Although most attention in July of 1862 was on events at Richmond, the Democratic Banner did not ignore other war news.
An expedition of seven steamboats up the White River in Arkansas with provisions for the army under Gen. Samuel Curtis was the lead item in the paper’s summary of “War News of the Week” on July 1.
Curtis, a native of Licking County, had ties to Knox County (his brothers, Hosmer and Henry Curtis), although he had lived in Iowa before the war.
The report indicated that, although one steamboat was damaged by a shell through its boiler, the expedition was successful and the White River was now open for use by Gen. Curtis.
A week later, the rumors had flipped the other way and Curtis’ force was feared to be facing starvation.
A report from a correspondent who called himself “Junius” was in the July 8 Banner: “The expedition up White river was compelled to abandon the idea of supplying Curtis. He is 60 miles above Little Rock, and in a perilous position. Rains is pressing him in the rear, with a force of 12,000, and fears are entertained that Curtis will be defeated.”
In the July 15 issue, the Banner contributed another report to feed those fears, but also published one that eased them.
In the “War News of the Week,” the Banner reported: “A gentleman who left Madison on Monday, says Curtis’s command was at Jacksonport, endeavoring to make its way to the river, and was reported as suffering terribly from lack of forage and supplies. The railroad bridge at Madison was burned by Hindman’s orders, on the 20th ult., as it was feared Curtis would pass that way to the Mississippi, or be used by troops going to his aid. Hindman has, by his course, rendered himself very unpopular in that section.”
On another page of the same issue, however, appeared this report: “A good deal of solicitude has been felt because of the telegraphic information that Gen. Curtis’ army was not only in a starving condition, but was menaced by an overpowering host of rebels. The St. Louis republican, however, regards both reports as being highly colored by the secessionists; that rumors in relation to a ‘driving’ of Gen. Curtis have no more foundation than a want of food and forage in the latter’s camp. The communications of the Federal commander with Pocahontas-Pitman’s ferry and Pilot Knob have never been interrupted, and, since the return of the White River expedition, supplies have probably been forwarded to him overland. The distance is a long one, but by falling back, Gen. Curtis may be able to meet the trains.”