One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was defending itself from an immiment Federal occupation. As the Confederate forces routed the Federals at the Battle of Bayoe Meto (Reed’s Bridge) near the present city of Jacksonville on August 27, General Steele was preparing his force of over ten thousand for a short march that would end in the capture of Arkansas’ capitol city. As the Federal army began its move onto Little Rock, Davidson’s calvary division advanced upon a Confederate camp at Ashley’s Mills the morning of September 7, 1863.
The camp was occupied by Colonel Dobbins’ Confederate forces in Walker’s Division of General Sterling Price’s army. After a brief skirmish with Federal forces, the Confederates retreated back to the Arkansas River. A Federal artilleryman wrote that day, “Firing is now heard in the direction of the advance and on we go at a double quick, anxious to drive the pickets fast enough so as to give them no time to burn the bridges across the bayous…Skirmishing is quite brisk in the advance. The enemy have a few pieces of artillery and an occasional shot passes over our heads high up among the branches.”
After throwing into the fight federal artillery (Stange’s) howitzers and the 7th and 8th Missouri Cavalry, the action became general and intense, resulting in the retreat of Dobbins back to the Arkansas River; the Federals found themselves one step closer to Little Rock.