The War in Van Buren County
Most of the violence that took place in Van Buren Co. during the Civil War was caused by irregular troops. Southern units were called bushwhackers; northern guerrillas were termed jayhawkers. Both sides often preyed on innocent civilians, taking food and property. The 5th Missouri Cavalry (U.S.) fought bushwhackers at Knights Cove June 19, 1862, and the 11th Missouri Cavalry skirmished with guerrillas on the Little Red River on March 25, 1864, killing 12 men. Bushwhackers burned the Van Buren Co. Courthouse in Clinton to the ground in 1865.
Troops Raised in Van Buren County
Van Buren Co. was divided during the Civil War. Confederate troops were recruited for the 8th and 10th Arkansas Cavalry Regiments and the 31st and 36th Arkansas Infantry. Many men joined the pro-Union Arkansas Peace Society, were arrested, and marched to Little Rock, where they were given the choice of going to prison or joining the Confederate army. Many of the reluctant recruits deserted at their first chance, later enlisting in Union army regiments. Many veterans of both sides are buried in cemeteries throughout Van Buren Co.