Field & Staff
The 11th Arkansas Infantry was organized with eight companies (approximately 700 men) at Benton, in Saline County, Arkansas in July, 1861. Jabez M. Smith, of Benton, was elected Colonel, Mark Miller, Lt. Col., James T. Poe, major, Moses Waters, adjutant, and W.A. Moss, sergeant major. Company commanders were Co. A, the "Saline Tornadoes" of Saline County, Cpt. M. Vance; Co. B, the "Rough and Ready Riflemen" of Saline County, Cpt. J. Douglas; Co. C, from Saline and Hot Spring counties, Cpt. J. Sanders; Co. D, the "Fairplay Riflemen" of Saline county, Cpt. Z. Philips; Co. E, the "Falcon Guards" of Columbia and Hempstead counties, Cpt J. Moss; Co. F, the "Saline Avengers" of Saline county, Cpt. L. Mauney; Co. G, the "Camden Knights" of Ouachita county, Cpt. J. Logan; and Co. H, from Columbia County, Cpt. J. Matthews. Company I, from Saline, Hot Spring, and Pulaski counties under Cpt. Anderson Cunningham and Co. K, from Saline county under Cpt. J.G. Johnson, joined the regiment at Memphis, TN, and Island No. 10, respectively.
The regiment was ordered to Fort Pillow, TN, in November, 1861, was brigaded with the 12th Arkansas, commanded by Col. E.W. Gantt; and was stationed at Island No. 10 near Tiptonville, TN on the Mississippi River. The regiment was transferred back and forth from Island No. 10 to New Madrid, MO at the whim of General Gideon Pillow. Island No. 10 was surrendered on April 15, 1862 after a terrific bombardment by Union mortar boats and gunboats, aided by a rise of the river's water level which nearly submerged the island. The Confederate defenses at Island No. 10 consisted of dissolving earthworks and twenty cannon. Maj. W.J. Hoadley, of Little Rock, having served his guns with great bravery, spiked them and escaped with one section of the regiment. The others were included in the surrender, and were transported to prison camps at Camp Butler (near Springfield, IL) and then to Camp Chase (Chicago), the officers were sent to Johnson's Island near Lake Erie. Lieutenant Gibson, of Co. H, was shot dead at Johnson's Island by a federal sentry because he crossed the camp's "dead line". The 11th and 12th Arkansas were exchanged at Vicksburg, Mississippi on September 16, 1862, and were subsequently reorganized at Jackson, MS in October of that year. Their year's enlistment expiring at this time, the regiment re-enlisted and reorganized, electing Col. John L. Logan; Lt. Col. M.D, Vance, Maj. James T. Poe, Adjutant Edward A. Warren, Quartermaster E. Whitfield, Commissary Clark, Surgeon James Whitfield. Co. A, Cpt. Jasper Shepherd, Co. B Cpt. Claiborne Watkins; Co. C, Cpt. James D. Burke; Co. D, Cpt. A.A. Crawford; Co. E, Cpt. W.R. Selfridge; Co. F, Cpt L.H. Kemp; Co. G, Cpt. Frank Scott; Co. H, Cpt. Matthews, Co. I, Cpt. W.F. Morton; Co. K, Cpt. Anderson Cunningham. Col. Jabez Smith was as brave and pure as General Lee, but declined re-election. He returned to the Trans-Mississippi district for new duties.
The regiment was ordered to the lower Mississippi, where it was consolidated with the 17th Arkansas Infantry under Col. John Griffith and reorganized as a mounted rifle regiment. Griffith's "11th/17th Arkansas" was then dispatched to Clinton, Mississippi to head off the cavalry raid of Union General Benjamin Grierson, but failed to catch him before Grierson rejoined the Union lines near Baton Rouge. Then, still under the command of Col Griffith, they operated outside of the fortifications of Port Hudson, LA during the siege of that place in March, 1863. This detachment operated against the army of General Banks in Louisiana, and took a number of prisoners, among them General Neil Dow. Colonel Logan, of the 11th, was second in command of the detachment which captured General Dow.
After the fall of Port Hudson in July, 1863, the greater part of the regiment remained in Mississippi, where they fought in several small engagements against the Federals. A squad of the 17th, under Maj. B.B. Chisom captured a Federal gunboat on the Yazoo River. They had a sanguinary encounter with Federal cavalry at Keller's Lane, June 23, 1863 in which Lieutenant DeVaughn was wounded and maimed for life. Their services were of inestimable value in protecting citizens from the devastation wrought wherever the Yankees were left undisturbed to roam over the country between the fortified posts.