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Affair at Jacksonport

Location:

Jackson County

Campaign:

None

Date:

November 21, 1863

Principal Commanders:

Major John A. Lennon (US); Colonel Robert Shaver (CS)

Forces Engaged:

One battalion of the Third Missouri Cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)

Estimated Casualties:

None (US); 3 wounded (CS)

Result:

Union victory

A brief engagement along the banks on the White River, this event was part of a Federal push to disrupt Confederate recruiting and organizational efforts in northern Arkansas.  

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Black of the Third Missouri Cavalry (US) led his command north from Little Rock (Pulaski County) in late November 1863. Passing through Old Austin (Lonoke County), the Federals joined a unit of Arkansan Unionists in engaging an enemy force. Pushing the Confederates back to Bayou Des Arc, Black dispersed the enemy before moving on to Searcy (White County).

On November 21, Black sent a battalion under the command of Major John Lennon to Jacksonport (Jackson County) with orders to capture the ferry across the White River. About 100 Confederate troops were encamped in the area, under the command of Colonel Robert Shaver. Union reports had placed Shaver at Jacksonport to recruit men for his regiment.

When the Federals arrived on the bank opposite the town, they made a rush for the river, and the Confederates opened fire. Forced to take cover among nearby houses, the Union troops quickly developed a plan to take the ferry, which was located on the Jacksonport side. Two men of the regiment, Sergeant Hiles and Corporal Yeldell, used a canoe to move across the river and rowed the ferry back to their comrades. The dismounted cavalry men quickly crossed the river and drove the Confederates from the town, wounding three while not suffering any casualties of their own. The Confederates fled in confusion, and the entire battalion crossed the river before nightfall.

While this was only a brief engagement that did not lead to any deaths, this action demonstrates the dedication and resourcefulness of troops during the war.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 22, Parts I and II. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 1/20/2016

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