One hundred and fifty years ago, the Union forces were steadfast in their plan to occupy Little Rock. As they repaired infrastructure destroyed by the Confederates, the slow process of moving an army through hostile territory was not easy. As the Clarendon bridge was mended and an open route to Brownsville was secured, the Federal advance gained momentum.
Meanwhile back in the Delta, the Federal garrison in Helena was steadily sending out foraging parties for food, supplies, slaves, and anything else of value that could be taken from area plantations and homesteads. On August 12, 1863, a large number of mules and African-Americans were stolen from the countryside, “The latter mostly women and children, the able bodied men having been sent off to Texas. Forty or 50 of these slaves are from Col. Redman’s plantation.”
The foraging party found the slaves hiding in a “large swamp among the brakes and intended soon to take them all to Texas.” Many Southern citizens fled to Texas during the War Between the States to escape the thuggery the Union Army enacted on the Southern population; in many instances, they would take their valuables and their slaves with them. Many families settled in the area of Waco, Texas where their descendants are to this day. The intrinsic White population in South and Eastern Arkansas shifting to Texas left many plantations and homesteads bereft of an overseer and were among the first homes reoccupied by freedmen, soldiers, and Northern immigrants.