The 19th (Dawson's) Arkansas Infantry Regiment is one of two regiments
numbered as the 19th. The other regiment, the 19th (Dockery's) served in
the Trans-Mississippi after its capture at the conclusion of the Vicksburg
Campaign. The 19th (Dawson's), (hereafter referred to simply as the 19th)
is almost unique among Arkansas Infantry Regiments in that elements of the
regiment served with distinction in both the Trans-Mississippi Region and
with the Army of Tennessee simultaneously.
Early history of the 19th
In late 1861, Center Point, Arkansas businessman Charles L. Dawson received
the authority from Governor Frank Rector of Arkansas to raise a regiment of
infantry for Confederate service. Beginning in November of 1861, he began
raising the ten companies needed for the regiment from across Southwestern
Arkansas. For the next four months or so, the regiment stayed in camp in
Southwestern Arkansas in the vicinity of present day Center Point, Arkansas
and underwent military training and equipping.
The regiment was formed at a critical time for the Confederacy. The
Confederate Congress was debating whether or not to begin conscription.
Most of the men who were eager to fight the war had already left with
volunteer units, and what was left were the family men, the small farmers,
and the businessmen. Facing impending conscription the men saw a simple
choice which was presented to them by the many recruiters in the area. They
could choose a unit of their choice, elect their own officers, and serve
with their friends and neighbors, or they wait to be drafted and served at
the pleasure of the government ... They joined during this time by the
hundreds of thousands across the Confederacy.
Two of the companies, Companies F and G, that formed Dawson's Regiment had
seen prior service with the Confederate Army at the Battle of Oak Hills (or
Wilson's Creek), with the 5th Regiment of Arkansas State Troops under
Brigadier General N.B. Pierce. Both companies had returned home, like
virtually all of the Arkansas troops after the battle, at the behest of
their states political leaders who felt that taking the men into
Confederate service would leave the state defenseless. Company G had been a
rather well-known militia unit in Nashville, Arkansas named the Davis
The final company of the ten was brought into the regiment on March 3,
1862, just days before the unit marched north to join the Confederate army
converging to attack the Union forces at Elkhorn Tavern (or Pea Ridge),
Arkansas. The ten companies of the 19th, and the towns in which they
mustered into service are as follows:
Companies of the 19th (Dawson's) Arkansas Infantry Regiment
A Company enlisted 10 October 1861 at Antoine, Pike County, Arkansas;
B Company enlisted 18 October 1861 at Center Point, Arkansas; C Company
enlisted 19 October 1861 at Nashville, Arkansas; D Company enlisted 25
October 1861 in Polk County, Arkansas; E Company enlisted 30 October 1861
at Rocky Comfort, now Foreman, Sevier now Little River County, Arkansas; F
Company enlisted 8 November 1861 at Paraclifta, Sevier County, Arkansas.
Paraclifta is no longer in existence, but is a few miles east of DeQueen,
Arkansas. Only a cemetery remains. G Company enlisted 19 November 1861 at
Nashville, Arkansas; H Company enlisted 22 February 1862 at Waldron, Scott
County, Arkansas; I Company enlisted 26 February 1862 at Nashville,
Arkansas. Civil War regiments had no Company J, due to the similarity of
the cursive written I and J. K Company enlisted 3 March 1862 at Paraclifta,
Baptism of Fire, Capture, and Imprisonment
Arriving in the vicinity of the Confederate Army of the West literally on
the eve of the battle of Elkhorn Tavern, General Van Dorn was chagrined to
learn that only 1/3 of the regiment was armed due to lack of equipment. The
19th, along with the 20th Arkansas, was assigned the duty of guarding the
army's baggage train. The unit, despite it's seemingly safe assignment, did
see some action at the battle in driving off a unit of interloping Yankees
who threatened the baggage train.
After the Battle, the Army of the West was transferred across the
Mississippi to reinforce General Albert Sidney Johnston's army in
Mississippi. When General Albert Pike's Indian troops were sent back to the
Indian Territories, the 19th Arkansas was ordered to accompany them.
Arriving at their new duty station in late March of 1862, the 19th was
given the duty of preparing the earthworks for their new home, Fort
McCulloch, which is on the banks of the Blue River in the vicinity of
present-day Durant, Oklahoma. Here they labored for three months before
being ordered to return to Arkansas in June of 1862. After returning to
Arkansas, they were issued new equipment and weapons, obtained new clothing
from their homes, and were soon thereafter assigned to help defend Fort
Hindman, also known as Arkansas Post.
As part of a garrison of about 5,000 men under General Thomas Churchill,
the 19th was attacked on January 11, 1863 by an overwhelming Federal force
under the field command of General William T. Sherman. After a gallant
all-day battle against the Union troops and gunboats of the Union navy, the
fort was compelled to surrender. Taken into captivity, the men expected to
be paroled and taken to nearby Vicksburg, which was one of two points
designated for prisoner exchanges.
General U.S. Grant, then commanding an expedition to capture Vicksburg,
realized the folly of releasing the prisoners at the point he was striving
to capture. To the indignation of the captured Southerners, he ordered them
transported north to camps in Illinois and Ohio. The trip north was long,
cold, and miserable, and every day new graves dotted the banks of the
Mississippi River as the men weakened and died along the trip. Upon
arriving in the North, the officers and enlisted were separated. The
enlisted men of the 19th were confined at Camp Douglas, Illinois, while the
officers were sent to Camp Chase, Ohio.
Rank has its privileges, so accordingly the confinement at Camp Chase was a
veritable (luxuary) compared to Camp Douglas, which was the most dreaded
and infamous camp in the North at the time. Chicago, the site of Camp
Douglas, had the coldest winter in recorded history that year. This coupled
with an outbreak of smallpox and pneumonia strained the capacity of the
Federals to care for the prisoners. As many of their comrades weakened and
died, some of the men chose to take the oath of allegiance to escape
captivity. By the time their captivity ended, of the 633 men taken
prisoners, 185 had died, and 24 had taken the oath. Another 58 died shortly
after release of diseases contracted during captivity. This left only 306
men who survived and were returned to service.
The 19th Arkansas in the Army of Tennessee
The men captured at Arkansas Post were exchanged at City Point, Virginia in
April and May of 1863. They were issued new arms and equipment on May 4,
1863. On May 11, 1863, the men transported by rail, with the intended
destination of General Joe Johnston's army in Mississippi, which was
attempting to raise the siege of Vicksburg. But the army being the army,
the orders were of course changed, and the destination became the Army of
Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg.
The 19th was consolidated with the surviving elements of the 24th Arkansas
Infantry Regiment, and Crawford's Arkansas Infantry Battalion into one
consolidated infantry regiment under the command of Lt. Col. Augustus S.
Hutchison of the 19th. This consolidated unit fought together at the Battle
of Chickamauga where they reported casualties of 16 killed or mortally
wounded, 80 wounded, and one captured. At Chickamauga, the unit fought in a
brigade made up entirely of the Arkansas Post prisoners, and commanded by
General James Deshler who was killed during the battle.
After Chickamauga, the unit's consolidation was changed. The Arkansas units
were moved into the Arkansas Brigade of Cleburne's division, and were
destined to remain there for the rest of the war. On November 12, 1863, the
19th Arkansas was consolidated with the 8th Arkansas under the command of
Colonel George Baucum of the 8th Arkansas. The units remained consolidated
for the rest of the war.
Major General Patrick R. Cleburne
The units saw light action at the decisive victory by General Cleburne over
Sherman at Tunnel Hill on November 25, 1863, and was in reserve most of the
day at the thrashing of the Union pursuit forces at Ringgold Gap, Georgia
on November 27, 1863.
The 8th-19th played a part in all of Cleburne's actions in the Atlanta
Campaign, but particularly distinguished itself at the Battle of Pickett's
Mill, when it was sent across a cornfield to counter a Union thrust which
was about to turn the Confederate right flank. Cavalry General John Kelly,
a former commander of the 8th Arkansas, appeared before the men, and in an
electrifying charge, led them into the corn to stop the Union attack cold.
Baucum and the unit were cited in General Cleburne's report on the battle.
Casualties for the 19th portion of the regiment were 8 killed and 5
The unit saw heavy action in the Battle of Atlanta, where it lost many men.
Colonel Baucum was shot in the face, while Lt. Col. Hutchison was wounded
in the arm. Both being lost for many months, command devolved upon Major
David H. Hamiter of the 19th Arkansas, who was to command the regiment
until the final days of the war.
At Jonesboro, 49 men of the 19th, and 77 men of the 8th were captured when
Govan's Brigade was overrun by a massive Union attack. Only heroic fighting
by the remainder of the men and the rest of Cleburne's division saved the
Confederate position from being destroyed. The flag of the consolidated
8th-19th was captured by an officer of the 74th Indiana Infantry Regiment
during this fight.
The 8th-19th saw action with the remainder of Cleburne's Division during
the Tennessee Campaign, and was one of the only Confederate infantry to
become engaged at Spring Hill, before the curious collapse of the
Confederate high command that day. On November 30, 1864, Govan's Brigade,
the 19th among them lost over 60% of their men during the fateful
Confederate assault at Franklin, Tennessee. Charging into the vortex of the
battle around the Carter House, the unit fought hand to hand until driven
into the ditch outside the second line of works. General Cleburne was one
of six Confederate Generals killed during this attack.
Brigadier General Daniel C. Govan
The 8th-19th was part of the contingent of the Army of Tennessee that
traveled to the Carolinas to resist the army of General Sherman. It saw
action one last time at the Battle of Bentonville. At least five members of
the 19th are known to have been wounded in this battle, but exact casualty
figures are unknown.
In the final reorganization of the Army of Tennessee in the final days of
the war, the entire Arkansas Brigade was consolidated into one regiment,
the 1st Arkansas Consolidated Infantry Regiment. The men of the 19th had
only enough people to fill one company. Company I of the unit was made up
of the 49 survivors of the 19th Arkansas. The unit was commanded at the
surrender of the army by Captain William B. Cone, originally of Company E.
The fate of Major Hamiter is unknown as he was not on the final surrender
rolls of the Army of Tennessee.
Of the 1,200 men who served in the 19th at various times, only 5% were
present at the end.
The 19th Arkansas in the Trans-Mississippi Department
After the capture of most of the regiment at Arkansas Post, the remainder
of the 19th consolidated its remaining forces to assist in the defense of
Arkansas. By consolidating the uncaptured portions of the 19th and the 24th
Arkansas, a 700 man regiment was formed with Colonel Dawson in command. He
was to command this consolidated unit for most of the war. Dawson's
regiment participated in the unsuccessful defense of Little Rock, and
withdrew with the rest of the Army to the vicinity of Arkadelphia. The unit
was under the command of General Tappan, in the division of Major General
During the winter of 1863-64, which was abnormally cold, Colonel Dawson's
health took a turn for the worse and he was forced to resign his command.
The regiment was taken over by Lt. Colonel Hardy, and was thereafter known
as Hardy's Regiment.
Shortly after the change of command, the unit saw its final major action
during the Red River Campaign. Still serving in the brigade of General
Tappan, they were again serving in a division under the command of their
old Arkansas Post commander, General Thomas Churchill. Churchill attempted
to turn the Federal left flank, but cut short his approach march and
instead hit the Federal line at an oblique. Making good initial headway,
his attack was crushed by a savage counterattack by Union General A.J.
Smith. The Confederate attack collapsed and the army was driven from the
Churchill's Division spent the winter in quarters at Minden, Louisiana By
April 11, 1865 they had arrived at Marshall, Texas. On April 29, meetings
were held across the division to determine if the war should be continued.
The men decided to continue as long as any hope still existed. One month
later, on May 26, 1865, the Trans-Mississippi Department was surrendered by
General Edmund Kirby Smith. The men signed their paroles in Shreveport,
Louisiana and went home. The greatest conflict in America's history was
The Legacy of the 19th Arkansas
With the end of the war comes the time of memories. As a war fought within,
the result of the conflict had a profound effect on the nation we know
today. Attacks from without merely test our strength and resolve, while a
struggle from within gives us strength in the end. The legacy of the 19th
Arkansas is all around us today. It can be found in the Harkins-Confederate
Cemetery in Atoka, Oklahoma where 9 members of the regiment lie buried. It
can be found in the south side of Chicago where 185 members of the regiment
lie buried in Oakwood Cemetery. It can be found in many tiny, now unknown
graves on the banks of the Mississippi River, on battlefields in Louisiana,
Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina where the mortal remains
of these long-dead men lie sleeping.
The Legacy can also be found in their home towns in Southwestern Arkansas
such as Nashville, Center Point, DeQueen, and Foreman. But many of the men
traveled to new homes to escape the devastation that plagued the South
after the war. New homes and families were started in Oklahoma, Texas, New
Mexico, and many other western states. The returning veterans played vital
roles in the establishment and growth of these modern day communities. They
served as the farmers, bankers, merchants, lawyers, teachers, judges,
sheriffs, and doctors that provided the growth of the United States in the
second half of the 1800's. Their legacy is all around us.
But most importantly, the legacy is in our minds. Nothing is over until it
is forgotten. The men of the 19th Arkansas, and thousands like them, North
and South, must never be forgotten.
History of the 19th (Dawson's) Arkansas Infantry Regiment, Jim Dark,
Update 03.26.01 David Kelley 2001 CVL-0026.HTM