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Marianna National Guard Armory

The Marianna National Guard Armory, built in 1929, is an Art Deco–style building constructed as part of a statewide armory building program to house National Guard companies based in Lee County. Citizen-soldier militias have had a constant presence in the United States since the colonial era, but it was not until Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903—also known as the Dick Act for sponsor Senator Charles W. F. Dick, chairman of the Committee on the Militia—that the National Guard became an official partner in the nation’s armed services, receiving federal support for training, equipment, and wages. Arkansas’s state militia was organized into the Arkansas National Guard as a result of the Dick Act. The Marianna National Guard Armory was …

Marine Corps Legacy Museum

The Marine Corps Legacy Museum (MCLM) officially opened on November 10, 2001 (November 10 being the birthday of the United States Marine Corps). The MCLM is the country’s only private, historically comprehensive Marine Corps museum. It is sponsored by the Association for the Preservation of U.S. Marine Corps History, Inc., an educational non-profit corporation chartered in Arkansas in 1998. The museum, located on the town square in Harrison (Boone County), is the culmination of ten years of planning and effort by the father and son founders, Captain D. A. Millis and Gunnery Sergeant D. A. Millis II, both retired marines. They and their families serve as volunteer officers of the corporation and the museum; there are no salaried staff members. …

Marks’ Mills State Park

Location: Cleveland County Size: 6.2 acres Marks Mills’ State Park, in Cleveland County on the old Camden-Pine Bluff Road, commemorates a Civil War action that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The park contains interpretive exhibits and a picnic area. The park is named for John H. Marks, who in 1834 constructed a sawmill and flour mill at this location. The mills were still operating during the Civil War, making them landmarks for both Union and Confederate troops. In March 1864, General Steele led approximately 14,000 soldiers out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to join in the Union army’s Red River Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to join General Nathaniel Banks’s troops in northern …

McGehee National Guard Armory

The McGehee National Guard Armory was built in 1954 and reflects standardized plans that featured open floor plans, steel-framed roofs, and concrete block walls—a functional design typical of National Guard armories built during a period when larger facilities were needed. Citizen-soldier militias have had a constant presence in the United States since the colonial era, but it was not until Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903—also known as the Dick Act for sponsor Senator Charles W. F. Dick, chairman of the Committee on the Militia—that the National Guard became an official partner in the nation’s armed services, receiving federal support for training, equipment, and wages. Arkansas’s state militia was organized into the Arkansas National Guard as a result of …

Newport Air Field

During World War II, one of the army’s seven training airfields built in Arkansas was located at Newport (Jackson County). Over 4,000 men trained during the three years the Newport Army Air Field was in operation. At one point, over 4,800 people were living on the base, more than doubling Newport’s 1940 population of 4,301. Newport was chosen as a site through the encouragement of Congressman Wilbur D. Mills. The flat land already lent itself to airport usage as most trees had been cleared and the ground had been drained for farming. The project was announced in the middle of May 1942, and construction began almost immediately. Thirty-four farm families were displaced from the main site, along with those living …

Old Rondo Cemetery—Confederate Section

Old Rondo Cemetery—Confederate Section, located at 1612 Smith Road in Rondo (Miller County), commemorates Confederate soldiers from Texas who died of disease in Rondo in 1862. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 22, 2004. On June 12, 1862, Brigadier General Henry Eustace McCulloch ordered all Confederate troops located east of Tyler, Texas, to march to Little Rock (Pulaski County), which was threatened by Samuel Curtis’s Union army. These troops included the Nineteenth Texas Infantry Regiment under Colonel Richard Waterhouse. At least seven companies of the Nineteenth were stationed at Rondo, just past the Arkansas-Texas state line, from July through early September. While the men were camped at Rondo, measles struck, killing dozens of Waterhouse’s …

Pea Ridge National Military Park

Located near Rogers (Benton County), the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park was created by an act of Congress in 1956. The park, which preserves the battlefield of the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, was dedicated as a national park during the nation’s Civil War Centennial in 1963. Pea Ridge is one of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in the country. The Pea Ridge National Military Park came into being through the work of several Arkansas congressmen. Representative Clyde T. Ellis of Arkansas’s Third Congressional District began corresponding with the National Park Service in 1939, reviving a proposal to preserve the Pea Ridge battlefield. In 1956, the Arkansas congressional delegation proposed legislation to make Pea Ridge a national military park. …

Piggott National Guard Armory

The Piggott National Guard Armory at 775 East Main Street in Piggott (Clay County) was built in 1956 and reflects the “Type ‘Z-Z’ one unit” design developed by the Wittenberg, Delony & Davidson architectural firm of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Citizen-soldier militias have had a constant presence in the United States since the colonial era, but it was not until Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903—also known as the Dick Act for sponsor Senator Charles W. F. Dick, chairman of the Committee on the Militia—that the National Guard became an official partner in the nation’s armed services, receiving federal support for training, equipment, and wages. Arkansas’s state militia was organized into the Arkansas National Guard as a result of …

Pine Bluff Arsenal

The Pine Bluff Arsenal was established on November 2, 1941, eight miles northeast of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Built on 14,944 acres and named the Chemical Warfare Arsenal (changed to Pine Bluff Arsenal in 1942), the facility produced millions of magnesium and thermite incendiary munitions for World War II and experimented with microbiological pathogens for potential germ warfare. During the war years, the arsenal employed 10,000 civilians and was an operational base to 350 military personnel. It long served as a repository for World War II stockpiles of aging chemical warfare agents and now includes hundreds of operational and production facilities, primarily for white and red phosphorus munitions and smoke munitions. As World War II raged in Europe, and to …

Poison Spring State Park

Location: Ouachita County Size: 85 acres Poison Spring State Park, west of Camden (Ouachita County), commemorates a Civil War engagement that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The Engagement at Poison Spring is remembered as a Confederate ambush of Union troops, which resulted in the massacre of many African Americans from the First Kansas Colored Infantry. The park contains interpretive exhibits, as well as picnic sites and a short trail. The name Poison Spring was known to Camden area residents at the time of the engagement and was used in battle reports, but its origins are uncertain. Later legends suggested that Union soldiers became ill after drinking the cold spring water, but no contemporary accounts confirm …

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park preserves the site of the Civil War Battle of Prairie Grove in northwest Arkansas. Established in 1908 as a park where old veterans held reunions, it became a state park to help visitors understand the battle and its place in Civil War history as well as how the war changed the lives of the civilians in the Arkansas Ozarks. The Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862, was the last time two major armies of almost equal strength faced each other for supremacy in northwest Arkansas. The Confederate army withdrew from Prairie Grove on the night of December 7, leaving Missouri and northwest Arkansas in Federal hands. The battle was actually named after the …

Spirit of the American Doughboy Monuments

The Spirit of the American Doughboy Monuments in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) are memorial sculptures erected following World War I to honor Arkansas servicemen who fought and died in the war. The Arkansas statues were dedicated as part of a nationwide series of Doughboy sculptures designed by artist E. M. “Dick” Viquesney. At least 136 Viquesney Doughboys survive in thirty-five U.S. states, and some experts consider the Doughboy to be one of the most-seen pieces of outdoor statuary in the nation. Viquesney, who lived from 1876 to 1946, devoted two years to perfecting what was to become his trademark. He interviewed scores of World War I veterans, studied hundreds of photographs, and used two soldiers …

Stuttgart Army Air Field

The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) opened the Stuttgart Army Airfield in October 1942. The airfield was located in Prairie County on approximately 2,682 acres about seven miles north of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The facility consisted of four 5,000-foot runways and facilities for 6,000 personnel. The USAAF trained pilots in the use of gliders from October 1942 to May 1943. This was the second, or advanced, phase of their training, and they learned to fly the WACO CG-4A “Hadrian.” This glider had plywood-covered wings that spanned eighty-three feet and a fabric-covered tube-structure fuselage that was forty-eight feet long. It could carry about thirteen men, or six men and a Jeep, or various other combinations, including ammo, supplies, and weapons. …

Tate’s Bluff Fortification

The Tate’s Bluff Fortification near Camden (Ouachita County), constructed circa 1864, is a square earthen fortification measuring 100 feet on each side and located on a hilltop just below the confluence of the Little Missouri and Ouachita rivers. The Tate’s Bluff community was established by Captain Richard (Dick) Tate. Following service at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, Tate traveled by boat up the rivers of the Louisiana Purchase to the point where the Ouachita and Little Missouri rivers ran together. He returned to his home in Tennessee and persuaded eighty-nine people to immigrate to Arkansas with him and settle in the area. John Henderson Tate, who was Dick Tate’s nephew, and his wife, Ann Bryan …

Texarkana Regional Airport

aka: Texarkana Air Force Station
The Texarkana Regional Airport is located three miles northeast of Texarkana (Miller County). The airport is a mixed-used facility with the primary focus being general aviation; it also offers limited commercial aviation. In 2015, the total economic impact to the Texarkana area included 420 jobs and more than $32.5 million to the local economy. In 2015, there were sixty-eight aircraft based at the airport, and the airport conducted just under of 48,500 flight operations. The early history of the airport dates back to 1928 when the City of Texarkana acquired 190 acres of land from two local families, the Lathrop and Wheeler families. The following year, the first runways were constructed. Both were made of sod, with one measuring 3,500 …

Thompson-Robbins Air Field

aka: Helena Aero Tech
In about 1940, the United States was planning a build-up in the Army Air Force (AAF) strength. The number of airplanes produced was to be increased to around 50,000, but the AAF’s flying school in Texas could only graduate 500 pilots a year, and most of the current AAF pilots did not have enough flying hours to be instructors. To produce more pilots, the commanding general of the AAF, Henry Arnold, devised a plan for primary contract flying schools located in local communities.   Three primary contract flying schools were located in Arkansas: the first at Grider Field in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the second at Thompson-Robbins Airfield in West Helena (Phillips County), and the third at Harrell Field in …

Titan II ICBM Launch Complex Sites

Following the Soviet Union’s detonation of its first thermonuclear bomb in 1953, the United States began actively developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Resulting from this was the Titan II Missile program, a Cold War weapons system featuring fifty-four launch complexes in three states. Eighteen were in Arkansas, from which ICBMs carrying nine-megaton nuclear warheads could be launched to strike targets as far as 5,500 miles away. The sites of three Titan II Launch Complexes—373-5 near Center Hill in White County, 374-5 near Springhill in Faulkner County, and 374-7 near Southside in Van Buren County—are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Titan II program was part of the second generation of ICBMs, and missiles could be launched from …

Titan II Missiles

Following the Soviet Union’s detonation of its first thermonuclear bomb in 1953, the United States began actively developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The Titan II Missile program was a Cold War weapons system featuring fifty-four launch complexes in three states. Eighteen were in Arkansas, from which intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nine-megaton nuclear warheads could be launched to strike targets as far as 5,500 miles away. Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) systems were part of a three-pronged nuclear weapon strategy that included manned bombers, land-based ICBMs, and sea-launched ballistic missiles. The ICBMs needed only thirty to thirty-five minutes to reach their targets, making them capable of first strikes on enemy territory. Their powerful warheads were designed to destroy enemy capabilities with …

Underground Hospital

aka: Fifty-fifth General Hospital
The Fifty-fifth General Hospital, “the Underground Hospital,” at Robinson Maneuver Training Center in Pulaski County was activated on May 25, 1943, during the United States’ involvement in World War II. Documents relating to the hospital were declassified on September 27, 1958; these stated that the Underground Hospital was the brainchild of then commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Charles Chute Gill of the United States Army Medical Corps. Prior to other modern medical ventures, such as the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units implemented during the Korean War, the Underground Hospital experiment sought to simulate battle conditions and assess the potential for providing protected medical care at or near the frontlines. Gill, a graduate of the Medical School at the University of …

Walnut Ridge Army Flying School

The Walnut Ridge Army Flying School was one of seven U.S. Army Air Forces pilot training schools established in Arkansas as part of the nationwide expansion of World War II pilot training. Contract primary flying schools were located in Camden (Ouachita County), Helena (Phillips County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Newport (Jackson County) and Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) had basic flying schools, while Blytheville (Mississippi County) and Stuttgart (Arkansas County) had advanced twin-engine flying schools. The Walnut Ridge Army Flying School enrolled during its existence 5,310 students, 4,641 of whom graduated. In early April 1942, a board of three army air forces officers—Lieutenant Colonel Burton Hovey Jr., Lieutenant Colonel John R. Cume Jr., and Captain Blanton Russell—went in search of …

Washington Confederate Monument

The Washington Confederate Monument is a commemorative obelisk financed and erected through the efforts of the citizens of Washington (Hempstead County) to honor the memory of the Confederate soldiers who died there during the Civil War. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1996. Washington, strategically placed on the Southwest Trail, lay in the path of troop movements to and from Texas and, following the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Union troops in September 1863, was the seat of Confederate government in the state as well. At least seventy-four Confederate soldiers are believed to be buried in Washington’s Presbyterian Cemetery (now Washington Cemetery); this number includes soldiers in the Nineteenth Texas Infantry …

Wittsburg Fortification

The Wittsburg Fortification is an earthen redoubt built in July 1863 at the junction of the Wittsburg to Batesville, Mount Vernon, and Madison roads to protect Union cavalrymen as they received supplies on the St. Francis River at Wittsburg (Cross County) during the Little Rock Campaign of 1863. Union horsemen led by Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson crossed the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff on July 19, 1863, to confront a reported Confederate force under Major General Sterling Price that was said to be heading north up Crowley’s Ridge to invade Missouri. Davidson’s column of 6,000 men, failing to find Price’s phantom army, continued down the ridge, reaching Jonesboro (Craighead County) on the evening of July 24. The cavalrymen spread …

World War I Markers and Memorials

Arkansans began memorializing the state’s World War I troops even before the war ended, and many monuments can still be found across the state honoring the Great War’s dead. The first memorial in Arkansas, honoring the first three U.S. servicemen to die in the war, was dedicated on November 3, 1917, in Van Buren (Crawford County), but it was not until after the war that larger-scale efforts to remember Arkansas’s World War I veterans began. Some of the state’s memorials reflected a larger debate among progressives in the United States, who urged construction of “living memorials” as opposed to statuary—a reaction to the ubiquitous statues around the country honoring Civil War soldiers. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), this advice was …

World War II Ordnance Plants

aka: Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP)
aka: Maumelle Ordnance Works (MOW)
aka: Southwestern Proving Ground (SPG)
aka: Ozark Ordnance Works (OOW)
aka: Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD)
During World War II, Arkansas was home to six ordnance plants. The sites were located near Jacksonville (Pulaski County), Marche (Pulaski County), Hope (Hempstead County), El Dorado (Union County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and Camden (Ouachita County). The uses for the locations included the manufacture of detonators, fuses, primers and bombs; proving grounds for testing munitions; rocket loading, testing and storage; and producing chemical agents needed in bombs and explosives. Four of the plants were government owned and contractor operated (GOCO). These plants were over seen by a military staff, but a private corporation had the contract to operate the plants. The Southwestern Proving Ground and the Pine Bluff Arsenal were government owned and operated. All the plants depended heavily …

World War II Prisoner of War Camps

aka: Prisoner of War Camps (World War II)
aka: POW Camps (World War II)
During World War II, the United States established many prisoner of war (POW) camps on its soil for the first time since the Civil War. By 1943, Arkansas had received the first of 23,000 German and Italian prisoners of war, who would live and work at military installations and branch camps throughout the state. The presence of POW camps in the United States was due in part to a British request to alleviate the POW housing problems in Great Britain. Initially, the U.S. government resisted the idea of POW camps on its soil. The huge numbers of German and Italian POWs expected to occupy the camps created many problems for the federal government and the military. The military did not …