|Massard Prairie Battlefield Park|
The terms "Arkansas Feds" and "Mountain Feds" were often used by Southern soldiers to describe Arkansans who either evaded service in the Confederate army or deserted from their units and joined the Union side.
According to several eyewitness accounts of the battle, the "Arkansas Feds" were taken by surprise and broke and ran. The Confederates did not immediately pursue them as the Kansas cavalrymen had formed a line of battle through their camp at the Picnic or Diamond Grove (site of today's Massard Prairie Battlefield Park). Union reports, however, make no mention at all of any Arkansas Union troops being present at the battle. All of which begs the questions: Were there "Arkansas Feds" on Massard Prairie? And, if so, who were they?
The answer seems to be yes, there were several companies of Arkansas Federals camped on Massard Prairie at the time of the attack.
On July 5, 1864, about three weeks before the battle, 100 Arkansas Unionists signed a letter to the editor of the Fort Smith New Era newspaper complaining of the disrespect being shown them by Union soldiers from Northern states and by the citizens of Fort Smith. The men were members of the 4th Arkansas Infantry (U.S.). The letter was dated from the men's camp at "Mazard Prairie."
This short-lived regiment was formed early in 1864 and merged with the 2nd Arkansas Infantry (U.S.) in October of that year. At its greatest strength, it included around 173 men, including officers and a surgeon, making up three companies.
|Massard Prairie at Fort Smith, Arkansas|
This evidence provides strong support then for the presence of the 4th Arkansas Infantry (U.S.) as well as the 6th Kansas Cavalry at the Battle of Massard Prairie. The scattering of two battalions of Federal troops instead of just one makes the Confederate victory there even more impressive and significant.
To read more about the battle, please consider my book:
The Battle of Massard Prairie: The 1864 Confederate Attacks on Fort Smith, Arkansas
The book is also available as an instant download for Amazon Kindle:
The Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas: The 1864 Confederate Attacks on Fort Smith
You can also learn more about the battle by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ArkansasCW4.