One hundred and fifty years ago, the Union army was settling in Little Rock after their easy victory against the Confederate forces at the Battle of Bayou Fourche on September 10, 1863. Only a few days later, the commander of the Federal forces, General Fredrick Steele ordered the 5th Kansas 40 miles south to the community of Pine Bluff and White Sulphur Springs to prepare that area for Federal occupation as well. Pine Bluff was a very important community during the Civil War and had been used by the Confederate forces as a mustering/training grounds for thousands of soldiers.
As the 5th Kansas made their way from house to house in the South East Arkansas community, they burned many structures, including hospitals, homes, barns, and any other standing structure that the enemy had been using in the area to support the Confederate Army. By daybreak on the 15th of September, White Sulphur Springs was left in ruins. One of the only structures left standing was the White Sulphur Springs Masonic lodge, only because, as local legend has it, one of the 5th Kansas thugs was likewise a Mason.
Following the harassment and destruction left in the wake of the 5th Kansas, Pine Bluff and the surround communities fell to a Federal occupation without a shot being fired. Without Pine Bluff, the Confederate army would have trouble maintaining a presence in South Arkansas.