QUARTERLY, Volume 17 (Autumn 1958), p. 272
FROM PARACLIFTA TO MARKS' MILL:
THE CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENCE OF
LIEUTENANT ROBERT C. GILLIAM
JAMES J. HUDSON
- The Robert C. Gilliam letters written between October, 1863 and May,
1864 cover a period of excitement and apprehension in southern Arkansas
(1). By the time Robert C. Gilliam wrote his first letter in the series,
on October 22, 1863, Federal forces had gained complete control of the
Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers severing the last effective link between
the eastern and western portions of the Confederacy. Hoping to knock the
Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederacy completely out of the war,
Major-General Henry W. Halleck, General-in-Chief of the Federal Armies,
decided upon a spring campaign against Confederate General E. Kirby Smith's
forces in Northwest Louisiana. The movement, to be known as the Red River
campaign, would be a simultaneous advance from Arkansas and Louisiana with
Shreveport as the first major objective (2). The Southern prong of the
Federal attack, to leave from Baton Rouge, was under the control of Major-General
Nathaniel P. Banks. The movement from Arkansas, later to be known as the
Camden Expedition (3), was commanded by Major-General Frederick Steele
whose headquarters were located at Little Rock.
- 1. These letters are in the possession of a great-grandson of Lt. R.
C. Gilliam, Surrey E. Gilliam, an El
- Dorado, Arkansas attorney.
- 2. Lieutenant-General U. S. Grant, who replaced Halleck as General-in-Chief
shortly after the Red River
- Expedition was conceived, was not enthusiastic about the project but
gave his reluctant approval.
- 3. Ira Don Richards' "The Camden Expedition, March 23-May 3, 1864,"
Unpublished MA Thesis at the
- University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 1958. This is perhaps the most
thorough study of the Camden Expedition. See also Wiley Britton, "Resume
of Military Operations in Missouri and Arkansas, 1864-65" in R. U.
Johnson and C. C. Buel (ed.), Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (4
vols. New York: Century Co., 1884-1887), IV, 374-75.