Entry Category: Military Science - Starting with R

Rayburn, Howell A. “Doc”

Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn was a Civil War guerrilla chieftain who operated in the area between West Point (White County) and Des Arc (Prairie County). His legacy is a mix of fact and legend. His attacks and those of other guerrillas on Union outposts and expeditions tied up countless Union military assets that otherwise could have been used elsewhere. Doc Rayburn was born about 1841 in Roane County, Tennessee, one of six children born to farmer Hodge Rayburn and Susan Rayburn. A few years later, the family relocated to Texas. Rayburn joined the Confederate army on October 21, 1861, when he enlisted in Company C, Twelfth Texas Cavalry. The regiment moved to Des Arc in March 1862 and prepared to …

Red River Campaign

The Red River Campaign involved a multipronged Union attack in southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana. The objectives—the capture of Texas to prevent Mexican Emperor Maximilian from threatening the region, the crippling of Confederate resistance west of the Mississippi, and the seizure of cotton land—failed as outnumbered Confederates maximized positions to repel the invasion. Afterwards, Confederate morale improved, bolstering further resistance in the Trans-Mississippi and prolonging the war. Under Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck’s plan, Major General Nathaniel P. Banks would march from west of New Orleans, link with Rear Admiral David Porter’s Mississippi Squadron on the Red River and infantry troops from east of the Mississippi River, and coordinate their movement into northwest Louisiana while Brigadier General Frederick Steele pushed south …

Reed’s Mountain, Skirmish at

The series of maneuvers and skirmishes that took place on Reed’s Mountain on December 4–7, 1862, with the primary skirmish on December 6, relate directly to the aftermath of the Engagement at Cane Hill and serve as a prelude to the Battle of Prairie Grove. After his tactical victory at Cane Hill (Washington County) on November 28, Major General Thomas C. Hindman hoped to rely on Reed’s Mountain to slow a persistent Federal pursuit and conceal his planned attack against the separated portions of the Army of the Frontier. Therefore, on December 3, Hindman ordered Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke to prepare a defensive stand, anchored at the approaches to the Cove Creek and Wire roads. Information gathered through reconnaissance …

Reid, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Reid was a physician and a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Reid not only fought during the war—and at one point escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp—he also served at times in a medical role. After the war, he practiced medicine in Arkansas. He moved to Illinois around 1880, where he lived the rest of his life. Thomas Jefferson Reid was born on January 6, 1838, in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was one of twelve children born to Thomas Jefferson Reid and Frances Lightfoot Edwards “Fannie” Reid. Thomas Sr. was a descendant of Major John Reid of Virginia, who had served in the American Revolution. Reid’s mother was well educated and from a slaveholding …

Remount Camp, Skirmish at

Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby assumed command of all Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River beginning in late May 1864. Union control of the Arkansas River and the capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County) effectively isolated Shelby from the secessionist state government and most Confederate fighting forces in the southwest corner of the state. Three years of warfare had taken its toll; poverty and devastation were rampant in Arkansas’s northern counties, and the area was full of deserters from both armies. Civilians who did not or could not flee their homes teetered on the verge of starvation, as passing Union and Confederate forces pressed the common citizens for supply and forage, while roving guerrilla bands freely plundered whatever was …

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a university-based training program designed to train students to serve as officers in the U.S. military upon graduation. The U.S. Army operates four ROTC battalions in Arkansas, while the U.S. Air Force operates one unit. The U.S. Navy supports ROTC programs, but no such programs operate in the state. Many high schools in the state have Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs. The nation’s federal service academies are tasked with providing trained officers for the military, but these institutions cannot train enough graduates to lead units during times of conflict. The first military unit at an institution of higher education in the United States was created at Norwich University in Vermont in …

Resolute

The steam tug Resolute joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron, serving during the Civil War under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including expeditions on the White and Red rivers during the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Acquired on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Quartermaster for use as a chartered auxiliary vessel on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons and served with two barges. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), an indeterminate number of unidentified Confederate partisans fired at the Resolute at 8:00 p.m. on …

Reynolds, Daniel Harris

Daniel Harris Reynolds was a lawyer, Confederate general, and state senator who ranks as one of Arkansas’s most talented and dedicated citizen-soldiers during the Civil War. Daniel Reynolds was born on December 14, 1832, in Centerburg, Ohio, to Amos and Sophia (Houck) Reynolds. He studied at Ohio Wesleyan University in the town of Delaware, where he joined the Masonic order in 1853. He studied law privately in Louisa County, Iowa, and Somerville, Tennessee, where he befriended fellow future Confederate general Otho French Strahl. Admitted to the bar in 1858, he established a legal practice in Lake Village (Chicot County) At the outset of the Civil War, Reynolds raised a cavalry company, the “Chicot Rangers,” and entered Confederate service as a …

Richland Creek, Skirmish at (August 16, 1864)

A running battle in northwestern Arkansas, this skirmish was typical of Federal efforts to keep guerrillas from establishing a foothold in the area. On August 15, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) ordered Lieutenant Colonel Albert Bishop to lead an expedition against a band of bushwhackers operating near Fayetteville (Washington County) under the command of Tuck Smith. Departing at 1:00 a.m. the next morning, the Federals moved eastward and found signs of enemy activity about thirteen miles outside Fayetteville. Around 7:00 a.m., the unit approached a home on Richland Creek. Between ten and fifteen horses were tied up there. The guerrilla riders were inside eating breakfast, and the Union troops surprised the entire group, causing …

Richland Creek, Skirmishes at (April 13–14, 1864)

These separate Civil War skirmishes over two days in northern Arkansas were part of a Federal effort to keep Confederate forces from organizing in the area. By attacking guerrilla bands, Union troops were able to disrupt enemy efforts severely. Captain Samuel Turner of the Sixth Missouri State Militia (US) led a patrol along Richland Creek in April 1864. Finding evidence of enemy activity in the area, he located a guerrilla camp under the command of a Captain Watkins. Attacking the camp, which numbered about sixty-three people, the Federals completely surprised the enemy, killing five, including Watkins. Several others were wounded, and one Confederate was captured. The next day, several guerrilla bands numbering more than 100 joined forces. These groups were …

Richland Creek, Skirmishes at (May 3 and 5, 1864)

In March 1864, six companies and the headquarters of the Federal Second Arkansas Cavalry commanded by Colonel John E. Phelps were transferred from Cassville, Missouri, to Yellville (Marion County) to suppress Confederate guerrillas who were raiding southern Missouri. Other companies of the regiment were left at Berryville (Carroll County) in Arkansas, and Cassville and Springfield in Missouri. In addition to protecting Missouri, the Federals hoped that troops stationed in the northern tier of Arkansas counties would encourage Arkansas Unionists in the area to organize home-guard companies for protection. Immediately after being assigned to Yellville, however, headquarters were moved to Rolling Prairie (Boone County) in order to provide better forage for the horses. The camp was moved from time to time to …

Richland, Skirmish at

Providing enough food to the men assigned to them was difficult for the numerous Federal outposts spread across the Arkansas countryside late in the war. Gathering supplies could be dangerous work, as Union troops were vulnerable to enemy action while outside their heavily fortified outposts. This skirmish took place when Federal troops moved from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) as an escort to a beef contractor. On December 24, 1864, Lieutenant Thomas Stevenson received orders to escort a beef contractor to the post commissary. Departing at 5:00 a.m., the escort consisted of nineteen men of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry and twenty men from the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. Leaving Pine Bluff, the Union troops moved toward Richland. Finding a bayou too deep …

Ricks, Earl Thornton

Major General Earl Thornton Ricks served as chief of the Air Force Division, National Guard Bureau, in Washington DC and as mayor of Hot Springs (Garland County), helping end Leo McLaughlin’s political domination there. The Ricks National Guard Armory in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was named for him to commemorate his career, which spanned the most significant years of early aviation history. Earl Ricks was born on July 9, 1908, in West Point, Mississippi, the only child of Nancy Jordan and Earl Paul Ricks, an ice plant owner/manager. The family moved to Stamps (Lafayette County) in about 1916. After high school graduation at Stamps, Ricks followed his lifelong interest in flying at Parks Air College in St. Louis, Missouri. After …

Risner, James Robinson

James Robinson (Robbie) Risner, a native of Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), was a much-decorated fighter pilot famed for his resistance to his North Vietnamese captors as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Robbie Risner was born on January 16, 1925, in Mammoth Spring, the son of sharecroppers Grover W. Risner and Lora Grace Robinson Risner. He was the fifth of seven children. Risner apparently did not live in Arkansas for long, with census records showing the family living in Oak Grove, Missouri, in 1930, and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by 1940. Risner joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 at age eighteen and served in Panama during World War II, seeing no action, although he trained as a …

Robertson, Wendel Archibald

Wendel Archibald Robertson was a World War I fighter pilot who was one of two World War I flying aces from Arkansas. Wendel Archibald Robinson was born on May 7, 1894, in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the eldest of three children of R. Scott Robertson and Elizabeth Robertson. He grew up in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), where his father worked in a wholesale grocery business, the Reynolds-Davis Grocery Company. He attended schools in Fort Smith prior to going to the Holbrook Preparatory School in Briarcliff, New York, and graduating from Yale University in 1915. He returned to Arkansas, working in his father’s business and with the Clear Creek Oil and Gas Company. Robertson enlisted in the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School at …

Robinson, James H.

James H. Robinson was a soldier in the Third Michigan Cavalry who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions in Arkansas during the Civil War. However, his record of service proves a mystery, and it appears likely that he was awarded the Medal of Honor in a case of mistaken identity. Little is known about the early life of James H. Robinson. The son of Cyrus Robinson, who was a farmer, and Deborah Robinson, he was eighteen years old when he enlisted in the Third Michigan Cavalry Regiment at Corunna, Michigan, on February 22, 1864, for a three-year term. The Third Michigan had completed its initial three-year term of service and reorganized as a veteran regiment on January …

Rodger’s Crossing, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at White River (September 14, 1864)
aka: Skirmish at Huntsville
On September 12, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US), stationed in Fayetteville (Washington County), heard rumors that a Confederate group under Captain James Cooper intended to attack Union general John B. Sanborn’s train. Harrison ordered that Captain John I. Worthington escort the train to Little Sugar Creek and then move up the White River in the direction of Richland Creek and Huntsville (Madison County). Capt. Worthington attacked Capt. Cooper’s approximately eighty Confederate troops close to Jennings’ Ferry on the White River. The skirmishes that ensued toward Richland Creek and Huntsville saw nine Confederate deaths, with five suffered at the Skirmish at Rodger’s Crossing. On the same day as Worthington’s attack, a Confederate lieutenant called Rogers …

Rolling Prairie, Skirmish at

In early 1864, the northern tier of Arkansas counties of Carroll, Searcy, Newton, and Izard had been decimated by the war. This area had become a haven for jayhawkers and bushwhackers from both armies. Union general John B. Sanborn wrote to General W. S. Rosecrans in early February 1864 that 1,200 to 2,000 Confederate soldiers and bushwhackers had gathered in the aforementioned counties and were contemplating a raid into Missouri, with a view of capturing Federal trains and supplies. Sanborn then ordered 200 men of the First Arkansas Cavalry, 200 men of the Second Arkansas Cavalry, and 200 men of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry into Newton County, then to march so that they would arrive at Rolling Prairie …

Roseville, Skirmishes at

In late March 1864, Companies D and E of the Second Kansas Cavalry, led by Captain John Gardner of Company E, were dispatched from their post at Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) to protect Union supplies and a cache of cotton at Roseville (Logan County). Roseville, which was at that time in Franklin County, was an important port on the Arkansas River, forty-five miles southeast of Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The companies either joined or were joined by Company D of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, making a force of about 200 men. At about the same time, Confederate brigadier general Samuel Bell Maxey ordered Colonel Nicholas Battle to take a detachment of 400 to 500 men of his Thirtieth Texas Cavalry …

Ross, Jimmy Douglas

Jimmy Ross was an officer in the U.S. Army who rose to the rank of general. Ross was named as a Distinguished Alumnus of Henderson State University in 1986 and to the university’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. Jimmy Douglas Ross was born in Hosston, Louisiana, on May 23, 1936, to Horace and Lucile Ross. The Ross family was originally from Arkadelphia (Clark County), and Horace was a worker in the oil industry. The family had an older son, Bob. The Ross family moved to Curtis (Clark County) in 1942 before living in Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and California. Returning to Curtis in 1945, Jimmy Ross attended school in Arkadelphia. Playing football, basketball, and baseball, as well as running track, …

Ross’ Landing, Skirmish at

  Early in 1864, Chicot County witnessed an event that characterized the increasingly brutal nature of warfare in the Trans-Mississippi Department during the last full year of the Civil War. On February 14, 1864, twenty-two self-described “half bushwhackers” from Captain W. N. “Tuck” Thorp’s Company E of the Ninth Missouri Cavalry (Elliott’s Scouts, serving as the advance of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s brigade and sometimes called the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion) surprised and attacked a detachment of the First Mississippi Infantry (African Descent) under First Lieutenant Thaddeus K. Cock on the Johnson family’s Tecumseh plantation near Grand Lake. While patrolling near Lake Village (Chicot County), Capt. Thorp’s men learned from an unidentified citizen that a detachment of black Union soldiers from …

Russell, William Leon

William Leon Russell, who served in World War II and the Korean War, ranks as the Arkansas National Guard soldier who has received the most Purple Hearts. William Leon Russell was born on July 26, 1914, near Cecil (Franklin County) to the farming family of James W. Russell and Belah Eubanks Russell; he had five siblings. He was recruited by Coach “Peanut” Ralston to play high school football at Charleston (Franklin County), where he excelled as a lineman. Following graduation from Charleston High School, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College—now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA)—in Conway (Faulkner County) with a football scholarship. He became captain of the team for the 1940 season and was named to the 1940 All-State …

Rust, Albert

Albert Rust—Confederate general, congressman, legislator, and lawyer—helped shape the course of Arkansas in the early years of its statehood. Rust served as an important figure in helping to build the communities of Union County. Rust was born in 1818 in Fauquier County, Virginia, near the Maryland border. His exact birth date is uncertain. In 1837, he made the trek from Virginia to Arkansas, settling on the banks of the Ouachita River in Union County. Soon after his arrival, he bought a few acres of land and a store house near the river. In 1838, he became a county surveyor, helping organize the untamed land into defined sections for sale. In 1839, the county seat was moved to Scarborough’s Landing (called …

Ryan, Abraham Hall

Abraham Hall Ryan was a Union army officer serving on the staff of Major General Frederick Steele when he was authorized to raise the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) in 1864, leading the regiment for the rest of the Civil War. Abraham Ryan was born in New York City to Charles Ryan and Amy Bosworth Ryan, on February 16, 1837, and moved to Illinois as a child. When the Civil War began in 1861, he helped organize Company A of the Seventeenth Illinois Infantry Regiment, mustering in as first lieutenant in May; he was soon made the regiment’s adjutant. In the chaotic fighting at Shiloh in April 1862, Ryan commanded a brigade for several hours after its colonel was killed in …