Mary, Dobbin’s Arkansas Cavalry is a difficult outfit to figure out. Not only was it a loosely-organized regiment, but most of the typical paperwork generated by a regiment in the field is missing from the record. Only a handful of muster rolls, and almost no quartermaster or commissary reports, are known to exist.
It appears that the nucleus of what became Dobbin’s regiment was Maj. Francis Marion Chrisman’s battalion of four companies, organized on September 28, 1862. Chrisman’s battalion was assigned to Parson’s Cavalry Brigade, 1st Corps, Trans-Mississippi Department, from September to December 1862; after which it was reported as an unattached command in the District of Arkansas, until about January 1863, when it was increased to a regiment and designated as the 1st (Dobbin’s) Regiment Arkansas Cavalry.
The additional companies which were joined with Chrisman’s four companies were five “partisan ranger” companies and one “spy” company. “Corley’s Spies” (which became Company A, Capt. Samuel Corley commanding) was not a group of secret agents; rather, they were expert scouts who knew the bayous, forests, roads and trails of eastern Arkansas like the back of their hands. They were skilled at moving around undetected by the Yankees. I once found some correspondence regarding the resignation of Corley’s first lieutenant, which revealed that “Corley’s Spies” had served briefly in the Indian Territory in Albert Pike’s command. When the regiment was organized, Captain Corley was promoted to major. He was one of those larger-than-life characters whose life would make a great book and movie. He was a preacher who talked about Christian love and forgiveness on Sunday, and fought Yankees like the devil during the week. He was killed in action at Fourche Bayou on September 10, 1863.
As best as I can determine, the component companies (and original captains) of Dobbin’s regiment were as follows:
Co. A—Capt. Samuel Corley (Phillips County).
Co. B—Capt. Rufus D. Anderson (Phillips County).
Co. C—Capt. James H. McGehee (St. Francis County).
Co. D—Capt. George W. Rutherford (Independence County).
Co. E—Capt. Morgan M. Bateman (Jackson County.
Co. F—Capt. Robert C. Nall (St. Francis County).
Co. G—Capt. James F. Barton (Crittenden County).
Co. H—Capt. William R. Coody (Woodruff County).
Co. I—Capt. John T. West (Independence County).
Co. K—Capt. William Weatherly (Phillips County).
The official records have always said that no record of Cos. I and K could be found, and it was debatable whether they were ever organized. It took a lot of detective work, but I finally found proof that West’s and Weatherly’s companies were the two missing companies.
When organized, Dobbin’s regiment was listed as an unattached command in the District of Arkansas until May 1863. From June through September 1863 it was assigned to the Arkansas Cavalry Brigade of Walker’s Division, and in November 1863 was listed in Dobbin’s Cavalry Brigade, District of Arkansas.
Its major engagements were the attack on Helena (July 4, 1863), the battle of Fourche Bayou (September 10, 1863) and the attack on Pine Bluff (October 25, 1863). But for most of its existence, Dobbin’s regiment was engaged in numerous scouts, raids and skirmishes throughout eastern and northeastern Arkansas. The companies frequently operated independently of one another.
Colonel Dobbin was court-martialed and dismissed from the service on November 23, 1863. I’ve posted the results of the court-martial in another thread. The official records indicate that the regiment was broken up about January 3, 1864, and elements of the regiment were attached to, but not formally consolidated with, Col. Thomas J. Morgan’s regiment.
At the end of the war, most of the companies were paroled (still with the designation 1st Arkansas Cavalry) at Wittsburg, Arkansas, on May 25, 1865. Two of the companies were paroled at Jacksonport on June 5, 1865. Colonel Dobbin, who had been court-martialed and cashiered from the service, was paroled at Galveston, Texas, on July 13, 1865, where he signed his parole as colonel commanding 1st Brigade Arkansas Cavalry. (I can’t figure that one out.) Dobbin was one of the Confederate die-hards who emigrated to Brazil after the war.
Anyway, that’s a brief overview of Dobbin’s regiment. If anyone has additional information, please post it! This regiment needs much, much more research, and I’ve tapped out all the resources I can think of.
From time to time, I'll post some of the correspondence relating to Dobbin's regiment that I've managed to track down.