10th Arkansas Infantry Regiment




The Tenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment was organized at Springfield in Conway County in July 1861. This is where many volunteers from Van Buren County (southern Van Buren County later became Cleburne) were mustered into the Confederate Army. Company "A," known as the "Quitman Rifles," was headed by Captain A. R. Witt. Other officers were First Lt. W. W. Martin, Second Lt. C. M. Cargile, Third Lt. Israel Davis, and First Sergeant W. R. Corbin. The company had eight non-commissioned officers and 94 men in all.

Company "G" was called the "Red River Riflemen." Officers were Captain John B. Miller, First Lt. James E. Lockard, Second Lt. Henry J. Gatton, Third Lt. Edwin Ellis, and First Sergeant Daniel Johnson. This company with ten non-commissioned officers had 91 men.

Other companies in the regiment were the "Ready Rifles" of Company B; the "Choctaw Riflemen" of Company C from Conway County, the "Conway Invincibles of Company E; "Pemberton's Company," "Muddy Bayou Heroes" of Company F; the "Perry County Mountaineers" of Company H; the "Conway Tigers" of Company I; and "Springfield Sharpshooters" of Company K. Field and staff officers for the Tenth were Colonel Thomas D. Merrick, Lt. Col. S. S. Ford, Major Obed Patty, and Adjutant Robert C. Bertrand.

The Tenth Arkansas Regiment was assigned to General Bowen's Brigade, consisting of the Ninth and Tenth Arkansas, Fifth Missouri and Tenth Mississippi regiments before they were moved to Kentucky. They remained at Bowling Green until the evacuation of that place when they were placed to guard the rear on the retreat. They were then placed in Hardee's Corps and marched to Corinth. Here the Ninth Arkansas was put in Breckenridge's Reserve Corps and marched to Shiloh. The 10th Arkansas fought on the Confederate right flank at Shiloh on April 6, 1862, participating in the many vicious attacks against the "Hornet's Nest" which ultimately led to the surrender of Prentiss's division. The 10th's attack petered out around dark when they ran up against Grant's Last Line. At this same time, Confederate attacks were called off until the next day. In this battle they lost about 160 men.

After the Battle of Shiloh the regiment went back to Corinth, where they reorganized. Formal charges related to the disorganized condition of his regiment were brought against Col. Merrick. He resigned and on May 27, 1862 Captain A. R. Witt of Company "A," "The Quitman Rifles," was promoted to colonel and became commander of the regiment. Here their brigade was broken up and the regiments assigned to other brigades..

They were moved first back of Vicksburg, where they stayed some time on the Yazoo River, at Camp Price. Then they were moved to Vicksburg, where they stayed a short while. They were then with the Ninth Arkansas, placed in a brigade commanded by General Jeff Thompson and moved to Louisiana, 30 or 40 miles above New Orleans, where they spent the winter of 1862-63 guarding the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railway.

By the early spring of 1863 the Tenth Arkansas was first sent again to Baton Rouge where they were to prepare defenses against the approaching General Nathaniel Banks. This they did by felling large numbers of trees to block the roadways leading to Baton Rouge, digging trenches and mounting siege guns around the city.

By the first of March, 1863, the Tenth Arkansas Infantry was at Port Hudson, Louisiana above New Orleans and during March 7-27 they were in operations against Federal forces at Port Hudson. After a series of engagements and a siege lasting into July, 1863, the Tenth Arkansas Infantry surrendered to General Banks, a surrender that was apparently helped along by internal dissension within the regiment. Certain officers of the Tenth Arkansas seemingly were able to influence some enlisted men to desert and refuse to alternate duties with their fellow companies. By July 7, just two days before the regiment capitulated, there was practically open mutiny.

On July 9, 1863 the entire regiment surrendered and became prisoners of war. The men were paroled until exchanged, with the officers imprisoned at Johnson's Island, Ohio, in Lake Erie. The unit was eventually exchanged and returned to Arkansas. Col. A. R. Witt reorganized the unit, including some newly recruited members to form Witt's Cavalry.

The regiment participated in the following engagements during its career: Battle, Pittsburg Landing, Shiloh, Tenn. - April 6-7, 1862; Engagement, Baton Rouge, La. - Aug. 5, 1862; •Operations against expedition from Pass Manchac and Ponchatuoula, La. - Sept. 13-15, 1862; Skirmish, Bayou Bonfonca, La. - Nov. 21, 1862; Operations against Port Hudson, La. - Mar. 7-27, 1863; Action, Plain's Store, La. May 21, 1863; Siege, Port Hudson, La. May 24-July 9, 1863; Assault, Port Hudson, La. - May 27, 1863; Assault, Port Hudson, La. - June 14, 1863; Surrender, Port Hudson, La. - July 9, 1863

At its organization the Tenth Arkansas Infantry numbered 1000 men; yet at the close of the war there were fewer than 200 men surviving.

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