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A minor cavalry battle in the aftermath of the Federal capture of Little Rock, Arkansas (10 September 1863). Two Union cavalry regiments, numbering around 600 men, were garrisoning the town of Pine Bluff. After retreating to Camden, in the south of the state, General John S. Marmaduke’s cavalry were sent off on a series of raids. Early on 25 October that force attacked the garrison at Pine Bluff. Marmaduke’s force was significantly bigger than the Union garrison. The defenders estimated it at 2,500 strong. The exact size is unclear, but it contained six brigades, one of which contained 800 men, so the Federal estimate is quite possibly correct.
Marmaduke’s men swept through most of the town, but Colonel Powell Clayton, the commander of the garrison, had fortified the courthouse with cotton bales. From that stronghold the outnumbered Federal cavalrymen were able to hold off Marmaduke’s attacks. Having achieved most of his objectives, Marmaduke decided that the it was not worth making an assault on the Federal stronghold, estimating that it would have cost him 500 men. He had captured 250 horses and mules and destroyed at least 600 bales of cotton.
Marmaduke reported his losses as around 40 men killed and wounded. Federal losses were reported at 16 dead and 39 wounded. Clayton also reported that he had taken 33 prisoners. Both sides could feel satisfied with the results of the fighting. Clayton’s men were officially praised for their bravery by General Steele, the Federal commander at Little Rock, while Marmaduke had carried out a reasonably successful raid.
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