The Arkansas Campaign
The Fall of Little Rock & the Camden Expedition
April 24-May 1, 2014
Historian Guide: Neil Mangum
When compared with the mammoth Civil War battles east of the Mississippi, engagements in Arkansas are at times mentioned as just a side show to the big picture. Yet the battle for Arkansas was just as real and deadly as its bigger eastern cousins. Union troops first invaded Arkansas in 1862, but it was not until a year later that they finally pushed from toeholds along the Mississippi River and Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
In 1863 Little Rock became the military objective in Arkansas, giving President Lincoln hope that the Union could claim control of its fourth Confederate capital.
After Federals first took Arkansas Post, a Confederate bastion on the Arkansas River, Confederates assaulted the Union garrison at Helena. Embattled participants in the vicious campaign fought at such places as Brownsville, Bayou Meto, and Fourche Bayou with the objective of marching into Texas to further split the Confederacy. The South marshaled manpower, and in a series of punishing attacks forced the Federals back to Camden, Arkansas, and then in retreat to Little Rock.
Join historian guide Neil Mangum as we examine the two most crucial campaigns in Arkansas. We discover too the rich history of Hot Springs National Park. Once considered the rough frontier, in the gangster era of the Roaring 20's its opulent bathhouses exuded the luxury of relaxation. Experience natural thermal mineral waters, awe-inspiring vistas in the Ouachita Mountains, and seldom seen Civil War sites on this new HistoryAmerica tour.
8 Days / 7 Nights
Cost: $2,875 Single Occupancy, $2,495 Double Occupancy
Click to request a 2014 printed Travel Guide.
Thursday, April 24
Gather in Little Rock for a briefing and welcome dinner hosted by Neil Mangum and HistoryAmerica TOURS.
Friday, April 25
Travel to Pine Bluff, site of the 1863 Cotton Bale Fight. Learn how Arkansas Post, a key Confederate fortification, was taken by a combined land and amphibious assault. This afternoon we reach the bluffs of Helena, where a federal garrison withstood Confederate assaults attempting to relieve pressure on Vicksburg. End the day with gravesite visits to Arkansas' two most famous wartime generals—Patrick Cleburne and Thomas Hindman. Overnight in Little Rock.
Saturday, April 26
Occupation of Little Rock was a primary theme of 1863 Union strategy. Today features battlefield visits to Brownsville, Bayou Meto, Ashley's Mill, and the battle of Fourche Bayou. Last visit is Little Rock Arsenal before returning to our hotel.
Sunday, April 27
Known as the Little Gilbralter on the Arkansas River, Ft. Smith would fall to Union forces in September 1863, 10 days before Little Rock. An extensive tour of Ft. Smith National Historic Site offers a window into the past. Judge Issac Parker, the Hanging Judge Parker of western lore, worked out of this post. After visits to the battlefields of Massard Prairie and Devil's Backbone, we travel to the resort town of Hot Springs and check into the historic Arlington Hotel for two nights.
Monday, April 28
Take a stroll of Bathhouse Row this morning, the Grand Promenade for the people who "took to the waters", and where HistoryAmerica travelers can do the same. After lunch we'll journey through the dense forests of oak and hickory in Hot Springs National Park.
Tuesday, April 29
Heading south today we follow the 1864 Camden Expedition. Part of a larger Union plan to link Arkansas and Louisiana troops, the ultimate goal was to occupy Texas. Doomed from the start, they bogged down due to weather, supplies, and an energetic opponent. Visit battlefields at Elkins Ferry and Prairie D'Ane and then Washington Courthouse, Confederate capital of Arkansas after the fall of Little Rock. Before reaching Camden, we visit the battlefield of Poison Springs where the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry fought valiantly against overwhelming odds and then racial attacks after surrendering.
Wednesday, April 30
Federally occupied Camden takes up the morning, with visits to earthen Forts Sutherland and Lookout, and the grounds of the McCollum-Chidester House, temporary headquarters for Union commander Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele. Afternoon encounters take us to the battlefields Marks' Mill, Mount Elba Crossing, and the horrific fighting at Jenkins' Ferry. We return to Little Rock for our farewell dinner.
Thursday, May 1
Depart at your leisure following breakfast.