SALINE TERRITORY, AR. 1864
Copied from a Special Edition of "THE MERRY GREEN PRESS"
Dr. J. M. Brown of the 29th Arkansas Volunteers submitted a lighter story to us which we print here. "As we marched toward the Jenkins' Ferry battlefield, it was so dark that only the lightning showed us the road, stumps, and gullies. Just as day was beginning, we were halted along a fence which appeared to enclose a last year's new ground, for there were many small trees that had been deadened before last year's crop had been put in. These orders rang back over the line. 'Attention! Face left! Make ready! Fire!' As the lightning flashed, the effect of the brigade's shot on the dead branches of those trees was wonderful to behold."
A veteran of the 33rd Iowa observed: "There was the most perfect equality and democracy, we had ever seen in the army. The officers had no 'sleeping utensils' with them, and therefore, had to lie down as they were. General Rice was fortunate enough to have a cloak to lie on. He made a pillow of the bodies of one or two sleepy soldiers, who happend to be near him. One of the men happened to awake about 4 o'clock, and in moving a little, he almost stumbled over our division commander (Salomon), stretched upon the bare ground, with his feet to the fire, and looking like any other Dutchman."
Dr. Brown remembered another incident: I did not relish my day's assignment. Shortly after the brigade had halted and while the soldiers were building fires, an orderly sergeant hailed me and took me before General Hawthorn. As soon as I had saluted, the general remarked, "Chaplain, I have ordered a detail of sixty men, the best in the brigade, to report to you at once, march them here as soon as you can line them up. I want to say a word to them." At the risk of arousing the general's ire, I informed him "there were two other chaplains in the brigade..., that had led the infirmary corps in previous engagements, that I had lately married a wife." Hawthorn was a brave man, of splended appearance and in every respect a worthy leader of men, a minister of the Gospel, of the Primitive Baptist persuasion, he turned his large loving brown eyes upon me. "Chaplain Brown, I selected you for this dangerous work because you are a Presbyterian and believe just as I do, that whatever is to be, will be anyhow! Bring me that detail of men."
A Confederat Office Reported: "At midnight
we were called into the line and ordered to move on. The night was so black
that one could almost feel the darkness with the hand. Sounds of distant
thunder fell upon the ear, which as it came nearer, swelled into a roar.
In the darkness one could see nothing. Then a flash of lightning would
come and reveal a long line of bayonets stretching way down the road and
out into the darkness. Every man that spoke did so in reference to the
whereabouts of himself and his command. Frequently, a mounted officer was
threatened by an infantryman, whom he had unwittingly ridden over. We had
stopped in the road for some purpose. I had dismounted and was leaning
against my horse, with a cape over my head, for the rain was falling steadily,
when the knee of a horseman took me violently in the back. I said something
to him which caused him to turn his head suddenly when he rode over two
or three soldiers. One of them threatened to bayonet the man and the horse
both, wound up a tirade of abuse by demanding of....(the horseman) his
name and business. The horseman replied that his name was E. Kirby Smith,
and that his business was to command the army. The announcement appeared
to be satisfactory, as it was followed by profound silence."
Near Little Rock the Federal column was met by a supply train sent out by General Joseph R. West where rations of hard-tack, coffee and sow-belly were distributed with haste.
A Texas veteran remarked that each Confederate soldier was issued rations of two ounces of bacon and one ear of corn following the battle on April 30th. It is known that the country through which both armies marched is unable to support such a force for very long.
Article: THE MULE BRIGADE
During the march toward Little Rock following the Battle at Jenkins' Ferry, sick, wounded and weak Federal soldiers unable to walk were supplied with mules unhitched from abandoned wagons. This became known as the mule brigade and was formed into something like regular military style as it entered Little Rock.
These disable veterans, along with Confederate prisoners captured on the march, were pressed into closer ranks and paraded into Fort Steele with what was left of the VII Corps.
Article: SAVED BY A BOY AND A MULE
Sergeant Peter K. Bonebrake of the 33rd Iowa Infantry Volunteers was wounded at the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry. The Federal troops were scattered in such haste that they could not stop to pick up the injured and that meant that many men died who should have recovered. Bonebrake was one of the wounded left on the field where a spent musket ball had struck his shoulder. He fell and could not move and would have bled to death if help had not come. He was saved by a black boy called Clem whom he had befriended.
Sergeant Bonebrake lay helpless all afternoon and night. He knew that he had to get away from the battlefield before morning and was weak from loss of blood and lack of food. Just then his boy found him. Clem knew that some had already begun robbing the sick and the dead. He saw one of the mules that had been used to pull artillery and it still had the bridle and some other portion of harness on. Clem caught him, and lifted his protector onto the mule's back.
Leading the mule, he set out after the retreating Union Army hoping to overtake them. But the mule was slow, and the soldier on his back could not hold on safely. In the early afternoon they were halted by a group of three guerrilla horsemen who were not Southern soldiers but who lived by robbery. They three discussed what to do with the white man and the boy. Two of them voted to shoot both, but one advised against it; He won't live anyway; why kill him? Then they shot Clem and rode away.
The sergeant sat on the mule's back all the rest of that day and night. He dared not get off lest he could not get on again. He was have-starved and only partially conscious. The mule stopped for long intervals to eat grass and Peter toppled but held on. Eventually, after three days, they reached the Federal camp.
How he had been able to stay on the mule's back, he could not tell. He was almost delirious when he struggled into a camp which proved to be that of the 33rd Iowa Infantry. Some of his own company carried him into the regimental hospital where food was brought to him. He ate very little. One of the doctors remarked that he could not live until morning. He dropped to sleep but awakened at early dawn. He knew that an operation to remove the bullet would be the finish. He did not know the Regimental doctors but he determined to reach his Company Hospital and the doctor he knew. He was too weak to stand, so he crept on hands and knees, much of the way. He rested at frequent intervals and sometimes was certain that he had fainted. Just as dawn was changing to daylight, he reached the hospital, fainted, as his friends recognized him and carried him to the improvised hospital. The good doctor saw that an immediate operation was necessary. So with Peter stretched out on a rough tableunder the light of a lantern, the bullet was removed, and the wound soon healed and the sergeant returned to his company in Little Rock.
Article: QUARTERMASTER'S REPORT OF FEDERAL PROPERTY LOSSES
Statement of wagons and mules captured and destroyed during the expedition of the VII Army Corps: Total number of wagons captured by the enemy, 298; total number of wagons burned during engagements by the enemy's projectiles, about 90; total number of wagons destroyed by orders, 247; total number of wagons missing, 635; total number of mules captured, about 2,000; total number of mules lost and abandoned, about 500; total number of mules missing, 2500.
Grant County Museum in Sheridan, Arkansas printed in observance of the 125th Anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Jenkins' Ferry that was fought April 29-30th, 1864 in what was then Hot Springs and Saline County Territory...later incorporated into Grant County in 1869.
The above information may be used for non-commercial historical and genealogical purposes only and with the consent of the page owner may be copied for the same purposes so long as this notice remains a part of the copied material. EDWARD G. GERDES
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