Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fighting In Arkansas

General Richard Gano
The Battle of Fort Smith was fought in western Arkansas on July 31st 1864.

Following the failure of the Camden Expedition by the Union troops, most of Arkansas was left open to Confederate raids.  One of these many raids took place at a Union camp located near Massard Prairie on July 27th 1864.  The ease with which Confederate General Richard Gano won this short battle emboldened him to continue raiding in the area.

On July 31st 1864 Confederate General Douglas Hancock Cooper led his division which included Gano’s brigade and the brigade of Confederate General Stand Watie, just north of Fort Smith.  Watie moved his men against the Fort from the south, while Gano’s men held the west side of the Poteau River.

Union General John M Thayer had three brigades defending Fort Smith.  As Watie’s men moved they came up against the Union 6th Kansas Cavalry under the command of Colonel William R Judson.  The 6th fell back up the Texas Road letting the Union troops at the garrison know about the arrival of the Confederates.  The battle soon became an artillery duel.  Thayer’s guns were stronger and drove off the Confederate artillery in short order.  The Confederates made an orderly withdrawal, leaving a small force to cover their retreat.

If you are interested in reading more, Cooper's Attack on Fort Smith  is a very good web site.

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