Baxter’s 4th Arkansas Mounted Infantry, USA

Batesville, Arkansas


Waugh’s Farm, February 19, 1864

Article from Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

by George E. Lankford

Colonel Robert Livingston and his small Union army entered Batesville, Independence County, on Christmas day 1863, having been sent to re-occupy the city, which had not a continuous presence since June 1862. Their task was to keep the peace in the area and promote Federal control. That proved difficult for they were surrounded by small mobile Confederate guerilla units and outlaw gangs who preyed on small detachments, especially foraging expeditions outside of Batesville.

The most disastrous Union loss in the Batesville area was at the farm of Virginia Lewis Waugh, twelve mile west of town. On February 18, 1864, a foraging train of thirty-five wagons, escorted by 100 soldiers of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry and Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry under command of Captain William Castle, stopped and camped for the night on Waugh’s farm. A local account says that a girl on a neighboring farm slipped away across the White River to the west and revealed the train’s presence to people who would locate Captain George Rutherford and his First Arkansas Cavalry, which consisted mostly of county men.

The next morning, Rutherford’s cavalry attacked the train, killing four, wounding ten and capturing thirty-two. Only one Confederate casualty is known, John Minnikin of Batesville. Most of the wagons were burned and the contents and horses seized. Stolen gear was later recovered from various locations in the area, such as Sylamore and Cross-Roads.

The Union and Confederate leaders later disputed, without results, whether the shooting of Capt. Castle was an atrocity or a battle incident but Capt. Rutherford recovered Castle’s watch and pencil case from his men. He returned them to Col. Livingston, with kind words for Castle and a request that Livingston try to save a recently captured brother James Rutherford for a prisoner exchange. Livingston appears to have blamed for being surprised, for he reports that the captain “paid the penalty for his neglect with his life.”

Records do not indicate whether the prisoner exchange was carried out. James Rutherford was not immediately released and George rutherford himself was captured a few months later and imprisoned in Little Rock until the end of the war. The exchange of men did not occur immediately because Rutherford said he could not exchange all his prisoners as he was under orders to deliver for military trial all Union soldiers who had been conscripted into Confederate units and had fled to join Union units. Livingston took the stance that he required that all his men be treated equally as prisoners of war. The issue continued to be a problem for the rest of the war.

Publications of the Arkansas Historical Associations

Vol . 3, Fayetteville, 1911

Waugh's FarmThe fight at Waugh's farm in Independence County was one of the minor engagements, but brilliant and decisive. Capt. George W. Rutherford, with a part of his own company of Dobbins' cavalry regiment and Capt. S. J. McGuffin's company of boys called the "Popcorn Company," then unattached, Captain McGuffin being second in command, was resting in Knight's Cove (now Stone County), when he received information that a train of forty-three foraging wagons with an escort of 147 men from the eleventh Missouri cavalry, commanded by Captain Cassell, was encamped for the night at James Waugh's farm, eleven miles northwest of Batesville, and he determined to attack them with the eighty-three men he had with him. Crossing White River above Penter's Bluff, after a night march of some fifteen miles, Captain Rutherford reached the Federal camp just after daylight on the 19th of February, 1864, and attacked with such vigor that he stampeded the escort after a short, sharp fight, killing thirteen, wounding four and capturing seventeen, among the killed being the Federal commander, Captain Cassell. Captain Rutherford captured and carried off 127 mules, with their harness, and thirty-four horses, with their accouterments, and burned forty-three wagons, losing in' the engagement four killed and three wounded.

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