Heavily outmanned and outnumbered by Gen. Shelby’s troops, the counterattack soon failed with lack of a commander. Col. Drake was carried unconscious to a large log house nearby with what was thought to likely be a fatal wound. When Drake awoke, he found himself in the presence of Confederate Gen. Fagan. The rebel leader announced “I am General Fagan, commanding the Confederate forces, about eight thousand. I understand that you are Colonel Drake, the commanding officer of the Federal forces. Can you not arrange for their surrender?” Drake replied, “I am no longer in command.”
Major Hamilton surrendered after a five hour battle. The lost was costly to the Union with the loss of all the wagons, 250 men killed or wounded and 1,300 captured. “Less than 150 of the brigade escaped from the conflict,” Gen. Fagan later admitted. Drake reported that “a large number of Negroes and pro-Union Arkansans were inhumanely butchered by the enemy.”
This was then Appanoose County’s Darkest Day. The 36th was wiped out, losing 166 men from Appanoose County alone in one day, undoubtedly the worst loss in Appanoose County history. Most were captured and taken on a forced march to Camp Ford Prison Camp in Tyler, Texas. There many died. As a result of this defeat, Gen. Steele’s army was forced to retreat back toward Little Rock beginning the very next day.
Col. Drake’s wound was thought likely to be fatal. His care was transferred to the Assistant Surgeon Colin G. Strong, one of the Union 36th regimental surgeons, under a white flag of truce. Surgeon Sylvester H. Sawyer of Unionville had remained back in Camden as Division Medical Director. Amazingly Drake later recovered and returned to service by October, 1864, remaining with the few surviving members of the 36th Iowa in garrison duty. By the end of the war he was brevetted Brigadier General, in large part for his leadership at the Battle of Elkins’ Ford or Elkins’ Ferry. He became and lawyer and merchant and banker in Centerville, later achieving success in the burgeoning railroad business. He became a popular governor of Iowa 1895-97. He helped found and fund Drake University.