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Pea Ridge Campaign
June 2, 1862
Colonel Albert G. Brackett (US); Captain Joseph Fry, Lieutenant Colonel A. B. Burleson (CS)
Ninth Illinois Cavalry, Ohio Battery (US); Steamer Maurepas, W. H. Parson’s Texas Cavalry (CS)
Following the March 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas, Major General Samuel Curtis led his Army of the Southwest on an ambitious attempt to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). Supplying the army during the campaign was a difficult task, with rivers being vital to his success. River port towns such as Jacksonport (Jackson County), situated along the White River, became important supply centers, attracting attention from both Confederate and Union forces. The occupation of the town by Brigadier General Frederick Steele’s forces on May 4 brought renewed interest from Confederate forces.
After receiving orders to occupy Jacksonport in the spring of 1862, Gen. Steele’s forces departed northeastern Arkansas on April 22. Delayed by heavy rain, they did not arrive until May 4. A detachment of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry consisting of ten companies and a section of an Ohio battery under the command of Colonel Albert G. Brackett deployed on the western bank of the Black River where it joined the White River. The position was named Camp Tucker. The two remaining cavalry companies were stationed within the town.
Soon, reports began to filter in that Confederate general Thomas Hindman was deploying the steamer Maurepas, accompanied by a land force, to burn cotton stored at Jacksonport. Due to low water, Brackett was initially doubtful that the steamer could reach Jacksonport. He was soon convinced that the steamer, which he described as an ironclad armed with three sixty-eight pounders and two eighteen pounders, was advancing toward his position.
Brackett determined that there was little his cavalry force and battery of six pounders could do to stop the advance. He evacuated his position on June 2, falling back about two and a half miles. Approximately a half hour after the Federal retreat, the Maurepas, under the command of Captain Joseph Fry, began shelling the Federals’ former position. Brackett did not return fire, calculating that such efforts would needlessly endanger the citizens of Jacksonport. A Confederate land force quickly occupied Jacksonport, reportedly destroying 350 bales of cotton.
Almost as quickly as the Confederates entered the town, they left, with the Federals returning to their former position at Camp Tucker. Confederate forces remained active in the area, engaging Colonel Brackett’s cavalry in a skirmish about five miles from the river port on June 12.
For additional information:The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 13. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1885.
Watson, Lady Elizabeth. Fight and Survive!: A History of Jackson County, Arkansas, in the Civil War. Newport, AR: Jackson County Historical Society, 1996.
Mike PolstonEncyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 1/14/2014
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