Enoch N. Ford, Rufus's brother, and listed also in the 4th AR. Cavalry is shown as being AWOL after Sept. 10, 1863.
Glynda, if you go through the rolls of various Arkansas regiments serving in the Trans-Mississippi Department, you'll find huge numbers of men "deserting" on and immediately after September 10, 1863. That was the date that Little Rock fell to the Yankees. Some of the men simply got lost in the shuffle when the Confederates retreated to the south, and later straggled back to their regiments. Many others, however, simply quit the war and went home. There was a widespread feeling among many Arkansas troops that Little Rock had been abandoned without much of a fight. This sentiment overlaid a feeling that the attack on Helena two months earlier was badly handled, and that "defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory" by incompetent commanders. The troops perceived their heroism and suffering as wasted. Right or wrong, these beliefs sent morale plummeting, so many men just gave up the fight in disgust. Their attitude seemed to be, "When you generals are ready to win a battle for a change, give me a call." Indeed, many of them returned to duty when Sterling Price began gathering troops for his invasion of Missouri the following year.
I'm glad you were able to fit some pieces of the puzzle in your research. This "award winning" message board is truly a gem.