Sometimes, when you search for one thing, it leads to another….and another.
Such is the case of Eugene Carr, the Federal Cavalry commander at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. Carr had served as cavalry commander of the Federal’s Seventh Corps under General Frederick Steele. When Steele reached the west bank of the Saline River that rainy Friday afternoon in April of 1864, it was Carr and Chief Engineer Junius Wheeler who were at his side. Once Wheeler had deployed his pontoon bridge, Steele ordered Carr to ride immediately for Little Rock because of concerns that Confederate Cavalry under Fagan might make an attempt to recapture the city. Once he crossed the Saline River with his 3,000 horseman, Carr camped on the high ground (now known as the “burning ground”) and instead awaited Steele’s arrival. Steele as we know, had his hands full in the river bottom, fending off thousands of Confederate troops under General E. Kirby Smith.
But this blog is not about Jenkins’ Ferry. Rather, it’s a “before and after” blog concerning Eugene Carr’s adventures before and after the Civil War.
153 years ago tomorrow (March 7, 1862), Carr was in the midst of the fight at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, where he commanded the Federal’s Fourth Division of the Army of the Southwest. During the battle, Carr was wounded in the neck, arm and ankle – so much so that he received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his efforts that day. The citation read:
“directed the deployment of his command and held his ground, under a brisk fire of shot and shell in which he was several times wounded.”
But it was his encounters with others from history that I find to be absolutely fascinating.
Like this, from the Texas State Historical Association:
CARR, EUGENE ASA (1830–1910). Eugene Asa Carr, army officer, the oldest of four sons born to Clark Merwin and Delia Ann (Torry) Carr, was born on March 10, 1830, near Hamburg, Erie County, New York. In 1846 he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated on July 1, 1850. His first tour of duty was at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, cavalry barracks. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Regiment of Mounted Rifles (later the Third Cavalry) at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Missouri, in 1851. From 1852 to 1854, Carr saw frontier duty at forts Leavenworth and Scott in Kansas, Fort Kearney in Nebraska, and Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. Early in the fall of 1854, in response to Indian troubles along the Rio Grande border in South Texas, Carr’s company was transferred to the regimental headquarters at Fort Inge, near the site of present Uvalde. On October 1, Capt. John G. Walker and about forty troops, including Carr, set out to follow the trail of hostile Lipan Apaches, who had recently stolen livestock in the vicinity. Near the Diablo Mountains on the morning of the third day out, the mounted troopers came upon “about three-hundred” Indians, whom they charged. In the ensuing skirmish, Carr received an arrow wound and was subsequently commended by Gen. Persifor F. Smith for his “gallantry and coolness.”
Did you catch that? In the expedition to Diablo Mountain, he was under the command of Captain John G. Walker. Recognize the name? Perhaps you know him as Confederate General John G. Walker who commanded the Texas Division at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. So at Jenkins’ Ferry, Carr was facing off against his old commander. Two men, now on opposite sides.
Also, while fighting with the Fifth United States Cavalry against the “hostiles” prior to the Civil War, Carr fought alongside the likes of Robert E. Lee and George Custer.
Following the Civil War, Carr would participate in the Indian Wars. It was during this time, he met his future scouts, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and James “Wild Bill” Hickok (you can’t make this stuff up). They maintained a lifelong friendship. In fact, when Buffalo Bill was working to get permission for the Sioux Chief, Sitting Bull, to participate in his wild west show, he sought out Carr’s assistance, who wrote a letter on his behalf.
Speaking of Custer, Eugene Carr had a on-going relationship with the future martyr of the Battle of Big Horn. They fought alongside one another across the plains during the Indian Wars. Eugene Carr was one of the leaders in the Big Horn and Yellowstone campaigns that summer in 1876. It was in that campaign that Custer went down – becoming the stuff of legend in the process.
His last campaign was a memorable one. In December of 1890, he took part in the events leading up to the Battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
Following this (and his promotion to Brigadier General), he retired to Washington D.C. where he retired from the army in February of 1893.
General Carr would die in Washington on December 2, 1910 and be interred at West Point, his alma mater.
A Medal of Honor recipient who’s travels took him from Texas to Jenkins’ Ferry to the Little Big Horn. It was a fascinating life.