Archibald S. Dobbins
Archibald S. Dobbins was born in
1827 near Mount Pleasant in Maury County, Tennessee, the son of David and
Catherine (Gilchrist) Dobbins. His parents were common farmers; young Dobbins
grew up on the family farm. In 1850 he married and removed to Arkansas,
purchasing land inherited by his wife's relatives. Dobbins quickly became a
wealthy planter near Helena, Arkansas, with property in Phillips County,
Arkansas, and across the Mississippi River in Coahoma County, Mississippi.
It appears that Dobbins spent the first year of the War raising Crops for the army. In 1862 he joined Major General Thomas Hindman (an old Helena acquaintance) in Mississippi. Hindman appointed him a colonel and assigned him to duty on Hindman's staff. Dobbins accompanied Hindman when that officer returned to Arkansas. In 1863 he raised the 1st (Dobbins') Arkansas Cavalry Regiment in northeast Arkansas. This detached unit skirmished with Union garrison forces in the Helena area. Joining the main army, Dobbins led his regiment at the Battle of Helena and commanded a brigade in the Little Rock campaign. During this latter campaign Dobbins was placed under arrest for refusal to obey orders, under unique circumstances.
Dobbins' arrest stemmed from the feud between Brigadier General John S. Mar-maduke and Dobbins' divisional commander, Brigadier General Lucius M. Walker. Marmaduke had unsparingly criticized Walker's performance at Helena and Little Rock as incompetent and craven. Walker (understandably) took offense and challenged Marmaduke to a duel. The duel took place almost in sight of Union forces, with results fatal to Walker. Dobbins, a close friend of the slain general and similarly a target of Marmaduke's criticism, refused to serve under Marmaduke's command. Marmaduke promptly put Dobbins under arrest for disobedience of orders. Though the army commander restored Dobbins to command of his brigade, the charges were not dropped. A court-martial found him guilty as charged, and General Holmes, the department commander, ordered Dobbins discharged from the army. The discharge was later dropped. In the fall of 1864 Dobbins led an Arkansas cavalry brigade in Price's Missouri Raid. Once again, his conduct was called into question, this time in the September 27, 1864, attack on Pilot Knob, Missouri. Dobbins' cavalry brigade was assigned to guard the sector where the Federal garrison eventually made its escape. One story has it that Dobbins was enticed by a lady to bring his troopers to her plantation for a barbecue, leaving the escape route open. The Union forces assumed that Dobbins' pickets, in the dark, mistook them for a Confederate column. Whatever the reason, the Union escape reflected poorly on both Dobbins and Price. However, Dobbins' bravery and devotion to duty (if not his skill) were unquestioned. Dobbins' brigade largely escaped the disasters that befell Price's raiders at the Battles of Westport and Mine Creek that October. During the winter of 1864 to 1865 Dobbins succeeded Acting Brigadier General Charles W. Adams as district commander in northeast Arkansas. In the spring of 1865 Dobbins commanded one of the two brigades in the North Arkansas District. He escaped the district, bound for Texas, prior to the May 11, 1865, surrender of north Arkansas. He was paroled as colonel, commanding brigade, in Galveston, Texas, July 13,1865.
After the war Dobbins engaged in business in New Orleans. However, unsympathetic to Reconstruction, Dobbins emigrated to Brazil and tried to build a plantation there. Family sources state that his letters home ceased about 1870. He evidently died sometime after this in the Amazon wilds, probably being murdered by his native workmen.
Heitman, CV, and SHSP list Dobbins as a general. However, he was paroled a colonel, he was termed "colonel, leading brigade" in the OR as late as February 2, 1865, and no record of his promotion to general exists.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.