On March 12, 1863 Federal commander Colonel William A. Phillips sent a dispatch to Major-General Samuel Curtis from North West Arkansas. Nearly a year following the Battle of Pea Ridge, the Confederate forces kept a watchful eye on the Union army. By mid-May 1863, Phillips was expecting an attack. He reported to Curtis that Confederate cavalry was in the area of Elm Springs, including Cabell’s two Texas regiments and troops under the command of General Marmaduke were likewise on the prowl. Rebel commander Brooks was in the vicinity in Ozark with Carroll. Monroe was reported to have an outpost 10 miles from Van Buren, only a few miles from Colonel Phillips. Elm Springs was located in Washington County North of Tontitown, four miles west of Springdale.
The dispatch continues with informing Curtis that the Federally controlled corner of the state was well-manned and any attack on their position would be met with formidable resistance as he relates that, “I begin to fear they [Confederates] will not leave the river. It is, I think, impossible to surprise us, and I think we can destroy them if they venture up.”
As reported repeatedly throughout this series, a constant supply route is always paramount when occupying enemy territory and Phillips addresses this logistic by noting that “Clothing and food have been sent by the boats.”
Confederate forces were estimated at 700 to 800 at Pine Bluff and a few thousand men in Little Rock, whom he notes are “in bad condition (200 to the regiment)”. With a full size regiment at 1000 men, if the intelligence were correct, it would imply that the Confederate forces in Little Rock were at 1/5 the strength.
As North West Arkansas remained in a dynamic state of occupation, Eastern Arkansas was witness to several Federal expeditions into the surrounding countryside in the Delta region.