One of the most decisive Confederate victories west of the Mississippi River occurred this week one hundred and fifty year ago. As General Steele and his band of Yankees were held up in Camden, the Confederate army began to swarm, leaving the blue coats at the mercy of what little forage they could find; food was running short and the Rebs were at the proverbial back door.
Steele had already sent over 20 wagons into the countryside to steal corn and other food supplies from southern farms only to be ambushed and run back to the relative safety of Camden from Poison Springs. He lost all his wagons and many of his men- mostly African American troops. On April 25, 1864 Steele sent over 200 more wagons from Camden to be filled with commissary stores from Pine Bluff only to have them smashed by waiting Confederates at Marks’ Mills.
Steele, now mad and concerned over the loss of over 400 wagons in a week and no food stores making its way to his starving troops, the 7th Corps under the command of Steele made its fateful decision to retreat back to Little Rock, thus officially ending the Red River Campaign and the Camden Expedition.
Military actions that took place in Arkansas this week in 1864 include affairs at the Cache Rover and Cotton Plant the 21st and 22nd; an expedition from Jacksonport to Augusta from the 22nd-24th; a skirmish at Swan Lake on the 23rd; a skirmish near Camden and near Jacksonport on the 24th; an engagement at Marks’ Mills on the 25th; skirmishes at Moro Bottom the 25th and 26th; a skirmish at Mount Elba Ferry and near Little Rock on the 26th; the Union forces are forced to flee Camden on the 27th, and a skirmish on the 28th near Princeton.