“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

DeValls Bluff in Prairie County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)

DeValls Bluff: A Key Union Base

DeValls Bluff Was A Major Union Supply Depot

DeValls Bluff: A Key Union Base Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 30, 2016
1. DeValls Bluff: A Key Union Base Marker

August 23, 1863.

GENERAL: Having reconnoitered the different routes, I have decided to commence my line of operations at this point, and have moved the depot and hospital here to-day. The site chosen is a plateau (oak opening), high bluff on the river, and sloping on both sides, on one side a deep ravine. The two gunboats which are to remain here can defend the flanks, and an intrenchment can be thrown up in rear which will make the place tolerably secure against any force that will be likely to annoy us while we are pushing the enemy to the front. The buildings here do not amount to much, but there is considerable lumber, and, by sending to Clarendon for more, we can erect tolerable shelter for the sick and the supplies.

— Major General Frederick Steele

With this report, DeValls Bluff began its role as a major Union base of operations. Steele’s men soon built fortifications, a hospital, and a supply depot to support the Union army’s drive to capture Little Rock.

Once Union troops occupied the Arkansas capital, they had to be supplied — army
Civil War Interpretive Signs in the Center of Rhodes Park image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 30, 2016
2. Civil War Interpretive Signs in the Center of Rhodes Park
DeValls Bluff: A Key Union Base marker is the middle
regulations specified that Steele’s men should be issued 20 tons of rations every day, in addition to the 120 tons of fodder his 24,000 horses and mules would need daily. The best way to bring these mountains of supplies to the U.S. soldiers was via the White River, where they could be stored in warehouses constructed in DeValls Bluff before the railroad would take them to Little Rock. Dozens of storehouses, hospitals, and other government buildings were soon built, some using lumber taken from buildings in Des Arc.

As the war progressed, thousands of Union soldiers were stationed in DeValls Bluff to protect those supplies and the railroad that carried them, as well as to conduct operations against Confederate troops and guerrillas in the surrounding area.

(Upper Left Image Caption)
Civilians opened businesses in DeValls Bluff to serve the hundreds of Union troops stationed here. R.H. White opened a photography studio in 1863 and made cartes de visite of many of the soldiers before opening a studio in Little Rock in 1864.
Courtesy, Arkansas History Commission

(Lower Left Illustration Caption)
Most of the buildings in DeValls Bluff had been destroyed before Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele’s Union army occupied the town in August 1863, but new structures were quickly built as the White River port became a major supply depot.
Rhodes Park in DeValls Bluff image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 30, 2016
3. Rhodes Park in DeValls Bluff
The park has five interpretive signs and a Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission marker on DeValls Bluff's role in the Civil War
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock.

(Middle Image Caption)
The quartermaster’s stables (right) at the remount camp adjacent to DeValls Bluff helped serve the thousands of horses and mules used by the Union army in Arkansas.
Courtesy, National Archives and Records Administration.

(Upper Right Image Caption)
Among the benefits of garrison duty at DeValls Bluff was the return of such amenities as musical performances. This photo shows the Third Michigan Cavalry Regiment band, stationed here in the winter of 1864-65.
Courtesy, Arkansas History Commission.

(Lower Right Image Caption)
The Ordnance and Provost Marshall’s offices were built to serve the sprawling Union base at DeValls Bluff.
Courtesy, Arkansas History Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & StreetcarsWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels.
Location. 34° 47.05′ N, 91° 27.537′ W. Marker is in DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, in Prairie County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Main Street (State Highway 33) and Prairie Avenue, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: De Valls Bluff AR 72041, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance
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of this marker. Common Ground for Many Soldiers (here, next to this marker); War on the White River (here, next to this marker); DeValls Bluff Under Fire (a few steps from this marker); DeValls Bluff in the Civil War (a few steps from this marker); Why DeValls Bluff (a few steps from this marker); Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named The Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (about 800 feet away); DeValls Bluff: A Major Union Riverport (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in DeValls Bluff.
More about this marker. The marker is one of five Civil War interpretive signs in Rhodes Park; there are two other Civil War interpretive signs in DeValls Bluff.
Also see . . .  DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). From The Arkansas Encyclopedia of History & Culture. Includes information on De Valls Bluff’s role in the Civil War. (Submitted on August 10, 2016.) 
Additional comments.
1. Marker Sponsors
The following is written at the lower right corner of the marker: “This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Other sponsors are the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission, the City of DeValls Bluff and the Bill & Sharon Arnold Family Foundation.”
    — Submitted August 10, 2016.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 10, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 10, 2016, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 231 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 10, 2016, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.
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May. 31, 2020