Friday, January 4, 2013

Arkansas Post in January 1863 - G-Granddad James A Anderson

It is believed that Cap'n Anderson is the slave owner/master for whom my Great-grandmother Lucinda worked as a cook and Lucinda bore 12-14 children by her slave owner. 

Here is some historical data on him... as well as my collection of facts regarding his service as a Confederate soldier / Arkansas.

Anderson, James A
Third Lieutenant—Enlisted in Co. E, 24th Arkansas Infantry, at Monticello, Arkansas, June 16, 1862; appointed third lieutenant, June 16, 1862; captured at Arkansas Post, January 11, 1863; confined at U.S.
Military Prison, Camp Douglas, Illinois; exchanged at City Point, Virginia, April 10, 1863; resigned, March 1, 1864; born June 2, 1830; died June 14, 1905; buried in Dermott City Cemetery, Chicot county, Arkansas; widow Mattie Anderson filed Arkansas pension application #29293 from Chicot county, August 15, 1927.
One hundred and fifty years ago, the summer of 1862 took its toll on soldiers in both armies. As camps became crowded disease became commonplace. As the drought continued, crops failed, soldiers got sick, and Arkansas citizens wore themselves out in a meager and in many cases, poor and desperate existence. What little there was to eat was being devoured by the Confederate and Federal armies scattered across the state.

As US forces made their way to Helena, located on the Mississippi River, Hindman saw the need to strengthen the Confederate position on the Arkansas River at Pine Bluff. General Orders Number 27 dismisses General Roane from the Ouachita and moved his HQ to Pine Bluff. Roane is now in command of Jefferson, Bradley, Arkansas, Chicot, Drew, Ashley “and that part of Desha south of Arkansas River…”. Included in his new territory was Arkansas Post.

January 12, 2013By: 150th Anniversary Project by Don Roth, Arkansas in the Civil War, The Civil War Hub of Arkansas

Among those troops under his command was the 24th Arkansas Infantry Regiment.

Organized at Camp White Sulphur Springs in Jefferson County, this unit was one of many that were captured by the Federal Army at Arkansas Post in January 1863.

Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman spent a depressing week at Milliken’s Bend Louisiana, 20 miles north of Vicksburg following a bloody repulse from Chickasaw Bluffs northeast of the city. Together with Major Gen. John McClernand they discussed the recent capture of the ordnance boat Blue Wing, by Confederate cavalry operating from Arkansas Post, 25 miles up the Arkansas River. The military freight would greatly aid nearby Fort Hindman.

Sherman suggested the prospect of taking the bastion. For him it could be an exercise in redemption; for the political general McClernand—-he wanted bigger fish, not some obscure installation. When the two secured the cooperation of Adm. David D. Porter, McClernand decided to take command of the water-borne expedition.

It was composed of two Corp containing two divisions each. One was commanded by Sherman, the other by Gen George W. Morgan. The fleet of 60 transports and gunboats tied up three miles downriver from Fort Hindman at 5 PM on January 9th where the 32000 troops continuously disembarked until noon the next day.

Situated 117 miles below Little Rock, Arkansas Post was formerly a French outpost dating back to 1686. For a brief period from 1819 to 1820 the village had been the seat of the first Arkansas territorial legislature until its relocation to Little Rock in 1821. Since the war began the cotton counties between the capitals converted to corn and formed the breadbasket for the Confederacy in Arkansas.

The fort itself was a sizable earthen structure situated on high ground at the head of a horseshoe bend. The star shaped angular work mounted three heavy guns facing the river with four 10-pounder Parrott rifles and four lesser pieces landward. Approximately 4800 Texans and Arkansas infantry were assigned and commanded by Arkansas Gen Thomas J. Churchill. He had also called in 200 infantry from St Charles as well as Captain Johnson’s Texas Cavalry Company.

On the 10th three ironclad gunboats closed to within 400 yards of the fort with guns blazing while the ground forces wound their way in a circuitous movement to the rear of Fort Hindman like an engorged serpent. It wasn’t until sometime on the 11th all the soldiers were in their cold and muddy positions. Some distance to their front was a half mile trench well manned and extending from the northwestern corner of the fort to the Post Bayou that coursed southward at that point. For a time Johnson was assigned to guard the shallow crossings of that stream. The massive Federal line began at the bayou, then led eastward past the fort until it nearly touched the river.

At 1 PM the navy launched a 30 minute bombardment on the enemy position together with some of the army’s heavy field pieces. Then Sherman sent forward his units from the vicinity of the bayou and the rest of the Federal line sloshed into motion. The navy silenced all guns in the fort but one. A couple of sporadic charges were made by the Federals. One advance came to within 40 yards of the half mile trench when it was blunted by an opposing group of shotgun wielding Texans.

When the Feds finally prepared for an all out assault white flags suddenly appeared on a portion of the Confederate line near the fort. This was more then a little surprising to Churchill because he never ordered a surrender. When the enemy swarmed on the area where the flags appeared, further resistance was made futile. Churchill then ordered the remainder of his command to lay down their arms. (Mark K. Christ editor, Rugged and Sublime, The Civil War in Arkansas, University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1994, Page 64)

The Texas unit blamed for the surrender had spent its service time near Shreveport and never experienced combat. The destructiveness by artillery compounded by the sight of thousands of enemy troops was overwhelming to some.
The expedition suffered 30 navy and 1100 army casualties. While Churchill claimed 60 killed and 75 wounded that left 4791 prisoners. Captain Johnson was among the latter and died the following month of pneumonia in a St Louis hospital. Additionally Gen. Churchill gave up 3000 stands of arms and much ammunition, part of which came from the Blue Wing. The way was open to the breadbasket region and Little Rock but only as much as the fickle Arkansas River would allow. Gen. McClernand retired to the Mississippi River by order of Gen. U. S. Grant on January 17th.

This week one hundred and fifty years ago saw several military and political actions throughout the state. A few are listed below:
7-12-1862: Skirmish, Bentonville
7-13-1862: Bragg orders Parson’s Missouri Guards to report to Arkansas.
7-14-1862: Skirmish, Batesville
7-14-1862: Skirmish, near Helena
7-15-1862: Action near Fayetteville
7-15-1862: General’s Shelby and Cockrell move into Union controlled Missouri from Frog Bayou.

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