Battle of Arkansas Post Occurs – 1/11/1863

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Another important battle that would help to shape the outcome of the Civil War occurred in Arkansas. Union General John McClernand and Admiral David Porter capture Arkansas Post on January 11th, 1863. This was a stronghold for the Confederates on the Arkansas River and the win secured for the Union central Arkansas plus lifted the morale of the North barely three weeks after the horrific Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Being described as such a massive fort, Arkansas Post was 25 miles from the confluence of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. The fort was created to guarantee control for the Confederate the Arkansas and the White rivers while attempting to keep pressure off of Vicksburg, Mississippi; this was the final major Rebel city along the Mississippi River. The fort had the benefit of being protected by a moat while the fort’s square sides were each almost 200 feet long. The structure sat on a bluff that was 25 feet higher than the river while the post was a huge impediment to the Yankee commerce along the Arkansas.

Just north of Vicksburg, McClernand was in the process of gathering his Army of the Mississippi at what was known as Milliken’s Bend. He had roughly a total of 32,000 individuals in two corps that was commanded by generals William T. Sherman and George Morgan. Although the main objective for McClernand was Vicksburg he made the decision to attempt to capture first Arkansas Post in order to secure Yankee commerce on the rivers north of Vicksburg. McClernand would be assisted by Porter’s flotilla and they planned to head up the Arkansas River in order to land the soldiers below the post. Then, Sherman would take his troops to swing around from behind the fort while Morgan would make his approach from downriver.

Everything was going according to plan and the time had come to implement the attack. The bombing of the fort was started by Porter on the night of January 10th and the bombardment went on and continued the next day. The Union infantry headed toward the direction of the fort throughout the afternoon while ships moved in front and started firing on the fort but from the other side. 

Despite not wanting to give the Union such a valuable prize, the Confederate garrison was completely surrounded; before the day had reached its end, they would finally offer up the white flag in defeat. The Yankees won but there was a price to be paid for securing the fort. The prices for the Yankee’s was having roughly 900 individuals wounded while roughly 130 men were killed. However, they were successful in capturing 5,000 Confederates while being able to preserve commerce for the Union on the White and Arkansas Rivers.

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