War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0169 Chapter XXXIV. CAPTURE OF VAN BUREN, ARK.

Search Civil War Official Records

wharf. We captured two boats and the ferry-boat, the transportation if two regiments, and 100 prisoners, including several officers. It is a good joke on Hindman. He is across the river, 5 miles from here,j with his whole force. We claim the country to the Arkansas River.

F. J. HERRON,

Brigadier-General.

Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND AND THIRD DIVISIONS,

Prairie Grove, Ark., December 31, 1862.

GENERAL: Some days after the battle of Prairie Grove, General Blunt and myself decided upon an expedition to Van Buren, but the weather was such as to prevent any movement at that time. On Christmas night we met and arranged the details, fixing the starting time on the morning of the 27th instant. The impression was given to the troops that a demonstration was to be made in the direction of Huntsville, and with that idea preparations were made.

At daybreak on the 27th, we moved out of camp, with picked men of the whole command, General Blunt going from Cane Hill, by the Cove Creek route, while I took the Telegraph or mountain road. We marched all of that day and until 3 o'clock the next morning, crossing the mountains successfully, and forming a junction at Oliver's Store, 18 miles from the river. Getting information in regard to their camps, pickets, & c., General Blunt instructed me to advance all my cavalry, leaving Huston, with the infantry and artillery, to follow up. The general and myself pushed on with the advance guard, striking their first picket 3 miles from Oliver's. After firing upon us, they ran, we following them into the camp at Dripping Springs. Here a regiment was formed in line, but our cavalry charged and drove them in great disorder, capturing wagons, tents, and all their camp equipage complete. On we traveled, chasing them through the streets of Van Buren, to the great surprise and astonishment of the citizens, who had heard nothing of our coming. They made three attempts to check us between Dripping Springs and Van Buren, but were driven every time. The last 10 miles was traveled in one hour, the whole cavalry force going in at a gallop.

Arriving on the hill overlooking the town, we found three steam-boats leaving the wharf and the ferry, making good time over the river. We chased them with the cavalry, overtaking the first one a mile below town, and, by a well-directed fire of musketry, brought her to. Colonel Cloud followed the other two 10 miles, capturing both, and bringing them back to the wharf. They were all loaded with corn and other stores. In the mean time the cavalry were scouring the country, and wagons were being brought in from every direction.

About 2.30 o'clock (we had arrived at 12 o'clock) a battery opened on the town from the opposite side of the river, and shelled the town for an hour. One of our men was killed and 5 wounded. General Blunt and myself made a narrow escape. We soon hurried up a long-range battery, and drove them off. The transaction was diabolical, to say the least of it, the town being full of women and children. At least 100 shells were fired into the houses, doing great damage, only one citizen being hurt that I know of. We remained there over night and until dark the next night, moving the command back to Dripping Springs.

The captures are numerous. After feeding all the corn we could, there remained between 15,000 and 20,000 bushels, which we destroyed, also burning the three boats captured - the ferry-boat and two boats