Camden Expedition -- History Articles

The Camden Expedition was the Arkansas phase of the Red River Campaign in 1864. The Red River Campaign was devised to destroy Confederate forces in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, with a coordinated advance from Louisiana and Arkansas toward Shreveport. The advance of Union forces in Louisiana was defeated at the Battle of Pleasant Hill. The Union advance into southern Arkansas succeeded in taking Camden. But that victory was soon followed by a retreat back to Little Rock. The articles below are arranged in more or less in chronological order. Students wishing a complete view of the Camden Expedition, as found in the pages of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, should begin, then, with the first article and read all the rest in sequence. For an account of how the war affected civilian Arkansans throughout the state, see Michael B. Dougan, "Life in Confederate Arkansas," Arkansas Historical Quarterly 31 (Spring 1972): 15-35.
1. "From Paraclifta to Marks' Mills: The Civil War Correspondence of Lieutenant Robert C. Gilliam," edited by James J. Hudson in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 17 (Autumn 1958): 272-302.
A collection of letters from Robert C. Gilliam to his wife from October 1863 to May 1864. A planter from Paraclifta in Sevier county, Gilliam served in a state militia unit of Confederate forces. His letters reveal much about life in Confederate Arkansas as its soldiers awaited the Union advance from Little Rock.
2. "The Action at Prairie De Ann," by J. H. Atkinson in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 19
(Spring 1960): 40-50.
A detailed account, with maps, of this battle of the Camden Expedition that took place near the present-day
city of Prescott, Arkansas.
3. "The Battle of Poison Spring," by Ira Don Richards in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 18 (Winter 1959): 338-49.
An account, with maps, of an important battle in the Camden expedition that was controversial because of the massacre of Black Union troops by Confederate forces.
4. "A Bluecoat's Account of the Camden Expedition," edited by Lonnie J. White in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 24 (Spring 1965): 82-89.
An unidentified Union officer published this piece in a Kansas newspaper in 1866.
5. "Extracts from the Memoirs of William Franklin Avera," edited by Henry Cathey in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 22 (Summer 1963): 99-116.
A Ouachita county soldier who served in the Fifth Arkansas Artillery Company of the Confederacy, Avera in his memoirs covers not only his participation in fighting against the Union's Camden Expedition but also his role in Reconstruction politics after the war in that county and his later business operations on the Ouachita River.
6."Campaigning in Southern Arkansas: A Memoir by C. T. Anderson," edited by Roman J. Zorn in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 8 (Autumn 1949): 240-44.
A short account of this Hemstead county youth's service at age 15 in a Confederate calvary unit opposing the Union advance into southern Arkansas.
7. "The Camden Fortifications," by Willam L. Shea in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 41 (Winter 1982): 318-26.
An excellent article, with maps, on the efforts of Confederate forces to fortify Camden against a Union advance. It points out that these constructions often referred to, then and now, as forts were correctly termed redoubts, a smaller type of strongpoint.
8. "The Federal Occupation of Camden as Set Forth in the Diary of a Union Officer," Arkansas Historical Quarterly 9 (Autumn 1950): 214-19.
Captain F. Heinemann from Wisconsin kept this diary during the Union occupation of Camden.
9."The Engagement at Marks' Mills," by Ira Don Richards in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 19 (Spring 1960): 51-50.
A detailed description, with map, of this defeat of Union forces accompanying a wagon supply train going to get food and supplies from Pine Bluff to permit continued occupatio of Camden.
10. "The Battle of Marks Mill by Edward Atkinson" edited by J. H. Atkinson in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 14 (Winter 1955): 381-84.
Reminiscence of a Confederate soldier from Dallas county serving in a calvary unit at Marks' Mills.
11. "The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry," by Ira Don Richards in Arkansas Historical Quarterly 20 (Spring 1961) : 3-16.
A thorough account, with map, of the largest battle of the Camden Expedition, fought as Union forces retreated from Camden to Little Rock.