In the fall of 1864, much of the Confederate infantry in Arkansas was ordered to move to Camden to protect the approaches to Texas during General Sterling Price's absences in being transferred to the Missouri Campaign.
In September 1864, Confederate troops in Arkansas under the command of Major General J.B. MaGruder faced in the task of defending Camden against aggressive Union patrons in the area. MaGruder recognized the need for the Construction on the Little Missouri and Quachita Rivers. These fortifications would be occupied by Magruder's Confederate forces and built by slaves from Texas.
MaGruder's forces were authorized to construct batteries and rifle pits along the west banks at Sandy Beach on the Quachita River located to the southeast of Camden. These close range batteries were assigned to this area to preserve and protect the Camden waterfront against the Union aggressors from both North and South of Camden. The primary objective was to destroy all Union vessels coming up and down the Quachita River. The guns in the water battery would have been situated to fire broadside at vessels and other targets on the River.
The ten batteries and rifle pits along the banks of the river were completed in November 1864 but never witnessed a shot fired in anger. The remnant fortifications on the river remain today as silent witnesses to Confederate strategy in Arkansas during the waning days of the Civil War.
The Camden Water Battery would never be tested under combat conditions. Many Union troops would be transferred east of the Mississippi River to take part in operations against the Confederate Troops in Alabama and elsewhere. After the collapse of Confederate Armies in the east, the major Confederate Armies in the Trans-Mississippi would themselves lay down their arms in June 1865.
Camden Historical Advisory Commission
Camden A&P Commission