Number 39. Report of Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill, C. S. Army, commanding Lower Arkansas and White Rivers.
RICHMOND, VA., May 7, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Not being in communication with Lieutenant-General Holmes, commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department, I herewith forward for your consideration my report of the actions of the 10th and 11th of January last at Arkansas Post.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. J. CHURCHILL,
Brigadier General, Comg. Lower Arkansas and White Rivers.
RICHMOND, VA., May 6, 1863.
GENERAL: On the morning of the 9th of January I was informed by my pickets stationed at the mouth of the cut-off that the enemy, with his gunboats, followed by his fleet of seventy or eighty transports, were passing into the Arkansas River. It now became evident that their object was to attack the Arkansas Post. I immediately made every arrangement to meet him, and ordered out the whole force under my command, numbering about 3,000 effective men, to take position in some lower trenches about 1 1/4 miles below the fort. The Second Brigade, under Colonel Deshler, and the Third, under Colonel Dunnington, occupied the works, while the First Brigade, under Colonel Garland, was held in reserve.
Three companies of cavalry, under command of Captain Denson, Nutt, and Richardson, were sent in advance to watch the movements of the enemy. During the night the enemy effected a landing about 2 miles below, on the north side of the river.
The following day about 9 o'clock the gunboats commenced moving up the river and opened fire upon our position. Having but one battery of field pieces, of 6 and 12 pounders, I did not return their fire. It was here that I expected the co-operation of the guns from the fort, but owing to some defect in the powder they were scarcely able to throw a shell below the trenches much less to the fleet. About 2 o'clock p.m., discovering that I was being flanked by a large body of cavalry and artillery, I thought it advisable to fall back under cover of the guns of the fort to an inner line of intrenchments.
The enemy advanced cautiously, and as they approached our lines were most signally repulsed. They made no further attempt that evening to charge our works, and I employed the balance of the time till next morning in strengthening my position and completing my intrenchments. Discovering that a body of the enemy had occupied some cabins in our old encampment, I ordered Colonel R. Q. Mills with his regiment to drive them from the position, which he did most successfully, capturing several prisoners. Just before dark Admiral Porter moved up with several of his iron-clads to test the metal of our fort. Colonel Dunnington, who commanded the fort, was ready in an instant to receive him. The fire opened and the fight lasted near two hours, and finally the gunboats were compelled to fall back in a crippled condition.