Battle of Arkansas Post (1863)

Battle of Arkansas Post
Battle of Fort Hindman
Part of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War
Battle of Fort Hindman.png
The Bombardment and capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, Ark. Jany. 11th 1863 by Currier & Ives
DateJanuary 9 – 11, 1863
Location
Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post (present-day Arkansas Post National Memorial), Arkansas

34°01′08.4″N 91°20′56.4″W / 34°01′08.4″N 91°20′56.4″W / 34.019000; -91.349000
ResultUnion Victory
Belligerents
 United States Confederate States
Commanders and leaders
United States Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand
United States Rear Adm. David D. Porter
Confederate States of America Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill Surrendered
Units involved
Army of the Lower Arkansas and White Rivers
Strength
28,9444,900
Casualties and losses
1,061: 134 dead, 898 wounded and 29 missing4,900: 28 dead, 81 wounded and 4,791 captured
Arkansas Post is located in Arkansas
Arkansas Post
Arkansas Post

The Battle of Arkansas Post (also known as Battle of Fort Hindman) was fought from January 9 until 11, 1863, near the mouth of the Arkansas at Arkansas Post, as part of the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. Although a Union victory, it did not move them any closer to Vicksburg.

Background

Map and plan of the fortification.

The Confederate States Army constructed a large, four-sided earthwork fortification near Arkansas Post, on a bluff 25 feet above the north side of the river, forty-five miles downriver from Pine Bluff, to protect the Arkansas River and prevent Union Army passage to Little Rock. The fort commanded a mile view up and downriver. It was a base for disrupting shipping on the Mississippi River. The fort was named Fort Hindman in honor of General Thomas C. Hindman of Arkansas. It was manned by approximately 5,000 men, primarily Texas cavalry, dismounted and redeployed as infantry, and Arkansas infantry, in three brigades under Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Churchill. By the winter of 1862–63, disease and their life at the end of a tenuous supply chain had left the garrison at Fort Hindman in a poor state.

Union Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand was an ambitious politician and had permission from President Abraham Lincoln to launch a corps-sized offensive against Vicksburg from Memphis, Tennessee, hoping for military glory (and subsequent political gain). This plan was at odds with those of Army of the Tennessee commander, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. McClernand ordered Grant's subordinate, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, to join the troops of his corps with McClernand's, calling the two corps the Army of the Mississippi, approximately 33,000 men. On January 4, he launched a combined army-navy movement on Arkansas Post, rather than Vicksburg, as he had told Lincoln (and did not bother to inform Grant or the general in chief, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck).