Camp Lee was a small military instruction camp near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) used by the Confederate States of America. Two camps in Arkansas reportedly shared the name, the other being near Lewisville (Lafayette County). The camp in Pine Bluff was established near Lee Springs Road, about three quarters of a mile west of Camp White Sulphur Springs, in August 1861. At first, Camp Lee was used to muster several Arkansan units. The camp was used in August to house the Ninth Arkansas Infantry Regiment (CS). The camp was established because Pine Bluff and the surrounding facilities could not house several regimental-sized units.
Shortly after establishment, the Ninth Arkansas Infantry was brought to Pine Bluff; records show that the regiment’s Company K of Ashley County was assembled at Camp Lee and commanded by Captain John F. Carr. The camp was home to this regiment for a short time. Company K had been organized at Hamburg (Ashley County) on July 29, 1861, and brought, along with several other regiments, into the Confederate army at Camp Lee on August 9, 1861, for twelve months of service.
From September 1861 to June 1862, the camp was not in use while Arkansas forces went to fight battles in Missouri and east of the Mississippi River. This camp is sometimes confused or incorrectly merged with Camp White Sulphur Springs due to its relatively small size and location near Pine Bluff. In June 1862, the camp was used as a camp of instruction under Colonel Robert G. Shaver when Pine Bluff became the home of the Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment (CS). After returning to Arkansas, the Nineteenth Arkansas was reorganized for the war effort throughout June, July, and August. On its way to Pine Bluff, the regiment picked up many recruits, with some reportedly forced into joining. Some of the recruits brought to Pine Bluff were trained and housed in Camp Lee. Before being mustered into service, however, many of the new recruits died of a smallpox and measles outbreak that ran rampant through Pine Bluff and its camps. The deceased recruits were placed in unmarked graves at and around Camp White Sulphur Springs. As for those who survived the outbreak and received training at both White Sulphur Springs and Lee, few were pressed into service with the Nineteenth Arkansas. The majority went to the Twenty-fourth Arkansas Infantry Regiment (CS). After the Twenty-fourth Arkansas was reorganized, the remainder of the recruits were sent to Captain William Hart’s Second Arkansas Field Battery (CS).
With several units reorganized before winter, Camp Lee returned to disuse. Because the camp lacked a hospital and proper housing, it served no purpose to the growing population of wounded and diseased soldiers. The small instruction camp saw little usage and nothing of regimental size again until Pine Bluff and its surrounding camps fell to Union forces in late 1863. A monument was dedicated on October 11, 1912, to the Confederate soldiers, recruits, and civilians who died during the measles and smallpox outbreak.
For additional information:
Leslie, James W. Land of Cypress and Pine: More Southeast Arkansas History. Little Rock: Rose Publishing Company, 1976.
Arkansas State University
Last Updated: 08/27/2020