Camden Expedition: May 3, 1864


The Union column continued their march, arriving at the outskirts of Little Rock about 10:30am. U.S. soldiers were back in their camps by noon.

On the Confederate side, General Kirby Smith started his army on the march for Camden on the morning of May 3rd.

Both commanders had withdrawn their forces.  The month-long engagement known as The Camden Expedition was over.

Little Rock map


In retrospect, the Confederates had, in some measure, successfully kept Steele’s Union army from its rendezvous with Banks in Shreveport.

The real culprit of the Union campaign had been inadequate rations and no real forage supplies in south Arkansas. However, the Confederates had utilized their superior numbers well at Poison Springs and Marks Mills.

The killing of surrendered Union Negro soldiers at Poison Springs by the Confederates was a low point in the campaign and the Civil War.

The meager protection of 1100 soldiers and 1400 soldiers, respectively, provide by Union General Steele’s for the forage parties at Poison Springs and Marks Mills was a mistake.

The actions of the General officers at Jenkin’s Ferry were very well performed.

Confederate General Kirby Smith’s best contribution to the Camden Expedition was bringing the Confederate Infantry north to contest the Union Army encamped at Camden Arkansas.

Confederate General Price provided superior forces for the Confederate victory at Poison Springs, but his piecemeal handling of the soldiers at Jenkin’s Ferry was abysmal.

Looking at the losses for the confronting armies: the Union had 2750 casualties; lost 635 wagons, 8 cannons and 2500 mules.  The Confederates had 2300 casualties; lost 35 wagons and 3 cannons.

As a result of the Camden Expedition, Union Armies in Arkansas occupied four major cities (Little Rock, Helena, Pine Bluff and Ft. Smith – and a few miles in the surrounding countryside), while the Confederates and brigands ruled the outlying areas until the end of the Civil War.


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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