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THIS WEEK IN MILITARY HISTORY - Eugene Asa Carr

Eugene Asa Carr - Courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives

Eugene Carr was born on March 10, 1830, in Hamburg, New York. At sixteen, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated on July 1, 1850. Carr served a tour of duty in Carlisle, PA, in the U.S. Army's Cavalry School, on the frontier at Fort's Leavenworth and Scott in Kansas, Fort Kearney in Nebraska, and Fort Gibson in modern-day Oklahoma from 1852 to 1854, after which Carr's company moved to Fort Inge, Texas, to engage with Native American tribes along the Rio Grande. During the Border War in Kansas, Carr was promoted to captain and given command of Fort Washita in 1858.

Carr sided with the Union Army when the Civil War broke out, moving his command to Leavenworth and joining General Nathaniel Lyon in Missouri. After the battle at Wilson's Creek, Carr was brevetted for his service. A week later, he was promoted to colonel and placed in charge of the Third Illinois Cavalry. He would go on to assume command of the Fourth Division, Army of the Southwest, under General Samuel Ryan Curtis.

Elkhorn Tavern - Courtesy of The Arkansas State Archives

On March 7-8, 1862, at the Battle of Pea Ridge, also called the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, Carr and Colonel Grenville Dodge were sent to Elkhorn Tavern to "clean out that hollow." While Dodge was sent to respond to a flanking maneuver by General Sterling Price, Carr remained at the Tavern to face General Earl Van Dorn's push from the north to the South. Carr's force delayed Price's movement, which allowed Curtis to reposition his troops to meet the combined force of Price and Van Dorn.

Civi War Medal of Honor - Curtesy of the Department of Defense

In a defense around the tavern, Carr was wounded in the neck, right arm, and right leg. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts, courage, and bravery, even though he did not receive it until 1894.

After the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, Carr was promoted to brigadier general. After fighting under General Grant in the Vicksburg Campaign, Carr was transferred to Arkansas to help seize Little Rock on September 10, 1863. By the spring of 1864, Carr commanded the cavalry division of Union General Frederick Steele's VII Corps, part of the Camden Expedition, which was an effort by Stelle to link with General Nathaniel Banks to invade Texas. The expedition did not go as planned, and Carr was ordered to clear a path to retreat to Little Rock.

In June 1864, Carr was dispatched to Clarendon with a formidable force of about 3,000 troops. His mission was of the utmost importance- to locate and neutralize General Shelby, the man responsible for the capture and sinking of the USS Queen City. In a retaliatory move, Carr made a strategic decision to burn the city of Clarendon to the ground. This decisive action not only served as a powerful deterrent but also rendered it impossible for the Confederate forces to use Clarendon as a base for future harassment along the White River.

After his eventful stint in Clarendon, Carr returned to Little Rock on June 30, 1864, assuming the role of commander of the District of Little Rock. His tenure was marked by a commitment to duty, unfortunately, marred by a drunken incident that led to his command being revoked. However, this setback did not deter him. He was subsequently ordered to General Stephen A. Hurlburt's command in Mobile, Alabama, in April of 1865, where he took charge of the Third Division of the XVI Corps. Carr's dedication to duty was further exemplified when he returned to Little Rock 1867 on Reconstruction Duty at Helena. As the St. Francis District commander, he played a pivotal role in providing law and order and meticulously recorded the oaths of allegiance from former Confederate officers.

Grave of Eugene Asa Carr - Curtesy of U.S. Army

In 1869, Carr returned to the frontier and spent the next two decades fighting against the Apache, Cheyenne, and Sioux in the western states. In 1893, he retired from the Army and spent the rest of his life in Washington, D.C., working with the National Geographic Society. Carr died on December 2, 1910, and was buried at West Point with full military honors.



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