The Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas - Union Reports
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas
(These reports are all from Official Records, Series 1, Volume XXII.)


Reconnaissance toward Van Buren and Fort Smith, Ark.
November 20-23, 1862


Camp Babcock, Ark.
November 24, 1862

Report of Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt, U.S. Army

I have the honor to report that Lieutenant-Colonel [L.R.] Jewell, with a detachment of 600 men, sent on a
reconnaissance in the direction of Van Buren and Fort Smith, returned last night. He met the enemy’s pickets 15 miles
this side of Van Buren, who retreated at his approach. Learning that a large force was at Van Buren, he deemed it
prudent to proceed no farther, and returned. Information obtained from various sources, which I deem quite reliable, is
that Hindman’s, Marmaduke’s, Cooper’s, and Stand Watie’s forces are at Van Buren and Fort Smith. Their entire force is
estimated as high as 30,000; but I am quite sure it does not exceed 15,000 effective men, and probably not over 12,000.
If a small re-enforcement could be sent me, to enable me to leave a small force in the vicinity of Evansville, to protect my
rear and line of communication from any flank movement that might be made by any small rebel force sent by some
other route than the one upon which my column would move, I would not hesitate to attack them on the other side of the
mountains, and do not doubt of my ability to occupy and hold Van Buren and Fort Smith, provided General Steele
occupies the attention of General Holmes, so that re-enforcements cannot be sent from Little Rock.

(From Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt to Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis)

-----


Skirmish near Cane Hill, Ark.
November 25, 1862


Hdqrs. First Division, Army of the Frontier
Camp Babcock
November 26, 1862

Report of Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt, U.S. Army

General:  I have the honor to report that General Marmaduke, with his entire command, followed about twenty-four hours
in the rear of Lieutenant-Colonel [L.R.] Jewell, on his return from reconnoitering in the direction of Van Buren. He is now
encamped at Cane Hill, 7,000 or 8,000 strong. A detachment sent from my command attacked a large reconnoitering
party of the enemy yesterday, and scattered them. Spies who left their camp this morning inform me that General
Hindman, with a large force of infantry, is expected to join them, when they will make an attempt to get north into
Missouri. My supply train arrived this evening all right. I shall move on Marmaduke tomorrow morning, leaving my
transportation at this point with a small guard. Shall strike him next morning at dayling, unless he runs. Hope to destroy
him before he can be re-enforced by Hindman. Distance to Cane Hill is 30 miles. Can you not send a cavalry force to
Pineville or Neosho to protect my supply trains, as detachments of the enemy, in considerable force, are hanging on my
rear for the purpose of capturing or annoying them?

(Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt to Brig. Gen. Schofield, Commanding Army of the Frontier)

-----


Engagement at Cane Hill, or Boston Mountains, Ark.
November 28, 1862


November 29, 1862

Report of Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, U.S. Army, commanding Department of the Missouri.

General Blunt, with his division, made a forced march and attacked the enemy yesterday morning at Cane Hill, Ark. The
battle lasted for several hours. The enemy, under General Marmaduke, began to fall back about 1 o’clock, but retreated,
fighting till sundown. The victory was complete. Our loss is not great. The enemy much more. Our forces camp on the
battlefield. The enemy has retreated to Van Buren.

(Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to General-in-Chief H.W. Halleck)


-----


Cane Hill, Ark.
November 29, 1862

Reports of Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt, U.S. Army, commanding division, with congratulatory orders.

General:  Learning that a rebel force, under Marmaduke, 8,000 strong, was at Cane Hill, 40 miles north of Van Buren,
Ark., and that General Hindman was to join him today or tomorrow with a large force of infantry, for the purpose of
making a desperate effort to enter Missouri, I determined to strike Marmaduke, and destroy him before re-enforcements
arrived. Leaving my transportation in the rear, I made a forced march of 35 miles, with about 5,000 men, and attacked
him about 10 o’clock this morning. Found him strongly posted on advantageous ground. After an engagement of about
three hours, he commenced a retreat. Every foot of ground was fought over and hotly contested. The fight continued until
near sundown, when the enemy, finding that they artillery, which they were making every effort to get away, was about to
be captured, sent Colonels Shelby and Emmett MacDonald with a flag of truce, for the ostensible purpose of caring for
their dead and wounded, but with the real object of making good their retreat to Van Buren.

The casualties of the army I am unable to state with accuracy at this time, as we fought over 12 miles of ground. One of
the rebel officers, under the flag of truce, stated to me that they had lost 60 in killed, among them a lieutenant-colonel. My
loss is comparatively small. Among the wounded are Lieutenant-Colonel [L.R.] Jewell and Lieutenant [J.A.] Johnson, of
the Sixth Kansas. Both of them, I fear, mortally. The enemy are badly whipped, and will probably not venture, north of the
Boston Mountains again this winter. If this part of the State is held, as it is their reliance for subsistence, having eaten
out all in the valley of the Arkansas, they must soon retreat into Texas. I have sent for my teams to come up, and shall
occupy a position at or near Cane Hill. The rebels had about ten days’ rations of bread, cooked, and in little sacks
behind their saddles, from which it is evident they intended making a desperate effort to force their way north.

(Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt to Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis)

-----


Cane Hill, Ark.
December 2, 1862

General Marmaduke continued his flight all night, after the battle of the 28th, and is now in Van Buren. General Hindman
was expected to re-enforce him at this place on the evening of that day. Prisoners, of whom I captured 25, state that
Marmaduke’s force was 11,000. They were compelled to abandon two pieces of artillery, disabled by my batteries. A
number of their officers are killed, among them a Lieutenant-Colonel Monroe, of a Texas [Arkansas] regiment, and a
Captain Martin, of an Arkansas [Missouri] regiment. The notorious Quantrill and his band were engaged in the fight, and,
with Colonels Shelby and Emmett MacDonald, commanding the rear guard in the retreat across the Boston Mountains,
they fought desperately. Some of Quantrill’s men were killed and others taken prisoners.

My loss in killed is 5, and 4 mortally wounded, one of whom, Lieutenant-Colonel Jewell, Sixth Kansas, has since died.
Lieutenant [A.H.] Campbell, Sixth Kansas, was taken prisoner. The loss of the enemy in killed is about 75. They carried
most of their wounded off the field, and sent them to houses on the right and left of the road and battle-ground. All regret
the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Jewell, as he was a brave and gallant officer.

Two contrabands arrived today from Van Buren, who state that Hindman, with 12,000 infantry, crossed the Arkansas
River from the south Tuesday last, for the purpose of moving up to re-enforce Marmaduke, but have now all gone back to
their hole.

My transportation has just come up. I occupy the same position held by Marmaduke when I attacked him, and intend
holding it. They will not advance this side of the mountains, except with their combined forces; but I am prepared to meet
them, and with my little army whip 25,000 of such chivalry. An officer who came inside of our lines under a flag of truce
after night terminated the fighting, acknowledges that they were badly whipped and worse chased.

Lieutenant [J.A.] Johnson, Sixth Kansas, dangerously wounded; may possibly recover.

(Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt to Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis)

-----


Hdqrs. First Division, Army of the Frontier
Cane Hill, Ark.
December 3, 1862

General:  I have the honor to report that, on November 26, while encamped at Lindsey’s Prairie, 15 miles south of
Maysville, I received reliable information that General Marmaduke, with a force estimated at 8,000 men, was at Cane Hill
on the evening of the 28th. I immediately determined to attack Marmaduke, and, if possible, defeat him before the arrival
of General Hindman with re-enforcements.

Early on the morning of the 27th, I ordered all my transportation and commissary trains parked on Lindsey’s Prairie,
and, after detailing a sufficient guard for its protection, I commenced my march, with about 5,000 men and thirty pieces
of artillery, the men taking with them four days’ rations of hard bread and salt. The distance to be traveled to reach the
enemy was 35 miles, of which 25 were made by 7 p.m. on the 27th, when the command bivouacked for the night. From
that point I sent spies into the enemy’s camp, and learned that there pickets were strongly posted on the main road (on
which I was advancing), and that it could be easily defended.

I marched at 5 a.m. on the 28th, leaving that road and making a detour to the left, by a blind track; struck on that was
obscure and unfrequented, and entered Cane Hill directly from the north. As I had anticipated, they had no pickets on
this road, and I met no resistance until within half a mile of their camp. The enemy had learned, however, the night
previous, that I was moving upon them, and were prepared for our reception. About 200 of the Second Kansas Cavalry,
under Colonel [W.F.] Cloud, with two mountain howitzers, under Lieutenant [E.S.] Stover, were in the advance, which,
with [J.W.] Rabb’s battery and my staff and body guard, constituted the only force upon the ground, the main column
having been delayed in ascending a mountain about 7 miles back to the rear. Of this fact I was not apprised until my
advance was engaged. In passing down a gorge between two abrupt hills, their grand guard was encountered in
considerable force. Dashing on, and driving them before us, a few hundred yards brought us to where the bluff on the
right terminated, and in full view of the enemy, who were posed on the right of the road, on elevated ground, with timber
in their rear, their guns in battery, bearing upon the road on which I was approaching, and from which they immediately
opened a brisk fire. I at once ordered Rabb’s battery into position, and also the two howitzers under Lieutenant [E.S.]
Stover, when a fierce cannonading ensured, which lasted for the space of nearly an hour. My column not being up, I
could do nothing more than engage in this artillery duel until it arrived, and the enemy, thinking, no doubt, that I had a
large force on hand, did not venture from under the cover of their guns. Reconnoitering upon their left, I discovered an
approach by which a force could be brought on their left flank and do them great damage, and, perhaps, capture their
artillery.

I ordered Major [V.P.] Van Antwerp, of my staff, back to meet the Eleventh Kansas and Hopkins’ battery, who were in the
advance of the column, to bring them up on the double-quick, and send the battery, with six companies of the Eleventh,
to follow me, with the object above named, and to take the other four companies to the support of Rabb’s battery; but
they were too far in the rear and the men too much fatigued by the march to reach me in time. Major Van Antwerp took
the four companies down the road to Rabb’s battery, the fire from which, as afterward appeared (although laboring
under great disadvantage from the nature of the ground), had been very destructive on the enemy, compelling them to
abandon their position and seek another, on a high ridge three-fourths of a mile farther south, where their reserve had
been posted. To this point access was very difficult, as rugged ravines intervened, and it could only be approached by
the road. Taking a position on high ground, facing them from the north, I opened upon them a destructive fire with my
artillery, dismounting one of their guns and compelling them again to retire. For the third time they made a stand in the
town, or, rather, on the south side of it, upon a commanding eminence running east and west, and a most admirable
position for defense. Having now concentrated their entire force and selected this strong position, I felt assured that they
had resolved on a desperate resistance, and made my arrangements accordingly; but, after getting my force across a
deep and rugged ravine, and deploying them in position, ready to advance upon their long and well-formed line, I
discovered, much to my disappointment, that they had again retired, and were in full retreat to the mountains, Tenney’s
battery coming upon the ground they had abandoned just in time to send a few shells into the rear of their retreating
column, as they escaped under cover of the woods. As the men and horses of the enemy were fresh, and mine were
worn down and exhausted by hard marching, it was difficult to follow them in their flight; yet the men, eager for the fray,
strained every nerve.

For nearly 3 miles from the town, in the direction of Van Buren, the road runs through a valley, in which there are a few
farms, alternating with low hills and ravines, covered with thick woods and brush. Over this road a running fight, with
small-arms, took place, without much damage occurring to either party. Reaching a large mound at the base of the first
mountain (the commencement of the Boston Mountains proper), the enemy placed his artillery upon it, in a position
covering the road.

From this position he sought to prevent my force from proceeding up the valley and approaching the mountain. Directing
two howitzers, under Lieutenant Opdyke, to the right, upon a by-road, they quickly obtained a good position on the enemy’
s flank, while Rabb’s battery opened upon them in front. They were soon forced to abandon the high mound and see the
side and top of the mountain, where they made a determined resistance. Their artillery was posted on the crest of the
mountain, while their mounted riflemen were dismounted, and their whole force massed upon the sides and top of the
mountain, which was covered with scattered timber and but little underbrush. The nature of the ground was such that I
could not use my artillery to any advantage, and the mountain could be taken in no other way except by storm. I
accordingly ordered up the Second Kansas and dismounted them. They charged up the steep acclivity in the advance,
under the command of Capts. S.J. Crawford and A.P. Russell, Major [J.G.] Fisk having been wounded by a piece of shell
early in the day. Next followed the third Indian Regiment (Cherokee), under the command of Colonel [W.A.] Phillips, and
its other field officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Downing and Major [J.A.] Foreman, voluntarily assisted by Major Van Antwerp,
of my staff, and the Eleventh Kansas, under the command of its field officers, Colonel [Thomas} Ewing, [jr.,] Lieutenant-
Colonel [Thomas] Moonlight, and Major [P.B.] Plumb. The resistance of the rebels was stubborn and determined. The
storm of lead and iron hail that came down the side of the mountain, both from their small-arms and artillery, was
terrific; yet most of it went over our heads without doing us much damage. The regiments just named, with a wild shout
rushed up the steep acclivity, contesting every inch of ground, and steadily pushed the enemy before them, until the
crest was reached, when the rebels again fled in disorder. Four howitzers and Rabb’s battery were now brought up the
mountain and the pursuit renewed; the Third Indian and Eleventh Kansas Regiments, on the right and left of the road,
advancing in line through the woods, while the four howitzers occupied the road in front, with the Second and Sixth
Kansas and Rabb’s battery in their rear. About every half mile the enemy made a stand, when the four howitzers and the
Eleventh Kansas and Third Indian would as often put them to flight, leaving more or less of their dead and wounded
behind them. Thus the fight continued for some 3 miles, until, on descending partially from the mountain into a valley,
the Cove Creek road, leading from Fayetteville to Van Buren, was reached, at the point where it intersects the road from
Cane Hill to the last named place. At this point the enemy again brought his artillery into requisition. It was now near
sundown, and darkness must soon put an end to the pursuit. Down the valley, in front of us, the ground appeared
adapted to the use of cavalry to good advantage, and I determined to make an effort to capture their artillery, of which
they had six pieces. A large force of their best cavalry was acting as rear guard, with a portion of their artillery just in front
of them. Waiting for my cavalry to come up, I called for volunteers to make a charge. Three companies of the Sixth
Kansas, nearest at hand, responded promptly to the call, and, under command of their three field officers, Colonel [W.
R.] Judson, Lieutenant-Colonel [L.R.] Jewell, and Major [W.T.] Campbell, dashed on the rear of the rebel column, cutting
and shooting them down with sabers, carbines, and revolvers. The charge continued for about half a mile down the
valley, to a point where it converged in a funnel shape, terminating in a narrow defile. At this point a large body of the
enemy were in ambush in front and upon the flanks, where cavalry could not approach, with their battery also masked in
front. As soon as the party we were pursuing had passed through the defile, they opened upon us a most destructive
fire, which, for the moment, caused my men to recoil and give back, in spite of my own efforts and those of other officers
to rally them; whereas, if they had, after receiving the enemy’s fire, passed on 200 or 300 yards, we would have secured,
in a moment more, what we so much coveted – the enemy’s artillery. Emboldened by their success in defending the
defile and checking our advance, they raised a wild yell and advanced toward us. With the aid of Colonel Judson, Major
Campbell, and Captains [H.S.] Greeno and [D.] Mefford, I succeeded in rallying the three companies of the Sixth Kansas,
who had suffered severely in the charge, and formed them across the valley, and the four howitzers, coming up at the
same time and opening on the enemy with shell, soon forced them to retire. Yet they seemed determined to dispute the
passage of the defile to which I have referred – a position admirably adapted for defense; and beyond which, as I
afterward learned, there was a wide and open valley; hence their obstinate resistance at this point, in order to save their
guns. I resolved, however, at all hazards to force my way through this gorge, and, as darkness was approaching and I
had no time to get up infantry and send them out upon the flanks, I prepared to make an assault in front. Loading the
four howitzers and one section of Rabb’s battery with double canister, I ordered them up by hand, in battery, with the
three companies of the Sixth Kansas with Sharps’ carbines advancing in line in rear. I had directed that not a gun
should be fired until I gave the word. When within about 400 yards of the enemy, who were defending the gorge, and as I
was about to give the word to fire, an officer from General Marmaduke came galloping up with a white flag. On sending
an officer to receive it, they requested the privilege of taking off their dead and wounded. Consideration for the fate of
Lieutenant-Colonel Jewell, and others who had fallen upon the ground they then occupied, and whom I feared they
might brutally murder, induced me to respect their flag of truce, convinced though I was at the time that it was a cowardly
trick, resorted to to enable them to make good their retreat and save their guns. It being now dark, and my men entirely
exhausted and without food, I considered further pursuit useless, and returned with my command to Cane Hill.

The casualties in my command were 4 killed and 36 wounded; 4 of them mortally, since dead. Among the latter was
Lieutenant-Colonel Jewell, of the Sixth Kansas. He was a brave and gallant officer, whose noble example is worthy of
emulation. Lieut. J.A. Johnson, of the same regiment, a daring and excellent young officer, received a desperate wound
from a musket ball, which passed entirely through his body; yet it is hoped he will recover. The enemy’s loss is 75 killed;
wounded not known, as they took a large portion of them away.

The officers and men of my command who took part in this engagement behaved, without exception, nobly.

To the following members of my staff, Maj. V.P. Van Antwerp, inspector-general; Capt. Lyman Scott, acting assistant
adjutant-general; Lieut. J. Fin. Hill, aide-de camp, and Lieut. D. Whitaker, acting aide-de-camp, I am indebted for efficient
and valuable services during the day.

I am, general, very respectfully, our obedient servant,

(From Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt to Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis)
Custom Search
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.