DeValls Bluff was ideally situated to be an important location in the Civil War. The riverport was located at a point on the White River that was navigable at all seasons, a distinct advantage over Arkansas River sites that were frequently isolated by low water.
DeValls Bluff also was the head of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad, which ran from there to present-day North Little Rock. Thus, people and supplies could be shipped by steamboat to DeValls Bluff, then transported by train to the capital at Little Rock.
Union troops occupied DeValls Bluff in late August 1863 during the campaign to capture Little Rock, and it became a major supply depot for the remainder of the war. While the heavily fortified town itself never faced serious attack, the railroad line was a frequent target for Confederate raiders.
DeVall's Bluff Through The Soldiers Eyes
"White River is at present a better one for the purpose of navigation than the Mississippi; it is falling now, but will rise again next month, and can be depended upon all the time for over 4 feet of water to this point ... No pilot is required. All that is necessary is to keep a boat from running on the banks. With such a base as this, it will be a very easy matter to carry on operations against Little Rock."
Maj. Gen. Frederick
August 23, 1863.
"This is a splendid sight for a town, and if in any of the Northern states, in as fine a country with a railroad connecting it with the interior and the best river for navigation in the United States of its size running past it, would have been a city of 25,000 inhabitants."
Capt. Edward Redington
28th Wisconsin Inf.
August 20, 1863