Friday, April 25, 2014

American Civil War 150: Marks' Mills, Arkansas

Fighting between Americans in Arkansas in 1864 was vicious and brutal. At Marks' Mills, a Union supply column was attacked and, after a wild five hour gun battle in the swampy woods, overwhelmed. 
One of the Union regiments engaged, the 43rd Indiana, which had repulsed with heavy casualties some of the same Confederate units engaged at Marks' Mills that had attacked them at Helena, Arkansas, on July 4, 1863, was here cut to pieces on April 25, 1864 -- 150 years ago today.
Out of about 400 men engaged at Marks' Mills, the 43rd Indiana lost some 19 killed or mortally wounded and 185 taken prisoner (many of them wounded). Of the latter, another 18 died at the POW camp in Tyler, Texas (Camp Ford). 

The remaining members of the 43rd threaded their way through the back country to rejoin the main Union column at Camden, then fought their last big fight as part of "The Casual Detachment" at Jenkins Ferry, another messy, desperate battle, on April 30, 1864. 
Jeremiah C. France, my great great grand uncle and brother of Samuel France of the 31st Indiana Regiment (Company E), survived the entire Arkansas disaster serving with the 43rd Indiana (Company G), only to die of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in an Indianapolis hospital on January 17, 1865 -- just a few months before the war ended. He was felled, apparently, not by bullets or cannon shot, saber or bayonet, but rather by an infected tick or mosquito bite. He was 25. 
Another chilling aspect of Marks' Mills is cryptically noted in The Encyclopedia of Arkansas Culture & History: "The Confederates captured about 150 black freedmen and are believed to have killed more than 100 others." (Link here).
Today's Rune: Breakthrough. Note: click on each image to see entire photo. I took these on Saturday, April 6, 2013. 


jodi said...

Erik-So many deaths...sigh.

Unknown said...

My husband's 2x great grandfather was killed at Mark's Mills. He was also a member of the 43 IN Infantry. His name is George W. Fox.

My own 2x great grandfather was taken prisoner at Mark's Mills. He was a member of the 36th IA Infantry. His name was Eli A. Spain. He later died from disease, malarial dysentery. In my Great Grandmothers writings, she said he went to Andersonville, but it seems more likely that he was at Tyler, Texas.

- Nancy Allen

Erik Donald France said...

Thank you Nancy for your comment. They may have all known each other, at least by sight. A terrible battlefield and campaign it was. Some day I'll check out the Camp Ford POW camp.

Erik Donald France said...

I found Eli A. Spain listed as initially buried at DeVal's Bluff, Arkansas. Company B, 36th Iowa. Died July 24, 1865.