Friday, January 11, 2013

Battle of Arkansas Post

Union ironclads bombard the fort
The Union army under John McClernand and William Sherman began arriving at Arkansas Post on January 9th. The Confederates had built Fort Hindman on a 25 foot bluff on the Arkansas River, with a mile view of the river in each direction. Manned by only 5,000 dismounted Texas cavalry and Arkansas, it did not stand a chance against the 30,000 bluecoats and 13 gunboats.

On January 10 Flag Officer David Porter sailed in his fleet, and bombarded the rebel position heavily. Porter late wrote in a congratulatory address:
In no instance during the war has there been a more complete victory and so little doubt as to whom the credit belongs. Our ironclads and gunboats knocked the fort to pieces, dismounting every gun (eleven in all), while our lightdraft vessels and the ram Monarch cut off the retreat of the enemy, throwing them back upon the army, who captured them by hundreds.
It was thought that the fort had been pummeled into submission, as most of the guns were silenced, but the fort was not done for, and the fight was renewed the next day. Brigadier General Thomas Churchill, the Confederate infantry commander, was determined to hold out to the last. But as the Union troops advanced under cover of fire from the ironclads, white flags were shown along the walls of the fort. Although Churchill wanted to fight to the last, the fort's commander had determined to surrender. The Confederates lost 5,500 in this battle, most of which surrendered, the Federals suffered 1,047.



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