January 27, 1865. -- Expedition from Fort Pinney to Kimball's Plantation, Ark.
Report of Capt. Benjamin Thomas, Sixty-third U.S. Colored Infantry, provost-marshal, District of Eastern Arkansas.
OFFICE OF THE PROVOST-MARSHAL,
DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS
Fort Pinney, Ark., January 28, 1865.
Captain: I have the honor to report to you that, in accordance with an order dated Helena, January 25, 1865, and signed by the general commanding, I prepared an expedition to capture Stewart and Dustin, deserters and smugglers. Captain Ferguson, of the gun-boat No. 28, furnished boats sufficient to carry nearly fifty persons. During the day I obtained a colored guide from Friar's Point by sending one of my men with him into the weeds and exchanging clothing, and in his disguise no one knew him. I also, by pretending to find an old acquaintance on the hill, got a man who lives at Mrs. Kimball's house and pressed him is as a guide. His name is Charles Phayer. Captain Ferguson kindly consented to land his boat at the fort, and placed my men on the boat unobserved by any one of the other side of the river. At 2 a. m. of the 27th, I manned the boats with my men and went down the river opposite to the old town cut-off, and landed and divided into two parties, one commanded by myself and the other by Captain Parks, of the Sixty-ninth U. S. Colored Troops. We left a guard of six men and a corporal with the boats. I was to go in the rear of the house and he in front. At the early dawn we charged up to the house on the double-quick. No alarm was given before we were all around the house. Leaving the men in position, Captain Parks six men, and myself entered the house to search it for men. We found Dustin's boots, socks, coat, $c., and I was well satisfied he was in or near the house. I asked Mr. Kimball to tell us where he was, so as to save her house from being burned or goods much injured by thorough search, as we were sure to get him. She said he had never been there but once and that was on last Monday week. I found his revolved under Mrs. Kimball's pillow. I ordered the floor to be torn up, and found him under the floor with his Henry rifle. I ordered the men to fire under the house and set the house on fire in three places. He left his hiding place and came out, without arms, at the other end of the house from where he was in the first place, and throwing up his arms exclaimed, "Oh my God; oh, Captain Thomas, save me." Two men were wounded by Dustin or by careless shooting by my men, and I had not time to investigate which. The wounds were not severe. When Dustin was captured, his guard said as he passed Mrs. Kimball he handed her a small roll. He confessed he have her something over $500. Dustin also claimed he have the Irishman $300 to buy good on the hill. I found $187 on his person and tool it. The property and money captured was as follows: Money with me and property in charge of Captain parks at Fort Pinney, viz: money from Irishment $187; Mrs. Kimball and claimed by Dustin; $530; Confederate money about (Mrs. Kimball's), $100; goods in a bag, handkerchiefs, &c.; 1 Henry rifle and revolver of Dustin's; 1 worthless shotgun. The man Charles Phayer and Mrs. Kimballs were no doubt engaged together with the deserters in the smuggling business. We brought the boat away. Captain Ferguson brought his boat down after the officers and men and landed them at the fort, and brought Mrs. Kimball to the general.
With many thanks for the kindness of Captain Ferguson, I have the honor to be, captain, your most obedient servant.
Captain, Commanding Fort Pinney
Capt T. C. Meatyard
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.