- The next day Edmund Kirby Smith arrived with two additional divisions
of Confederate troops. On April 23 a cavalry force crossed the Ouachita
River below Camden and proceeded to capture a Federal supply train at Marks'
Mills. To cover this movement Smith and Price made a demonstration along
Two Bayou Creek south of town. One Federal officer laconically observed
that "the Johnnies advanced and commenced shelling our picket line,"
but few of his colleagues reacted so calmly. The rebels' "brisk cannonading"
greatly alarmed the Federals. Campsites just outside town were abandoned
and masses of infantry and artillery were deployed in and around the redoubts
to await the expected onslaught and "give the enemy a welcome reception
(9)." Now outnumbered and seemingly faced with a threat far more immediate
than starvation, Steele hastened to correct the deficiencies in the Camden
fortifications which his engineers had uncovered (10).
- The next day thousands of Federal soldiers went to work with a will.
On the northwestern portion of the perimeter the entire Third Brigade,
Third Division, turned out equipped with all the shovels, picks, and other
useful implements the men had been able to appropriate from the harassed
citizenry on such short notice. Engineers traced trenches along the military
crest of the long, rolling ridge by laying boards end to end. The various
regiments in the brigade then began digging in relays around the clock,
with the unfortunate soldiers of the Fortieth Iowa toiling through the
night. Parties of troops cautiously ventured out to fell trees and expand
fields of fire below the ridge.
- 9. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIV, Pt. I, 723, 781, 834; Johnson,
Red River Campaign, 184-90; Sperry,
- 33rd Iowa Infantry, 83; "Federal Occupation," 217-18;
Ralph R. Rea, ed., "Diary of Private John P. Wright, U.S.A., 1864-1865,"
Arkansas Historical Quarterly, XVI (Autumn 1957), 316; M. A. Elliot,
comp., The Garden of Memory: Stories of the Civil War as Told by Veterans
and Daughters of the Confederacy (Camden, 1976), 31; Boyd W. Johnson,
The Civil War in Ouachita County (Camden, ), 42; Washington
Telegraph, May 25, 1864; Edwin C. Bearss, Steele's Retreat From
Camden and the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry ([Little Rock, 1967]), 54-55.
- 10. Though the Confederates never assaulted or even fired upon the
Camden fortifications, there were a
- number of violent "escapades" along the skirmish lines during
the Federal occupation of the town. O. R., Ser. I, Vol. XXXIV, Pt.
I, 833; Bell I. Wiley, ed., This Infernal War: The Confederate Letters
of Sgt. Edwin H. Fay (Austin, 1958), 389-90; John N. Edwards, Shelby
and His Men: Or, the War in the West (Cincinnati, 1876), 271.