Second Arkansas Cavalry Battalion,
A Brief History
The information on these pages was edited and graciously given to the Edward G. Gerdes Arkansas Civil War page by Bryan R. Howerton, who we thank so much. He can be reached and thanked at this email address! "Bryan R. Howerton"
This battalion was organized at Memphis, Tennessee, in early April 1862, just after the Battle of Shiloh, from five independent cavalry companies from southern Arkansas:
A—Calhoun County Troop, organized at Hampton, Arkansas, February 20,
Company B—Bradley County Troop, organized at Mount Elba, Arkansas, February 22, 1862.
Company C—Dallas County Troop, organized at Tulip, Arkansas, March 1, 1862.
Company D—Jefferson County Troop, organized at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, March 1, 1862.
Company E—Ashley County Troop, organized at Hamburg, Arkansas, March 24, 1862.
Some of these companies appear to been involved in the Battle of Shiloh as independent units, prior to being assigned to the Second Arkansas Cavalry Battalion, but few details are available.
Upon the organization of the battalion, Major William D. Barnett, a 36-year-old physician from Bradley county, Arkansas, was assigned as the commanding officer. The only other member of the battalion field and staff who can be identified was Assistant Surgeon Thomas W. Hurley, a 26-year-old physician from Calhoun county, Arkansas. The organization of the battalion was apparently marred by an alleged mutiny. The following report appears in the official record:
“Head Quarters Army of the Miss., April 11th, 1862; to General Braxton Bragg, Comdg 2d Corps.—General: It is represented that there is a mutiny in the camp of Major Barnett’s Cavalry headed by a Captain Paine of that Battalion. This Battalion is near the encampment of Col. Fagan’s Arkansas Regiment of your Corps and Gibson’s Brigade. The General therefore orders you to take measures for the radical suppression of the mutiny. Capt. Paine refuses to obey the arrest of Major Barnett. Respectfully, Your obt svt, William Malone, A.A. Genl.”
It is unclear just what the circumstances were, or how it was resolved.
On May 15, 1862, this battalion was consolidated with the Sixth Arkansas Cavalry Battalion (Major Charles W. Phifer) at Corinth, Mississippi, to form the Second Arkansas Cavalry Regiment. The companies of the former Second Battalion became Companies D-E-F-G-H of the Second Regiment (see the individual company rosters for details). On August 18, 1862, the chronically-understrength Company F (formerly Co. E, Second Battalion) was consolidated into Company E (formerly C, Second Battalion), and Companies G and H were redesignated as Companies F and G, respectively.
As part of the Second Arkansas Cavalry Regiment, under Colonel William Ferguson Slemons, the former Second Battalion troops would go on to establish an impressive record under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. In 1864, the regiment was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Army and fought in Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas. A history and rosters of the Second Arkansas Cavalry Regiment will be presented here in the near future.
If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to have more information about the Civil War and Pension Records of the men who served in these Companies, contact Jeri Helms Fultz or Bryan Howerton
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