Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 11, 1863

January 11, 1863:  Battle of Arkansas Post (Fort Hindman) – McClernand’s Federals, having taken the high ground over the fort, finally begin their attack.  Porter’s gunboats move in closer to shore and begin pounding the fort with heavey gunfire.  McClernand instructs Sherman not to attack until he gives the signal---but when Sherman sees that the Rebels are not responding very much to the naval bombardment, he pushes his divisions forward.  As his men come out into the open, however, Rebel rifle fire makes them hug the ground, and progress slows. 

Gen. Churchill, the Confederate commander, is troubled by the message he received from Gen. Holmes telling him to hold out until reinforcements arrive, or until the last man is dead.  But by 3 o’clock, his troops have had enough: his three brigades of Texas and Arkansas troops surrender in bits and pieces as Sherman’s men storm the ramparts, and soon most of the remaining garrison are prisoners.  The Rebels lose 60 dead, 80 wounded, and 4,793 as prisoners.  The Federals’ losses are heavy for this size of engagement: in the assault, they lose 184 dead, 898 wounded, and 29 missing, their battle casualties nearly ten times what the Rebels lose.  Union Victory.

---Gen. Grant sends McClernand a telegram, ordering him to desist from this Arkansas Post expedition as an unapproved exercise.  Grant’s note does not arrive in time to prevent the attack, however.  Among other things, Grant unequivocally tells McClernand to desist:

I do not approve of your move on the Post of Arkansas while the other is in abeyance. It will lead to the loss of men without a result. So long as Arkansas cannot re-enforce the enemy east of the river we have no present interest in troubling them. It might answer for some of the purposes you suggest, but certainly not as a military movement looking to the accomplishment of the one great result, the capture of Vicksburg.

Unless you are acting under authority not derived from me keep your command where it can soonest be assembled for the renewal of the attack on Vicksburg. . . .

---Battle of Hartville, Missouri:  Gen. Marmaduke’s cavalry raid has lost its focus and target, and Marmaduke has lost his motivation.  He stops his northward raid and, feeling unseen Yankee foes lurking everywhere, withdraws to the southeast, toward Hartville, which Porter had occupied just a few days previous.  As the Rebels approach Hartville, however, they run into the 21str Regiment of Iowa Infantry under the command of Col. Samuel Merrill.  Marmaduke sends Shelby’s Brigade forward on foot, and the fighting seesaws back and forth for a few hours.  By the end of the day, the Federals withdraw, but the Rebels sustain large losses.  Marmaduke calls off the raid and rides south.


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