Friday, January 10, 2014

Hold Out Until Help Arrives

The Battle of Arkansas Post [Battle of Fort Hindman] a part of the Vicksburg Campaign was fought January 9th through 11th 1863 near the mouth of the Arkansas River.

The Confederate Army had an earthwork fort near Arkansas Post a bluff on the Arkansas River, built to prevent river passage to Little Rock, Arkansas.  The fort had a great view and was named Fort Hindman in honor of Confederate General Thomas C Hindman.  The fort was held by about 5,000 infantry from Arkansas and Texas under command of Confederate Brigadier General Thomas J Churchill.

Union political Major General John A McClernand ordered Major General William T Sherman Corps joined with his into the Army of the Mississippi, totaling about 33,000 men.  On January 4th 1863 McClernand ordered this force with navy support to move on Arkansas Post.

Union boats beginning landing troop about 3 miles below Arkansas Post at Notrebe’s Plantation on January 9th 1863.  These men moved up the river toward Fort Hindman.  Sherman’s Corps took the Confederate trenches forcing them back into the Fort.  By eleven on the morning of January 10th 1863 all the Union troops were on land.  Churchill made a request for reinforcements when he saw the overwhelming size of the Union force advancing on him.  From his superior Churchill was told to “hold out till help arrived or until all dead.”  The Union troops split to make a flanking movement, but were unable to do so because of swamps and impassible roads.  With McClernand’s troops moving on the Fort, the Union Navy’s gunboats commanded by Rear Admiral David D Porter pounded the Fort from 400 yard away.  This bombardment inflicted heavy damage on the Confederate guns.

The next morning McClernand’s troops deployed in an arc around Fort Hindman.  The infantry attacked at about 1pm.  At the same time the Union gunboats also moved into attack.  By 4:30 when McClernand was planning a massive assault, the Confederates began to show surrender flags.  As the Fort fell Porter accepted the surrender of Confederate Colonel John Dunnington who was in charge of the Confederate artillery.

The defeat of the Confederates at Arkansas Post took away a quarter to the deployed military force west of the Mississippi River.  Confederate losses were about 5,500 men.  Union losses were numbered at 1,047.

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