Arkansas Civil War History

McCollum-Chidester House, Camden

Built for Peter McCollum in 1847, the home was occupied during the Red River Campaign of the Civil War by Confederate General Sterling Price, then Union General Frederick Steele. Bullet holes and damage by cannon-fire cas still be seen in the home. Open for tours. 

Arkansas Civil War History

On March 23, 1864, Union General Frederick Steele marched 8,500 troops form LIttle Rock intent on joing another Federal army in Louisiana to seize Shreveport and conquer East Texas. Within weeks, running low on supplies, it became clear to Steele that he would never make it to Louisiana, so he decided to converge on Camden where there were reports of fresh supplies. The reports were false, and Steele soon found himself hunkered down in town with bands of Confederates around him. Two attempts to procure supplies resulted in disastrous defeats at the Battles of Poison Springs near Bluff City on April 19 and Marks’ Mills on April 25, which lead to the Union abandonment of their post at Camden. Steele fell back to Little Rock and, following a fiercely fought battle at Jenkins Ferry on the Saline River near Sheridan on April 30, made it back to his home base with his battered and starving army, thus ending the Arkansas leg of the Red River Campaign, a failure for the Union. 

Poison Springs Battle Ground State Park

The state park interprets the battlefield with outdoor exhibits and picnic sites. 

Marks’ Mills Battleground State Park Near Fordyce

The area, reportedly heavily wooded at the time of the battle, appears much that way today. Open daily from dawn to dusk. 

Jenkins Ferry Battleground State Park, ARK. 46 South of Sheridan

The battlefield, now largely in timber production, is still prone to heavy spring flooding, as it was when the two armies met there on April 30, 1864. Open daily from dawn to dusk. 

Oakland Cemetery, Camden

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Features a tall marble monument commemorating the final resting place of 200 Confederate soldiers. 

Fort Sutherland, Camden

Fort Southerland (also known as Fort Diamond) and Fort Lookout were both part of the formidable fortifications started by Confederate troops and improved by Federal soldiers during their 1864 occupation of Camden. Fort Sutherland, which is open to the public, is explained through markers at the site, and has picnic areas. Fort Lookout is privately-owned and not accessible.