John Henry Karr - Civil War
By Clarence E Karr
His Civil War records consist of:
A. An application for a Confederate Pension, Feb 1, 1900, to W.W. Blake, a county judge in Jasper County, Texas.
B. A Deposition from Captain A. J. Ball, to the Dallas County Court, so stating that John Henry had served well during the duration of the war.
C. A Deposition from Lt. W. R. Turner, to the Parker County Court, so stating that John Henry had served well during the duration of the war.
D. Payroll Records shows he was ill for a short time in Tyler, Texas.
He and other men from Parker County formed a Parker County unit and traveled to Camp Groce by wagon. From their arrival to their departure the next July 31, 1862, they were in training, preparing for the march to Little Rock, Arkansas. Camp Groce is near Hempstead, northwest of Houston, and a few miles south of Washington on the Brazos.
On July 31, 1862 the unit started their march to Little Rock, Ark.
On Sept. 7, 1862 the unit arrived on the banks of the Red River in Arkansas and set up camp. The march took them through the towns of Navasota, Anderson, Madisonville, Crockett, Palestine, Tyler, Daingerfield, and Fulton Ark.
On Sept 8th The unit continued the march , crossing the Red River on a ox drawn ferry-boat. Marched until arriving at the "Camp Texas" Campground near Little Rock on Sept. 22. The march carried the troops across the Little Missouri River, Ouachita River, Saline River, the towns of Washington, Okolona, Arkadelphia, Rockdale, and Benton.
Sep. 23rd, Marched past the State House in Little Rock, where Gen. Holmes, the Governor, and their staff viewed the Texas Troops. Marched 2 miles and camped at St Johns College.
On Sep. 25 the troops crossed the Arkansas River on a pontoon bridge to start their march to Clarendon Heights. They arrived at a camp near Clarendon Heights on Oct.. 4, and remained in this camp until Oct.. 9. The unit took up a line of march back to Little Rock.
On Oct. 14th The unit arrived and made camp near the town of Austin. This was to be their winter quarters and would be known as 'Camp Nelson' named after General Nelson who died a few days earlier on the march. That winter was a hard one for the Texas Troops. There was a lot of sickness, and many troops died due to bad water and poor facilities. There is a cemetery and a monument now located near the present day town of 'Old Austin'.
On Dec. 27th, 1862 , the troops started a marched to Alexandria Louisiana. Except for late in the war, the Texas Unit fought no major battles, they marched all over central and northern Louisiana. Because of their ability to march, they became known as ‘Walkers Greyhounds’.
The plan of the Union Forces, was for General Banks in New Orleans, and Gen Steel in Little Rock, to meet in Shreveport and attack Texas from that position. The Texas Unit would march toward Camden, and then New Orleans to drive them back. As per orders from Lt. General Holmes, Brigadier Gen Henry E McCulloch was assigned to the duty of making a general organization of the Texas Volunteer Infantry, that was camped at Camp Nelson, into a division. This division consisted of four brigades, with a battery of light artillery attached to each brigade. Three months later McCulloch was replaced by Gen John G. Walker.
The Parker County group became Company E, commanded by Capt. L. H. Durham, 1st Lt. W. R. Turner, 2nd Lt. A. J. Ball, & 2nd Lt. J. C. Holman. Lt. A. J. Ball would later be promoted to Captain.
In 1900 when John Henry applied for a Confederate Pension, this same 1st Lt Turner, & Capt Ball signed sworn Affidavits confirming that John Henry served in this unit.
After forming up they made short marches toward Pine Bluff and Ft Smith, the unit set up camp across the river from Little Rock . They stayed there from Dec.. 1 till Dec.. 26, spending Christmas around Campfires, and not allowed to shop. Instead of eggnog they had corn bread and blue beef. That Christmas evening the citizens of Little Rock, from the high bank across the river, could witness fully 15,000 campfires that glowed and sparkled in the night.
Dec. 27th to Apr. 23rd --- Marched to a camp about 4 miles south of Little Rock. The unit marched back and forth toward Pine Bluff several times until Jan. 4, 1863. 1862 went out amidst a blustering storm. Arrived and camped west of Pine Bluff until Jan. 10.
On Jan 2, 1863 the orders came through for a change of command, General John G. Walker was to replace Gen McCulloch. The division there after would be known as 'Walkers Texas Division', and some times referred to as 'Walkers Greyhounds' because of their ability to march.
It was reported that federal troops were coming up the Arkansas river by boat. Gen. Churchhill requested reinforcements at Arkansas Post. The unit took up a line of march toward Arkansas Post on Jan. 11 Churchill surrender his troops and the enemy retreated back to the Mississippi River and then toward St Louis. Gen. Walker ordered his troops back to Pine Bluff. The unit arrived at Camp Mill near Pine Bluff Jan. 20, having traveled through cold weather and ankle deep mud. It was reported the troops were in good spirits. The division remained at Pine Bluff until Apr. 23.
During this period of time the division moved to Camp Wright about 4 miles north of Pine Bluff on the banks of the Arkansas River. The weather improved and the troops enjoyed the scenery, playing cards, furloughs, and watching the Pickett boats on the Arkansas River.
March to Alexandria
Apr. 24th to May 1st - On Apr. 24 the unit set up a line of march for Alexandria, La. Passing through the towns of Monticello, Fountain Lake, and Hamburg. Arriving at camp just south of the Louisiana line on May 1st.
May 2nd to May 9th --- Marched Southwest down the Bayou Bartholomew past the town of Ouachita City, arrived at the mouth of the Bayou Bartholomew on the Washita River, and near the town of Ouachita. Upon arrival the Troops boarded transports and was carried down the Washita River to the town of Trenton, across the river from Monroe. Marched three miles and camped from May 5 till May 9. While in this camp it was learned that General Banks (Union) had advanced on and captured Alexandria.
May 10th to May 15 --- Boarded the same boats and proceeded down river. Up on arrival at Fort Beauregard, a dispatch informed the Confederate Officers that Banks was sending gun boats up the Washita River to attack the Fort, and Banks might advance on Monroe. It was decided the Confederate troops at the fort would defend the fort and Walkers unit would return by boat to Trenton to protect Monroe. They camped near Trenton until May 15. Since the Union troops on the Mississippi River had abandoned their position, Walker was ordered to advance on Alexandria by way of the Red River.
May 16th to May 25th --- Marched to Campti, camping near the towns of Vernon, Woodville, and Sparta. Set up camp May 22nd on a lake near Campti. While at this camp it was learned that Banks had abandoned Alexandria and retreated down the Red River.
May 26th --- The troops marched about two miles to Campti and boarded boats bound for Alexandria, arriving on the morning of the 27th.
On May 28,1863, late in the evening the unit left Alexandria, marching to the Little Red River, arriving May 29th, to board boats for the trip up the Tensas River. The unit cast off about 2:00PM and crossed Lake Cathoulia, arriving at the mouth of the Black River, and then up the Tensas River. On May 30th they arrived at Buck's Plantation, head waters of the river, in the evening and set up camp. The troops were told to be ready to march at a moments notice. About 9:00PM they set up a march for Perkins Landing on the Mississippi River. After marching through soft bottom land the troops arrived at the Union camp at day break, and they could see the smoke from the enemy camp fires.
Early the next morning the unit formed a line of battle in a skirt of timber, and began to advance on the Union camp. However, much to their surprise the Union troops had withdrawn under the protection of their gun boats. The enemy had not anticipated the attack and withdrew in such a hurry, they left their provisions and cooking utilities. the Confederate troops enjoyed the "hardtack" and coffee left behind. It was later discovered that the enemy had formed a line of battle in a stand of trees, but made a full retreat head of the Confederate advance. After reaching the bank of the river the unit came under fire from Union gun boats. Confederate artillery was brought up and a cannon battle ensued. After some damage, the gun boats dropped down river, and the Union Troops had boarded transports on the river.
Millikens Bend and Young’s Point:
On Jun 26, 1886 the unit arrived at the town of Richmond, camped only long enough to cook rations, and make ready for a night march. Walkers Troops broke camp late in the evening and advanced toward Millikens Bend and Young’s Point on the Mississippi River. Part of the Division marched on Millikens Bend, part on Young’s Point , and part held in reserve.
By about 4:00 AM the next morning, the unit had marched to within a mile of Millikens Bend. The Texans had to face an enemy that out numbered them and was entrenched behind Burdock (Bois-de-ark) hedges, trenches, and cotton bales. The enemy also brought in river gunboats, but was not able to turn the tide, and only managed to help the Union troops to withdraw. The Confederate losses were 44 dead, 130 wounded, including 2 officers killed, and 10 wounded. The Texans drove the enemy into the river, killing, wounding, and drowning many of them. The enemy losses numbered about 800.
From Jun, 1963 until Apr 3,1864, Walkers Division marched and camped in many locations from the Atchafalaya Bayou, to northern Louisiana. During this time there is no mention of the Division engaging in any battles. However there were some units involved in minor skirmishes, but no mention of John Henry’s unit.
The battle at Mansfield
On the morning of April 8th, 1861, Walker's Division moved from their camp, situated four miles north of the town of Mansfield, to meet the enemy. The union troops were advancing in heavy force from the direction of Pleasant Hill, some twenty-four miles distant. Arriving near the town of Mansfield, General Walker formed his division in line of battle, and awaited the advance of the enemy.
General Walker then give the order ‘Forward march’ and the troops set up a line of battle. After coming under fire from enemy artillery, the order was given to ‘Fix Bayonets’ & ‘Quick Time". The Union Troops were secured behind a rail fence. Walkers troops were met with a hail of rifle-balls, then attacked the enemy with their bayonets as the enemy reloaded. Walkers Troops also overran the Union artillery and captured their guns. The cavalry pursued the retreating enemy about four miles ,where they took a stand in a peach orchard, and was reinforced by the 19th Army. The Confederates attacked the reinforced Union Army, and the battle ensued well into the night. Both sides fought until they could fight no more and they laid down to wait until morning. The next morning at day light it was discovered that the enemy had retreated back to Pleasant Hill.
The Divisions losses amounted to 600 killed, wounded, or missing. The Enemy losses were 1500 killed or wounded, 2000 prisoners, 20 pieces of artillery, and two hundred wagons captured.
Battle at Pleasant Hill
Pleasant Hill is a small village of about two hundred inhabitants, situated on a slight eminence thirty-five miles from Grand-Ecore: the town boasts of a hotel, three storehouses. and an Academy. During the night, General Kirby Smith, accompanied by Governor Allen, had arrived from Shreveport. General Kirby Smith having taken command in person, formed his general line of battle in the following order. General Green's Division of cavalry took position on the extreme left; Moutoh's Division of infantry, commanded by Polignae, on the right of the cavalry; Walker's Division next, and Churchill’s and Parson's Divisions on the extreme right. The Louisiana militia, under command of Governor Allen, was held in reserve, in case of an emergency. In justice to the Louisiana militia, It was Stated, that notwithstanding they were past the years of enduring the toils and hardships of a soldier's life, no braver or nobler body of men -ever went into action; wherever their patriotic Governor led, they followed.
The cavalry, on the left under Green, pressed down upon the enemy's flanks, compelling them to retreat, and leaving the Confederates in possession of their camps. Then at daylight on the morning of Apr 9th, the Confederates were reinforced by two divisions, one from Arkansas, and one from Missouri. After which they set up a line of march to Pleasant Hill. On their arrival near the town, they learned, that the enemy had been reinforced by General A. J. Smith’s Army Corps. They were in line of battle, and was awaiting the Confederates approach.
After the line of battle was formed, skirmishers were thrown forward to feel the position of the enemy. Gen Scurry had to advance in open and exposed order. The enemy poured into them a cruel, crushing fire; and seeing the comparatively small body of their assailants, fell upon them in massed columns, driving them back. General Walker perceiving the critical position of Scurry's brigade, immediately ordered the brigades of Waul and Randall to charge the enemy at the point of the bayonet. The charge of Waul's and Randall's brigades compelled the enemy to withdraw their forces from their left, and concentrate them in their center to meet the charge.
General Walker well knew that if his line faltered the least, and was not successful in driving the enemy from their position, Scurry's brigade would be sacrificed. It was at this time that Gen. Walker was wounded by a mini-ball, the wound was severe, but not dangerous. Waul's and Randall's brigades drove the enemy from the top of the hill. The fight now became general. Each line moved forward, encountering every few hundred yards or so a battery strongly supported by the enemy's infantry. Now the Confederate line moved forward at double-quick, then down the slopes, and rushing over their batteries. They scattered the heavy masses of the enemy. They pursued the enemy as long as they could as night fell. The wounded, including those of the enemies, were removed from the battle field and cared for.
Their loss and that of the enemy was about in proportion to the battle of Mansfield. Banks' army retreated to Grand-Ecore, on Red River, where they would be under the protection of their gun-boats. During their retreat. they destroyed the balance of their train, lest the Division should draw on their Commissary again.
The morning of the 10th of April, there were no enemy in sight, it was learned that they had retreated during the night. The Texas division received orders to fall back towards Mansfield, leaving the cavalry and Polignae's Division of Infantry to pursue the enemy.
Shortly after their arrival in camp, they received orders to be ready, at a moment's notice, to take up the line of march for Camden, Arkansas. The force of the enemy at Camden was variously estimated at 18,000 men, under the command of General Steele, who had previously preconceived the plan with General Banks to meet him at Shreveport. The Union’s plan was to combine forces and launch an attack on Texas.
March to Camden
Apr 14, 1864 the Division set up a line of march to Camden, Ark. On Apr 26th they arrived and set up camp with in about twelve miles of Camden. As soon as General Steele discovered the object of the Confederates, he determined to evacuate Camden and fall back to Little Rock. He succeeded in crossing his troops to the east side of the Ouachita river, which feat he completed by sunrise on the morning of the 27th. Hearing of the evacuation of Camden, the Confederates were issued orders to pursue Steele to his fortifications' at Little Rock. They arrived at Camden at 4 o'clock, P. M. Being without a pontoon-train of any kind, it was a slow and difficult undertaking for the infantry to cross the river.
On the morning of the 28th They commenced crossing the Ouachita River, on a hastily constructed floating bridge of plank. After getting across the river, they continued a line of march. About the hour of 12 o’clock on the 30th of April, the rattling of musketry gave them to understand that at last they had overtaken the enemy. They were in the act of crossing the Saline River, at a point known as Jenkins's Ferry. As soon as the Federal General Steele discovered. that an engagement was inevitable, he returned his troops that had already crossed the Saline River, and formed his line of battle in the form of a crescent around his pontoon bridge. The location was in a thickly-timbered bottom, and the ground was covered with water, from ankle to knee deep, precluding the possibility of using artillery.
On arriving within about two miles of Jenkins's Ferry, Walker's Division filed off to the right, taking a road that apparently had not been used for years. At this place they beheld their favorite leader, General Walker, mounted on his ken-gray war-horse, awaiting to address a few remarks of encouragement to each regiment as they passed him by. His presence alone on this occasion was enough to inspire his troops.
The Texans moved forward, the 3d Brigade of the Division, commanded by General Scully, on the right, sustained the fight. The 2nd Brigade, commanded by General Waul, went into action on their arrival. Then the 1st Brigade, led by General Randall, went into action. An incessant roar of musketry prevailed for about six hours. During this time the tide of battle ebbed and flowed, now advancing, then receding.
The enemy made every possible effort to turn back the Confederates. A few minutes before the battle was over, Parsons's Division of Missourians, reached the Texans right. They dashed on the enemy's flanks. General Price rallied the left for the final struggle. The result of this maneuver drove the enemy back; they commenced to retreat, first in good order, and finally in much confusion.
Before crossing the river, the enemy threw their artillery and wagons into the Saline River. Having crossed the river, they destroyed their pontoon bridge, rendering further pursuit impossible. The Confederates troops having exhausted almost the last cartridge, were unable to reap much advantage, except the glory of the battle-field.
General Forney had replaced General Walker, and had received orders for his Division to proceed to Hempstead, Tex. This ended the battles and skirmishes by the Texas Division. The Confederates had defeated a foe three times in their own number. The Union losses from Steel and Banks were 8000 troops killed or wounded, 6000 prisoners, 34 pieces of artillery, 1200 wagons, one gunboat, and three transports.
From May 3rd till Dec. 1, the Texas Division marched and camped in Camden, Alexandria, Snaggy Point. At Snaggy Point on June 17th General Walker was reassigned. Then Waterloo Landing on the Mississippi River, Monticello Ark, Camden, Ark, Camp Sumner. On Dec. 1st near Minden La, there was a new camp, made of log cabins, called Camp Magruter. This camp was the wintering quarters for The Texans.
On Dec. 12th the troops received 2 months wages, the first money they had received in two years. The amount was $13.00 per month.
On Jan 26, 1865 a line of march was set up for Shreveport. Remained in Shreveport until Feb 21, then marched to Mansfield and camped.
March 5th, General Forney recieved orders from General Smith , for his division to proceed to Hempstead, Texas.
On Mar 6th they set up a line of march. They arrived at Camp Groce, near Hempstead, on Apr 15, 1865. The soldiers were gathered in groups everywhere, discussing the approaching surrender. Curses, deep and bitter, fell from their lips, both officers and men, had swore fearful oaths never to surrender. For nearly four years, Walker's Division had battled for their homes, and freedom. For nearly four years they had trod the soil of Arkansas and Louisiana, and left their heroic dead upon the hills and plains of those States; and now, once more in their native State, they are to witness the final overthrow of the Confederate government.
The morning of the 19th found the majority of the troops gone or preparing to leave. They were allowed to take a wagon to each company. They were furloughed, or, more properly, discharged from the Confederate army. John Henry and the men from Parker County returned home.
`May 26th, Gen Kirby Smith, commanding the Trans-Mississippi, and Maj-Gen R S Canby, U. S. Army, entered into the terms of surrender for the property of the Trans-Mississippi. The main purpose and driving force of the Texas troops was to stop the invasion of Texas by the union army’s of Gen Steel and Gen Banks. Even though the Confederacy lost, Walkers Texas Division was successful.
Below is a flag that was flown by Walkers Texas Division. It is displayed in the Texas State Historical Museum in Austin, Texas.
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