Today in 1864: Poison Springs, Arkansas April 18

william42

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1864 : Battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas


At Poison Springs, Arkansas, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Samuel Maxey capture a Union forage train and slaughter black troops escorting the expedition.

The Battle of Poison Springs was part of broad Union offensive in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. General Nathaniel Banks had led a Yankee force through Louisiana in March and April, but a defeat in northwestern Louisiana at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8 sent Banks in retreat. Union forces nearby in Arkansas were moving towards Banks' projected thrust into Texas with the intention of securing southwestern Arkansas for the Federals.

Union General Frederick Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Two days later, he sent Colonel John Williams and 1,100 of his 14,000-man force to gather 5,000 bushels of corn discovered west of Camden. The force arrived to find that Confederate marauders had destroyed half of the store, but the Yankees loaded the rest into some 200 wagons and prepared to return to Camden. On the way back Maxey and 3,600 Confederates intercepted them. Maxey placed General John Marmaduke in charge of the attack that ensued. Williams positioned part of his force, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, between the wagon train the Confederate lines. The regiment was the first black unit in the army, comprised primarily of ex-slaves.

The determined soldiers of the 1st Kansas stopped the first two Rebel attacks, but they were running low on ammunition. A third assault overwhelmed the Kansans, and the rout was on. Williams gathered the remnants of his force and retreated from the abandoned wagons. More than 300 Yankee troops were killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost just 13 killed and 81 wounded.

Most shocking was the Rebel treatment of the black troops. No black troops were captured, and those left wounded on the battlefield were brutally killed, scalped, and stripped. The Washington Telegraph, the major Confederate newspaper in Arkansas, justified the atrocity by declaring "We cannot treat Negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of social system for which we contend."



http://www.history.com/tdih.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&displayDate=4/18&categoryId=civil


Terry
 

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larry_cockerham

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That wasn't too complimentary of the Southern forces. Thanks for the post. Better to look at all the story, even the not so great parts.
 

william42

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That's all that was published on that link Larry. Please feel free to publish other parts of the story that you know about, that are omitted in that link. And yes, I agree, it's not very complimentary of the Rebs, but I don't necessarily think that makes the story inaccurate.


Terry
 

Battalion

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Here's another side of the story:

"...I feared here that the train and its contents would prove a temptation too strong for these hungry, half-clothed Choctaws, but had no trouble in pressing them forward, for there was that in front and to the left more inviting to them than food or clothing--the blood of their despised enemy. They had met and routed the forces of General Thayer, the ravagers of their country, the despoilers of their homes, and the murderers of their women and children..."

Report of Col. Tandy Walker, Second Indian Brigade, C.S.A., 19 April 1864

O.R. Series 1, Volume 34, Part 1, page 849.

http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/pageviewer?frames=1&cite=http%3A%2F%2Fcdl.library.cornell.edu%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmoa%2Fmoa-cgi%3Fnotisid%3DANU4519-0061&coll=moa&view=50&root=%2Fmoa%2Fwaro%2Fwaro0061%2F&tif=01201.TIF&pagenum=849

 

william42

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Battalion, I'm not sure I'm following the point of your post, which is a quote from a Confederate officer from the OR's. Are you trying to say that this officer is justifying the murder and mutilation of the Federal black troops by his men, taking none as POW's, because as he puts it, the black troops murdered civilian women and children? And I'm assuming you're taking this officer's word as the truth.

You haven't stated your point, just posted this quote, leaving me to decipher your point on my own. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Terry
 

Battalion

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william42 said:
Battalion, I'm not sure I'm following the point of your post, which is a quote from a Confederate officer from the OR's. Are you trying to say that this officer is justifying the murder and mutilation of the Federal black troops by his men, taking none as POW's, because as he puts it, the black troops murdered civilian women and children? And I'm assuming you're taking this officer's word as the truth.

You haven't stated your point, just posted this quote, leaving me to decipher your point on my own. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Terry
I haven't studied Poison Springs. The Tandy Walker report was the first item I came to.

My only point was-

"Here's another side of the story"

william42 said:
"I'm assuming you're taking this officer's word as the truth"
Don't know.
Which officer's word is truth and which is not?

Are you rejecting his word out of hand because he is a Confederate officer?
That would be somewhat bigoted.
 

ole

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Perhaps the question is in "murdered women and children." Might be true. Might not. My reading is remarkable in its inattention to the trans-Mississippi, particularly so in Arkansas. This would be a good place for an Arkansas CW fan to weigh in with some information.
Ole
 

william42

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Posted by Battlaion
Are you rejecting his word out of hand because he is a Confederate officer?
That would be somewhat bigoted.
I question his word because he knows his explanation is going on record, and it sounds very much like he's trying to give an acceptable excuse for the massacre of the USCT soldiers, which he doesn't deny, at least in that excerpt.

Are you rejecting the posted article because it accuses the Rebs of atrocities? That would also be somewhat bigoted.


Terry
 

Battalion

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Some Background Info-

Federal raid into Indian Territory, February 1-24, 1864, and “peace” entreaties sent to the various nations:

“We marched about 400 miles; killed, as nearly as I can get information, in the different fights and skirmishers, 250 men, and have only 4 wounded, all of whom will recover.”

Col. William A. Phillips, U.S. Forces, Indian Territory
Report, 24 February 1864


(Killed 250 and have only four wounded?)

~


To the Council of the Choctaw Nation:

“…I write to you to think of these things, and to see whether your people want to be destroyed in the vain hope of giving aid to a wicked rebellion…
It will not be long before destruction comes. I think you understand I am in earnest. Do you want peace? If so, let me know before we come to destroy….”

Col. William A. Phillips, 15 February 1864

~


John Jumper, Chief of Seminoles:

Let me ask you, do you not see the end coming, and are you anxious to see your people destroyed in the ruins?…
The President of the United States has once more offered mercy, pardon, and peace. I strike hard, but not because the Government is cruel, but because everything must be destroyed that stands in the way of the glorious American Republic. For your people, then, I tell you to think of these things. The offer is honest; it is liberal, because the Republic is great enough to be generous. If you accept it soon, you may be preserved; if you do not, you and your people will be blotted out in blood. If you want peace let me know.

Col. William A. Phillips, 15 February 1864
http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/pageviewer?root=%2Fmoa%2Fwaro%2Fwaro0061%2F&tif=00130.TIF&cite=http%3A%2F%2Fcdl.library.cornell.edu%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmoa%2Fmoa-cgi%3Fnotisid%3DANU4519-0061&coll=moa&frames=1&view=50
 

whitworth

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Seems only yesterday. . .

that there was a claim that negroes played an important role as soldiers, in the Confederate army.


MORTON, August 31, 1863.*

Memorandum for Major-General Lee.
* * * * * * *


While inspecting Colonel Logan’s troops, to inquire into the truth of the report that after the recent action near Jackson, La., twenty-three prisoners (one white officer and twenty-two colored and negro privates)
were put to death in cold blood and without form of law, and if it is time, to bring the culprits to trial.
* * * * * * *
J. B. JOHNSTON,
General.


GENERAL ORDERS, } WAR DEPT., ADJT. AND INSP. GEN.’S OFF.,
No. 60. Richmond, August 21, 1862.
I. Whereas Major-General Hunter, recently in command of the en- emy’s forces on the coast of South Carolina, and Brigadier-General Phelps, a military commander of the enemy in the State of Louisiana, have organized and armed negro slaves for military service against their masters, citizens of this Confederacy; and whereas the Govern-ment of the United States has refused to answer an inquiry whether said conduct of its officers meets its sanction, and has thus left to this Government no other means of repressing said crimes and outrages than the adoption of such measures of retaliation as shall serve to prevent their repetition :
Ordered, That Major-General Hunter and Brigadier-General Phelps be no longer held and treated as public enemies of the Confederate States, but as outlaws; and that in the event of the capture of either of them, or that of any other commissioned officer employed in drilling, organizing, or instructing slaves, with a view to their armed service in this war, he shall not be regarded as a prisoner of war, but held in close confinement for execution as a felon at such time and place as the President shall order.
By order:

S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
 


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