As you read this article, remember that they were crossing all these cold rivers on horseback in February! The Eleven Point River has claimed more than its share of lives over the years, including one of the union soldiers in the report below. It’s also interesting to note that a good deal of their travel took place after dark.
February 21, 1864 HEADQUARTERS FIRST NEBRASKA CAVALRY, Batesville, Ark.
At 9 p. m. Squadrons A and C returned from Batesville, bringing instructions from district headquarters directing me to move on to Pocahontas. February 18.-In accordance with said instructions, I moved at 9 a. m. in the direction of Smithville, marched 2 miles and struck Strawberry Creek, which we followed down 4 miles. Halted at 12 p.m. at a Mr. Randle’s farm to feed; captured here W. J. Sanders, a rebel captain of Shaver’s regiment. Remained here one hour and resumed the march; passed through Smithville; captured there Second Lieutenant Alfred Phillips, Company D, Freeman’s regiment. At 5.30 p. m. halted to feed at Joseph McCarroll’s, 4 miles northeast of Smithville. Remained here until 10 p. m., when I moved on in a northeast direction 13 miles and halted one hour to rest near the farm of Mr. Lemons.
February 19.-Resumed the march at 5 a. m. toward Pocahontas, crossing Spring River and Eleven Points River; at the latter crossing lost 1 man belonging to Company G by drowning. A scout was here sent out, who came up with the command 4 miles from where I had halted and reported having ran into a camp supposed to number about 40. They were fired upon and were compelled to retreat to the command. One private of Company C was wounded by a shot in the foot. I immediately proceeded with the Second Battalion to their camp and found it deserted. No trace of the course they had taken could be found.
I then returned and proceeded with the command to Pocahontas, where we arrived at 10 a. m. Found but 2 or 3 rebels in the place, and those escaped as we entered. A ferry-boat load was crossing the river. Our advance fired upon the boat, wounding 1 man. The party in the boat gained the shore and sought protection behind trees and logs. On the opposite shore and a short distance farther down the stream a company of rebels were posted also behind trees and logs. A brisk fire of a few minutes was kept up between them and our advance. A number of horses were tied on the bank within range. They succeeded in getting all away except 4; these my men shot.
Finding there was no enemy on this side of the river, that there was no way of crossing, and no forage to be had, I deemed it impracticable to pursue them farther, and at 2 p. m. started on the return. I could not hear of the whereabouts of Porter’s command, and from all information i could gather do not believe there has ever been any such a force in that neighborhood. We pushed on 14 miles, and at 6 o’clock p. m. halted to feed the animals. At this place met your messenger ordering me to return to Batesville. Remained here until 7.30 p. m., then moved on 21 miles, and at 2 a. m., February 20, halted at Johnston’s plantation; remained here until 4.30 a. m., when I resumed the march. At 8 a. m. halted of feed; remained 2 hours, and proceeded to Batesville, where we arrived at 3.30 p. m. Found forage and beef-cattle very scarce between Pocahontas and this place. In accordance with orders from district headquarters 2 of the jayhawkers captured on the 18th of this month were shot on the 19th. One Barker, a jayhawker, also was shot in trying to escape.
The total loss on the part of the enemy was, killed, 8; wounded, 1; captured, 31. Three took the oath of allegiance and were released. Four horses killed and about 50 were brought in with the command. Army and equipments taken were destroyed. Loss on part of our forces during the expedition was, drowned, 1; wounded, 1; horses, 12 disabled and were killed or abandoned. The distance traveled by the main column was 240 miles, distance traveled by detachments from 80 to 100 miles farther.
I remain, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant Colonel First Nebraska Cava., Commanding Expedition.