A company of soldiers was raised in Benton County, by Capt. Henry L. Smith, for the Mexican War. They went as far as Fort Smith, but the quota having been filled they were not accepted. A portion of them, however, then joined the company of Capt. Wells, a company that was accepted but not yet full. In this company they went forward, and served in that war. On the approach of the late Civil War, when the question of “secession” was being agitated, the people of Benton County, in general, were opposed to that measure, and did not wish to sever their connection with the Federal Union. They were, however, almost unanimously in favor of the Southern cause, and when it became evident that nothing but war would suffice to settle the difficulties between the opposing sections of the country, they cast their lot with their friends of the South, and went into the conflict with a determination to fight to the end of the struggle to secure what they believed to be their rights, and how well they did this the sequel will show.

In the spring of 1861, after the “dogs of war” had been let loose, Capt. T. T. Hays raised an infantry company on Pea Ridge, in Benton County, and Capt. Dan. McKissick raised a cavalry company, mostly from the southern part of the county, both of which companies joined the State service, and remained therein until a short time after the battle of Wilson’s Creek was fought, and were then disbanded. These companies did not happen to be engaged in any fights. Nearly all the men composing these companies afterward joined other companies, and went into the Confederate service.

The Fifteenth Regiment Arkansas Infantry

The first company that went into the Confederate army from Benton County was Company A, of the Fifteenth Arkansas Regiment. It was raised in midsummer of 1861, by Capt. J. H. Hobbs. Soon thereafter Companies F and G of the same regiment were raised in Benton County. The former went out under Capt. William Thompson, and the latter under Capt. J. M. Richards. The regiment was organized in a camp near Cross Hollows, in this county, in the fall of 1861, served to the close of the war, and surrendered at Marshall, Tex., in May, 1865. Its first colonel was D. McRea, and afterward Capt. Hobbs, of Company A, became the colonel, and he finally resigned on account of ill health. Among the important battles in which this regiment was engaged were Pea Ridge, in Benton County, Ark.; Iuka Springs and Corinth, in Mississippi; Fort Gibson, Baker’s Creek, defense of Vicksburg during the siege thereof, Prairie De Ann, Mark’s Mill and Jenkins’ Ferry. After the surrender at Vicksburg the regiment went into a parole camp at Washington, Ark., where it remained until after it was exchanged. Its loss during the war was somewhat heavy.

The Thirty-fourth Regiment Arkansas Infantry

Company F, of this regiment, was raised in Benton County, in July, 1862, and went out under Capt. C. L. Pickins. The regiment was organized at Mount Comfort, in Washington County. The more important battles in which it was engaged were Prairie Grove, Helena and Jenkins’ Ferry. It also surrendered at Marshall, Tex., in May, 1865. Company F, of Col. King’s Arkansas Regiment, was raised in Benton County, and went out under Capt. John Miser, of Pea Ridge. This regiment was organized at Mulberry, in Franklin County, was brigaded with the Thirty-fourth Arkansas, and participated in the same battles and surrendered at the same time and place.

Capt. Tom Jefferson raised a company of cavalry in Benton County, for Col. Carl’s regiment of Arkansas cavalry. This regiment served through the war, mostly in Missouri and Arkansas. Capt. Hugh Tinnin, of Maysville, and Capt. W. H. Hendren, each raised a company in the western part of Benton County, both of which served during the war in the Indian Territory. Capt. James Ingram raised a company of cavalry in the eastern part of Benton County, and it served in Northwestern Arkansas until October, 1863, when it went south, dismounted, joined and became a part of the Thirty-fourth Arkansas Infantry. Capt. “Bill Buck” Brown raised a company of cavalry in the southern part of Benton County, which served in Northwestern Arkansas during the continuance of the war. The captain was killed in a skirmish in the winter of 1864–65. Capt. James Cooper also raised an independent company of cavalry, which served in Northwestern Arkansas.

This gives eleven companies which were raised in Benton County for the Confederate army, all of which averaged 100 men each, thus making 1,100 men that served in the Confederate army from this county, besides several hundred who went into the service as recruits. No Federal troops were organized in this county for actual service in the war. A few months before the close of the war two or three companies of militia were organized, under the provision of the Federal Government, for the purpose of protecting the citizens from the depredations of the thieving and marauding parties not belonging to either army, that were prowling around through the country plundering, murdering and robbing the citizens.

Skirmish on Dunagin’s Farm

In February, 1862, when Gen. Price retreated from Missouri to join McCulloch in Arkansas, he was pursued through Benton County by the Federal forces under Gen. Curtis. His rear guard, under command of Gen. James S. Rains, was annoyed considerably by the Federal advance, and to get rid of this Rains halted on the farm of Rev. J. Dunagin, at or near the present station of Avoca, on the St. L. & S. F. Railroad, and planted a battery in a seemingly unprotected position, at the same time having it well protected by troops concealed along the side of the approach to it. Not discovering the support to this battery, the Federal advance (cavalry) charged it, and received the cross fire of the concealed troops of the enemy. Twenty Federal soldiers and sixty horses, and two or three Confederate soldiers, were killed at once. This, of course, repulsed the Federal advance, and checked their pursuit. This was the first fight and the first reception of Federal troops in Benton County, and on this occasion the residence of Rev. J. Dunagin was set on fire and burned by the Federals, it being the first house burned in Benton in the war period. This house stood one-half mile east of the present village of Avoca. It was probably the 18th day of February, 1862, when this skirmish took place. The facts concerning it were furnished the compiler by Rev. Dunagin, who is well known to the people of Benton County.

Back to: Benton County, Arkansas History

Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.