The Battle of Marks' Mills

April 25, 1864 in Cleveland County, Arkansas

Union Forces Commanded by
Lt. Col. Francis Drake
Strength Killed Wounded Missing / Captured
± 1, 600 100 250 100
Confederate Forces Commanded by
Brig. Gen. James B. Fagan
Strength Killed Wounded Missing / Captured
± 2,500 110 228 40
Conclusion: Confederate Victory
Camden's Arkansas Expedition

A Union force escorted 240 wagons from Camden to Pine Bluff to pick up supplies and transport them back to Maj. Gen. Fred Steele's army. On April 20, a Union supply train from Pine Bluff, Arkansas arrived with 10 days half-rations. On the 23rd, Gen. Shelby crossed the Ouachita River to raid Union supply routes. The following day Brig. Gen. James B. Fagan learned that the Union supply train had left Camden under heavy guard, returning to Pine Bluff.

Fagan immediately selected a crack force of four brigades of cavalry and set off to intercept this prize. After a forced march of 52 miles, he crossed the Ouachita River at Moro Bay and headed north toward the junction of the Camden, Mount Elba and Pine Bluff roads. The Union wagon train included 240 government wagons and a number of private vehicles. It was guarded by 3 full regiments of infantry, 240 cavalry, and 4 pieces of artillery, in all some 1600 men.

Using tactics similar to those employed at Poison Spring, the Confederates blocked the Union advance, then, around 9:30 A.M., attacked the flank of the wagon train. The battle lasted 5 hours with the main unit of Confederates entering the battle dismounted and in piecemeal order, then the mounted Missourians charged from the north and mounted Arkansans from the south, sealing the fate of the Union force. The Confederates successfully subdued the two lead Union regiments then the rear guard and finally scattered 500 veterans.

About 1600 Union troops were engaged in battle against 2500 Confederates. Union losses could not have been less than 1300, the majority being captured. Confederate losses were fewer than 500 including those slightly wounded The victors found themselves with the entire train, some 1500 horses and mules, private vehicles, ambulances, four guns, and valuable official reports concerning Steele's army.

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