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Battle of Arkansas Post

Battle of Arkansas Post
Part of the American Civil War

Bombardment and capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, Ark. Jany. 11th 1863, by Currier and Ives.
Date January 9 (1863-01-09)Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter.
Location Arkansas Post
Result United States victory
United States Confederate States
Commanders and leaders
David Porter
John McClernand
Thomas Churchill
33,000 about 5,500
Casualties and losses
134 dead and 927 wounded or missing 709 dead, wounded or missing

The Battle of Arkansas Post, or the Battle of Fort Hindman, was fought January 9–11, 1863, near the mouth of the Arkansas River at Arkansas Post, Arkansas, as part of the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War.


  • Background 1
  • Battle 2
    • January 9 2.1
    • January 10 2.2
    • January 11 2.3
  • Aftermath 3
  • See also 4
    • Notes 4.1
    • Bibliography 4.2
  • External Links 5


The Confederate Army constructed a large, four-sided earthwork fortification near Arkansas Post, on a bluff 25 feet above the north side of the river, forty-five miles downriver from Pine Bluff, to protect the Arkansas River and prevent Union Army passage to Little Rock. The fort commanded a mile view up and downriver. It was a base for disrupting shipping on the Mississippi River. The fort was named Fort Hindman in honor of General Thomas C. Hindman of Arkansas. It was manned by approximately 5,000 men, primarily Texas cavalry, dismounted and redeployed as infantry, and Arkansas infantry, in three brigades under Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill. By the winter of 1862–63, disease and their life at the end of a tenuous supply chain had left the garrison at Fort Hindman in a poor state.

Union Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand was an ambitious politician and had permission from President Abraham Lincoln to launch a corps-sized offensive against Vicksburg from Memphis, Tennessee, hoping for military glory (and subsequent political gain). This plan was at odds with those of Army of the Tennessee commander, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. McClernand ordered Grant's subordinate, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, to join the troops of his corps with McClernand's, calling the two corps the Army of the Mississippi, approximately 33,000 men. On January 4, he launched a combined army-navy movement on Arkansas Post, rather than Vicksburg, as he had told Lincoln (and did not bother to inform Grant or the general in chief, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck).


Operations against Vicksburg, including the Arkansas Post Expedition.

January 9

Union boats began landing troops near at Notrebe's Plantation, 3 miles below Arkansas Post in the evening of January 9. The troops started up river towards Fort Hindman and Sherman's corps overran the Confederate trenches. The enemy retreated to the protection of the fort,[1] anchored on the east by the Arkansas River, and adjacent rifle-pits running west across the neck of land. By 11:00 am the following morning the remainder of the Union army had gone ashore. Churchill was stunned by the overwhelming size of the Union force and immediately requested reinforcements from his superior, Theophilus H. Holmes. Holmes advised Churchill to “... hold out till help arrived or until all dead.”[2]

January 10

Naval bombardment of Arkansas Post.

On January 10 the Union army moved upriver to fully invest the Confederate garrison. Two brigades from

Fourteen hundred and 91 days in the Confederate Army From the Collections at the Library of Congress

External Links

  • "McClernand Arrives, Ousts Sherman and Makes His Very Own Army, January 5, 1863". Civil War Daily Gazette. Retrieved February 2013. 
  • "Battle Summary:Arkansas Post". National Park Service. Retrieved January 2013. 
  • "Harper's Weekly". February 7, 1863. Retrieved January 2013. 
  • Christ, Mark K. (December 31, 2010). "Battle of Arkansas Post". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved January 2013. 
  • Heartsill, W. W. (1953). Fourteen hundred and 91 days in the Confederate Army,. Jackson, Tenn: McCowat-Mercer Press. 
  • Huffstot, Robert S. (1969). The Battle of Arkansas Post (PDF). National Park Service. 
  • Kennedy, Frances, ed. (1998). The Civil War Battlefield Guide (2 ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.  
  • Kiper, Richard L. (1999). Major General John Alexander McClernand:Politician in Uniform. Kent State University Press.  
  • Meyers, Christopher C. (2010). Union General John A. McClernand and the Politics of Command. McFarland.  
  • Miller, Charles Dana (2004). The struggle for the life of the republic : a Civil War narrative by Brevet Major Charles Dana Miller, 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Kent State University Press.  
  • Smith, Sam (2013). "The Battle of Arkansas Post". Civil War Trust. Retrieved January 2013. 
  • William Williston Heartsill journal, 1861-1866, MS 035. Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. p. 125. Retrieved December 2013. 
  • Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman. 


  1. ^ Huffstot, 1969, p. 7 & 8
  2. ^ "In Missouri, Yankees and Rebels Barely Miss Each Other,January 10, 1863". Civil War Daily Gazette. Retrieved February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Huffstot, 1969, p. 8
  4. ^ a b c d Christ, 2010
  5. ^ Huffstot, 1969, p. 9
  6. ^ a b Smith, 2013
  7. ^ Huffstot, 1969, p. 9 & 10
  8. ^ Huffstot, 1969, p. 10

^ The Confederate commander reported 60 killed and 80 wounded, but since he also reported fewer men in the battle than actually surrendered, these figures are considered underestimates. The NPS battle description (Civil War Sites Advisory Commission), cites 1,047 Union, "about 5,500" Confederate.


See also

That Grant removed McClernand for this reason is a contested point. In his Memoirs (Loc 5013), Gen. W.T. Sherman said that no word was received from Grant until after the battle. On the 13th - when the army rendezvoused at the mouth of the Arkansas River after destroying the fort - McClernand showed Sherman the letter in which Grant disapproved of the plan. Sherman notes that Grant's letter was written before the outcome of the battle was known: "When informed of this, and of the promptness with which it had been executed, he could not but approve."

Union forces suffered 1,047 casualties, with 134 killed; Confederate about 5,500, almost all by surrender. Although Union losses were high and the victory did not contribute to the capture of Vicksburg, it did eliminate one more impediment to Union shipping on the Mississippi. Grant was furious at McClernand's diversion from his overall campaign strategy, ordered him back to the Mississippi, disbanded the Army of the Mississippi, and assumed personal command of the Vicksburg Campaign.

The defeat at Arkansas Post cost the Confederacy fully one-fourth of its deployed force in Arkansas, the largest surrender of Rebel troops west of the Mississippi River prior to the final capitulation of the Confederates in 1865.[4]

"Glorious! Glorious! My star is ever in the ascendant. Now, on to Little Rock."

John A. McClernand responding to the victory[6][8]


At 4:30pm McClernand was planning to order one massive assault against the defenders when white flags of surrender began to appear. The battle ended with some confusion.[4] Porter's gunboats picked up infantry from Lindsey's brigade and ferried them across the river who climbed into the crumbling remains of Fort Hindman. Porter personally accepted the surrender of Colonel John Dunnington who was in charge of the fort's artillery. General Steele entered the rifle-pits under a flag of truce to discuss surrender with Colonel Deshler. As the two conferred, Deshler noticed Steele's men continually moving closer and demanded they be ordered to stop or he'd open fire again. General Sherman arrived on the scene to personally seek out Churchill. However, Sherman stood by as Churchill and Colonel Garland became involved in an argument over surrendering. Garland claimed he had been ordered to surrender while Churchill denied giving such an order. Colonel Deshler rode up from his front and declared to the group he had not surrendered at all and insisted on renewing the fight. Sherman ended the argument by pointing out the Union forces had all but occupied the Confederate's works. Some Union soldiers had even began disarming the Confederates.[6] One final scene took place as a Union staff officer rode into the fort and demanded the Navy vacate, so A.J. Smith's infantry could take possession. However, the fort had already been surrendered to Porter. Colonel Dunnington, who had a background in the Navy, conceded a small satisfaction at being able to surrender to a fellow Naval officer instead of the infantry.[7]

On the morning of January 11 McClernand's forces were deployed in an arc facing Fort Hindman and its rifle-pits. Running West to East were the divisions of Steele, Stuart, Smith with Osterhaus achored on the Arkansas River. Churchill's defenses were manned by Colonel James Deshler's brigade on the left and Colonel Robert Garland's brigade on the right. McClernand's infantry attacked around 1:00pm and made little progress at first. At the same time Porter's gunboats moved in to attack aided by Colonel Lindsey's brigade across the river. Within an hour the fort's east face was reduced to rubble and its artillery silenced.[5] Steele's attack on the west was led by the brigades of Brig. Gens. Charles E. Hovey and John M. Thayer with Francis P. Blair, Jr. in reserve. To the east Stuart supported with the brigades of Colonels Giles Smith and Thomas Kilby Smith against the rifle pits of Deshler's Arkansas and Texas soldiers. In the center A.J. Smith spearheaded his attack with Brig. Gen. Stephen G. Burbridge's brigade supported by Colonel William J. Landram. Burbridge's men became embroiled in small arms fight which caused more than 1/3 of all Union casualties.[4] Osterhaus advanced against the fort with Colonel Lionel A. Sheldon's single brigade.

General Stephen G. Burbridge planting the Union flag after the capture of the post.

January 11

Meanwhile, McClernand sent an army lieutenant up a tree to observe if Morgan and Sherman's troops were in place. The lieutenant reported they were in place and ready to assault, but Sherman's troops were still moving into position through muddy swamps. By the time the Navy's attack concluded it was too dark for the infantry to assault although some skirmishing had taken place. [4]

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