Update: Battle of Bayou Cache

My continued search for new information on the Battle of Bayou Cache brought me into possession of Captain J.H. Burnham’s history of The Thirty-Third Regiment Illinois Infantry in the Civil War 1861-1865 (PDF). Though in my book that comes out late this year I feel I have described the battle more accurately than anyone else, I am not confident that my assessment of the order of battle is 100% correct. There are simply not enough collaborating descriptions of the battle to be absolutely sure. With Burnham’s description of the battle I was hoping to find maybe another piece to the puzzle, unfortunately as with so many other regimental histories, the focus of the book is on regiment pride, remembrance, and patriotism. Details are sparse, few and far between.

Burnham writes,

July 7, 1862, when we again met the enemy at what was called Cache River or Cotton Plant in Arkansas, a successful engagement of considerable importance, while we were on the march down the White River. Colonel Hovey was in command of our detachment, was wounded and was made Brigadier-general for his gallantry.

Our Students Company A was in the advance on this occasion when its captain, L. H. Potter, Normal Professor of Literature, was severely wounded.

I won’t recant the issues involved in this battle, for more information please follow this link: 11th Wisconsin.

If anyone has information please do not hesitate to contact me.

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7 Responses to Update: Battle of Bayou Cache

  1. James Stuart says:

    Dear sir/madame,

    I am keen to learn about the US civil war, and I wondered if you could suggest a suitable beginners text.

    Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

    James Stuart

  2. John says:

    Hi Chris -
    Frederick Behlendorff’s “The History of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiment . . .” (1888), p. 7 wrote (and I’m selecting text, here) : “Other troops came up for support shortly, and the regiments engaged in this battle were the 33d Illinois, the 11th Missouri [OUCH!] and the 8th Indiana Infantry; the 1st Indiana, the 5th and the 13th Illinois Cavalry; 1 battery of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery and two howitzers [SIC!] belonging to the 1st Indiana Cavalry.” . . . “We [2d Batt. 13th Ill. Cav.] hurried on to the front in a gallop terminating in a charge, and assisted the 1st Indiana in driving the enemy.” . . . “David Milan, private of Company F, fell with his horse in charging over a corduroy crossing, and received such injuries that he died of them on August 9, 1862, in Helena.” . . . “Soon we formed into column of four and charged on the retreating enemy down a lane on the right of the battle field . . . At this point the rebels had attempted to take a battery, but did not succeed. . . . we halted, and formed line of battle again . . . ” [but rebels fled etc.]. Behlendorff’s giving the 13th Ill. Cav. as big a share of “the glory” as he can, far more active than other reports. I’d love to read your final treatment of the fight!

  3. Chris says:

    John, I don’t know anything about the 13 Ill Cav and find it hard to believe they were there at that time and took part in the charge. No one mentions them….Also, the fact that this account could not even place correct regiments and parties leads me to suspect it. Well my book, which has a whole chapter dedicated to the fight is due out in December and I am still working on an article to hopefully get published about the same time.


  4. John says:

    Chris – The 13th Ill was with Br.Gen. Wm. P. Benton’s 1st Brig., 1st Div., Army of the Southwest (See Col. Hovey’s report in O.R. 13, p. 145). Hovey even admits that “General Benton pursued the fleeing foe 5 or 6 miles toward Des Arc, killing several and taking prisoners.” This was in the p.m., after [or, maybe better, 'at the tail-end of'] the main engagement. Wood’s 1st Indiana Cav. had another mission & so rushed off, PERHAPS when the 13th Ill. came up & relieved them in the pursuit.
    Aren’t you also looking for evidence pro/con “the murdered courier”? E. A. Davenport’s (1888) “History of the Ninth Regiment Illinois Cavalry Volunteers” (p. 45) reports of July 8: “. . . and one brave soldier, with both feet tied together by the ropes, which had been used by his captors to tie him to the tree, where his comrades had found him, dead, shot by the rebels. He was a courier, sent out, in the hope of reaching the expedition sent up the White River . . .” John (e-mail me)

  5. Bob Schultz says:

    Have you seen the “Action at Hill’s Plantation” post by Jeffrey L. Patrick of Wilson’s Creek Nation Battlefield at http://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopdia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=511 ?
    It is another description of the battle of Cache River in Arkansas, along with several additional references.
    It has considerably more detail then in the above post.

  6. Chris says:

    Bob thanks for the comments. I am aware of Mr. Patrick’s article, I have several other posts concerning this battle of length:

    Part I

    Part II:

    Both are much longer.


  7. Debbie Bell Fish says:

    Do you know anything about General Joseph William Bell of the 13th Cavalry? I am researching his role in this. One source mentions that he was courtmartialed for being absent from his post. Any info on this would be much appreciated.

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