Fort Smith National Cemetery
Union dead from the Battle of
Massard Prairie were buried
here after the fight.
Fort Smith, Arkansas
A restored quartermaster
storehouse at Fort Smith
National Historic Site is a
reminder of why Confederate
troops targeted the post.
The Battle of Massard Prairie: Union Reports
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
August 15, 1864

Report of Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele, U.S. Army, commanding the Department of
Arkansas

“27th (July), a force of between 1,500 and 2,000 rebels, under General Gano,
attacked our outposts seven miles from Fort Smith, consisting of about 200 men
of the Sixth Kansas, under command of Captain Mefford, moving up in two
columns, the one driving in the pickets, and the other flanking them. Captain
Mefford fought his men bravely, but was soon overpowered, and he and 82 of his
men were taken prisoners. The enemy retired before re-enforcements could be
sent. Ten of our men were killed and 15 wounded. The enemy lost 12 killed and
20 wounded, left on the field.”

Official Records, Series 1, Volume LIII, Part 1, page 13.


Fort Smith, Arkansas
July 30, 1864

Report of Brig. Gen. John M. Thayer, U.S. Army, commanding District of the
Frontier.

“Sir:  I have to report that on the morning of the 27th instant a force of between
1,500 and 2,000 rebels, under command of General Gano, all mounted, attacked
my outpost, seven miles out, composed of about 200 men of the Sixth Kansas
Cavalry, under command of Captain Mefford. They moved up in two columns, one
driving in the pickets, the other flanking them. Captain Mefford formed his men
and fought them bravely, but was very soon overpowered, and he and 82 men
were taken prisoners, and the enemy retired before re-enforcements could be got
the relief of our men. I sent a force in pursuit but could not overtake them. There
were 10 of our men killed and 15 wounded; 12 of the enemy killed and 20
wounded, left on the field. I have been obliged to keep a force out that distance so
that our stock could graze on the prairie.”

Official Records, Series 1, Volume LIII, Part 1, page 23.


Itinerary of the District of the Frontier, commanded by Brig. Gen. John M. Thayer.

“July 27. – At daybreak the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, on outpost duty, six miles from
Fort Smith, were attacked by General Gano’s (Texas) brigade. Loss: 10 killed, 17
wounded; captured, 115 enlisted men and 2 commissioned officers, Captain
Mefford and Lieutenant Defriese.”

Official Records, Series 1, Volume LIII, Part 1, page 24.


Fort Smith, Arkansas
July 29, 1864

Report of Lieut. Jacob Morehead, Sixth Kansas Cavalry.

“Sir:  I have the honor to report to you that I was in command of Company B, Sixth
Kansas Cavalry, on the morning of the 27th instant, when the enemy made the
attack on our camp, on Massard Prairie; and as soon as the alarm was given that
the enemy was in the prairie, which was about 6 a.m., I sent immediately for the
herd, which had been out grazing since daylight, and was about three-quarters of
a mile southwest of camp. I formed my men on the right of camp to protect my
herd as it came in and until it could be secured, but before the horses could be
brought up the enemy charged on us, which stampeded the herd and left the men
on foot to fight as best they could. We drove the enemy back, and as I had received
no orders from the commanding officer, I ordered my men to fall back until they
could form on the right of the other companies. When I had fallen back to the left of
my company’s parade ground I came in speaking distance of Major Mefford, when
I received orders to form my company on the right to protect the camp. I
immediately took the position assigned me, with Company D on my left. We held
our position, repulsing three distinct charges of the enemy. At this time I saw that
Major Mefford had, with Companies E and H, been driven back from their position
on the left of the line and had begun to fall back across the prairie. I knew that I
could not hold my ground much longer with what men I had, so, without receiving
orders from Major Mefford, commenced falling back toward him. As we fell back I
had several men captured by the enemy that was advancing through the timber in
the center of our camp. We fought and retreated in good order until we came
within half a mile of the house on the prairie, when the enemy closed in on all
sides, taking many more of our men prisoners. Those that were left continued
fighting and falling back to the house. There the men that were left were
overpowered and captured. Before we reached the house I received a slight
wound in the right thigh. Some of my men who were first captured made their
escape by hiding in the thick brush, the enemy not staying to hunt for stragglers,
but left immediately after the men at the house were captured, taking with them all
the men that could travel. All did well under the circumstances, it being a surprise;
after driving in the pickets, the enemy was in our camp. I lost in the engagement 3
killed, 2 mortally wounded, 5 severely wounded, and 40 men taken prisoners.”

Official Records, Series 1, Volume LIII, Part 1, page 25.
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