Embattled Arkansas: The Prairie Grove Campaign of 1862

Drew informed me of a little known book (at least to me) by Michael E. Banasik, “Embattled Arkansas: The Prairie Grove Campaign of 1862,” who went into some detail describing the Battle at Bayou Cache. I did an ILL request and the book arrived earlier this week. I just got the chance to read it. Banasik indeed spent about 15 pages covering the details of the fight. I was hoping that his narrative used some of the primary sources I found regarding the 11th Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Banasik’s battle description is as disappointing as Shea’s.

Banasik completely ignored the exploits of the Badger troops, limited the battle summary to the 33rd Illinois point of view, and unfortunately made some of the same mistakes Shea did. The most glaring mistake is his re-imagining of Hovey’s order that sent Harris down Des Arc Road. If you remember what Hovey wrote, that he “overtook [Harris] and turned him back, with instructions to hasten down the Des Arc road, and, if possible, rescue a prisoner just captured.”

Like Shea Banasik makes up a different story, only he is a little cleverer. Banasik writes, “the Federal advance encountered a number of Negroes, who informed Colonel Harris that rebels were in abundance and close by,” which is probably what happened at some point as the men from the 11th Wisconsin also mentioned the Negroes and that they informed them of rebels being nearby. Banasik continues, “Hovey caught up with his advance and, upon hearing the tale, directed Colonel Harris back to the road junction…” (p.46). So a little cleverer, but still it is misleading and completely absolves Hovey from responsibility for his reckless and irresponsible order.

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