Pre-Civil War

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Entries - Entry Category: Pre-Civil War

Colbert Raid

On April 17, 1783, British-sympathizing Native Americans and British nationals carried out an attack upon the Spanish garrison based at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River. This attack was considered the only battle of the American Revolution to be fought in what is now Arkansas. In 1762, Spain took control of French Louisiana west of the Mississippi after King Louis XV ceded the area in anticipation of losing the ongoing French and Indian War. It was 1766 before Spanish troops arrived to take over Arkansas Post from the French garrison. The Spanish struggled to maintain order at the post, which was still mainly populated by French trappers, and to protect it from the English who were just across the Mississippi …

Mexican War

aka: U.S.-Mexican War
aka: Mexican-American War
The Mexican War was triggered by American expansionism and President James K. Polk’s desire to annex the Republic of Texas as a state. As a frontier state, Arkansas was called upon early to supply troops after war against Mexico had been declared on May 13, 1846. By war’s end, about 1,500 Arkansans had served, and Senator Ambrose Sevier of Arkansas had helped settle the peace. With Texas’s victory over Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s troops in 1836, the former Mexican territory became an independent republic. For a decade, U.S. leaders had seen Texas’s independence as a first step to it joining the United States, part of a broader American view of “Manifest Destiny.” Mexico, however, never recognized Texas’s …

Second Seminole War

In 1835, the United States was engaged in the second of a series of three wars known as the Seminole Wars, fought against a group of Native Americans and blacks in Florida. While these military operations were conducted far from the borders of Arkansas Territory, they did have an effect upon the territory. When the federal government requested that the territorial governor of Arkansas provide troops, Arkansas citizens became engaged, for the first time, in organized military actions to defend the United States. By late 1835, it appeared that the first war with the Seminole of Florida was about to be concluded by treaty. When the well-known leader Osceola and other Seminole leaders repudiated this treaty, war broke out anew. …

Taylor, Zachary (Leadership of Fort Smith)

Prior to becoming the twelfth president of the United States, Colonel Zachary Taylor commanded the military at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) from 1841 until 1844. Taylor frequently clashed with local Arkansans who sought to preserve their access to the soldiers stationed at the fort who bought their whiskey and other goods. Most notably, locals resisted Taylor’s desires to cease the construction of the fort at Fort Smith as well as abandon nearby Fort Wayne in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). On May 1, 1841, Taylor was promoted from his military position in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to lead the Second Military Department at Fort Gibson (in present-day Oklahoma near the Arkansas border) and Fort Smith. Taylor’s promotion was opposed by locals who were …

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was the first conflict that the involved the United States after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. While it did not have a direct impact within the state’s current borders, the war did influence events that would continue to shape Arkansas for decades. Modern-day Arkansas was at that time part of the Missouri Territory, which was renamed from the Louisiana Territory on June 4, 1812, when the new state of Louisiana joined the Union. The population in Arkansas was recorded at just over 1,000 in 1810, and the area did not have any major towns or cities. The territorial government in Missouri created the first county in the future state in 1813 with the establishment of Arkansas …