August 16, 1863

August 16, 2013


Clarendon, August 16, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to report my arrival at this point yesterday, after an entirely successful expedition of three days with this boat, the Cricket, and Marmora. At Des Arc, our first stopping place, we burned a large warehouse filled with Confederate corn meal, etc., destroyed the telegraph for nearly half a mile, and obtained some information that we wanted from the citizens, three of whom I seized and brought down to General Davidson.
The second morning, having arrived off the mouth of Little Red River, a narrow and tortuous tributary of the White, I sent the Cricket up after the steamers Tom Sugg and Kaskaskia (which I had reason to believe were hid up there), while the Marmora and this vessel proceeded on to Augusta, 30 miles farther and 75 miles from Jacksonport. Here my information as to the rebel army was confirmed, and one object of the expedition accomplished. The grand Southern army were concentrating at Brownsville, intending to make their line of defense on Bayou Meto. Price was there and Kirby Smith in Little Rock. Marmaduke had recrossed the White some days before, and was then crossing Little Red. Having received this information, I pushed down stream again, and leaving the Marmora off the mouth, went up the Little Red with the Lexington. When about 25 miles up and nearly as high as we could go, we met the Cricket with her two prizes, which she had captured at Searcy, 15 miles farther on. She also destroyed there Marmaduke’s pontoon bridge, leaving a portion of his brigade on the other side of the stream. When a few miles above us the Cricket had been fired into by a portion of Marmaduke’s men, when several soldiers (of whom we carried up about 150) and Mr. Morehead, of the Cricket, were wounded. After meeting her about dusk we were all again attacked by sharpshooters without any damage, however. Captain Langthorne I can not thank too much for his zeal, efficiency, and judgment, not only on this occasion, but ever since under my command. With the prizes were captured the enclosed list of prisoners, 14 bales of cotton, 3 horses, and a few arms. The Tom Sugg is a fine little side-wheel boat, and I think would make an excellent light-draft gunboat for these rivers. The Kaskaskia, also side-wheel, though a somewhat older boat, has still a good hull. For the present, having officered and manned them and put a howitzer on each, I shall retain them to cooperate with the army, who are much in need of transports. All along the banks of the rivers, White and Little Red, as far as we went, 250 miles on the one and 40 on the other, we found the isolated farmers glad to see us, and many Union demonstrations were made. I am satisfied the people here would be glad to see us in possession. The capture of the two boats, the only means of transportation the rebels had on this river, is a severe blow to them, and at this time the boats can be made of great service to us. Going up the river we were not at all molested, but coming down we were fired on with small arms from almost every available spot, though by no very large number of men.
The river is still high, though falling at the rate of 24 inches in 48 hours. I shall send the Lexington down to-morrow. The Marmora, Cricket, and Romeo are all leaking severely, and otherwise out of repair.
The advance division of General Steele’s command arrived yesterday. I have no doubt our army will be able to drive the enemy from their line of defense on Bayou Meto into Texas.
Enclosed I hand the report of Captain Langthorne, of the Cricket. I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant, Commanding White River Expedition.
Rear-Admiral DAVID D. PORTER,
Commanding Mississippi Squadron.
U. S. S. CRICKET, August 15, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to your order, I proceeded up Little Red River at 9 o’clock a.m. About 10 miles up I hailed some men on the bank, enquired of them if the steamers Tom Sugg and Kaskaskia were up the river. They said one of them had passed a short time before. I continued on up; saw some rebel pickets at West Point; made further enquiries about the steamboats, which satisfied me they were up the river. We arrived at Searcy Landing at 2 o’clock p.m. and [found] the two steamers, Thos. Sugg and Kaskaskia.
I landed the infantry and put officers on board of the steamers; had them fired up ready to start. The rebels had a fine pontoon bridge built across the river, which I effectually destroyed. We then left for down river at 3 o’clock; took on 14 bales cotton on our way. As we arrived near West Point we were fired upon by the rebel sharpshooters. The engagement lasted about one hour, wounding 9 of our men, I mortally, since died. Mr. Morehead was piloting the Kaskaskia. He stood at the wheel nobly until disabled; he received two shots and fell. Mr. Lightner was pilot of the Sugg. During the engagement he stood at his post without flinching. Mr. Claycomb, pilot of the Cricket, also showed great bravery and coolness. Surgeon Hanson A. Bodman, although sick, attended to the wounded with much credit. Every officer and man deserves great praise for the manner in which they discharged their duties.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, U. S. N.,
Commanding Steamer Cricket.
Lieutenant GEO. M. BACHE,
Commanding White River Squadron.
Report of Lieutenant Bache, U. S. Navy.
Clarendon, August 19, 1863.
SIR: I am about to send the Cricket to Cairo for repairs. She is leaking too badly to wait for an answer from you. I would like very much if you would give Captain Langthorne a side-wheel boat, and send him down to rejoin my command. Short side-wheel boats are the only ones adapted for these small rivers. Stern-wheel boats will tear themselves up.
Captain Langthorne will be able to give you all information in regard to the captured boats, Tom Sugg and Kaskaskia. I send you a description of the former; she is a fine little boat. Both boats, since their capture, have been and still are of importance to the army, whose means of transportation afloat are very limited. They are used for carrying forage, and sometimes men and horses. As soon as the army shall have crossed I will send them to Cairo.
The two coal barges which we brought up have also been of great service; indeed, I do not know how the army could have crossed the river without them. They are being used as ferries.
I send up all the prisoners taken on the two boats except three engineers, whom we are employing.
General Davidson’s division have crossed, and in about three days General Steele expects to get his men across, after which the fate of Little Rock will be speedily determined. Should we be successful, Devall’s Bluff will be made the depot for supplies, in order to take advantage of the railroad. Until then, Clarendon is the point. Vessels will be required on the river all the time to convoy or to protect the army should they be compelled to fall back.
The river has fallen about 10 feet, and all the overflowed land is now dry. I expect the guerrillas will soon commence their annoyances. The Lexington has left the river; she also needs repairs very much. Her water-wheel beams are very shaky. I would like very much if she could be repaired while I am up this river.
Mr. Huston, our Arkansas and White River pilot, at the request of General Steele, I have detached from the squadron and ordered to the army as a guide. He is to return as soon as there is a sign of a rise in the Arkansas River. Mr. Huston is of no use to us on this river.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant, Commanding White River Division.

Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission

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