Battle of Cane Hill
The Battle of Cane Hill was fought during the American Civil War on November 28, 1862 in Washington County, Arkansas.
Union troops under Brig. Gen. James G. Blunt drove Confederates under Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke back into the Boston Mountains in northwestern Arkansas.
The Battle of Cane Hill was part of a Confederate attempt to drive the Union forces back into Missouri and recapture ground lost during the Pea Ridge campaign of early 1862, when Union forces had secured parts of northern Arkansas. Now, Confederate General Thomas C. Hindman moved his army of 11,000 soldiers into Fort Smith, Arkansas, and prepared to move across the Boston Mountains into the extreme northwestern corner of the state. Awaiting him there was Blunt with 5,000 troops. Hindman hoped to attack Blunt's force, which was over 70 miles from the nearest Union reinforcements. Hindman dispatched Marmaduke and 2,000 cavalry troopers to hold Blunt in place while Hindman moved the rest of his force through the mountains.
Blunt disrupted the Confederate plan by advancing south when he heard of Marmaduke's approach. Marmaduke was not prepared to meet Blunt, who was 35 miles further south than expected. Marmaduke's troops were surprised and outnumbered when Blunt suddenly attacked on November 28. Marmaduke began a hasty retreat and ordered Col. Jo Shelby's cavalry to fight a delaying action while the rest of the Confederates headed for the mountains. Blunt pursued Marmaduke's forces for 12 miles before the Confederates reached the safety of the hills. Though the conflict lasted for nine hours, casualties were light. The Union troops suffered 41 men killed or wounded, while the Confederates lost 45.
This small engagement was a prelude to a much larger clash at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, nine days later. Blunt's advance left him dangerously isolated from Union forces in Springfield, Missouri, but when Hindman attacked again on December 7, he again failed to expel Blunt from northwestern Arkansas.
Description: In late November, Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman detached Brig. Gen. John Marmaduke’s cavalry from Van Buren north to occupy the Cane Hill area. Hearing of this movement, Brig. Gen. James Blunt advanced to meet Marmaduke’s command and destroy it, if possible. The Union vanguard encountered Col. Joe Shelby’s brigade, which fought a delaying action to protect their supply trains. Shelby gradually gave ground until establishing a strong defensive perimeter on Cove Creek where he repulsed a determined attack. The Federals withdrew to Cane Hill, while the Confederates returned to Van Buren. Although fighting well, Marmaduke’s withdrawal was a setback for Hindman’s plans for recapturing northwest Arkansas. Victory at Prairie Grove a few weeks later, solidified Union control of the region.