Battle of Backbone Mountain

The Action at Ashley's Station was a large engagement fought between Confederate States Army cavalry raiders under Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby and Union Army garrison forces under the overall command of Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews and immediate commands of Colonel Greenville M. Mitchell and Colonel Washington F. Geiger in Prairie County, Arkansas on August 24, 1864 during the American Civil War.

Battle

Union general, Brigadier Christopher Columbus Andrews noticed about 2,250 horsemen advancing towards his station at White River. He assumed that they were a part of a routine Federal expedition. However, by the time he discovered that it was Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s division, it was too late. Shelby was able to deceive Andrews because of his troops’ dramatic increase in men from the last time that the two met. He added two whole brigades to his force, most of whom were unarmed volunteers. He was planning on meeting up with fellow Confederate, Major General Sterling Price, who was planning on raiding Missouri. Shelby's division was dressed in almost exclusively Union uniforms, which also through Andrews off. The Confederates attacked swiftly and captured 3 forts while the Union was preoccupied. Meanwhile, Colonel Greenville M. Mitchell gathered his surviving companies and pushed forward to hold off Shelby's attacks. For extra help, Mitchell called Andrews who was able to send 890 men worth of reinforcements. These reinforcements were under command of Colonel Washington F. Geiger, who was sent from DeValls Bluff, Arkansas. He was able to do this because there had been multiple fortifications constructed along the White River. These stations prevented Confederates from destroying the railroad tracks by the White River and also helped Generals communicate with each other. They were called “Hay Stations” because they allowed soldiers to protect and harvest the hay fields that were close to the river. Geiger's troops engaged with Shelby's troops. They fought for two hours. Eventually, some of the Confederate forces were pushed back. However, the main rebel force was busy destroying the hay machines and parts of the railroad that were near the White River. The volunteers that Shelby had recruited to his army helped him destroy things immensely. Having so many more troops than the Union, the Confederacy was able to damage the things they needed most, the Hay Stations and the Union railroads. Shelby assembled the best of hid forces to destroy the Hay Stations. The three brigades that he chose were lead by Colonel David Shanks, Colonel Sidney. D. Jackman, and Colonel Thomas H. McCray.[1] Geiger made his way back to the White River as the night approached but were held up by another short battle. They fought for about 30 minutes at Big Cypress Creek, Arkansas before returning to their base.

Effects

Shelby's troops and cavalrymen destroyed over ten miles of railroad track, burned about 3,000 bales of hay, destroyed 20 hay-cutting machines, raided five Union stations, and killed many horses and livestock.[2] These final battles at the White River were Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby's and his troops’ final attacks on northeast Arkansas that summer.

Casualties

Overall, Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby's troops suffered about 173 casualties, mostly being wounds. He also reported in his log that his troops captured 577 Union soldiers and killed or wounded about 200 more. However, General Christopher Columbus Andrews only reported 400 to 500 casualties, including the ones from Geiger's troops.[3]

References

  1. ^ Porter, Scott A. (2007). "Thunder across the Arkansas Prairie: Shelby's Opening Salvo in the 1864 Invasion of Missouri". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 66 (1): 47. ISSN 0004-1823. JSTOR 40021096.
  2. ^ Porter, Scott A. (2007). "Thunder across the Arkansas Prairie: Shelby's Opening Salvo in the 1864 Invasion of Missouri". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 66 (1): 49. ISSN 0004-1823. JSTOR 40021096.
  3. ^ Porter, Scott A. (2007). "Thunder across the Arkansas Prairie: Shelby's Opening Salvo in the 1864 Invasion of Missouri". The Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 66 (1): 55. ISSN 0004-1823. JSTOR 40021096.