Camden Expedition: April 5, 1864

Elkins Ferry marker


After the fight at Elkin’s Ferry, Union Commander Steele got word that Thayer’s Frontier Division would join him in a few days. Thayer had been delayed due to the muddy conditions of the roads from Ft. Smith, AR.

The Old Military Road continued southwest, from the place the Union army turned off on the shortcut, to the town of Antoine, AR. It then turned due south and, skirting the bank of the Little Missouri River, came to the south bank of Elkin’s Ferry. At this point it turned southwest again and headed across Prairie D’Ane to Washington, AR.

Steele crossed the Union Army over the Little Missouri River unopposed on April 5th and marched about 8 miles south on the Old Military Road to the Cornelius Farm; secured the area from the Confederates; and camped there to wait on Thayer.



In the meantime, Confederate Major General Price left Camden, AR on April 5th with Fagan’s Brigade and headed to Prairie D’Ane, where Confederate Division Commander Marmaduke had constructed fortifications for his Brigades.

Price was finally uniting his forces to stop the Union Army from taking Washington, the seat of the Arkansas Confederate Government.

What the Confederates didn’t know was Union Commander Steele had already decided not to continue toward Washington, AR. His men were hungry. The roads were atrocious.  And, lastly, the Confederates were a harrowing bunch of hellions that wouldn’t leave his column alone.

Steele had accomplished one thing, he had incited Confederate Commander Price to pull all of his troops out of Camden, AR, where it had been reported there was a goodly amount of stores that could feed his army.  As expected, Steele’s Federal Army had just about used up all its supplies and there was no forage to be had in this area of Arkansas. All Steele had to do was defeat the Confederates gathering at Prairie D’Ane and head to Camden.

Prairie D’Ane is a landmark located one hundred miles southwest of Little Rock. It is an area of land of about 25 miles square devoid of forest, but surrounded on at least three sides by wooded areas. It is the beginning of the prairie lands that run down into eastern Texas.

Confederate Division Commander Marmaduke, whose command included Cabell’s Brigade, Greene’s Brigade and Shelby’s Brigade, had created a line of earthworks on the southern and western edges of Prairie D’Ane on or about April 5th.


About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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