Camden is a city in and the county seat of Ouachita County in the south-central part of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The city is located about 100 miles south of Little Rock. Situated on bluffs overlooking the Ouachita River, the city developed because of the river. The recorded history began in 1782 when a Spanish military post was established on the site of an old French trading post called Écore à Fabri. When Ouachita County was formed in 1842, American settlers changed the name to Camden. The city became an important port during the steamboat era when Camden became known as the “Queen City” of the Ouachita. In 1864, Camden became the unintended focus of the Red River Campaign, a major Civil War effort resulting in several significant battles.
In 2000, Camden had a population of 13,154, but it lost 7.4 percent of its residents and recorded 12,183 in 2010. Camden is the principal city of the Camden Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Ouachita and Calhoun counties.
The explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet in 1673 and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, in 1682 established French claims to the land they called Louisiana, which included what would become Camden, and found the Quapaw living at the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. The Quapaw claimed the territory that included this part of the Ouachita basin, but it was also influenced by both Caddo trade and culture. The old Indian trail called the Caddo Trace, leading from the Quapaw villages on the Arkansas River to those of the Caddo on the Red River, crossed the Ouachita River at what is now Camden.