SALINE TERRITORY, AR. 1864
Copied from a Special Edition of "THE MERRY GREEN PRESS"
UNSCRUPULOUS PLUNDER & LOSSES REPORTED AT POISON SPRING
The Federal column captured at Poison Spring west of Camden on April 18 contained wagons laden with corn, bacon, bed quilts, women's and children's clothing, hogs, geese and other property stolen by soldiers. Confederates under command of Brigadier General Samuel B. Maxey attacked the Federal forage train commanded by Colonel James M. Williams at Poison Spring.
The train consisted of 198 six-mule wagons, artillery, and strong escorts of infantry and cavalry. The infantrymen of the 1st Kansas Colored had earlier stripped the houses of the region of little baby frocks, shoes, stockings, women's bonnets, shawls and cloaks which they hope to take home to their families in Kanasa.
The Confederate force included Indians of the 1st and 2nd Choctaw Regiments who reportedly broke for the plunder of the train at one point with demoniac war whoops which disconcerted even their own men.
One hundred seventy wagons, four cannon and their caissons, and hundreds of small-arms were captured along with the stolen items. The Federal loss was 301 of 1160 present on the field. Out of 438 officers and men in the battle, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry lost 182 men, 117 listed as killed.
Captain Rowland of the 18th Iowa has informed our Camden correspondent that three days afterwards, a burial detail was sent to the field where six white officers and eighty men of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry were found. The white dead were all scalped and stripped of clothing which was carried off by the rebels. To add insult to the dead officers, they were laid on their faces and a circle of their colored soldiers made around them. Some wounded soldiers were bitten by rattlesnakes. Confederate losses number 16 killed, 88 wounded and 10 missing.
DESTRUCTION OF DRAKE'S COMMAND AT MARKS' MILLS
Federal Forces Engaged at Marks'Mills:
43rd Indiana Infantry - Major W. W. Norris
36th Iowa Infantry - Major A. H. Hamilton
77th Ohio Infantry - Captain A. J. McCormick Battery E,
2nd Missouri Light Artillery - Lieutenant C. Peetz
7th Missouri & 1st Indiana Cavalry - Major M. McCauley
5th Missouri Cavalry - Major H. P. Spellman
1st Iowa Cavalry - Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Caldwell
Confederate Officers at Marks' Mills:
J. F. Fagan, William L. Cabell & Joseph O. Shelby
J. C. Monroe, T. J. Morgan, A. Gordon, J. R. Hill, J. M. Harrell, T. M. Gunter, David Shanks, B. F. Gordon, M. V. Smith, D. C. Hunter, John C. Wright
B. Elliott, J. T. Poe, E. L. McMurtrey(this is spelled different from the notation at Poison Spring, it does not denote which spelling is correct for this Major)
W. M. Hughey, R. A. Collins, O. B. Tebbs
DESTRUCTION OF DRAKE'S COMMAND AT MARKS' MILLS
The Federal wagon train ambushed by Confederates at Marks' Mills east of Camden was escorted by 1200 infantry, 240 cavalry, and 6 pieces of artillery under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Drake from Iowa.
The train was enroute to Pine Bluff for supplies when it was attacked on April 25 by Brigadier General James F. Fagan's mounted force of nearly four thousand men. The fight lasted for five hours with a Federal loss of about 1300 men. Over 200 army wagons were taken by the Confederates along with 100 others belonging to refugees, sutlers and cotton speculators escaping into Federal territory. Four stand of colors, six pieces of artillery, a cache of ammunition, and 150 negroes were also taken. Witnesses say that much plunder was found in the wagons and that Coilonel Drake was wounded by a minie ball in his hip and taken prisoner. Dr. C. G. Strong, a Federal surgeon, said Drake was carried to a field hospital established in the home of Warren Crain.
It is reported that the Federals lost more than 1300 men, most of whom were captured and that a large number of negroes and pro-union Arkansans were inhumanly butchered by the Confederates.
The Federal dead are buried at Marks' Plantation. Confederate losses are estimated to be under 500, including Colonel Dewitt C. Hunter of Missouri, wounded and shot from his horse.
Federal prisoners escorted by Colonel Hill's 7th Arkansas are believed to be now marching to the prison camp at Tyler, Texas.
SAVAGERY & CELEBRATION AT MARKS' MILLS
We deem it necessary to report on certain events taking place on the battlefield at Marks' Mills on the 25th. A Federal soldier in the 35th Iowa commented that, "The Rebs robbed nearly every man of us even to our chaplain. They stripped every stitch of clothes, even their shirts, boots and socks, and left the dead unburied and the woods on fire. Clothing was also pulled from the wounded as they begged for mercy. No respect was given for persons rank or age. Old Captain Charles W. Moss of the 43rd Indiana Infantry was marched bareheaded with his bald head and white locks and beard in the burning sun."
It is rumored, yet unconfirmed, that a great haul of Union greenbacks was recovered from the headquarters wagons and distributed among the men following the battle.
On the night following the battle, the Confederates were treated to a sumptuous meal prepared from rations taken from captured wagons. The food had been stolen from the Confederate homes in the vicinity.
Captured Federal wagons also contained many prized family possessions, including bedding and jewelry stolen from the local citizens. These were carried to John Marks' house where they are being restored to their owners. Women all along the road for miles back toward Camden are now arriving on horseback to identify their belongings.
Article: A MIRROR FROM THE HOMER
A curious account was related to us by a traveler from Camden following the evacuation of that city by General Steele's army. It seems that the Confederat Army was without its pontoon bridge and was required to cross the Ouachita Rive on a crude raft bridge formed from anything in the area that would float. The men could only walk in single file and ten feet apart, so the crossing was slow and tedious. Jut below this floating bridge the steam boat, Homer, had been scuttled and was lying up to her cabin deck in water. Here was an opportunity for plunder not to be disregarded, so a number of the soldiers drew off their clothes and swam out to the wreck. Everything protable, however, had been carried away but a large mirror, some two feet by six, in a gilt frame. This was safely towed ashore and set against a tree where the soldiers swarmed around it to look at themselves, while the discoverer of the glass put on his clothes, after which he placed the mirror on his back and carried it eight miles before convincing himself that it was too unhandy a thing to steal!
Grant County Museum in Sheridan, Arkansas printed in observance of the 125th Anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Jenkins' Ferry that was fought April 29-30th, 1864 in what was then Hot Springs and Saline County Territory...later incorporated into Grant County in 1869.
The above information may be used for non-commercial historical and genealogical purposes only and with the consent of the page owner may be copied for the same purposes so long as this notice remains a part of the copied material. EDWARD G. GERDES
If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to have more information about the Civil War and Pension Records of the men who served in these Companies, contact Jeri Helms Fultz or Bryan Howerton .
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