Appanoose County men of the 36th Iowa Infantry under Lt. Col. Francis M. Drake of Unionville, Iowa, along with men of the 18th Iowa Infantry under Capt. William Duncan of Osceola and 1st Lt. Joseph K. Morey of Centerville remained embedded deep in Confederate southwest Arkansas in April, 1864. They were part of a large army under Major Gen. Frederick Steele that had become thwarted in their attempt to reach Shreveport, La. Deep in hostile Confederate territory, the army was rapidly running short of rations for the troops and forage for the horses and mules. They had turned back on April 15 on reduced rations to a relatively safe position in Camden, Ark.
On April 17, 1864, a large forage train of 198 six-mule wagons had headed 15 miles west of Camden to collect 5,000 bushels of corn and grain. The armed guard included 383 men of the 18th Iowa Volunteer Infantry and 500 men of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry. After loading about 141 wagons, they had started back toward Camden on April 18, when they had been attacked and overwhelmed by a large force of Confederate Missouri cavalry under Brigadier Gen. John S. Marmaduke along with Texas cavalry and Choctaw Indian cavalry under Gen. Samuel B. Maxey. The attack had been devastating with the loss of all the forage wagons. The wagons and corn were burned and destroyed.
The 18th Iowa had lost 59 killed and 21 wounded at Poison Spring. Those captured would be marched to Camp Felder Prison Camp in Texas, where several would die. A burial detail under 1st Lt. Joseph K. Morey of Centerville found that all the wounded and captured black troops of the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry had been murdered by the vengeful Confederates. Many had been killed while attempting to surrender. Most of the rest had been stripped and scalped in a grisly and degrading reprisal by the Texans and Choctaws to avenge their previous loss to the same infantries in the Battle of Honey Springs, Indian Territory. Morey was later promoted to Major in 1864 and to Lt. Colonel in 1865. After the war he was elected Appanoose County superintendent but died before taking office.