One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas had a change of Union leadership. Following the Battle of Vicksburg and the Battle of Helena in July 1863, General Fredrick Steele made his way to Arkansas through the Delta and onto Little Rock where he led the 7th Corp of Union troops in the state. Among the multitude of military actions in which Steele was engaged, the Red River Campaign/Camden Expedition was the most dramatic for the Union commander.
Following the election of 1864 and the rewriting of a new state constitution, General Fredrick Steele had completed his mission as commander of the 7th Corps and by late December, he was reassigned to help with military actions against Mobile, Alabama. Up to the task of commanding the 7th Corp was Major-General J.J. Reynolds.
In a dispatch written by Reynolds to Lieutenant-Colonel Christensen, the new commander notes that he arrived in Devall’s Bluff en route to Little Rock. He continued, “Telegram from Little Rock reports rise of six feet in the Arkansas River. Have ordered several boats now here to load at once for Little Rock. Am in hopes the rise will continue until we evacuate Fort Smith. Met General Steele near mouth of White River.”
There were few military actions during the Christmas season in 1864, including a skirmish at Fort Smith on Christmas Eve and a scout was sent from Pine Bluff to Simpson’s Plantation from December 27-28. For a complete list of military actions that took place one hundred and fifty years ago, go to arkansastoothpick.com.