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First Arkansas Cavalry Colonel James C. Monroe Home Page

Also known as Arkansas 1st Cavalry Fagan's-Monroe's

Official  called 1st/6th Arkansas Cavalry but very seldom referred to as

Engagements fought; Pine Bluff, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Fayetteville fought in northwestern Arkansas, The Battle of Devils Backbone through White Oak Cap south of Fort Smith, The Camden Campaign, General Price's Expedition into Missouri

Clark County Historical Journal - 1994

 News and Courier, South Carolina, November, 12, 1933.

The Ragged Colonel of the Rawhides

    Among the many picturesque figures of the Southern Confederacy, none stands out more conspicuously than James Cade Monroe, "The Ragged Colonel of the Rawhides, as he was known in the Western division of the Confederate army. The Rawhide regiment was composed of the volunteers of Arkansas in the Trans-Mississippi department of the Confederate forces, and James Monroe was known as the "Ragged Colonel" because he refused to fare better than his men; if they went hungry, he did not eat; if they were poorly clad, he would wear no better clothing than they did.
James Cade Monroe was born in Wahee Township, Marion County, in 1837. Was a son of Major Caddie Monroe (b. Nov. 22, 1812 - d. Jan. 29, 1886), a descendant of the sturdy pioneer Scots who settled on the Cape Fear River, in Cumberland County, North Carolina; the strong old Presbyterian stock who were the builders of the southern part of that state, South Carolina, and particularly Marion County, have been greatly enriched by the immigration into their bounds of this sturdy stock of which there were none better than the Monroe's and McIntyre's who came down across the line and took up habitation in Wahee.
    Major David Monroe 's first wife was Mercy Mace but some time after her death he married a lady in whose veins coursed the blood of the pioneer English and French settlers of Marion and Georgetown counties. She was Mrs. Elizabeth Keen Godbold Haselden, daughter of General Thomas Godbold and his wife, Sarah Ann Fladger; the granddaughter of Buckingham Keen and Elizabeth Horry, and the widow of John Haselden, son of William Haselden and Mary Rebecca Gailliard Bradley. To this union were born two sons, James Cade Monroe (1837) and Frances [sic. -- Franklin] Marion Monroe (1839).

Educated at Arsenal

    James Cade Monroe, the subject of this sketch, was educated at the Arsenal Academy in Columbia, later attending a college in Baltimore, where he formed a strong friendship with James K. Jones, who was Democratic chairman at the time that Grover Cleveland was elected to the presidency. Imbued with Horace Greeley 's idea of going west and growing up with the country, he decided to seek fame and fortune in that direction, and accompanied James K Jones to Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he went into business, forming many pleasant associations and many warm and devoted friendships, which were interrupted and finally ended by the War Between the States.
In an article in the Arkadelphia paper written by a comrade at the time of his death, it was claimed that James Monroe was the first man in the county to enlist for service in the cause for which the South was contending. He raised and organized the first company from the county which was called the "Clark County Volunteers, and was elected its first captain.
    This company moved at once to Little Rock, where in May 1861, the first regiment of the Arkansas 'volunteer infantry was formed. At this organization, Monroe was elected lieutenant colonel at the age of twenty-three. This regiment, under the command of Colonel James F. Fagan, moved at once to the Potomac, then the seat of the war. At the subsequent reorganization of this regiment, Monroe declined reelection to the post of lieutenant colonel, and returned to Arkansas, where he received from Major General T. C. Hines (then in command of the district of Arkansas), an appointment as lieutenant colonel of cavalry, and was assigned to duty in Fagan 's regiment, Fagan having also in the meantime joined the cavalry. Fagan was shortly afterwards appointed brigadier general, and Monroe succeeded him as Colonel, assuming command of the regiment which WAS at once thrown upon the border of Arkansas and Missouri, beginning an active campaign.

Known as Terror

    He participated in the battles of Prairie Grove and Cane Hill and his command was not only the assistant but the chief defense of the point held by General Cabell in the retreat of the Army of Northwest Kansas from Fort Smith across Backbone Mountain, through White Oak Gap. In consequence of this, and as a compliment justly due his comrades, "Old Tige" (General Cabell), ordered that 'White Oak Gap" be inscribed on the colors of Monroe's regiment. In all of many actions against the Federal General Steele in his invasion through southwest Arkansas, Monroe's regiment was engaged. To Steele and his staff and the men under him, Monroe was known as a terror and formidable adversary. He was in the actions at Poison Springs and Prairie de Ann, and played a conspicuous part in the memorable battle at Mark's Mill, in which his favorite warhorse was shot under him.
    Undaunted by the loss of his horse, he charged on foot in advance of his men, and captured the notorious Federal Robb's  battery. When the news of the loss of his horse reached Arkadelphia, the ladies of that town raised a purse and bought Monroe a beautiful sorrel mare, which was carried to his headquarters by Miss Caddo Barkman, the daughter of the mayor of that city. It was presented by her with a speech of appreciation of his patriotism and heroism, and was a familiar figure in the Western army afterwards. He named the beautiful, whitened animal "Cad, in honor of its donor and was proud of the gift.
In the fall of 1864, he was with Major General Price in his noted raid to Missouri, and at the battle of Pilot Knob, at the head of the regiment, cheering his men on the charge, he received a shot in the hip, which caused him to fall from his horse. Though his wound was severe and exceedingly painful rather than be captured and incarcerated in a federal prison, he insisted on being borne along with the army in an ambulance. He soon recovered from his wound, and as General Cabell had been captured by the enemy, Monroe took the head of Cabell 'a brigade, and commanded it until the close of the war, being made a general at twenty-six years of age.

Flees to Mexico

    At the end of the war, rather than surrender to the enemy whom he had fought valiantly for four years, he became an exile, passing over into Mexico. When the hopes of the Confederacy lay dead, and Lee and Johnson had surrendered; when the soldiers of the South laid down their arms, and confessed they could do no more, Monroe assembled his regimental
Commanders and told them to do as they wished, but that he could never say to his men, "Go home; we are whipped. "He laid his head on his hands and wept, as his men crowded around him, saying, "Good-bye, Colonel. "His reply was, "Farewell, I cannot go with you."
    For the short time he was to live, another country gave him sanctuary, and far from the land of his birth, from the thrilling scenes of the four years of the war, he spent the remainder of his life in old Mexico, making headquarters at San Luis Potosi. In a letter to his father, Major David Monroe, at Marion, he spoke of the wickedness of his surroundings and his disgust at the bullfights. In this, his last letter, he expressed a longing for his old home and a desire to see his family and boyhood friends once more, but this hope was never realized, for he had a price upon his head, and could not conscientiously take the oath of allegiance, to get him pardoned, so he died an exile in a far country. Taking the part of a peacemaker in a street fight in San Luis Potosi, he lost his life, and was buried in the Mexican hills. He was twenty-seven years old at the time, and a comrade who had accompanied him on his exile, cut the stars from his coat, and sent them to his brother, Dr. F. M.. Monroe, who had returned to Marion at the close of the war, and began the practice of medicine. These stars are still treasured by his niece, Miss Elizabeth Monroe, of Latta, along with several letters from the exile, and his nephew M. M.. Monroe, of Latta, has in his possession two daguerreotypes of his uncle---one was made when he was a college student in company with the late Mclver Law---the other in Arkansas in his army clothes with a comrade.

Shares His Bread

    Dr. Francis [sic] Marion Monroe was a member of his brother's regiment, and often told his children of the many thrilling adventures of the campaigns, and of the different characteristics of the brother whom he loved devotedly. One of the anecdotes was to the effect that once the army was four days on the prairie without any bread, living on such meat as they could procure by foraging. One night a man rode into camp and asked if that was Monroe 's headquarters. Frank Monroe who was on duty answered that it was, and the man gave him a large sack of bread to take to General Monroe. In his eagerness Dr. Monroe hurried into headquarters, and aroused his brother with the words, "Get up, Jim, there 's some bread. Let's eat some."
    The Colonel's reply was, "Frank, don't open that bread until reveille, when we will all eat together." Dr. Monroe said it was a hard thing to do to lie all night beside a sack of bread and not eat any, as hungry as he was, but that his brother's unselfishness was a lesson he never forgot, when in after years he practiced medicine as a country doctor often without pay.
When the news of James Monroe's tragic death reached Arkadelphia, a comrade eulogized him in this manner. "He was fervently known in every county an Arkansas, and known only as the beloved and brave, he was regarded by his superior officers as the 'true and tried;' as a regimental commander he had no superior and few were his equals. in the camp or bivouac, he was ever on the alert; in action he never failed to carry his regiment where ordered... Thus has passed away one of God's noblest men. His brave and undaunted spirit will hover over those weeping and bereaved ones left behind. Farewell, Monroe, farewell. Never again shall you encourage us to battle. Never again your orders to danger to hear." in South Carolina, Colonel Monroe's father, Major David Monroe, served as captain in Wilson's squadron, and gallantly performed his duty until disabled by a nail from his horse, from which it took him a long time to recover. His second wife having died, while her sons were still young, Major Monroe married for a third time, Miss Fanetta White of prominent Marion County ancestry, to which union was born a number of fine sons and daughters to carry out the family traditions of courage and loyalty. Only one is left, the youngest, Thomas J. Monroe, of Marion.
    The patriotism of the Monroe family in the World War, as all of Major Monroe's descendants who were eligible belonged to the American forces; two of them gave their lives in the service of their country. Theodore Monroe, son of William M. Monroe and Mary McMillan Monroe, died in a hospital of pneumonia contracted in the line of duty; and Lieutenant David Eugene Monroe, son of Thomas J. Monroe and Rachel Gaddy Monroe, died from wounds received in battle in France. Both these young soldiers have been honored by having the local Legion post named in part for them.


     Battle of  Devil's Backbone Through White Oak Gap



      General Cabell authorized Monroe to inscribed "White Old Gap" on the colors of his Regiment because of the role he and his men played during the Battle of Devil's Backbone. The following description is taken from my research and notes that I have compiled about Colonel Monroe's Calvary.

     On August 21, 1863 Brigadier General W. L. Cabell had concentrated his troops at McLean's crossing on the Potean River, 9 miles southwest of Fort Smith. On the morning of August 22, 1863 General Cabell received word that union forces under the command of General Blunt were advancing on Fort Smith. The decision was made to evacuate the city and collect anything of any value and convoy the supplies south to be used later in the war. The Confederate's hoped to fall back to Waldron, Arkansas in Scott County and regroup if possible. Cabell had taken precautions to protect his rear as he retreated from Fort Smith. Confederate pickets were waiting at Jenny Lind below Fort Smith to slow Blunt's pursuit of the southern Army.

     The union army attacked the pickets left at Jenny Lind on the morning of September 1, about 9 a.m. This encounter would signal the beginning of the Battle of Devil' Backbone. Cabell's forces had reached Backbone Mountain about 16 miles from Fort Smith. Backbone Mountain offered the Confederate Army an ideal place to ambush the advancing Union Army.  Colonel J. C. Monroe's Arkansas First Calvary was ordered to wait at the foot of the mountain for this purpose.  The rest of this command was positioned out of sight of the enemy. General Cabell stated in his report, "The enemy came dashing up, yelling and shouting, confident of success, their Calvary in advance.  When they came within gunshot, Monroe's Regiment opened fire on them, and dismounted every man except in the front companies. The action soon became general, and, after a heavy fire of nearly three hours and a half, especially of artillery, the enemy was repulsed, with a loss of about 30 killed and from 100 to 150 wounded.  My loss was five killed and 12 wounded."

O. R. Vol. XXII/1 page 605-606

     Part of the Arkansas regiments that were engaged against the union forces that were pursuing Cabell acted in a disgraceful manner according to his report. The conduct of these troops demonstrated during the battle was unacceptable to General Cabell. To put it mildly he was displeased with their fighting ability.  If it wasn't for the gallant unwavering bravery of Monroe's men, (J. C. Monroe was sick that day) the regiment unmoving in the face of a larger adversary, a large part of the Southern Army would have been captured.  Monroe’s Calvary regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. O'Neil and Major A. V. Reiff regiment achieved conduct that was acceptable to the highest standards of soldiering General Cabell expected of his men.  The Arkansas First Calvary won the day at White Oak Gap.  The battle honor White Oak Gap would be a signature proudly displayed on Monroe’s colors in many future battles against the enemy that would signal that they were about to face a formable adversary, (Known as Terror).


Research by Robert E Reynolds

Hot Spring, AR

References to conduct during The Battle of Devil Backbone By General Cabell; Excerpts from Cabell’s Report

I must mention the gallantry of Captain [W. M.] Hughey, commanding the battery, and his two lieutenants, [W. A.] Miller and Henley, as well as all his men. Captain Hughey and Lieutenant Miller particularly distinguished themselves with their old iron battery. Monroe's regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel [J. M.] O'Neil and Major A. V.] Reiff (Colonel Monroe being sick), Captain [W.T.] Barry, with his company <ar32_608> of Missouri Cavalry, Major [F. P.] Yell, of [A. S.] Morgan's regiment, with Captains [W. L.]Sims' and [Iverson L.] Brooks' companies, commanded respectively by those officers, and Captain [J. O.] Sadler and his company deserve especial mention. Colonel Morgan and Lieuten-ant-Colonel [J. C.] Wright also acted with gallantry.

I cannot close without bringing to notice the gallant conduct of Maj. Robert J. Duffy, inspector-general, and Lieutenant [B. J.] Field, ordnance officer, Lieutenant [D. A.] Corder, acting aide-de-camp, and Surgeon [J. H.] Carroll, of my staff. I am particularly indebted to them, as well as to Lieutenant [E. H.] McDaniel, of Monroe's regiment, Lieutenant [L. T.] Kretschmar, of Barry's company, and Lieutenant [W. J.] Tyus, acting assistant adjutant-general, all of whom acted with the greatest coolness in endeavoring to rally the men who were running, and also in carrying orders.

Hill's and Thomson's regiments, and Woosley's battalion of cavalry ran in the most shameful manner. Hill's regiment, in running, ran through the provost guard, where I had 80 prisoners under sentence for treason and desertion. These men in running carried all the prisoners off with them. Thomson's and Hill's regiments acted in the most disgraceful manner. The eight companies of Morgan's regiment acted but little better.” O.R. Vol. XXII/1 page 607

Brief history of Fagan's (Monroe's First Arkansas )

Confederate Military History v1.0
© 1997 Guild Press of Indiana

    Colonel Fagan's infantry regiment, the First, was ordered from Virginia to increase the force of Sidney Johnston for his attack upon Grant at Shiloh, and, as heretofore narrated, fought gallantly in that battle, in which Lieut.-Col. John Baker Thompson was killed. Colonel Fagan had been re-elected and Major Thompson had been elected lieutenant-colonel upon reorganization, vice Lieut.-Col. J. C. Monroe, who desired and obtained leave to visit his home in Arkansas. Maj. J. W. Colquitt became lieutenant-colonel upon the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Thompson. At Corinth, Colonel Fagan became offended by General Bragg's treatment, which he deemed harsh and unreasonable, and tendered his resignation. He and Colonel Monroe departed for Arkansas on horseback, accompanied by Theodore Linde, a gallant youth and brother-in-law of Governor Rector. Gen. T. C. Hindman had been assigned to the command of the Trans-Mississippi department. Colonel Fagan was assigned by General Hindman to a regiment of mounted riflemen, and soon after by General Holmes to a brigade of infantry as brigadier-general. Colonel Monroe succeeded him in command of the cavalry regiment and continued in the cavalry service, in a short time in command of a brigade which was afterward assigned to Gen. W. L. Cabell, and of which he was ranking officer when General Cabell was captured; but Monroe himself being wounded and disabled, Colonel Hartell succeeded to the command of the brigade until the close of the war.

    The commanders of Arkansas troops east of the Mississippi river who were transferred to the Trans-Mississippi department, as we have seen, were Generals Hindman, Churchill, Rust, Dockery, Cabell, McNair, Beall; Colonels Fagan, Tappan, Hawthorn, Shaver, Crockett, Marmaduke, Provence, John C. Wright, Slemons, B. W. Johnson, Gaither.

     Maj.-Gen. T. C. Hindman, after being relieved of the command of the district of Arkansas, was reassigned to a division, and eventually to a corps, in the army east of the Mississippi, commanded successively by Bragg, Johnston and Hood.

Below are links to those who served with J. C. Monroe, The Ragged Colonel of the Rawhides

Wilson Polk Wallace Company D

Hartwell Stain Reynolds Company G

Members of Company D First Arkansas Cavalry

Posted By Robert Reynolds

Hot Springs, Arkansas

E-mail address

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