Red River Campaign/Civil War

Red River Sections
1 (pages 1-13) | 2 (pages 14-21) | 3 (pages 22-30) | 4 (pages 31-39) | 5 (pages 40-50) | 6 (pages 51-59) | 7 (pages 60-69) | 8 (pages 70-76)

ARKANSAS FED

JAMES SCOTT NUNNALLY, JR.

and the

THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY (U.S.A.)

By

Paul P. Steed, Jr.

1991


James Scott Nunnally, Jr.
1836-1864

Private, 3rd Arkansas Cavalry, (U.S.A)

1863-1864

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE
i
THE ARKANSAS HIGHLANDS
1
JAMES SCOTT NUNNALLY, JR.
3
REBELLION AND WAR
6
THE THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, U.S.A.
8
THE THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, STAFF ROSTER
12
THE THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, COMPANY OFFICERS
13
THE THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, COMPANY F ROSTER
15
MAP - OPERATIONAL AREA 3RD ARKANSAS CAVALRY
17
FIRST RIDES, JANUARY-MARCH 1864
18
THE CAMDEN EXPEDITION - THE RED RIVER CAMPAIGN
23
MAP - RED RIVER CAMPAIGN
30
OPERATIONS AGAINST SHELBY, MAY 1864
31
SCOUTING AND PATROLLING, JULY - AUGUST, 1864
43
3RD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, CO. F, MUSTER ROLL, 8/31/1864
49
BATTLE, DESERTION AND DEATH
51
THE ENIGMA OF THE DEATH OF JAMES SCOTT NUNNALLY, JR.
57
3RD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, MASTER LIST OF DESERTERS 9/7/64
59
3RD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, CO. F MUSTER ROLL, 10/31/1864
60
A FIGHT TO THE FINISH, SEPT- 1864-AUG. 1865
64
3RD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, CO. F, MUSTER OUT ROLL 6/30/65
68
AFTERMATH, CO. F, 3RD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, U.S.A.
70
AFTERMATH., THE FAMILY
74
AUTHORITIES CONSULTED
76

PREFACE

My mother had told me that my great-grandfather, James Scott Nunnally, Jr., had been a Union spy during the civil war, and was killed toward the end of the war in Arkansas. Growing up in the Confederate south, I gave him no further thought, until after my grandmother's death.

Among her effects was a picture of James Scott Nunnally, J. in a federal uniform, hardly the dress of a spy. It was many years before I began to find his story. Although I didn't find out much about him, I did find out a great deal about the regiment in which he served, The Third Arkansas Cavalry, U.S.A. This was a remarkable regiment, made up of southerners, who remained loyal to the union. They deserve to be known better, and I hope this work will help.

PAUL P. STEED, JR.
7160 Green Tree Lane
Dallas, Texas 75214

THE ARKANSAS HIGHLANDS

It is difficult today to think of Arkansas as the West, but in the 1830s it was our westernmost state. The settlement of Arkansas may be said to begin with the 1835 treaty between the Cherokee Indians of Georgia and the United States. By this treaty the Indians ceded all their lands East of the Mississippi to the United States for $5,000,000.00 and comprable lands in the Indian Territory.

So began a sad chapter in American history, the removal of the Indians from the South to present day Oklahoma. Various army and State Militia units participated in the removal. In Cleveland's Company, 2nd Georgia Militia (Turk's) was a 16 year old Private, Charles Jackson White. He was gone from his home in Floyd County Georgia for over a year, going all the way to present day Oklahoma and Texas. He passed through Arkansas, and must of liked what he saw, for later he would return with his family. Of his adventures in the militia, we know nothing, except that in later life, he would tell, probably with the Southern love of storytelling, of being attracted to a Cherokee maiden, of planning to join the tribe and marry her. His wife would silence him, before he went into details On June 15, 1836, Arkansas entered the union.

Charles Jackson White was born in South Carolina in 1817, and moved with his family to the Rome, Georgia, area when he was young. After his return from duty in the Militia he married Anice Robertson around 1844. They had several children, among whom was James Wesley White, the last child born in Georgia in 1854. Some time during his life in Georgia, they made" a trip to South Carolina, perhaps on their honeymoon. While there he purchased a conch shell trumpet. It was blown at all important events and became guite a keep-sake. He asked that it be handed down to the youngest son (named White) in each generation.

In 1856 the family moved to Arkansas. Some ten families made up a wagon train which made the long journey from Georgia. After crossing the Mississippi River and entering Arkansas, they found fever raging in the lowlands. The people decided to go to the highlands and the families settled in the area around Paris, Russelville and Clarksville, Arkansas.

With Charles White on this journey, and indeed for life were two spinster sisters. Unmarried females always lived with the head of the family. One, Aunt Harriet, was either very fragile or the greatest con-woman of the family. She said it made her sick to get up before breakfast, so for 65 years they brought her breakfast in bed. He also named, a child after her. In 1860 they lived in Johnson County , Arkansas, near Clarksville.

The Highlands of Arkansas are in the Western part of the State. We are mainly interested in Yell County, joining Johnson County to the South. The Arkansas River forms the Northern boundry of Yell County, and Dardanelle on the river is the county's largest

1

town. Just across the river from Dardanelle is Russellville in Pope County. During this period the Arkansas River was the artery of commerce and trade. To the South are mountain benches and valleys. The Petit Jean and Fourche La Fave Rivers running West to East form fertile valleys. Many families moved here because they preferred the less fertile but healthier highlands. Among the fears were that clearing the cane bottoms along the Arkansas River, and plowing the bottom land released a miasma into the air, that brought on fevers and ague. They were unaware of the role of the mosquito.

Pioneer families moved in and in 1840 Yell County was formed. Among the settlers were the Pruitts and a young man named James Scott Nunnally, Jr.

2

JAMES SCOTT NUNNALLY, JR.

We really know very little about Jim Nunnally. He was born in 1836 in Danville, Virginia. A search of records of Pittsylvania County, Virginia yeilded no references to the Nunnally family. I can only surmise that Jim Nunnally was born while the family was on the move to Mississippi.

His father was James Scott Nunnally, who was born in 1801 in Virginia. There were several Nunnally families living in Virginia at the time of the 1800 censes, and in various counties. As we do not know the name of the father, I have not been able to trace the family any further back.

By 1840 James S. Nunnally, Sr. was living in Tippah County, Mississippi, in the Northern part of the state on the Tennessee border. The reasons for their going to Mississippi was probably like so much of the Westward movement, a search for new lands. Indian removal had just taken place, and new lands were open to settlement. In the Census of 1840, James S. Nunnally, his wife, 2 male and 5 female children made up the household. There is also a deed from David Hudson to James S. Nunnally dated June 15, 1840, probably marking his first purchase of land.

     The 1850 Census of Tippah County, Mississippi lists:

James Nunnally
49
M
Born Va. $1,200 Property
Deborah A
41
F
  N.C.  
Phoebe E.
18
F
  Va.  
James S.
14
M
  Va.  
Virginia A.
11
F
 

Miss.

 
Ptolemy
4
M
  Miss.  

From the differences in the census returns, one can see that several small children died in the decade from 1840 to 1850. This was not unusual in pioneer America.

My Grandmother, Martha Jane Nunnally White, left a note which says "James Scott Nunnally was the father of the sons Tolura, Thomas, James and Robert. Daughters were Phoebe, Perk, Irma, Mary and Jane. "It has been difficult to reconcile these names with names found in the census records. Some may have died between censuses, and not been recorded. The name Perk is obviously a nickname. And it should be understood that grandmother never met any of the Nunnallys.

In 1859 James S. Nunnally, Jr. was in Yell County, Arkansas. My grandmother believed he was traveling about, looking for a place to settle down. There were three other people named Nunelly in the County: William C. Nunnelly, James A. Nunnelly and William Nunnelly. All were born in North Carolina, and lived near Dardanelle They spelled their names differently, and I have found no evidence of kinship.

3

Here, in Yell County near the village of Bluffton, lived Clement W. Pruitt and family. Clement W. Pruitt was born in Kentucky in 1802. He lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, and on April 22, 1827, married Melissa Mefford, who had been born in Kentucky also. The story of their move to Arkansas, as I was told, was that Clem Pruitt was a gambler, perhaps professional, but probably not, in Indiana. He spelled his name Prewitte in those days, changing the spelling after his removal to Arkansas. In a card game he lost everything, home, wagon and even the milk cow. When he told his wife Melissa about this, she took what money she had, about $ 8.00, and sent him back to the game with instructions to win back what he had lost, and no more and then return. He got lucky and came home with their money. It was then that Melissa Pruitt decided to move him to Arkansas, and put him behind a plow.

At any rate the family moved to Little Rock in 1834. I imagine they took a riverboat down the Ohio and Mississippi, and up the Arkansas to get there. They lived in the Little Rock area for three years, and moved to Yell County about 1837. In the 1850 Census we find:

Clement W. Pruitt
48
M
Farmer Born Kentucky
Melissa J.
37
F
    Kentucky
John W.
19
M
    Indiana
William M.
17
M
    Indiana
Cornelia A.
15
F
    Arkansas
Andrew W.
11
M
    Arkansas
Henrietta
9
F
    Arkansas
Plancina
7
F
    Arkansas
William E.
4
M
    Arkansas

During the 1850s Clement Pruitt served as a Justice of the Peace, and became a miller. His son John W. Pruitt was sent to Medical School in Cincinnati, so it would seem that the family was prospering. But at the age 54, Clement W. Pruitt died in Bluffton, Arkansas, 29 April 1856. He is buried in the Bluffton Cemetary.

Jim Nunnally came to Yell County to the Bluffton area, and on July 11, 1859, he married Melissa Plancina Pruitt, With such a name it is natural that she went by her nickname Dene. At the time of their marriage he was 23, and she was 15.

In the census of 1860 we find:

James Nunnally 24 M Farmer Virginia
Plancina 16 F   Arkansas

They had a property valuation of $100.00. The census was supposedly taken July 23, 1860, so their must have been an error as their daughter Martha Jane Nunnally was born June 1, 1860. Grandmother also wrote that there were two other children who died in infancy.

4

The valuation of property of $ 100.00 might seem to indicate extreme poverty, but this was not the case in those days of subsistence farming, when money did not play a big roll. As one pioneer later wrote "in Yell County wealth was measured in terms of a cabin, a garden, a few head of live stock, and a full corn crib". Bluffton is in the Southwest part of the county, in the Valley of the Fourche La Fave River. Little is left of the village now. In 1860 it was an area of small farms, growing most of what they needed in a hard, but simple pastoral life, that was soon to come to an end.

5

REBELLION AND WAR

This monograph is not meant to be a history of the Civil War, but only how the Civil war affected our family in Yell County. The great campaigns of the war were fought in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, far from Western Arkansas. What happened West of the Mississippi River would not effect the outcome of the war. It was a sideshow, but a deadly sideshow. One could die in Western Arkansas as easily as at Gettysburg or Bull Run. But the war in Western Arkansas had it's own peculiarities. Besides the regular forces of both North and South, there were irregular units, both Northern and Southern, with very little control or supervision by higher military authorities. Then there were guerrilla units, under no control, and finally bushwackers and outlaws, simply taking advantage of the lack of authority, to rob and plunder wherever they chose,

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president and on December 20, 1860 South Carolina seceded. During the early part of 1861 the Southern States seceded one by one. On February 8, 1861, Arkansas State Troops seized the U.S. Arsenal at Little Rock. On May 6, 1861, by a vote of 69 to 1, Arkansas seceded from the Union, one of the last states to do so.

The reasons for the secession of Arkansas are many and varied, but mostly due to the Southern background of most of it's inhabitants. Slavery was probably not an issue as only one family in five in Arkansas owned slaves. In Yell County, whose delegates voted for secession, there were some 900 slaves in the 1860 census and 5,335 whites. 46% of the slaves were owned by a few planters in the Dardanella area. The highland topography of the Bluffton area was not suitable for large plantations. The state senator from Yell County, who lived in the Fourche La Fave valley was George W. LeMoyne, and he owned no slaves. John Jones, who represented Yell County in the Lower House, also owned no slaves.

On July 21, 1861, the Battle of Bull Run was fought, and although it was a long way from Arkansas, it was becoming apparent that the North would not allow the South to secede without a fight. In Yell County southern sympathizers flocked to join the Confederate Army. Yell County furnished one of the first Confederate units, the "Daniel Rifles" which became Co. H, 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles, organized on May 28, 186.1. In August of 1861, Sam Wilson organized a regiment, from Yell and surrounding counties, becoming the 17th Arkansas Infantry. This unit was the first of Yell's troops to see action at the battle of Wilson's Creek Missouri, August 10, 1861. By the Spring on 1862, most of the Confederate troops were gone from the county, being sent to duty elsewhere.

From March 6 to 8, 1862, the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, was fought, close to the Missouri border, resulting in a Confederate defeat. The War was coming closer.

6

From April 6 to 7, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh was fought in neighboring Tennessee. It was a bloody battle in which both sides would claim victory. After this battle people realized that the war would be long and bloody, and casualty lists grew longer.

On April 16, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed it's first conscription law, calling every white male 18 to 35 years of age to military service. Now it would become more difficult for Union sympathizers. Thomas Boles, who would serve in the Third Arkansas Cavalry wrote that "In 1862 I was actively engaged in initiating members into the Union League, often meeting refugees on dark and stormy nights in the mountains, to receive them into the organization and inform them of the whereabouts of their pursuers."

Hugh M Barnett, also a member of the Third. Arkansas Cavalry had a worse experience. He testified in his Pension Application in 1902 that in 1862 " the Confederate Provost Marshal sent a posse of "Home Guards" and arrested him and taken him to Eastern Arkansas, and put him in a conscript camp where he was closely guarded for some time, and as soon as the opportunity offered, he escaped and went to the woods, till the Federal Forces came in reach.

Peter Satterfield, who would also serve in Company f, Third Arkansas Cavalry testified on this application: " It is hard for the Pension Board to understand the condition that prevailed here from 1860 to 1865, young men had to go to the C.S. Army, to the woods, or be killed."

We know nothing of Jim Nunnallys experiences, but can imagine that more than once he had to take to the woods and mountains to avoid service in the Confederate Army.

On June 16, 1862, Memphis, Tennessee, just across the great river from Arkansas, surrendered to Federal gunboats.

On July 9, 1862, Melissa Nunnally's brother, John W. Pruitt was appointed a surgeon in the Confederate Service. She now had loved ones on both sides.

As 1862 came to a close neither side had been able to destroy the others army. A blockade was slowly strangling the South, and in October, 1862, General U.S. Grant began a series of maneuvers and battles which would end in the capture of Vicks burg Mississippi, and this action would have a profound effect on Arkansas and the Nunnally family.

7

THE THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY, U.S.A.

On January 30, 1863, General Grant took command of the expedition against Vicksburg, with the objective of opening the Mississippi River to Union shipping from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico. For the first months of 1863, all of the forces of both the Union and the Confederacy   were concentrated in this campaign.   As more and more men left Yell   County and Northwest Arkansas, outlaws and bushwackers became more active and bold.

By May 18, 1863, General Grant, after a series of battles, laid siege to Vicksburg. After six weeks of siege, and no reinforcements in sight, General Pemberton (CSA)   surrendered, July 4, 1863.   On the same day, far away in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Army of Northern Virginia, Under General Robert E. Lee, suffered a decisive defeat, and began a long retreat into Virginia.   These twin losses would prove fatal to the Confederacy, but the war would drag on with mounting casualty lists.

The Union victory at Vicksburg freed up a number of troops, who were sent to the Trans-Mississippi Department.   In September, 1863, General Frederick Steele, USA, occupied Little Rock, Arkansas. He found that many citizens of Arkansas were loyal to the Union, and would fight for it. General Steele and the War Department authorized several units to be recruited. Among them was the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry, by the following order:

Headquarters, Army of Arkansas
Little Rock Arkansas, Oct. 26, 1863

Special Orders No. 64

(Extract)

IV. Capt. A. H. Ryan, 17th Illinois Infantry is hereby authorized to raise a regiment of cavalry to be designated the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry;   the regiment to be recruited and mustered into service as the War Department may determine; the regiment to be rendezvoused at Little Rock. The officers of the regiment will be designated by Capt. Ryan and approved by the commanding general of the troops in central Arkansas, and submitted to the War Department for approval and orders. Private Harry F. Van Houten, Co. A, 13th Illinois Infantry, will aid Capt. Ryan in the organization of the regiment

By Order of Major General F. Steele:

Recruiting had been well under way in Yell County. James Scott Nunnally was recruited by his neighbor Bright W. Herring who would be appointed Capitan of F Company of the 3rd Arkansas Cavalry.

8

On the Company Muster-In Roll of Company F, 3rd Regiment Arkansas Cavalry, dated November 19, 1863, shows James S. Nunnally enlisted October 16, 1863, in Yell County for a period of 3 years. He brought a horse valued at $ 35.00. In the F Company Descriptive Book, he is described as 27 years of age. 5 feet nine inches in height, and of a dark complexion. He was born in Danville, Virginia, and was a farmer by occupation. He was enrolled by B.W. Herring October 14, 1863, for a period of three years.

267 men from Yell County joined the Third Arkansas Cavalry. All were born in the South. It makes one wonder how many men from other Southern States would have fought for the Union had they had the chance. In F Company many of the men were neighbors in Yell County, and probably had undergone hardships due to their Union sympathies.

General Steele (USA) was optimistic. From his headquarters in Little Rock, on October 28, 1863, he wrote to General Hurlbut (USA) commanding the 16th Army Corps at Memphis:

" .... If I could be left alone here for a few weeks
I think Arkansas could be reclaimed; but if the troops
begin to leave, people will imagine that the country
is to be abandoned again, and they will have no confi-
dence in our promises of protection ....."

The military situation in Arkansas was such that it would be necessary to put the regiment into the field as soon as possible. One officer per company was sent from present line units and the other officers were Arkansans who had been actively engaged in recruiting for the regiment. The regiment mustered in Little Rock, November 19, 1863, and went into training.

In the meantime General Steele was forming his own plans for Arkansas. He had written to General John M. Scholfield (USA) Commander of the Department of Missouri, on October 19, 1863;

"...It is my opinion that the following named posts
should be occupied as a line of defense of the
Arkansas: Napoleon.. Pine Bluff, Little Rock, Dardanelle
and Ft. Smith; Benton in advance, Brownsville for the
protection of the railroad; with an outpost at Austin,
Jacksonport and DeVall' s Bluff ........."

Nunnally was absent, sick in Yell County, in December, but was back on duty for the first muster in January of 1864. Training was evidently going well . From Little Rock, on February 25, 1864, General Steele wrote to General H. W. Halleck, General in Chief, United States Army:

"....The recruiting service in Arkansas is doing well
A very fine regiment has been raised here by Captain
Ryan, of my staff, and others will soon be full.
Prominent citizens who fled on our approach are coming
in daily and taking the amnesty oath ......."

9

The Third Arkansas Cavalry consisted of twelve companies of from 85 to 100+ men and officers, plus a staff of 21. With casualties, desertions, new enlistments and the like the total was constantly changing, but there are service records of 1,387 men and officers who served in the Regiment. All were southerners, save for those officers transferred from other Federal forces to add needed exper ience. It was commanded by Col. Abraham H. Ryan, and was divided into 3 battalions: 1st Battalion consisted of A, B, C, and D Com­panies; 2nd Battalion, E, F, G, and H Companies; 3rd Battalion, I, K, L and M Companies. In accordance with Army custom which lasts until today, there is no J Company. There was a good deal of switching around of Companies in Battalions, due to the nature of the organization. Each Battalion was commanded by a Major.

The Third Arkansas Cavalry never fought as a regiment, but usually in battalion or Company strength. After it's mustering in, I doubt that the Regiment was ever together at one place until it was mustered out.

Lt. Frank Pease, of H Company, made the best succinct statement as to the operations of the Regiment to the Office of the Adjutant General of Arkansas:

"On the organization of the regiment, two battalions were sent up the Arkansas River to hold a large scope of territory infested by numerous guerrilla bands, who were robbing and mudering Union families in the most barbarous manner that human depravity could invent. Territory held by these marauders was soon wrested from their hands by the 3rd Cavalry and comparative quiet restored. One battalion remained in Camp at Little Rock until an expedition was sent out to the Quachita River under General Steele; that battalion accompanied the expedition, and participated in all engagements of the entire campaign.

The regiment since it's organization, has been engaged in clearing the country of the numerous predatory bands which have cursed this district with their infamous operations since the inception of the rebellion, and by it a large number of them have been killed and wounded. Being stationed remotely from supplies, and constituting an extreme outpost to Little Rock, the regiment has necessarily performed a large amount of labor, sometimes subsisting on half or quarter rations. The extent of the territory protected and occupied was large, and, at the same time, to avoid being cut off from our base of supplies by greatly superior forces, we were taught vigilance and the imperative necessity of giving the enemy a wholesome dread of the regiment"

General Steele, Commander of the Department of Arkansas, has been criticized for not making better use of his cavalry by some historians, who fail to grasp the nature of the war in Arkansas. It was largely a guerrilla war, fought over a large and topographically

10

diverse area, with difficult communications. Cavalry was ideal for this type of warfare, against a foe who moved about in small units struck quickly, and fled.

On the 10th day of February, 1864, the regiment was mustered into service, and attached to the 7th Army Corps, Department of Arkansas. Training was over, and now it was time to ride. The regiment went into the field at once.

11

THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY STAFF

Colonel Abraham H, Ryan (Transferred from 17th Illinois Infantry) Lt. Col. Irving W. Fuller (Transferred from 1st Missouri Cavalry)

Major Thadeus S. Clarkson

Major David Hamilton

Major George F. Lovejoy

Major Daniel W. Mason, Adjutant (Transferred from 1st Iowa Cav.)

Major Harry F. VanHouten

1st Lt.        Samuel O. Green, Adjutant

1st Lt.        David B. Russell, Qm. (Transfer from 36th Iowa Inf.)

1st Lt.        David A. Thompson, R.C.S.

1st Lt.        Albert Harrell, RA Master

1st Lt.        Samuel B. Jellison, R.C.S.

Sgt. Maj. Murry A. Gill Sgt. Maj. Wilson G. Gray

Pvt. Thomas D. Hawkins, Bugler

Surgeon Abner 0. Thomas

Asst. Sur. Francis L. Piero (Trans, from 126 Illinois Inf.)

Asst. Sur. John W. Madison (Trans from 8th Mo. Cavalry)

Pvt. James S. Guinn, Hospital Steward

Pvt. Peter T. Saylors, Hospital Steward

Vet. Surgeon Morgan Maybee (Trans from 3rd Michigan Cav.)

12

THIRD ARKANSAS CAVALRY COMPANY OFFICERS

A COMPANY

Captain Elish W. Dodson
Captain David Turner
Lt. George Hand
Lt. Lawson S. Mitchum

B COMPANY

Captain John J. Gibbons
Lt. Charles M. Greene
Lt. Bluford Gordon

C COMPANY

Captain John W. Gill
Lt. John L.W. Matthews
Lt. Marvin M. Gates

D COMPANY

Lt. William McDonald
Lt. John Mocklencate (Transfer from 3rd Michigan Cavalry)
2nd. Lt. Jacob Graves

E COMPANY

Capt. Robert W. Wishard (Tranfer from 1st Missouri Cavalry)
Capt. Thomas Boles
1st Lt. Patrick B. King
Lt. William M. Boles

F COMPANY

Capt. Bright W. Herring
Lt. John M. Wishard
2nd Lt. Hiram Dacus

G COMPANY

Capt. Leander S. Dunscomb
Lt/Capt George P. Carr
1st Lt. Orville Gilette, Jr.
Lt. James H. Reynolds

H COMPANY

Capt. David F. Edington
1st Lt. Frank Pease
2nd Lt. John M. Harkey

13

The above research, written by Paul P. Steed, Jr. is entitled Arkansas Fed.


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