Battle of Bayou Fourche

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The Battle of Bayou Fourche (also known as the Engagement at Bayou Fourche or the Battle of Little Rock) was a minor military engagement of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Little Rock Campaign. The conflict was fought on September 10, 1863, in Pulaski County, Arkansas, near the Bayou Fourche (present-day Little Rock), and was the culmination of a month-long offensive launched by U.S. Army Major-General Frederick Steele on August 1, 1863, to capture the capital of Arkansas.[1] The campaign included engagements at West Point, Harrison’s Landing, Brownsville, Bayou Meto, and Ashley’s Mills.[2]

Background

On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg, Mississippi – the Gibraltar of the Confedracy – fell. With the Mississippi River again, in U.S. President Abraham Lincoln‘s words, running “unvexed to the sea,” Steele, commanding the “Arkansas Expedition,” preceded from Helena on August 10th to lead the invasion of 12,000 troops west into Arkansas. Awakening to the distant rumble of artillery September 10th, the citizens of Little Rock found themselves in the vortex of the conflict.[3]

Battle

On September 10, 1863, Steele sent a cavalry division led by Brigadier-General John W. Davidson across the Arkansas River to advance on Little Rock while he moved against Confederate forces strongly entrenched on the north side of the river. In his thrust toward the state capitol, Gen. Davidson ran into Marmaduke and Walker’s divisions commanded by Brigadier-General John S. Marmaduke near the Bayou Fourche. Aided by field artillery from the north side of the river, Davidson forced Marmaduke out of his position and sent the defenders fleeing back to Little Rock, which fell to U.S. troops that evening.[4]

Aftermath

C.S. Army Major-General Sterling Price, commanding at Little Rock, fell back to Arkadelphia on the 14th, and eventually reestablished his command at Camp Bragg, Arkansas. Governor Harris Flanagin relocated the state capitol to Washington, Arkansas, where it remained for the rest of the war.[5] The fall of Little Rock to Union forces after Vicksburg, sealed Arkansas’ fate and helped to further demoralize Confederate citizens west of the Mississippi River.[6]

Battlefield preservation

The growth of Little Rock has obscured many of the sites associated with the battle and subsequent evacuation of the city. Today, several markers and monuments are located inside the Bayou Fourche Battlefield, but further expansion of Little Rock National Airport threatens to consume additional land.[7]

See also

References

  1. ^ United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/m1/471/?q=Etter : accessed July 26, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department, Denton, Texas.
  2. ^ United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/m1/471/?q=Clarendon : accessed July 17, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department, Denton, Texas.
  3. ^ The Little Rock Campaign Tour: A Driving Tour of Sites Along the Route the Union Army Took to Capture the Capitol of Arkansas (PDF) (3rd ed.). Civil War Round Table of Arkansas and Central Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trail Association. September 2007.
  4. ^ “Bayou Forche”. American Battlefield Protection Program. National Park Service. n.d. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  5. ^ “Historic Washington State Park”. Arkansas State Parks Guide, 2011. Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. p. 32. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  6. ^ United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 22, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1888; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154600/m1/471/?q=Clarendon : accessed July 17, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department, Denton, Texas.
  7. ^ Update to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields Final DRAFT – State of Arkansas (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: American Battlefield Protection Program. December 2010. pp. 8–9, 16–18. Retrieved October 5, 2018.

Further reading

  • Burford, Timothy Wayne, and Stephanie Gail McBride. The Division: Defending Little Rock, August 25–September 10, 1863. Jacksonville, AR: WireStorm Publishing, 1999.
  • Christ, Mark K. Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle for a State. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010.
  • “Here in the Wilds of Arkansas: Interpreting the 1863 Little Rock Campaign.” MLS thesis, University of Oklahoma, 2000.
  • Huff, Leo E. “The Last Duel in Arkansas: The Marmaduke-Walker Duel.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 23 (Spring 1964): 36–49.
  • “‘The Sting of Being an Exile’: The Little Rock Campaign of 1863. Pulaski County Historical Review 61 (Spring 2013): 34–47.
  • “The Union Expedition Against Little Rock.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 22 (Fall 1963): 224–237

External links