

Clark County, Montgomery County

Date:

February 15, 1863

Campaign

None

Principal Commanders:

Captain Andy Brown (US); Lieutenant Colonel William A. Crawford (CS)

Forces Engaged:

Union sympathizers (US); Confederate Homeguard (CS)

Estimated Casualties:

11 killed, 24 wounded (US); 1 killed, 5 wounded (CS)

Result:

Confederate victory

During the winter of 1862–1863, Union sympathizers avoiding Confederate conscription officers fled their homes throughout western Arkansas and hid in the Ouachita Mountains, where they joined Confederate deserters. These bands stole supplies from the local population. Civilians in the area were uneasy with this development and urged the Confederate government to act. One of these bands was led by Andy Brown—who was called “Captain”—of Arkadelphia (Clark County). Brown’s band had eighty-three members and was most active in the Ouachita Mountains northwest of Arkadelphia, stealing horses and wagons from nearby civilians.

In response to these events, a group of mounted and armed civilians organized in Arkadelphia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William A. Crawford. Divided into two companies, the men departed Arkadelphia on February 12, 1863. On February 13, the group was joined by eighty men from Sevier County under the command of Major James Woosley. Following the trail of Captain Brown’s men, the Confederate Homeguard traveled to Blakely Mountain, northwest of Hot Springs (Garland County) and then to McGraw’s (or McGrew’s) Mill, located on the Walnut Fork of the Ouachita River in what was then Montgomery County.

The Homeguard attacked Brown’s force early on the morning of February 15, 1863. Outnumbered, the Unionists assumed a defensive position that required the Confederates to attack uphill on foot. The steep terrain forced the Homeguard to dismount from their horses and engage the Unionists. This maneuver reduced the number of men available to engage Brown’s band, as every fourth man was required to hold the horses. Even with this reduction in numbers, the Confederates still enjoyed a more than two-to-one advantage. The Unionists were slowly forced to retreat, and after several hours of battle, Brown and twenty-seven of his men fled the field, pursued by members of the Homeguard. The Homeguard gave up the chase ten miles below Mount Ida (Montgomery County), when the Unionists crossed the swollen Ouachita River.

The Confederate Homeguard suffered six casualties (one dead) during the battle. Brown’s men lost eleven dead, twenty-four wounded, and twenty captured. The twenty-seven men who escaped with Brown eventually made their way to Fayetteville (Washington County), where some joined the First Arkansas Infantry (US).

The Confederate Homeguard returned to Arkadelphia and distributed the horses, mules, wagons, and other assorted goods that had been stolen by Brown’s men from the local population. The Skirmish at McGraw’s Mill ended Brown’s actions against civilians in the Arkadelphia area but had little long-term impact.

For additional information:
Arey, Frank. “The Skirmish at McGrew’s Mill,” Clark County Historical Journal (2000): 63–66.

Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Wilmington, NC: Broadside Publishing Company, 1995), Pt. 1 Reports, Vol. 4, Serial No. 4.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 2/2/2012

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