From April 3 to April 4, Union and Confederate forces fought at Elkins Ferry in Clark and Nevada counties in Arkansas. All the bridges crossing the Little Missouri River had been destroyed. Union General Steele ordered General Frederick Salomon to take and hold the remaining river ford at Elkin’s Ferry. Three cavalry brigades under Confederate General John Marmaduke attacked the Union position, but was unable to take the position.
On April 4th, Phil Sheridan takes command of the cavalry forces in the Union Army of the Potomac.
On April 8th, Confederate forces commanded by General Richard Taylor defeated and decisively routed the Union force under Nathaniel P. Banks at Sabine Crossroads (also known as Mansfield), halting the Red River Campaign in Louisiana.
Also on April 8th, the historic 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery, was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification.
On April 9th, Nathaniel Banks, retreating from the defeat at Sabine Crossroads, is attacked by Confederates under Richard Taylor. Despite some initial success, Banks launched a counterattack that defeated Taylor.
On April 9th, Grant issues campaign orders to George Meade and William Sherman: “Wherever Lee goes, you will go there.”
April 10th saw Union General Frederick Steele’s forces encounter a Confederate line of battle at Prairie D’Ane, about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock, AR. Steele was marching towards the vital port of Shreveport, but was diverted towards Camden after the Confederates under Sterling Price were forced to fall back. Steele turned his force toward the heavily-defended Camden, which his forces then took. But Steele and Banks then withdrew to Grand Ecore and Little Rock. Kirby Smith took command of the Confederate troops and ordered Taylor to move back to Mansfield. The Red River Campaign was over.
On April 12th, one of the most inhumane acts committed in the Civil War occurred when Confederate Cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked and defeated Union troops defending Fort Pillow. The surviving Union soldiers, all black, were massacred by the Rebels.
General Grant ended prisoner exchanges on the 17th, feeling that the practice was merely prolonging the war.
At the Battle of Poison Spring on April 18th, US supply wagons intended to relieve the failed Union Red River campaign, were attacked by Sterling Price and John Marmaduke. The fighting was fierce, but in the end the Federal troops were forced to retreat.
On April 20th, in response to reports of Confederate maltreatment of Union prisoners, the U.S. War Department announced a reduction in rations issued to Rebel prisoners.
On April 20th, Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard assumes command of the Confederate capital of Richmond’s defenses.
On April 20th, after a three-day attack, Confederate General Robert F. Hoke captured Plymouth, NC, along with a treasure trove of badly needed supplies. In this action, the CSS Ram ALBEMARLE rammed and sank two Union ships, the SOUTHFIELD and MIAMI.
A fine piece of tactics brought a Union victory over Confederate forces at Monett’s Ferry in Natchitoches Parish, LA on April 23rd. An advance Union party under General William Emory encountered a Rebel cavalry force under General Hamilton Bee. Bee had been ordered to block Emory’s attempt to cross the Cane River at that point. Bee deployed his troops, taking advantage of natural features which covered both his flanks. Emory demonstrated against Bee for several hours while two brigades were sent in search of another crossing. A ford was found, one of the brigades crossed, and attacked the Rebel position from flank and rear, sending them into retreat.
As the Union forces continued their retreat following the Red River campaign, Confederates continued to harry their progress, attacking them at Marks’s Mill on the 25th, capturing over 200 Union supply wagons. At the end of this battle, Confederates came upon wounded black Union soldiers. The Rebels proceeded to murder the wounded soldiers. Admiral David Porter’s fleet, sent to rescue the troops of Nathaniel Banks was trapped at low tide, and was badly damaged by Confederate shore batteries.
In Arkansas, Union General Steele, nearly out of supplies withdrew from Camden to Little Rock in a heavy rain during the overnight hours of April 26-27. Confederate pursuers, forced to build rafts to ford the swollen Ouachita River, were delayed. Steele moved north to Jenkin’s Ferry, and assembled his pontoon bridges to cross the flooded Saline River. The Confederates caught up and attacked the Union rear guard early on April 30th. The Union troops had constructed breastworks and were in a good position to repel attack. Repeated assaults by the Southerners were bogged down in the mud and rain. After losing over 1,000 men, the Southerners withdrew. One footnote to this battle involved the 2nd Kansas Regiment, a unit of black soldiers, who discovered Confederate wounded, and executed them in retaliation for similar killings of wounded black soldiers by Confederates.