Battle of Poison Spring

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Battle of Poison Spring
Part of the American Civil War
Date April 18, 1864
Location Ouachita County, Arkansas
Result Confederate victory
 Confederate States  United States
Commanders and leaders
John Marmaduke
Samuel B. Maxey
James Williams
Brigade (1,100 men) Marmaduke’s and Maxey’s Divisions
Casualties and losses
301 114

The Battle of Poison Spring was fought during the American Civil War on April 18, 1864, in Ouachita County, Arkansas as part of the Camden Expedition. The battle is infamous for the Confederates' slaughter and mutilation of black U.S. soldiers of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry.

Opposing forces[edit]

Dwindling supplies for his army at Camden, Arkansas forced Union Army Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele to send out a foraging party to gather corn that the Confederates had stored about twenty miles up the Prairie D’Ane-Camden Road on White Oak Creek. The party loaded the corn into wagons, and on April 18, Col. James M. Williams started his return to Camden. Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke’s and Brig. Gen. Samuel B. Maxey’s Confederate forces arrived at Lee Plantation, about fifteen miles from Camden, where they engaged Williams.


The Confederates eventually attacked Williams in the front and rear, forcing him to retreat north into a marsh where his men regrouped and then fell back to Camden. During the fight, Williams positioned the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, a regiment made up of mostly ex-slaves, between the wagon train and Confederate lines; these black troops repelled the first two offenses, but ran low on ammunition and were beaten back by the third. The Confederates refused to take the wounded black soldiers as prisoners, and instead brutally killed, scalped, and stripped them. In all, the regiment lost nearly half of its numbers.[1]

The Union lost 198 wagons and all the corn. Estimated casualties were 301 for Williams and 114 for the Confederates.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The battle is mentioned in the 2012 film Lincoln.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°39′2.81″N 93°1′50.45″W / 33.6507806°N 93.0306806°W / 33.6507806; -93.0306806