Little Rock Campaign Tour
A driving tour of sites
along the route the Union Army took to capture the capitol of
|U.S. Arsenal lithograph courtesy of Richard DeSpain
Civil War has been characterized as the defining event of America's
history. The mutual resolve of each side in the conflict, forged into
unity in the crucible of war from 1861 to 1865, was borne witness by
Winston Churchill. He recollected on America's entry into World War
II, when fascism was everywhere on the march: "Silly people, and there
were many, might discount the force of the United States. Some said
they were soft, others that they would never be united.... They would
be just a vague blur on the horizon to friend or foe. But I had studied
the American Civil War, fought out to the last desperate inch...I went
to bed and slept the sleep of the saved and thankful."
July 4, 1863 Vicksburg--the Gibraltar of the Confederacy--fell. With
the Mississippi River again, in Lincoln's words, running "unvexed to
the sea," Union Major General Frederick Steele proceeded from Vicksburg
to Helena in August to lead an invasion of 12,000 troops west into Arkansas.
Awakening to the distant rumble of Union artillery on September 10,
1863, citizens of Little Rock found themselves in the vortex of the
are interpretive panels and one stone marker requiring eight stop in
the Little Rock Campaign Tour: STOP
1--Brownsville Cemetery on Highway 31 north of Lonoke.
2--Reed’s Bridge over Bayou Meto on Highway 161 in Jacksonville.
Mills at intersection of Walkers Corner Road and Alexander Road in Scott.
STOP 4--River Crossing off Highway
165 near Baucum Corner. STOP 5--Bayou
Fourche in Pratt Remmel Park off I 440. STOP
6--Battle of Little Rock stone monument at 6214 Fourche Dam
Pike Road. STOP 7--Riverfront Park
in downtown Little Rock. STOP 8
--Duel panel and marker in North Little Rock.
Interpretive panels are located at all Stops
except Stop 6, the site of the stone monument. All Stops are marked
with a brown and white road sign stating "Civil War Marker."
Driving instructions are in bold face type.
The Little Rock
|A driving tour of sites along the route Union Army
took in the capture of the capitol of Arkansas
starting point of the tour is the Arsenal in MacArthur Park, 503 East
9th Street between McMath and Commerce Streets in downtown Little
Rock. To reach MacArthur Park from Interstate 30 take the 9th Street
Exit (Exit 140A) and go west one block.
STOP 1: Leaving the arsenal, turn right on 9th Street and proceed
crossing over Interstate 30. Turn left on I-30 East, stay in right-hand
lane and proceed 2.20 miles to Interstate 40 (Exit 143B) and turn right
toward Memphis. Follow I-40 East 20.9 miles and take Exit 175 (Lonoke-Arkansas
Highway 31). Turn left on Highway 31 and proceed 1.20 miles and turn
right into Brownsville Cemetery for STOP NO. 1.
August Confederate cavalry had repeatedly engaged advance cavalry of
Steele's army under Brig. Gen. John W. Davidson East of Little Rock,
considerably delaying Union progress. In one six day period Davidson
only advanced eighteen miles in face of the stubborn Rebel defenders.
On August 25, 1863 on the prairie East of Brownsville Marmaduke' s outnumbered
Confederate troopers battled Davidson's cavalry. Confederate forces
fell back through Brownsville, then having a population of 2,500, to
a position west of the town late in the day. About 0.3 miles north of
Stop No. 1 on Highway 31 on the right (across the highway from the Brownsville
Assembly of God Church) is a marker indicating the 1863 site of the
Prairie County Courthouse. The old military road between Little Rock
and Memphis passed through Brownsville at this point, running southeast
to Two-Prairie Bayou and west to Reed's Bridge, site of the next major
action and the next stop on the Tour. Little evidence remains today
of this road.
STOP 2: Leaving Stop No. 1, continue north on Highway 31
for 3.20 miles to the intersection of Arkansas Highway 236 and turn
left. Proceed West on Highway 236 for 6 miles to the intersection of
Arkansas Highway 89 and turn left. Proceed south on Highway 89 for 2.20
miles to the intersection of Arkansas Highway 294 in the town of Furlow
and turn right. Proceed west on Highway 294 for 8.10 miles to the intersection
of Arkansas Highway 161 and turn left. Proceed south on Highway 161
for 0.70 miles across bridge to STOP NO. 2 and turn into the first drive
to reach the interpretive panel .
294 is the route of the Little Rock to Memphis military road and is
the actual route Davidson followed after the action at Brownsville.
Confederate opposition along the road slowed Davidson, who sought a
crossing over Bayou Meto. Approximately 6.40 miles on Highway 294 to
the left is a ridge on which Confederates set up eight cannon in a crescent
array in the early defense of Reed's Bridge on August 27. Approximately
7.80 miles on Highway 294 is an iron marker on the right noting history
of the Little Rock to Memphis Road. (e. g., a wagon trip in 1863 between
the two towns required twenty days.) Fire from the Confederate guns
could not stop the superior Union force. But Davidson was hindered long
enough for most of the Confederates under Marmaduke to fall back across
Bayou Meto over Reed's Bridge, which was then put to the torch. The
original bridge was just to the left (looking north from the marker)
of the present bridge. Davidson probed on either side of the Bridge
for most of the 27th but was unable to negotiate the stream against
rebel defenders on the opposite bank. Of that day's end, 1,300 rebels
having held the Bayou Meto line against 6,000 federals, Confederate
Lt. Col. Frank Gordon said, "The sun went down smoke-begrimed, red-faced
and furious." Failing to cross Bayou Meto, Davidson withdrew back along
the military road toward Brownsville. The main body of the Union Army
reached Brownsville on September 2, and Steele used the town for some
days as a base for probing invasion routes to Little Rock. Steele was
told of Shallow Ford, a little used crossing point on the Bayou Meto,
south of Reed's Bridge. The Ford had been guarded by Confederates under
Col. Robert Newton, who skirmished with Union troops before withdrawing
from the Ford to Ashley's Mills.
Leaving Stop No. 2 proceed north on Highway 161 for 0.70 miles
to intersection of Highway 294 and turn right to return to Furlow, which
is the route of Davidson’s withdrawal.
reach STOP NO. 3 without retracing route of federal withdrawal, proceed
south from Reed’s Bridge on Highway 161 for 0.60 miles and turn left
on Valentine Road. Stay on paved road for 7.0 miles (crossing I-40 at
5.0 miles) to intersection of Arkansas Highway 391 and turn left. Proceed
on Highway 391 for 0.20 miles to intersection of U.S. Highway 70 and
turn left. Proceed East on Highway 70 for 2.20 miles to the intersection
of Walker’s Corner Road and turn right. Follow Walker’s Corner Road
for 4.90 miles to the intersection of Alexander Road and turn right,
cross culvert and turn right to STOP NO. 3.
Furlow turn right on Arkansas Highway 15 and proceed along Steele’s
route to Ashley’s Mills for 5.5 miles crossing Interstate 30 to the
intersection of U.S. Highway 70.
Shallow Ford (also called Shoal Ford) the Federal cavalry gained the
west side of Bayou Meto on the morning of September 6, then pushed southwest
toward Bearskin Lake and Ashley's Mills and the waiting Confederates.
The road to Shallow Ford no longer exists. The main body of of the Union
Army and its supply wagons crossed Bayou Meto on Eagles Bridge, downstream
from the Ford. At about the same time Union forces were crossing Bayou
Meto on September 6, Confederate Brig. Gens. Marmaduke and Walker engaged
in a duel.
dispute had brewed for sometime between the generals concerning Walker’s
tactics in supporting Marmaduke’s defense of Little Rock. Walker issued
a duel challenge and was mortally wounded by Marmaduke at about the
same time Union forces crossed Bayou Meto early on the morning of September
6. Maj. Gen. Price unsuccessfully attempted to halt the duel and placed
Marmaduke and others involved under arrest, rescinding the order in
the face of the Union advance. The duel occurred near the Arkansas River
in the vicinity of the intersection of U.S. Highways 70 and 165 in eastern
North Little Rock, now marked by Stop No. 8.
route of the federal forces covers approximately 5 miles of gravel road.
To avoid the gravel road, turn right on Highway 70 and proceed west
for 5.0 miles and turn left on Walker’s Corner Road. Follow Walker’s
Corner Road for 4.9 miles to the intersection of Alexander Road and
turn right, cross culvert and turn right to STOP NO. 3.
Highway 70 and proceed south on Highway 15 for a distance of 2.90 miles
to Bevis Corner and turn right on Bearskin Lake Road, a gravel road.
This road is the original route taken by Steele and Davidson, virtually
unopposed to Ashley’s Mills, Stop 3. Proceed west on Bearskin Lake
Road through the Dortch Plantation holdings for 2.60 miles to the turn
of the century Marlsgate Plantation house on the left, facing Bearskin
Lake. Federal forces rested at this site before advancing on the Arkansas
River September 7. Continue on Bearskin Lake Road for 2.30 miles to
the intersection of Walker’s Corner Road and turn left. Proceed 0.80
miles to the intersection of Alexander Road and turn right, cross culvert
and turn right to STOP NO. 3.
a quarter-mile north of Stop No. 3 is the Ashley's Mills site where
encamped Confederate cavalry under Col. Robert C. Newton were attacked
on the morning of September 7 by Steele's advance cavalry. Newton's
command was driven back toward the river, and fighting was continuous
between the opposing forces on September 8 and 9. Opposite Ashley’s
Mills on Walker’s Corner Road is the Chester Ashley house.
Stop No. 3 continue west on Alexander Road for 0.30 miles to the intersection
of U.S. Highway 165 and turn right. Proceed on Highway 165 for 1.50
miles and look for the Willow Beach Park sign and turn left on Colonel
Maynard Road. Proceed 0.10 mile and turn right at the first intersection
which is Willow Beach Road and immediately turn left for STOP NO. 4.
today a lake, in 1863 this was the main channel of the Arkansas River.
Confederate forces fell back across the Arkansas River, and on September
9 the Union forces reached the river. Steele decided on a strategy to
put part of his force under command of Davidson across the river at
Terry's Ferry immediately south (left) of Stop No. 4, while Steele proceeded
north of the river with the main body to attack the entrenched Confederate
defenders. During the night of September 9 Davidson threw a pontoon
bridge across the River at Terry's Ferry. Meanwhile Ritter's brigade
of Davidson's Division made a demonstration at Bucks' Ford about four
miles south of this site, faking a crossing of the Arkansas River to
divert Confederate attention from Terry's Ferry. To cover Davidson's
crossing, cannon were emplaced north of the river to command all points
on the opposite shore from which Confederates might assail the bridgehead.
On morning of September 10 a regiment of infantry crossed first, followed
by Davidson's cavalry. The infantry then returned to the north bank
of the River. The purpose in the infantry crossing was twofold; (1)
to protect the cavalry's crossing, and (2) to cause the Confederate
commander, Maj. Gen Sterling Price, to think the main body of Steele's
army was crossing the River to attack from the south and East. Fearing
he would be outflanked and cut off from any retreat, when Price learned
of the crossing he ordered a general withdrawal of his men from the
fortifications north of the river, which extended from Big Rock, along
present day Park Hill, to the current intersection of Highways 70 and
Leaving Stop No. 4 return to U.S. Highway 165 and turn left.
Proceed on Highway 165 for 3.20 miles to the intersection of Interstate
440. Pass under I-440 and turn left on the I-440 West entrance ramp
(toward Little Rock). Proceed on I-440 across the Arkansas River to
the Lindsey Road Exit (Exit number 4) and turn right on Lindsey Road
and immediately turn right into Pratt Remmel Park. Proceed 0.40
mile into the park where the interpretive panel is located next to the
pavilion for STOP NO. 5.
From 11 AM to 5 PM September 10 Confederate forces evacuated the city
on the Benton Road to Arkadelphia. On the evening of the 10th the city
was surrendered, and Union forces under Davidson entered Little Rock
along what is now Ninth St. The actual route of Davidson’s advance is
now largely obscured by the Little Rock National Airport.
Stop No. 5 turn right onto Lindsey Road. Proceed North .20 mile on
Lindsey Road to the intersection with East Roosevelt where you
should turn right and bear to the right on East Roosevelt Road.
Proceed on East Roosevelt Road 0.80 mile to the intersection with
6214 Fourche Dam Pike Road where
a stone monument is located to the left of the bridge over Fourche Creek
at Stop 6. (Note there is not an interpretive panel at this location).
interpretive panel at Stop 5 describes the action that occurred on September
10 where you are standing. After Davidson's cavalry crossed the river
on September 10 under cover of murderous fire from Union artillery,
rebel resistance was offered only by Col. A. S. Dobbin's division until
Marmaduke assumed command at Bayou Fourche, only four miles from Little
Rock. There the opposing forces dueled with artillery and small arms
fire. The Confederate right flank with two artillery pieces was here
at noon on September 10 to halt the Union advance from the river crossing
at Stop 4. The bridge is located near the original bridge site during
the battle. Most of the heaviest fighting occurred northwest of the
monument after the Union forces outflanked the Confederates around Fourche
Creek, which was very low and dry in many stretches. The progress of
the Union force south of the River was protected by Union guns on the
north shore firing enfilade into Confederate positions. Outnumbered,
the Confederates fought a delaying action to gain time for Price's withdrawal.
Stop No. 6 return to Lindsey Road via East Roosevelt Road bearing
to the left until you reach Lindsey Road. Then turn left on Lindsey
Road and proceed to I 440 and turn right onto the entrance ramp to I
440 west toward Little Rock. Proceed west on I-440 for 2.80 miles to
Interstate 30 and downtown Little Rock (Exit 138A) and turn right. Proceed
on I-30 for a distance of 2.20 miles to Exit 141A (Arkansas Highway
10 and Cantrell Road) and turn right. Stay in left lane on exit ramp
and follow Highway 10 signs. Proceed through second traffic light and
turn right into River Front Park as Highway 10 veers to the left. Turn
right on the circular drive and stop at the History Pavilion for STOP
first of two interpretive panels is located in the History Pavilion
near the sidewalk to the little rock. To reach the second panel 200
yards west, proceed down the steps at the Pavilion, turn left and follow
the sidewalk which runs along the river bank. Signs in the Park will
direct you to each panel. This is where the main body of Steele's army
entered Little Rock on September 11 with the 3rd Minnesota Regiment
in the vanguard, crossing the river on a pontoon bridge at the approximate
location of the present day Main Street Bridge.
TO STOP 8: Leaving Stop N. 7, turn
right from the front gate of Riverfront Park onto LaHarpe Blvd.,
proceeding .40 mile and taking first right onto Broadway Bridge,
crossing the Arkansas River, turning right onto East Broadway,
proceeding 3.70 miles to the intersection of East Broadway (also
State Highway 70) and State Highway 165, then turning right,
proceeding approximately .20 miles to Stop No. 8 on the right, next
to the railroad crossing, consisting of an interpretive panel ,
where you can park to read the panel. There is also a bronze
plaque, ground mounted on a pole about 25 feet on the other side of
the tracks to the north commemorating the duel. The panel and
plaque mark the vicinity of the Walker - Marmaduke Duel fought on
September 6, 1963 described in this brochure in the discussion of
Stop No. 3.
last fighting of the campaign occurred just past the Stagecoach, or
Ten Mile, House on present day Arkansas Highway 5-Stagecoach Road when
elements of the Union Army pursuing the retreating Confederates engaged
the rear guard. A monument near the highway marks the location of this
action. To reach the monument, take Exit 1 off I-430 (Arkansas Highway
5-Stagecoach Road Exit), turn East, and the stone monument is .030 mile
East of the overpass. A brown and white sign marks the site.
guide was prepared by members of the Central Arkansas Civil War Heritage
Trail Assoc., Inc. a non-profit corporation composed of volunteers with
special thanks to Maj. Calvin Collier, Charles B. Trussell for lay out
design, Jan Sarna, and many others. Funding provided with assistance
from American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service,
Department of the Interior and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program,
an Agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and private donations.
further reading on the campaign, see War of Rebellion Official Records,
Series I, Vol. XXII, pp. 468-544 (U. S. Govt. Printing Office 1888);
Thomas A. DeBlack, Rugged and Sublime, pp. 89-96 (Univ. Of Ark.
Press, 1994); Leo E. Huff, "The Union Expedition Against Little
Rock, August--September, 1863," Ark. Hist. Quarterly 22
(Autumn, 1963), pp. 223-237