Skirmish at White Oak Creek (April 14, 1864)

Location: White Oak Creek, Ouachita County
Campaign: Camden Expedition
Date: April 14, 1864
Principal Commanders: Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr (US); Colonel Solomon G. Kitchen (CS)
Forces Engaged: Cavalry Division of the VII Corps (US); Seventh Missouri Cavalry
Casualties: 3 wounded (US); 1 killed, 2 captured (CS)
Result: Union victory

The Skirmish at White Oak Creek occurred on the evening of April 14, 1864, the day before Union forces seized the city of Camden (Ouachita County). Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr led the Cavalry Division of the VII Corps to a position along the creek before sunset and set up camp for the evening. Prior to retiring for the night, Carr dispatched 500 Union troops down the Washington Road, 250 men at the junction of the Washington Road and the road from Lone Grove to Camden, and 250 men to a crossroad one and a half miles away. There was also a Confederate reconnaissance group of sixty men within half a mile of Carr’s position that had met and engaged Carr’s forces for several miles. Reports stated that the reconnaissance party had not arrived at the junction by sunset on April 14 because they were still engaged.

Carr’s reconnaissance party at the crossroad moved to Washington Road and formed a line across it. Soon after, roughly 200 men came from the west and met with Carr’s men. Carr’s men asked, “Who comes there?” The other men replied, “Friends.” Carr’s men asked for clarification, to which the other men said, “Friends of Jeff Davis.” Carr’s men immediately fired, killing one and capturing two (one wounded). Three of Carr’s men were wounded in the skirmish.

The unwounded Confederate soldier informed Carr that he was part of Colonel Solomon G. Kitchen’s regiment of Colton Greene’s brigade. The soldier also stated that Greene and Joseph O. Shelby’s brigades had moved to Camden and that this soldier’s regiment was the rear guard of the moving Confederate line. Union forces also captured a citizen who reported seeing John S. Marmaduke’s flankers near the Washington Road this afternoon or evening.

Carr reported that the conditions of the road were good and that there were two small creeks to cross, which might have required some work to navigate. He believed a considerable Confederate force remained between White Oak Creek and Camden. The Union forces stayed at their location overnight and planned to move toward the junction, four miles ahead, in the hopes of meeting some of the Confederate forces. General Samuel A. Rice of the First Brigade, Third Division of the VII Corps arrived following the skirmish and agreed to move with Carr at daylight on April 15.

For additional information:
Forsyth, Michael J. The Camden Expedition of 1864 and the Opportunity Lost by the Confederacy to Change the Civil War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. 34, Part I, pp. 762–763. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1891.

Matthew Whitlock
Old Dominion University


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