|Active July 1861–May 26, 1865|
|Country Confederate States of America|
Engagements American Civil War Battle of Pea Ridge Corinth Campaign Battle of Iuka Second Battle of Corinth Siege of Port Hudson
The 14th (Power's) Arkansas Infantry (1861–1865) was a Confederate Army infantry regiment during the American Civil War. Two Arkansas units received the designation 14th. The other 14th Arkansas Infantry Regiment was commanded by Colonel James H. McCarver. The unit participated in the Pea Ridge Campaign in Arkansas and then moved east of the Mississippi River, with General Earl Van Dorn's Army of the West. After participating in the Iuka-Corinth Campaign, the unit became part of the garrison of Port Hudson, Louisiana. Following the surrender of Port Hudson, the unit returned to Arkansas and was consolidated with other units that had been released following their capture to form the 1st Arkansas Consolidated Infantry Regiment (Trans-Mississippi).
14th (Powers') Arkansas Infantry was composed of ten companies from Carroll, Fulton, Izard, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties, which were mustered into service in July 1861 at Camp Adams, near Yellville, Arkansas. There were originally 939 officers and men mustered into the regiment. The driving force behind the organization of the regiment was State Senator William C. Mitchell, who notified the Governor that he had gathered his own company and nine other companies at Yellville, and was ready and able for service. The Governor accepted their services, and the State Military Board assigned Mitchell's regiment the designation of 14th Arkansas Regiment.
There are practically no surviving regimental records of the 14th Arkansas' first year of service. The muster-in rolls were never sent to the Confederate War Department at Richmond, and the regiment's copies of the records were lost at the Battle of Pea Ridge, where the wagon containing the adjutant's portable desk was lost, burnt or captured. Thus, nothing comprehensive is known about the original members of the regiment, or deaths, discharges, promotions, etc. The regiment's records, for all practical purposes, begin in May 1862, when the 14th Arkansas was reorganized for the war.
The regiment was composed of volunteers, despite being drawn from a part of the State with strong pro-Union sentiments. The 14th Arkansas was very poorly armed with a bewildering variety of shotguns, old flint-lock muskets, and about every kind of muzzle-loaded musket and pistol available. Many of the men were originally armed only with home-made knives and hatchets. They had no uniforms, only homespun clothing, and virtually no accoutrements or camp equipment. Despite all these drawbacks, the 14th Arkansas Regiment was mustered into service at Yellville in August 1861, for a period of twelve months. The field officers were Col. William C. Mitchell, Lieut. Col. Eli Dodson, and Maj. John Allen. The names of the original company commanders are not known. The company commanders listed are those elected when the unit was reorganized in 1862. The regiment was organized with volunteer companies from the following counties:
After being mustered into service, Brig. Gen. William J. Hardee, commanding Confederate forces in northeast Arkansas, refused to accept the poorly armed and completely untrained 14th Arkansas into his command. Hardy didn't have the arms to equip them, or the time to train them, so the regiment waited in camp. Eventually Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch, commanding Confederate forces in northwest Arkansas, and badly in need of additional troops (Brig. Gen. Nicholas B. Pearce had just disbanded all of the Arkansas State Troops in McCulloch's command, leaving McCulloch in a lurch), invited the 14th Arkansas to join his command and provided about 300 muskets for them.
The 14th Arkansas fought at the Battle of Pea Ridge, and performed well in that very confusing battle. Sadly, the men who were killed in the battle are, for the most part, unknown because of the lack of regimental records. From Union prisoner of war records we know that Colonel Mitchell and over 30 of his men were captured. And, as stated above, the regimental adjutant's records were forever lost to history.
After the battle of Pea Ridge, the 14th Arkansas, along with the rest of Major General Earl Van Dorn's Army of the West, was ordered to Mississippi. The regiment reported 17 casualties out of the 116 engaged at Iuka, and there were 12 wounded and 2 missing at Corinth. The regiment was reorganized at Camp Churchill Clark, near Corinth, Mississippi, on May 8, 1862, and new company rolls were drawn up and sent to Richmond. This reorganization was to prove a troublesome period for the regiment.
The reason for the army-wide reorganization in May 1862 was the Conscription Act enacted by the Confederate Congress the previous month. All twelve-month regiments had to re-muster and enlist for two years or the duration of the war; a new election of officers was ordered; and men who were exempted from service by age or other reasons under the Conscription Act were allowed to take a discharge and go home. The reorganization was accomplished among the other Arkansas regiments in and around Corinth, but it basically destroyed the 14th Arkansas Regiment.
The regimental officers apparently did not make clear to the men just what was happening. Most of the officers declined to stand for re-election, resigned their commissions, and quietly left camp. After the men elected their new officers, they were informed that, by participating in the election, they were agreeing to the extension of their term of service from twelve months to two years or the war. The men reacted poorly and felt that they had been cheated. A large percentage of the regiment up and left camp en masse on June 3, 1862. These men were not motivated by cowardice or dereliction of duty. They were deeply aggrieved over, as they saw it, being lied to and misled by their officers. If Colonel Mitchell had not been captured at Pea Ridge, things may have turned out differently. Mitchell was a popular and extremely well-liked and respected commander. He almost certainly would have handled the reorganization differently. His successor was Col. Eli Dodson but shortly after Dodson was assigned to duty as regimental commander on May 23, 1862, his regiment just melted through his fingers.
Interestingly, the great majority of the men who deserted in the flap over their term of service, went home and immediately enlisted in Shaler's 27th Arkansas Infantry Regiment for a term of service of three years or the war! So the dispute with those fiercely independent mountaineers was not the term of service, per se, simply the fact that they had had no say in the matter. By enlisting in a new regiment, they, not a bunch of lying officers, decided how long they would serve. Honor and independence were thus preserved, and most of the former 14th Arkansas soldier served honorably and valiantly for the rest of the war.
Back in Mississippi, what remained of the 14th Arkansas, with its numbers reduced to less than 200 officers and men, was basically combat-ineffective. The regiment’s roster shrank from nearly 1,000 men to less than 300 in a period of about two months. At the battle of Iuka, on September 19, 1862, the 14th Arkansas was only able to muster 116 officers and men. Much of the problem can be attributed to lack of meaningful leadership. When the regiment reorganized at Corinth on May 16, 1862, the popular Colonel Mitchell was still a prisoner of war, so he was dropped from the rolls, and Eli Dodson was elected colonel in his place. Colonel Dodson was never able to solve the regiment’s serious morale problem, and he eventually resigned. Major-General Van Dorn then appointed Frank P. Powers to assume command of the 14th Arkansas, but the Confederate Senate refused to confirm the appointment, stating that Van Dorn had exceeded his authority, that a regimental commander had to be elected. The regiment was used to obtain replacements for other commands. In September 1862, for example, several of the 14th Arkansas soldiers were transferred to the 27th Texas Cavalry to fill out the ranks of an under-strength company. Recruiting parties sent back to Arkansas were detained by General Hindman and attached to regiments in the Trans-Mississippi Department.
The regiment fought at Corinth in October 1862, and acquitted itself well in that battle. Later it was assigned to General Beall's Brigade, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana and assigned to the garrison of Port Hudson.
Due to the unit's losses, it underwent several field consolidations with other units while assigned to the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. Field consolidations were considered to be temporary, and the component regiments continued to maintain separate muster rolls. On January 7, 1863 Major General Franklin Gardner issued General Order No. 5 which temporarily consolidated several under strength Arkansas units:III. Brigadier-General Beall’s brigade will consist of the consolidated regiment consisting of the Fourteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-third Arkansas Regiments, and First Arkansas Battalion, commanded by Col. R. H. Crockett; the consolidated regiment consisting of the Eleventh and Fifteenth Arkansas Regiments, commanded by Col. John L. Logan
The order was modified in February 1863 and the 14th Arkansas was placed in a consolidated regiment with the 23rd and 18th Arkansas Infantry Regiments. Logan's consolidated regiment consisted of the 11th and the Griffith's 17th Arkansas. The Johnson's 15th Arkansas was assigned to Crockett's consolidated regiment instead of the 17th. The regiment endured forty-eight day siege, and was surrendered to General Nathaniel P. Banks on July 9, 1863. The unit was involved in the following engagements:
Following the surrender of Port Hudson, the officers were sent as prisoners to Johnson's Island while the enlisted men were paroled spent the winter of 1863-1864 in parole camps in southern Arkansas awaiting their official exchange.
Consolidation and Surrender
After being exchanged, the 14th Arkansas was consolidated with the 15th Northwest Arkansas, 16th Arkansas, and 21st Arkansas Infantry Regiments to form the 1st Arkansas Consolidated Infantry Regiment (Trans-Mississippi). The consolidated regiment was assigned along with the 2nd Arkansas Consolidated Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Arkansas Consolidated Infantry Regiment and to the 2nd (McNair’s) Arkansas Brigade, 1st (Churchill’s) Arkansas Division, 2nd Corps, Trans-Mississippi Department, from September 1864 to May 1865. This regiment was surrendered with the Department of the Trans-Mississippi, General Kirby Smith commanding, May 26, 1865. When the Trans-Mississippi Department surrendered, all of the Arkansas infantry regiments were encamped in and around Marshall, Texas (war-ravaged Arkansas no longer able to subsist the army). The regiments were ordered to report to Shreveport, Louisiana, to be paroled. None of them did so. Some soldiers went to Shreveport on their own to be paroled, but for the most part, the regiments simply disbanded without formally surrendering and the soldier made their way home.