ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Van Buren, Arkansas
Grave of a Southern Soldier
This grave at Van Buren's
Fairview Cemetery contains
the remains of a soldier from
Crump's regiment. A number
of men from this unit were
killed in the fighting.
The Battle of Van Buren - Confederate Reports
(The following is excerpted from the Official Records, Series 1, Volume XXII.)

Headquarters, Hindman’s Division
Little Rock, Ark.
February 15, 1863

Report of Maj. Gen. T.C. Hindman, C.S. Army.

Colonel:  After the battle of Prairie Grove, having returned south of the mountains, I
found it impossible to forage Marmaduke’s cavalry in Northwest Arkansas, and
accordingly ordered him to Lewisburg, 100 miles below Van Buren. My force being
thus reduced and continuing to diminish in strength daily by desertions and a
frightful increase of sickness, the latter caused by unprecedented hardships to
which the men had been exposed, the former resulting principally, in my opinion,
from the non-payment of the troops and the consequent sufferings of their
families, I decided that it was unadvisable to keep my main body on the north side
of the river, and, therefore, crossed it to the south side, and went into camp in the
vicinity of Fort Smith. One of Fagan’s infantry regiments, with a section of artillery,
remained at Van Buren, and one regiment of cavalry, under Lieut. Col. R.P. Crump,
was posted at Dripping Springs, 9 miles north of that place, instructed to picket at
Oliver’s 19 miles north, and at corresponding points on all other roads leading
toward the enemy, scouting actively on each road, and keeping up constant
patrols by day and night between the several picket stations….

…On December 28, at 10 a.m., Lieutenant-Colonel Crump reported to me by
courier that the enemy was advancing on the Cove Creek road in heavy force of
cavalry, infantry and artillery. A few minutes afterward, Brigadier General Cooper,
who was at Scullyville, in the Choctaw Nation, 15 miles from Fort Smith, reported
to me by courier that a Federal cavalry force of three or four regiments, with
artillery, under Colonel Phillips, had crossed to the south side of the river, at Fort
Gibson, the preceding day. Immediately after, I received information by telegraph
from a detachment of cavalry posted at Borland’s, 35 miles below Van Buren, on
the north side of the river, covering the roads from Fayetteville to Ozark and
Clarksville, that a regiment of Federal cavalry was within 20 miles of that position,
moving south.

Fagan’s division was on the march 25 miles below; Frost’s was 10 miles below;
Shaver’s brigade, less than 1,000 strong, with one battery, was 2 miles below, in
camp.

General Cooper was ordered to retire southward upon his depots of supplies, the
nearest of which was Johnson’s Station, on the Canadian, about 90 miles from
Fort Smith. Shaver’s brigade was put under arms, and moved forward to the river
opposite Van Buren. Frost was ordered back to Shaver’s position, detaching
enough artillery and infantry to hold the crossing at Strain’s, 6 miles below Van
Buren; and orders were given to remove by boat and wagon, as rapidly as
possible, the public property at Van Buren and Fort Smith. At the same time I
telegraphed General Marmaduke, at Lewisburg, to move northward and strike the
enemy in flank and rear.

At 11.05 o’clock, being one hour and five minutes after the first notice of the enemy’
s advance, the Federal cavalry and light artillery were in Van Buren. As they
approached the landing, West’s battery, of Shaver’s brigade, drove them back,
killing and wounding several. Skirmishing continued there till nearly sunset, when
the Federal infantry appeared, and two batteries of heavy rifled pieces opened
from the commanding heights in and above the town. Meanwhile a cavalry force
pursued and captured Colonel Crump’s train and part of a train laden with
supplies for my wounded at Cane Hill, and also captured three steamboats, the
Notre, which had grounded on a bar 1 mile below Van Buren, and the Key West
and Rose Douglass, which had been ordered down, but had stopped for some
cause unknown on the south side of the river, opposite Strain’s Landing. This was
before there was time for Frost’s detachment to reach that point. The steamers
Eva and Arkansas, being still above Van Buren, were burned by my orders, after
transferring to wagons all their freight for which I had transportation.

About dark, artillery firing commenced at Strain’s Landing, between Frost’s
detachment, posted there, and a Federal force on the opposite side, having field
pieces of large caliber. It continued during two hours, when the enemy retired. I
had now removed all the public stores for which I had transportation. My whole
force did not exceed 4,000. That of the enemy in and near Van Buren was not less
than 7,000. His cavalry moving on both my flanks, might soon get entirely in my
rear. I therefore determined to retire all my command southward, and cross the
river near Clarksville, unite with Fagan, and there take position. This intention was
carried out without any occurrence that need be reported.

I forward herewith the reports of my staff officers [Note:  Not included in Official
Records], showing the losses of public property at Van Buren and Fort Smith. All is
reported as lost which was not actually brought away by them, although a
considerable quantity of these stores has since been recovered.

The report of Lieutenant-Colonel Crump and his officers commanding pickets,
scouts, &c., is forwarded also [Note: Not found for the Official Records].

I likewise forward herewith Brigadier-General Marmaduke’s report of his
expedition into Missouri, under the ordered telegraphed him by me on December
28.

Respectfully,

(Major General T.C. Hindman to Col. S.S. Anderson, Assistant Adjutant-General)
Arkansas River at Van Buren
Union and Confederate
cannon dueled across the
river on the afternoon of
December 28, 1862.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Van Buren, Arkansas
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