One hundred and fifty years ago, many Arkansawyers were growing weary of the war and many soldiers on both sides of the conflict deserted. One Confederate soldier wrote home that he was in the army for thirteen months and “could not get a furlough for ten days, nor clothing of any consequence, and little to eat, bad pay and bad money, me and seven others of my company struck out for Drew county instead of Red river.”
By April 1864, the countryside in Arkansas was in a desperate condition. Homes and farms were burned by both armies. Women and children were left starving and the Arkansas men that fought for their state were labeled as traitors and hung on site by the invading Yankees.
As the Union army got deeper into Confederate territory, General Steele’s problems began as his supply line back to Little Rock was compromised by the unpredictable Arkansas weather and the moxie of those brave Confederates that never turned on their state. In less than a month, the Union army would be left in shambles and forced to reorganize following the blundering Red River Campaign.
Military actions that took place in Arkansas one hundred and fifty years ago included skirmishes in the swamps of the Little Red Rover near Osceola and near Prairie Grove on April 6-7; an action at Rhea’s Mills on April 7; actions at Prairie D’Anne from April 9-12; a skirmish at Richland Creek and Van Buren on April 12; a skirmish on the Spring River near Smithville, Moscow, and Indian Bay on April 13; skirmishes at Richland Creek on April 13-14, and skirmishes at White Oak Creek and Dutch Mills on April 14.