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1st Arkansas Light Artillery (Confederate)
Flag of Arkansas.svg
Arkansas state flag
Active September 27, 1860–May 4, 1865
Disbanded May 4, 1865
Country Confederate States of America
Allegiance Dixie CSA
Branch Artillery
Size Battery
Nickname(s) Fort Smith Artillery
Engagements

American Civil War

Battle honours Southern Cross of Honor to Private John Campbell for the Battle of Murfreesboro[1]
Website First Arkansas Light Artillery (Rivers’ Battery)
Commanders
1860-1861 Captain John G. Reid
Ceremonial chief Captain David Provence
1862-1863 Captain John T. Humphreys
1863-1865 Lieutenant John W. Rivers
Arkansas Confederate Artillery Batteries
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Trigg's Arkansas Battery 2nd Arkansas Light Artillery

The 1st Arkansas Light Artillery, originally known as the Fort Smith Artillery (1861), was a Confederate artillery battery that served during the American Civil War. The unit was actually a pre-war volunteer militia company which was activated as part of the Arkansas State Troops and mustered out of state service following the Battle of Wilson's Creek. The unit immediately re-organized and re-enlisted for Confederate service. The unit spent the majority of the war in the western theater, fighting as part of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The unit is also known as Reid's Battery, Provence's Battery, Humphreys' Battery and finally Rivers' Battery,.[2]

Organization[edit | edit source]

Captain John G. Reid was elected as commander of a volunteer militia company of the 51st Militia Regiment, Sebastian County, Arkansas, on September 27, 1860.[3] The battery was originally identified simply as the "Independent Artillery" but was later styled the "Fort Smith Battery" or the "Fort Smith Artillery". Commissions were issued to the following officers on October 2, 1860:

  • Captain John G. Reid
  • First Lieutenant William M Hightower
  • Second Lieutenant Marcus S. Wilcox.
  • Third Lieutenant Archabald Freeman.

The unit was inducted into state service for 90 days' service as part of Brigadier General Nicholas Bartlett Pearce's 1st Division (brigade), Army of Arkansas, in June 1861.[4] The battery officers at the time of entry into state service were:[5]

  • Captain John G. Reid.
  • First Lieutenant [unknown].
  • Second Lieutenant Marcus S. Wilcox.
  • Third Lieutenant James H. Reed.

The Fort Smith Battery was well drilled. Captain William E. Woodruff, Jr., who commanded the Pulaski Light Artillery, is said to have watched the drill of Captain Reid's Battery in order to recall the correct procedures for artillery drill.[6] In keeping with the practice in the Confederate Army of referring to an artillery battery by the name of its current commander, the First Arkansas Light Artillery was variously known as Provence's Battery, Humphreys' Battery and Rivers' Battery. The Compiled Service Records of the men are filed under "Rivers' Battery" on Microfilm Roll #41.[7]

Two of the guns belonging to the battery were themselves somewhat famous. During the Mexican-American War, Captain Braxton Bragg had commanded a battery of 6 pounder howitzers. While the battery was under heavy fire during the Battle of Buena Vista, on February 23, 1847, General Zachary Taylor road up to Captain Bragg's guns. When Bragg asked the General what he should do, the general allegedly replied, "A little more grape, Captain Bragg." This event first raised the young captain to national prominence. The very guns were lying in the Little Rock Arsenal when it was seized by the Arkansas State Militia before the state seceded. Two of the guns were issued to the Crawford Artillery, a battery organized in Crawford County by James T. Stewart. The Crawford Artillery was eventually converted to infantry, and two of Bragg's guns were passed to the Fort Smith Artillery.[8]

Battles[edit | edit source]

Ried's Arkansas Battery is depicted on the lower right hand part of the map of Wilson's Creek Battle Field. The other Arkanssa battery present at Wilson's Creek, Woodruff's Pulaski Light Artillery is depicted to the north of Ried's position.

The ninth day of August, 1861, found the Fort Smith Artillery, assigned to the 1st Division (Brigade) of the Provisional Army of Arkansas (State Troops) commanded by State Brigadier General Nicholas B. Pearce under Major General Ben. McCulloch, camped on Wilson’s Creek, ten miles south of Springfield, in south-west Missouri. The army consisted of a Louisiana regiment under Colonel Louis Hébert (a well-drilled and well-equipped organization, chiefly from the north part of the State); Greer’s Texas regiment (mounted); Churchill’s Arkansas cavalry, and McIntosh’s battalion of Arkansas mounted rifles (Lieutenant-Colonel Embry), under the immediate charge of the commanding general; General Price’s command of Missouri State Guards, with Bledsoe’s and Guibor’s batteries, and Pearce's three regiments of Arkansas infantry, with Woodruff’s and Reid’s batteries. When notified of the approah of General Nathaniel Lyon's Union force, General Pearce stationed the Fort Smith Artillery "on an eminence to command the approaches to our right and rear, and gave him the 5th Arkansas Infantry (Colonel T.P. Dockery) as a support." When Union General Sigel commanding the union left column of the advance from Springfield, came upon Pearce's right and established a battery, Pearce directed Ried's battery to engage. Reid succeeded in getting his range accurately, so that his shot proved very effective." [9] Following the battle, Brigadier General Pearce mustered his regiments out of service after the Battle of Wilson's Creek. The battery was mustered out of State service on September 17, 1861, and all of its members were discharged.[10]

Reorganized[edit | edit source]

The battery reorganized after Wilson's Creek, but Captain Reid did not stand for re-election, having accepted a staff position. The battery elected David Provence as captain on September 17, 1861. On March 7 and 8, 1862, during the Battle of Pea Ridge, the battery was assigned to Major General Benjamin McCulloch's Division of Major General Earl Van Dorn's Army of the West. Following the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge, Van Dorn's Army retreated virst to Van Buren an then moved east before boarding river boats and beginning a move to link up with Confederate forces massing near Corinth Mississippi. The Fort Smith Battery was sent east of the Mississippi River and served there for the rest of the war.[4] Captain Reid would later command yet another battery during the Battle of Prairie Grove, but that organization bore no relation to the Fort Smith Battery.[4]>

Captain David Provence was elected commander of the re-organized battery. Most of the men originally assigned to the Fort Smith Artillery subsequently reenlisted in Confederate service in Provence's Arkansas Battery (1st Arkansas Light Artillery). The battery retained the name and battery colors of the Fort Smith Artillery, but it was officially referred to as Provence's, and later Rivers', Battery Arkansas Light Artillery. A comparison of enlistment documents between the two units indicates that about three fourths of the original Fort Smith Artillery Battery continued to serve with the battery in Confederate service.[4] The officers elected when the battery reorganized were:[7]

  • Captain David Provence.
  • First Lieutenant Stephen D. McDonald.
  • Second Lieutenant John T. Humphreys.
  • Third Lieutenant William H. Gore.

Battle of Pea Ridge and beyond[edit | edit source]

The battery fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas, in March 1862.[11] The battery was assigned to Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch's Division of Major General Earl Van Dorn's Army of the West. Following the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge, the army reconsolidated at Van Buren, Arkansas, The battery was assiged to an artllery brigade commanded by Brigadier General D.M. Frost.[12]

Then marched overland to Des Arc where the army was transported by steamboat to Memphis in an attempt to unite the Army of the West with the Confederate Army of Mississippi to attack Grant at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, but arrived too late for the Battle of Shiloh.[13] The battery would spend the rest of the war east of the Mississippi River.[7]>[14] In April and May 1862, Confederate forces underwent an army-wide reorganization due to the passage of the Conscription Act by the Confederate Congress in April 1862.[15] All twelve-month regiments and units had to re-muster and enlist for two additional years or the duration of the war; a new election of officers was ordered; and men who were exempted from service by age or other reasons under the Conscription Act were allowed to take a discharge and go home. Officers who did not choose to stand for re-election were also offered a discharge.[16] The reorganization was accomplished among all the Arkansas regiments and unit in and around Corinth, Mississippi, following the Battle of Shiloh.[17] Provience's Battery re-organized on April 10, 1862 and the following officers were elected:[7]

  • Captain David Provence,
  • First Lieutenant John T. Humphreys,
  • Second Lieutenant William H. Gore.
  • Third Lieutenant Oliver Perry Richardson,

The battery participated in the Battle of Farmington, Mississippi, on May 9, 1862. During this engagement, Capatin William Hart, of the Dallas Artillery, served on of Provence's guns as a gunner, Hart's Battery having been ordered disbanded following a poor performance at the Battle of Pea Ridge.[18] Shortly afterward, Captain David Provence resigned to accept an appointment as colonel, 16th Arkansas Infantry Regiment.[7] His resignation was formally approved on June 10, 1862, at which time Lieutenant John T. Humphreys was promoted to captain. The following officers were appointed on July 13, 1862:[7]

  • Captain John T. Humphreys,
  • First Lieutenant John W. Rivers,
  • Second Lieutenant Oliver Perry Richardson.
  • Third lieutenant Henry Clay Riggin,

When Lieutenant General Braxton Bragg issued his organization of the Confederate Army of the Mississippi, on June 30, 1862, Provence's Battery, now commanded by Humphrey's was assigned to Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill's 2nd Brigade of Major General J.P. McCown's 2nd Division of the Confederate Army of the West.[19]

During the Kentucky Campaign of 1862, the battery was assigned to Colonel Evander McNair's 2nd Brigade, of Brigadier General Thomas James Churchill's 3rd Division of Edmund Kirby Smith's Confederate Army of Kentucky. The battery participated in the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky on August 29–30, 1862. On November 18, 1862, the battery received a large number of transfers and details from the Arkansas regiments and battalions of McNair's Brigade. Many of these men are later listed on the battery's rolls as deserters; however, many, if not most of them simply returned to their original regiments.[4]

During the Chickamauga Campaign of 1863 the battery was assigned to Major John W. Eldridge's Artillery Battalion of Major General Alexander P. Stewart's Division of Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.'s Corps of Gneral Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee.[20] During the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, September 19–20, 1863, the battery supported Clayton's Brigade of Alexander's Division. The battery had two of its guns disabled by enermy couter battery fire. The battery had two killed an one wounded. It managed to save all of its guns but lost twelve of the battery horses.[21] Following the Battle of Chickamauga, Captain Humphreys resigned on October 15, 1863. Lieutenant John W. Rivers, who had risen from the ranks, was promoted captain, effective October 15, 1863, and commanded the battery to the end of the war.[4]

The 1st Arkansas Light Artillery was involved in the following battles:[22]

In accordance with Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General's Office Order Number 131,[24] Private John Campbell of the battery was recognized for courage and good conduct on the field for the Battle of Murfreesboro[25]

Consolidation and Surrender[edit | edit source]

The 1st Arkansas Light Artillery was merged with Green's Kentucky Battery, Co. B, 2nd Alabama Light Artillery Battalion and Cobb's Kentucky Battery in January, 1864. The Battery was surrendered by Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, Commanding the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana, at Citronelle, Alabama on May 4, 1865.[26]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  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 20, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1887, Page 974; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154629 : accessed February 07, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  2. Howerton, Bryan "Numbering of Artillery Units", Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board, Posted 11 February 2011, Accessed 18 October 2011, http://history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs53x/arcwmb/webbbs_config.pl?noframes;read=23296
  3. Kie Oldham Papers, Arkansas History Commission, One Capitol Mall, Little Rock Arkansas, Box 1, Items 18a
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Howerton, Bryan R, "Reid's Battery", Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board, Posted 26 March 2003, Accessed, http://history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs53x/arcwmb/arch_config.pl?noframes;read=3662
  5. Howerton, Bryan R. "Reid's Battery", Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board, Posted 13 September 2001, Accessed, 2 November 2011, http://history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs53x/arcwmb/arch_config.pl?noframes;read=82
  6. William Garrett Piston, Richard W. Hatcher, III, "Wilson's Creek, The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It," UNC Press Books, 2003 Accessed, 2 November 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=VFdVyvcHPNMC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=Fort+Smith+Battery+Reid's&source=bl&ots=EdlLfDs0q_&sig=k1xrXV1QU_v1UXa25AvtpbGATLo&hl=en&output=reader
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Howerton, Bryan R. "First Arkansas Light Artillery (Rivers' Battery)", Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page, Accessed 2 November 2011, http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/1starty.html
  8. Howerton, Bryan R. "The Crawford Artillery " Edward G. Gerdes Civil War Page, accessed August 24, 2013, http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/crawarty.html
  9. Sikakis, Stewart, Compendium of the Confederate Armies, Florida and Arkansas, Facts on File, Inc., 1992, ISBN 0-8160-2288-7, page 40.
  10. Howerton, Bryan R, "Re: Marcus S. Wilcox" Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board, Posted, 12 September 2001, Accessed 2 November 2011, http://history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs53x/arcwmb/arch_config.pl?noframes;read=69
  11. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154613/m1/797/?q=Reid's Arkansas Battery : accessed February 01, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  12. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 53. Reports, Correspondence, Etc., Book, 1898; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154642/m1/798/?q=military board Hardee : accessed February 14, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas
  13. United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 2, Correspondence, etc., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154614/m1/462/?q=Arkansas Corinth Battery : accessed June 15, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  14. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 2, Correspondence, etc., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154614/m1/462/?q=Arkansas Corinth Battery : accessed June 15, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  15. UPTON, EMORY, Bvt. Maj. Gen., United States Army; "THE MILITARY POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES" WASHINGTON GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 1912, Page 471, Congressional edition, Volume 6164, Google Books, Accessed 4 November 2011, http://books.google.com/books?id=2-tGAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA471&lpg=PA471&dq=Confederate+conscription+law+reorganization+regiment&source=bl&ots=7ptDBF0n2D&sig=-K_6PQoHglmh_SOzuobv_JyNWUw&hl=en#v=onepage&q=Confederate%20conscription%20law%20reorganization%20regiment&f=false
  16. United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 2, Correspondence, etc., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154614/m1/500/?q=Army of Mississippi : accessed June 17, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  17. Rushing, Anthony, "Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board". Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  18. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1884, Page 924; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154613/m1/932/?q=Provence : accessed August 19, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department, Denton, Texas.
  19. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1884, Page 789; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154613/m1/797/?q=Provence Arkansas Battery : accessed August 19, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department, Denton, Texas.
  20. Official Records, Series I, Volume XXX, Part 2, pages 11-20
  21. The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 30 (Part II), Page 491, Accessed 1 February 2013, Cornell University Library, http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;idno=waro0051;node=waro0051%3A1;view=image;seq=416;size=100;page=root
  22. Sikakis, Stewart, Compendium of the Confederate Armies, Florida and Arkansas, Facts on File, Inc., 1992, ISBN 0-8160-2288-7, page 118.
  23. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 10, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1884; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154613/m1/932/?q=Reid's Arkansas Battery : accessed February 01, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  24. United States. War Dept.. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 20, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1887; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154629/m1/982/?q=McGregor : accessed June 29, 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  25. United States. War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 20, In Two Parts. Part 1, Reports., Book, 1887, Page 974; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth154629 : accessed 7 February 2012), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.
  26. Hutchinson, Dennis: "Cobb's Kentucky Battery", Accessed 4 November 2011, http://www.psci.net/hutch/cobb.html

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, National Park Service".

References[edit | edit source]

  • Daniels, Larry. Cannoneers in Gray: The Field Artillery of the Army of Tennessee, 1861-1865. (Tuscaloosa, AL: Fire Ant Books, 2005).
  • Oldham, K., Clayton, P., Conway, E. N., Flanagin, H., Murphy, I., Rector, H. M., & Arkansas. (1860). Kie Oldham papers.
  • Piston, W. G., & Hatcher, R. W. (2000). Wilson's Creek: The second battle of the Civil War and the men who fought it. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Sikakis, Stewart, Compendium of the Confederate Armies, Florida and Arkansas, Facts on File, Inc., 1992, ISBN 0-8160-2288-7
  • Upton, E., Sanger, J. P., Beach, W. D., & Rhodes, C. D. (1916). The military policy of the United States. Washington: Govt. Print. Off.
  • United States. (1961). Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the State of Arkansas. Washington [D.C.: National Archives, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901.

External links

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