Military Science

Entries - Entry Category: Military Science

112th United States Colored Infantry (US)

aka: Fifth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry (African Descent)
The 112th United States Colored Infantry was a United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment formed in Arkansas during the Civil War. Consisting of former slaves, the unit was originally known as the Fifth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry (African Descent). The arrival of Federal troops in the state in 1862 brought hundreds of former slaves into Union lines. After the Army of the Southwest took the Mississippi River port of Helena (Phillips County), thousands of slaves made their way to the city and to the protection of the Union forces. Taking advantage of this source of manpower, Federal authorities began to organize military units of freedmen in 1863. The First Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment (African Descent) was formed in April 1863 in …

113th United States Colored Infantry (US)

aka: Sixth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry (African Descent)
The 113th United States Colored Infantry, part of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), served in Arkansas during the Civil War. Consisting of former slaves, the original unit was known as the Sixth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry (African Descent). The 113th never reached full strength, leading to its consolidation with two other regiments to form a new regiment. When the Union’s Army of the Southwest moved into Helena (Phillips County) in 1862, thousands of former slaves flocked to the city. Recognizing that these freedmen were a potential source of manpower, the Federal government authorized the establishment of African-American units in 1863. A number of units were recruited in Helena, and additional units were recruited in Little Rock (Pulaski County) after that …

Abraham, Lucien

Lucien Abraham was an Arkansas educator and military officer who rose to the rank of adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, serving in that position from 1953 to 1955. Lucien Abraham was born on February 1, 1902, in Arkadelphia (Clark County), the youngest of seven children of longtime Clark County sheriff James Howard Abraham and Lucinda Virginia Golden; he had the distinction of being born in the Clark County Jail. He graduated from Arkadelphia High School and entered what is now Ouachita Baptist University in 1918, where he earned letters playing football, baseball, and track, and served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. He graduated in 1922. The U.S. Army denied him a commission …

Adams, Charles William

Charles William Adams served as a Confederate general in Arkansas. A planter and lawyer from Helena (Phillips County), Adams served at the Battle of Prairie Grove and later as the commander of the Northern Sub-District of the Confederate Department of Arkansas. Adams is sometimes cited as a Confederate general from Arkansas, but he never officially reached that rank. Adams is the maternal grandfather of Helen Keller. Charles Adams was born on August 16, 1817, to Benjamin and Susannah Adams in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to New Albany, Indiana, in 1819. Growing up in that city, Adams worked in a mercantile house before moving to Helena in 1835. He later became a cashier at the Real Estate Bank …

Adjutants General, Arkansas National Guard

The adjutant general is appointed by the governor of Arkansas to a state cabinet-level position as the director of the Arkansas Military Department. As the executive head of the Arkansas Military Department, the adjutant general is responsible for the command, control, and supervision of more than 10,000 soldiers and airmen assigned to the Arkansas Air and Army National Guard. The adjutant general is responsible for all military administration transactions between the United States and the State of Arkansas, including personnel, finance, logistics, and unit readiness. The adjutant general is responsible for training personnel and units to accomplish both the state and federal missions of the National Guard and performs all other duties pertaining to the office as prescribed by law. …

Alexander, John Hanks

John Hanks Alexander was the second African-American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, following Henry O. Flipper. John Alexander was born on January 6, 1864, the son of James Milo Alexander and Fannie Miller Alexander, both of whom were born slaves. Supported and protected by prominent white families in Helena (Phillips County),  Alexander’s father prospered as a barber and dealer in toiletries, acquired property, and purchased his own freedom, as well as that of most of his family. Alexander’s parents were determined that their seven children would be educated. All seven graduated from high school, and three attended Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1879, Alexander graduated from high school in Helena at the head of his …

Andrews, Christopher Columbus

As a Union brigadier general, Christopher Columbus Andrews distinguished himself in numerous military campaigns in Arkansas. After the Civil War, he had a successful career as an author and diplomat. Born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, on October 27, 1829, to Luther Andrews and Nabby Beard Andrews, Christopher Columbus Andrews attended Francestown Academy and studied law both privately and at Harvard University. Andrews passed the Massachusetts bar examination in 1850 and, soon thereafter, migrated to Kansas Territory, where he advocated for Kansas’s admission as a free state. Andrews moved to Minnesota in 1856, where he established a law practice and published a series of letters based on his travels throughout the territory. He discussed the area’s Native American culture and championed …

Antrim, Richard Nott

Richard Nott Antrim was a career U.S. Navy officer who received a Medal of Honor for saving the life of a fellow prisoner of war held by the Japanese during World War II. He moved to Mountain Home (Baxter County) after retiring and lived there the rest of his life. Richard Nott Antrim was born in Peru, Indiana, on December 17, 1907, the eldest of two sons and a daughter of the farming family of Nott W. Antrim and Mary Antrim. Richard Antrim entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1927, graduating on June 4, 1931. He married Jean Packard in Chicago on June 16, 1931, and they had a son and two daughters. Antrim served on U.S. …

Arkadelphia, Skirmish at

After capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in September 1863, Union forces were in control of much of the state. From these two occupied cities, Federal troops could launch an attack into southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and eastern Texas. In March 1864, an attack on northwest Louisiana and eastern Texas was launched from both Arkansas and New Orleans, Louisiana. Leaving Little Rock on March 23, Major General Frederick Steele set out to help the Union column from New Orleans capture Shreveport, Louisiana, which was the headquarters for the Confederate Trans-Mississippi. Arriving in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on March 29, Steele remained for three days waiting for reinforcements from Fort Smith under the command of Brigadier General John …

Arkansas [Nuclear Test]

“Arkansas” was the code name for one of thirty-six nuclear tests conducted by the United States in the Pacific in 1962 as part of a program called Operation Dominic. By 1958, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union (USSR) had established a tacit agreement toward a moratorium on testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. Following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, however, the Soviets announced on August 30, 1961, that they would resume atmospheric testing. U.S. president John F. Kennedy, following the first test by the USSR, announced on October 10, 1961, that the United States would also resume such tests. To conduct the tests, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff established Joint Task Force 8, …

Arkansas Cannon, Seizure of

aka: United States v. Six Boxes of Arms
This court case involved the seizure of a cannon in the North intended for a state in the South on the cusp of secession and, thereby, epitomized the political and military tensions that characterized the final months of sectional breakdown prior to the Civil War. The decision rendered in this case also established an important legal precedent in relation to lawful seizure of property and the retention of legal ownership with war on the horizon. On February 15, 1861, William J. Syms and Samuel R. Syms of the New York City munitions supply firm of W. J. Syms and Brother contracted with the State of Arkansas for an order of munitions to be delivered in two parts in early April. …

Arkansas Confederate Home

The Arkansas Confederate Home was opened late in 1890 in a small remodeled residence on some sixty acres near Sweet Home (Pulaski County) through the efforts of the Ex-Confederate Association of Arkansas. This organization, composed of a group of philanthropic-minded Confederate veterans, founded the home to care for indigent Confederate veterans, along with their widows and orphans, in Arkansas. At its peak, it housed over 200.  On May 21, 1890, the Sweet Home site, consisting of sixty acres and a frame building, was purchased by the association for $3,000. The legislature made its first appropriation of $10,000 for the upkeep of the home in 1891. At that time, the facility included the original frame structure and two buildings referred to as …

Arkansas Council of Defense

The Arkansas Council of Defense was the governor-appointed group tasked with coordinating propaganda and promoting activities in the state to support the war effort during World War I. Congress created the Council of National Defense in August 1916 to advise the president and other national leaders on how to coordinate the United States’ resources during a time of war. When the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, Governor Charles Hillman Brough created the Arkansas Council of Defense and appointed a dozen men to the council; the group would grow to thirty-three, with Ida Frauenthal of Conway (Faulkner County) as the only female member. Adjutant General Lloyd England was elected chairman and director, Major Durand Whipple became …

Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA)

The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) dates back to the post–World War I years and the need to care for Arkansas residents disabled during the war. It underwent transformation broadening its scope during World War II and following the Vietnam War. At present, ADVA operates two homes for disabled veterans, as well as two veterans’ cemeteries, and acts as a liaison for state residents and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The first move by people in the state to care for veterans in a systematized manner was the creation of the Arkansas Confederate Home in 1890, which provided care and services to indigent Confederate veterans and their widows. In 1891, the home secured an appropriation from the Arkansas …

Arkansas Military Institute

The Arkansas Military Institute was one of the earliest schools of its kind in the state. Established in Tulip (Dallas County) during the town’s heyday as the “Athens of Arkansas,” the school instructed male students in the subjects of the day as well as in military history, tactics, and procedures—skills some would eventually employ as Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, an event that would also signal the demise of the institution, as well as the community that supported it. By the mid-1850s, the school had shifted its focus away from military pursuits. In August 1849, George Douglass Alexander established the Alexander Institute in Tulip for the education of both girls and boys. Less than a year later, Alexander persuaded …

Arkansas Mounted Rifles [Civil War]

After Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861, state troops were mustered into the Confederate army in early July. Among them were two regiments, the First and Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles. These two regiments were formed into a brigade of Arkansas units under the command of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch, who oversaw the organization of these two special regiments at a rendezvous point near Bentonville (Benton County). He intended to use the Arkansas Mounted Rifles as a unique battalion that could not only ride with regular cavalry on horseback but also dismount and fight as infantry. McCulloch also felt that the Arkansas Mounted Rifles would make excellent scouts, given their familiarity with the territory. Their duties in the …

Arkansas Mounted Rifles [Mexican War]

The Arkansas Mounted Rifles was a regiment of volunteers from the state who participated in the Mexican War as part of the U.S. Army. Many of its officers and men came from the upper reaches of Arkansas society, and members of the unit would be involved in the state for years to come. With the outbreak of war in the spring of 1846, Arkansas was asked by the federal government to provide two units for service with the U.S. Army. An infantry battalion of Arkansas volunteers would be used to man forts in the Indian Territory and at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), releasing the regular troops from those posts, and a second unit of Arkansans would serve as cavalry in …

Arkansas National Guard

The Arkansas National Guard consists of the Arkansas Army National Guard and the Arkansas Air National Guard. The Arkansas Guard is commanded by the adjutant general, who is appointed by the governor. While some guard members work full time in their military jobs, most have full-time civilian careers. They conduct their military training a minimum of one weekend a month and an additional fifteen days a year. The Arkansas National Guard and its militia predecessor have furnished troops for every war the United States has fought except Vietnam, when the federal government called few National Guard units into active duty. The Arkansas National Guard and the Arkansas Army National Guard headquarters are at Camp Robinson near North Little Rock (Pulaski …

Arkansas National Guard Museum

The Arkansas National Guard Museum’s primary mission is to collect information and artifacts relating to the Arkansas National Guard and its militia predecessor and make that information and those artifacts available to the public and to posterity. In addition, the museum tells the story of Camp Pike/Camp Robinson. It is located in Lloyd England Hall on Camp Robinson in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Lloyd England Hall, originally constructed in 1931, is on the National Register of Historic Places. There has been a museum in Lloyd England Hall since the mid-1970s. The hall was constructed in 1932 as a multi-purpose center with a reading room, writing room, and large area with a stage and a balcony that held a movie …

Arkansas Post, Battle of

aka: Battle of Fort Hindman
aka: Battle of Post of Arkansas
The Battle of Arkansas Post, also known as the Battle of Fort Hindman, was a Civil War battle fought January 9–11, 1863, as Union troops under Major General John A. McClernand sought to stop Confederate harassment of Union shipping on the Arkansas River and possibly to mount an offensive against the Arkansas capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County). In the fall of 1862, Confederate officials ordered construction of fortifications on the Arkansas River. They selected high ground at a horseshoe bend in the river near the territorial-era village of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) and constructed a large, square, heavily armed fortification. It was called Post of Arkansas by Confederates and Fort Hindman by the Union side. Brigadier General Thomas J. …

Arkansas River and Prairie Grove, Skirmishes at

Two related skirmishes that took place in northwestern Arkansas, these events were part of Confederate efforts to disrupt Union occupation activities. While ultimately inconsequential, these actions frustrated Federal commanders and led to more active campaigning in the state in an effort to stop Confederate forces. On the night of April 6, at least 500 Confederates crossed the Arkansas River near Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Colonel William Judson of the Union District of the Frontier claimed that they were Missourians working to disrupt agricultural efforts in the state. Union troops from the Fort Smith area engaged the Confederates that night, with six Federals being killed. On the evening of April 7, 1864, a party of Federal soldiers from the First Arkansas …

Arkansas River, Scout to

aka: Skirmish at Threkeld's Ferry
  While northwestern Arkansas was tentatively under Union control by early 1863, many Confederate partisan units still maintained a noticeable presence in the area. Large-scale campaigning in the region had evolved into regular scouting and reconnaissance missions, which many times developed into brutal small-scale skirmishes. On February 5, 1863, a force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Stuart consisting of 100 troopers from his own Tenth Illinois Cavalry and an additional 125 men from the First Arkansas Cavalry moved out of Fayetteville (Washington County) on a scouting expedition south to the Arkansas River. When the force reached the river (probably on February 7), approximately four miles below the mouth of Frog Bayou, it received intelligence revealing that a small Confederate force was …

Arkansas State Guard

The Arkansas State Guard was a military force that performed homeland defense, disaster relief, and search-and-rescue duties during World War II while the Arkansas National Guard was in federal service. From 1942 to 1946, this volunteer military force helped fight floods along the Arkansas and Ouachita rivers, looked for missing persons, and assisted in recovery efforts following devastating tornadoes around the state. The State Guard was authorized by Act 85 of 1929 of the Arkansas General Assembly, which allowed for its organization whenever at least seventy-five percent of the Arkansas National Guard was called into federal service. The need for this type of unit was proven during World War I when, after the three Arkansas National Guard regiments were federalized, …

Arkansas State Troops (CS)

aka: Army of Arkansas
On May 20, 1861, the Arkansas Secession Convention passed an ordinance creating an Army of Arkansas with a First Division in western Arkansas and a Second Division in the eastern part of the state. These were placed under the command of a major general, with brigadier generals heading the two divisions. The Army of Arkansas was to be controlled by the state Military Board, which the convention had formed five days earlier with the power to call out the militia and use it as needed to defend the state. Despite that, the convention elected James Yell as major general, Nicholas Bartlett Pearce of Benton County as brigadier of the First Division, and Thomas H. Bradley of Crittenden County to lead …

Arkansas State Veterans Cemeteries

Two Arkansas State Veterans Cemeteries have been established in the state to accept the interments of military veterans and selected family members. In 1997, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 235 to authorize the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs to establish and operate a state veterans’ cemetery system. National cemeteries are located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fayetteville (Washington County), and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). In 2001, the Little Rock National Cemetery closed to new interments with the exception of veterans or eligible family members in an existing gravesite. In an effort to offer additional burial locations for veterans and their families, the state veterans’ cemetery system was created. The system uses eligibility guidelines to determine which veterans and family …

Arkansas Wing, Civil Air Patrol

The Arkansas Wing is one of the fifty-two chapters—including all the states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia—that make up the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is the civilian volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. The Civil Air Patrol was formed on December 1, 1941, for the purpose of conducting emergency service operations including search and rescue, homeland security, and disaster relief missions. Today, the CAP continues to perform those duties, as well as educating the public and its members about the value of aerospace and operating a cadet program for youth leadership development. In late 1941, Arkansas pilots foresaw the need to form an aviation unit to take the place of the Arkansas National Guard’s 154th Observation …

Ashley’s Station, Action at

aka: Action at Jones' Station
aka: Action at DeValls Bluff
The Action at Ashley’s Station was Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s attack on Union hay-cutting operations west of DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and the final action of a summer of Confederate raiding against Union targets in northeast Arkansas. In the summer of 1864, DeValls Bluff was a major depot for Federal cavalry stationed along the White River. Union authorities contracted with civilian hay cutters to operate in the Grand Prairie west of the White River stronghold and supply fodder for its thousands of horses and mules. On August 20, 1864, Shelby set out from camps around Searcy (White County) with 2,000 to 2,500 men to strike the railroad from Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County), believing he would …

Augusta Expedition (December 7–8, 1864)

Fearing that several Confederate guerrillas and partisan bands were operating in northeastern Arkansas, Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews dispatched 100 men under Captain Joseph H. Swan to Augusta (Woodruff County) to capture enemy groups believed to be there. The expedition resulted in no combat, but intelligence was gathered regarding the movement of Confederates and the deprived condition of the civilian population. For Union troops stationed in northeastern Arkansas, constant rumors of the movement of guerrilla and partisan units kept Union troops busy. During November and early December 1864, Andrews, commanding the Second Division, Seventh Army Corps at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), had received reports on the movements of small enemy units under the command of Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn and …

Augusta Expedition (January 4–27, 1865)

In an effort to continue to conduct expeditions into northeastern Arkansas to disrupt Confederate and guerrilla activities, Union colonel Washington F. Geiger was dispatched with 1,050 men to occupy Augusta (Woodruff County) on January 4, 1865. Wet and cold conditions made travel difficult. Nonetheless, Geiger occupied the town from January 11 to January 24, 1865. Holding it for thirteen days, Geiger returned to Brownsville (Lonoke County); he had not engaged the enemy, but he captured seven prisoners and gained supplies from the region. The fatiguing task of occupation duty often meant moving troops to demonstrate projection of force capabilities, gathering intelligence, and/or acquiring supplies. Concerned about the movements of small Confederate and guerrilla groups in northeastern Arkansas in late 1864 …

Augusta, Skirmish at

Attempting to locate and destroy Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby somewhere in the Little Red River valley, Union forces under Colonel Washington F. Geiger engaged in a small skirmish in the town of Augusta (Woodruff County) on August 10, 1864. The small Confederate force fled the city. The presence of Brig. Gen. Shelby’s command in northeastern Arkansas plagued Union forces there. After two failed expeditions to destroy Shelby, Union major general Frederick Steele outfitted Brigadier General Joseph R. West in August 1864 with 3,094 men to locate and destroy Shelby, who was believed to be in the Little Red River valley. Brig. Gen. West divided his command into two provisional brigades. The first, commanded by Col. Geiger of the Eighth …

B-17 Flying Fortress Explosion of 1943

On March 12, 1943, the nine-man crew of a B-17F Flying Fortress perished after one of the plane’s engines caught fire and exploded mid-air during a flight from Smoky Hill Air Field in Salina, Kansas, to Morrison Field in West Palm Beach, Florida. The plane crashed in a wooded area five miles northwest of Sheridan (Grant County). In 2015, the crash site became home to a memorial park honoring the nine airmen; it also honors Union and Confederate Civil War soldiers who fought in the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry, along with the soldiers from Grant County who have been killed in action since World War I. The nine-man crew consisted of Second Lieutenant George Davis of Dubuque, Iowa (pilot); Second Lt. Robert …

B-47 Bomber Crash of 1960

On March 31, 1960, aircraft number 52-1414A was set to take off from the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) in Jacksonville (Pulaski County). This B-47E was part of the 384th Bombardment Wing, which was established at the LRAFB on August 1955. The aircraft was destined for Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. The typical B-47 crew consisted of three crew members: pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. However, this flight was carrying four crew members on the morning of March 31: Captain Herbert J. Aldridge (pilot, Air Force Reserve), First Lieutenant Thomas G. Smoak (co-pilot, Air Force Reserve), Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds S. Watson (navigator, Air Force Reserve), and Kenneth E. Brose (civil engineer, Regular Air Force.) With pre-flight checks complete, …

Bacon, Nick Daniel (Nicky)

Nick Daniel Bacon stands as Arkansas’s only Medal of Honor recipient for actions in the Vietnam War. In addition, Bacon served for more than a decade as the director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, championing many programs for Arkansas’s veterans and playing an instrumental part in the erection of a memorial honoring all of Arkansas’s Medal of Honor recipients. Nicky Bacon was born on November 25, 1945, in Caraway (Craighead County), one of eight children. In the early 1950s, his financially struggling family moved to Arizona. Bacon dropped out of high school after the ninth grade to work but was inspired to do something else by his uncle’s tales of World War II. Despite being too young, he joined …

Bailey’s, Affair at

aka: Affair at Crooked Creek
A brief encounter between a Union scouting party and a band of Confederate guerrillas, this skirmish was one of many used by Federal forces to disrupt enemy efforts in northwestern Arkansas during the Civil War. Colonel John E. Phelps of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) received orders from Brigadier General John Sanborn to move from Cassville, Missouri, into Arkansas in an effort to interrupt Confederate efforts to launch a raid into Missouri. On January 17, 1864, Phelps led two companies of his regiment into Arkansas and arrived at Berryville (Carroll County) the next day, joining three more companies already in the town. Due to a large number of sick and absent men, Phelps remained at Berryville until January 20, when …

Batesville Expedition

While escorting a treasury agent to Batesville (Independence County), a detachment of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) commanded by Captain William F. Orr defeated various Confederate units around the area of Independence County in late March and early April 1864. Accomplishing their mission, known as the Batesville Expedition, the unit returned to its base at Rolling Prairie (Boone County) with no reported losses. Surprising Confederate forces in Batesville on Christmas Day 1863, Union colonel Robert R. Livingston occupied the town with no real resistance, reestablishing the Union presence there. An outstanding victory for Livingston, the Federals soon discovered that yet again they lacked the strength to occupy Batesville continually due to supply issues. The necessity to maintain a strong link …

Batesville, Skirmish at (February 4, 1863)

On December 31, 1862, General John S. Marmaduke and 8,000 cavalry launched a raid into Missouri from near Lewisburg (Conway County) in the Arkansas River Valley, only to meet defeat at Hartsville, Missouri. The Confederate retreat back into Arkansas took them to Independence County, retracing the steps of Brigadier General Samuel Curtis’s army eight months earlier. Gen. Marmaduke established his troops at Oil Trough (Independence County), and Colonel Joseph O. Shelby set up camp at the farm of Franklin Desha. Both bivouacs were south of the White River, but Marmaduke’s headquarters were at the Cox house in Batesville (Independence County). Union forces in Missouri gathered at West Plains, Missouri, on January 29, 1863. The next day, Brigadier General John Davidson …

Batesville, Skirmish at (May 3, 1862)

On March 6–8, 1862, one of the most important Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River was fought at Pea Ridge (Benton County) in northwest Arkansas. The Army of the Southwest under Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis defeated the Confederate army of Major General Earl Van Dorn, with the result that Missouri remained in the Union and the path into Arkansas was open to the Union army, hampered only by Confederate units who were trying to block the paths south and east of Pea Ridge. Gen. Curtis was following his orders to take his large army of more than 20,000 and seize Little Rock (Pulaski County), thus securing Arkansas for the Union. His Army of the Southwest contained regiments from …

Batteries A, B, C, and D (Battle of Helena)

Batteries A, B, C, and D are fortifications used by the Federal army during the Civil War to protect the city of Helena (Phillips County) from enemy attack. Along with Fort Curtis, these fortifications formed the core of the Helena defenses, most notably during the July 4, 1863, Battle of Helena. When the Army of the Southwest arrived in Helena after the Battle of Pea Ridge, Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis immediately began to fortify the approaches to the city. As Helena was deep in Confederate territory, the forts were necessary to prevent the destruction of the Union army in the town. The batteries were named A, B, C, and D, with A at the northern edge of the line …

Baucum, George Franklin

George F. Baucum was a Confederate officer and a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman. He served in many major battles of the Civil War’s western theater, including at Murfreesboro in Tennessee and Chickamauga and Atlanta in Georgia. After the war, he became a prominent grocer, cotton broker, and banker who owned plantations in central Arkansas. George Franklin Baucum was born on February 1, 1837, in St. Charles, Missouri. He was the son of Daniel Baucum and Kathryn Baucum, both of whom were natives of Mississippi. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1851. Two years later, the Baucums settled in Searcy (White County). At the outbreak of the Civil War, Baucum was working as a grocer in Searcy. He joined …

Bayou Fourche, Engagement at

aka: Battle of Little Rock
The Engagement at Bayou Fourche, also known as the Battle of Little Rock, was a Civil War battle fought on September 10, 1863, as Confederate troops sought to stop Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army from capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County). Steele had advanced steadily across eastern Arkansas during August with a combined force of infantry from Helena (Phillips County) and cavalry that had come down Crowley’s Ridge from Missouri. With the exception of the short Action at Bayou Meto (or Reed’s Bridge) on August 27, the Union approach to Little Rock had seen relatively light resistance. As the Union army prepared for its final assault on the Arkansas capital, Steele had some 10,477 men present for duty and fifty-seven …

Bayou Meto, Action at

aka: Action at Reed's Bridge
The Action at Bayou Meto, also known as the Action at Reed’s Bridge, was a Civil War battle fought on August 27, 1863, as Confederate troops sought to hinder the advance of Major General Frederick Steele’s Union army toward Little Rock (Pulaski County). Steele had advanced steadily across eastern Arkansas during August with a combined force of infantry from Helena (Phillips County) and cavalry that had come down Crowley’s Ridge from Missouri. Though they were harassed by Confederate cavalry and partisans, the Union troops had encountered little opposition, with the exception of a sharp clash around Brownsville (north of present-day Lonoke) on August 25. A Union probe toward the Confederate works on Bayou Meto (at present-day Jacksonville) was turned back …

Bayou Meto, Skirmish at (February 24, 1865)

By 1863, guerrilla activity had become so prevalent in the territory surrounding Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) that local citizens requested that Federal forces move into the area to reduce the threat of violence. Later that year, forces under the command of Colonel Powell Clayton were ordered to Jefferson County. The city remained occupied for the remainder of the war. To secure the area, scouting patrols were regularly sent out to assess enemy activity. On February 22, 1865, Captain George W. Suesberry took a detachment of eighty troopers of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Volunteers to the north side of the Arkansas River to monitor enemy movements. Only sixty-five troopers crossed the river but were shortly joined by twenty-five additional men. As …

Bayou Meto, Skirmish near (February 17, 1865)

  On February 16, 1865, a seventy-five-man scout detachment of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry (US) was sent out from its headquarters at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The scout detachment, commanded by Captain John H. Norris (US), was sent to search for Confederate troops along Bayou Meto. Early in the morning of February 17, the scout detachment, fifty miles downriver from Pine Bluff, began crossing Bayou Meto. After one platoon had successfully crossed the bayou, Capt. Norris ordered Lieutenant Z. P. Curlee to take the platoon and search an area two miles surrounding the bayou. Lt. Curlee was instructed to engage any Confederate force he encountered and report to Norris no later than noon. During the scout detachment’s search of the …

Beall, William Nelson Rector

William Nelson Rector Beall served as a Confederate brigadier general from Arkansas during the Civil War. He most notably served as an agent for the Confederate government to raise funds to purchase supplies for Confederate troops held in Federal prisons. William Beall was born on March 20, 1825, in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Samuel Beall and Sally Rector Beall. Sally Beall was a member of the Rector family, which was prominent in Arkansas politics. The Bealls moved to Arkansas in 1840, settling in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Both of Beall’s parents died soon thereafter, orphaning him and his four siblings. Beall graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1848, ranking thirtieth in a class of …

Bean’s Rangers

Captain Jesse Bean’s Ranger Company was one of six companies of mounted militia authorized by Congress in 1832. Led by a member of a prominent Arkansas family, the company formed a part of the first mounted battalion in the U.S. Army for seventeen years. Its actions are representative of the militarization of Arkansas’s western border and the area beyond during the territorial period. Influenced in 1815 by a need for economy and a deep-rooted fear of standing armies, Congress had eliminated cavalry, considered by some to be a uniformed elite, from the army. However, the Black Hawk War in Illinois and Wisconsin reminded legislators of the utility of cavalry, and, on June 15, 1832, Congress authorized President Andrew Jackson to raise …

Beatty’s Mill, Skirmish at

  By 1864, much of Conway County and the surrounding area was routinely overrun by marauding bands of Confederate guerrillas. In April 1864, Colonel Abraham Ryan and the recently formed Third Arkansas Cavalry were dispatched to Conway County to help secure the area. Col. Ryan established his base of operations at Lewisburg (Conway County). The regiment remained on almost constant watch, as it had been engaged in several skirmishes during scouting missions. On September 1, 1864, Colonel David Hamilton and a force of sixty-five troopers were dispatched upon a short scout into Yell County. On that same day, Col. Hamilton engaged an estimated force of 160 Confederates led by John A. Conly. Upon seeing the approaching enemy, Hamilton immediately ordered …

Bennett, Harold George

Perry County native Harold George Bennett was a Green Beret serving in Vietnam in 1964 when he was captured in South Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war. He was executed on June 25, 1965—the first American prisoner of war to be executed during the Vietnam War. He was honored with a posthumous Silver Star in 2010. Harold George Bennett was born on October 16, 1940, in Thornburg (Perry County), one of nine children of Pauline Bennett and World War I veteran Garland Bennett. He was set on a military career from a young age, and on his seventeenth birthday in 1957 he quit school and went to Little Rock (Pulaski County) to enlist in the U.S. Army. Bennett …

Benton Road, Skirmish at (July 19, 1864)

aka: Skirmish at Little Rock (July 19, 1864)
  After the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry, Federal forces under the command of Major General Frederick Steele retreated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and rejoined the defenses of that city. Confederate forces, flush with their success in the Camden Expedition, began to probe the Union positions in a prelude to a large-scale offensive. This skirmish was one such action. After returning to Little Rock from the Camden Expedition on May 7, 1864, the Third Missouri Cavalry was stationed about four miles southwest of the city on the road to Benton (Saline County). The unit was tasked with outpost duty, and half of the regiment was on duty every day. This routine continued until July 13, when an eight-man patrol of …

Benton Road, Skirmish at (March 23–24, 1864)

  In the spring of 1864, Major General Frederick Steele, commander of Federal forces occupying Little Rock (Pulaski County), was ordered to work in conjunction with Major General Nathaniel Banks in Louisiana to capture Shreveport and move into Texas. Steele was reluctant to participate in the scheme and departed Little Rock only after receiving direct orders to support Banks. This action was the first contact between Steele’s forces and the enemy after the march from Little Rock began. The Federal army departed Little Rock on March 23 and marched to the southwest. Cavalry units were placed at the front of the army to warn the following units if the enemy approached. The Third Arkansas Cavalry and the Second Missouri Cavalry …

Benton, Affair at

In this extremely brief exchange, a brigadier general in the Arkansas State Militia was killed, with the Union soldier who killed him earning the Medal of Honor for it. With the failure of the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Union forces retreated to Little Rock (Pulaski County) while Confederate units in southwestern Arkansas began to push northward. Major General Frederick Steele, the Federal commander of Little Rock, watched these movements with trepidation and pushed his troops to patrol the approaches to the city on a regular basis. Located southwest of Little Rock, Benton (Saline County) was the scene of numerous engagements during the war and—with its location along the Saline River—served as a dividing line between the opposing …