Clio Logo

On the morning of June 6, 1864, rain had created a muddy battlefield between the Union and Confederate troops. Colonel Colton Greene and his 600 troops, along with several cannons, faced off against 3,000 Union troops under General A.J. Smith. The battle concluded with a Confederate withdrawal due to lack of munitions. The casualties totaled only four for the Confederates and 132 for Union troops.


  • By Mark Hilton, October 17, 2015
The Battle at Ditch Bayou Marker
  • General Andrew Jackson Smith (left) / Colonel Colten Greene (right)

The Battle at Ditch Bayou or the engagement of Old River Lake occurring on June 6th, 1864 was the last significant engagement in Arkansas during the Civil War. The Confederate's task was to stop Union troops from advancing into the nearby Lake Village, Arkansas. Union forces were currently tasked with engaging and removing Confederate troops from the Mississippi River to cease attacks on Union shipping.

June 6th marked a costly victory for Union troops. Confederate troops, numbering 600 were able to delay Union troops for six hours, who numbered 3,000 in total. The advancement of Union troops was delayed by the current wet conditions caused by rain and with the combination of Confederate artillery were held at bay until Confederate troops withdrew due to running low on munitions. 

The significance of this battle reflects a Union victory based off of sheer overwhelming numbers. Strategically, minus low ammunition, Confederate forces were in a complete advantage. Confederate forces had a defensive position, terrain and weather on their side. In actuality, the firing of such a condensed force of 600 at such a high rate added to a type of smoke screen concealment for Confederate troops. Although Confederates were unable to hold off against the massive Union force, losing only four compared to 132 leads to the costly victory for Union forces. 

“The Battle at Ditch Bayou Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, 30 Aug. 2017, www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=90432.
“Battle Summary: Old River Lake, AR.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/abpp/battles/ar017.htm.
“Category: Ditch Bayou.” The Lakeport Plantation, lakeport.astate.edu/category/ditch-bayou/