Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with M

Madison, Skirmish at

By 1865, large-scale organized Confederate resistance had collapsed in much of the state. Federal patrols from Helena (Phillips County) and other occupied cities continued to find and destroy bands of the enemy when possible. This skirmish was part of such a patrol. On February 8, 1865, Brigadier General Napoleon Buford dispatched a scouting party of men under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Crebs. Numbering 175, the party departed Helena and moved to the northwest in an effort to find and engage any enemy forces in the area. During the course of the expedition, the Union troops encountered Confederate resistance on a regular basis. Crebs estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 enemy soldiers operated in eastern Arkansas at the time, …

Magee, Leach (Lynching of)

On June 4, 1887, an African-American man named Leach Magee (sometimes referred to as Zach Magee) was hanged in Clarendon (Monroe County) for allegedly assaulting a woman named Mrs. J. M. Park, a relative of Sheriff J. W. B. Robinson. Neither Mrs. Park nor Leach Magee appear in any public records for Monroe County. In 1880, a single man named James W. B. Robinson, age twenty-four, was farming in Pine Ridge Township. County records indicate that he was sheriff in Monroe County from 1886 until 1890. He apparently later moved to El Paso, Texas, where he died in 1928. The first account of the alleged assault appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on June 3. It said that, on June 2, …

Major League Spring Training in Hot Springs

In the early days of baseball, major league baseball teams conducted spring training, but it was limited. Since all of the teams were located in the north and northeastern part of the country, it was difficult for them to train outside during February and March. Due to the cold weather, many teams used gymnasiums or other inside areas for training. In 1886, Albert Goodwill (A. G.) Spalding, president of the Chicago White Stockings of the National League, decided to train in a warmer climate. Thus, Hot Springs (Garland County) became one of the first spring training locations south of the Mason-Dixon Line for major league teams. On the front page of the maiden issue of the Sporting News, March 17, …

Malaria Control Projects in Southeast Arkansas

Two malaria control demonstration projects in southeast Arkansas during the Progressive Era showed not only that the disease could be controlled, but also that control was economically feasible. The project in Crossett (Ashley County) targeted mosquito breeding sites, while the one in the Lake Village (Chicot County) area studied protection by mechanical means. Both were noteworthy successes, though local governments often failed to follow up on those successes. Malaria control was a logical extension of hookworm eradication projects sponsored by the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. In 1915, Dr. Wickliffe Rose, who headed the commission, said that “malaria was responsible for more sickness and death than all other diseases combined.” The disease sapped the vitality of …

Malpass, Charles (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1911, a white man named Charles Malpass Sr. was lynched in Desha County following a shootout in which his sons murdered two police officers. According to newspaper accounts, Charles Malpass was a descendent of early French settlers at Arkansas Post. In 1850, the Malpass family was living in nearby Red Fork Township. Farmer Rubin Malpass was living with his wife, Rebecca, and five children, including four-year-old Charles. The family was still in the area in 1860, but by this time there were eight children, among them sixteen-year-old Charles. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Charles began living with a mulatto woman named Bettie West in 1868. West had resources of her own, having inherited several thousand dollars when …

Malvern Brickfest

The Malvern Brickfest commemorates the importance of bricks to the history of the city of Malvern (Hot Spring County). Abundant clay in the vicinity makes it a prime location for brick production, and, since 1887, the industry has played a leading role in the area’s economic development. Beginning in 1981, Malvern has recognized and celebrated that fact with a community festival each summer. In 1980, three brick companies were manufacturing in the city and nearby Perla (Hot Spring County), with Acme Brick Company having just upgraded its operation by opening a new plant in Malvern. At that time, the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce declared the city to be the “Brick Capital of the World,” and, the following year, …

March Against Fear (1969)

aka: Walk Against Fear (1969)
For four days between August 20 and 24, 1969, Lance Watson (alias Sweet Willie Wine), leader of Memphis, Tennessee, black power group the Invaders, led what he called a walk against fear across eastern Arkansas. The walk became an iconic episode in the state’s civil rights history and the stuff of local folklore. The protest inspired an award-winning long-form poem by Arkansas native C. D. Wright, One with Others [a little book of her days], in 2010, a testimony to how long the episode has lingered in the collective memory. Born and raised in Memphis, Watson joined the U.S. Army at seventeen. After receiving a discharge, he fell into a life of crime, which led to two stretches in jail. …

Marianna and LaGrange, Skirmishes at

  Part of a three-day expedition from Helena (Phillips County) to Moro (Lee County), the skirmishes at Marianna (Lee County) and LaGrange (Lee County) primarily consisted of several guerrilla-style attacks from Confederate forces on a Union detachment moving southeast from Moro toward Marianna. The two opposing forces eventually clashed in a more conventional engagement at La Grange south of Marianna later in the day. On the morning of November 8, 1862, a detachment of Second Brigade, Second Division, Army of the Southwest—consisting of detachments from the Third and Fourth Iowa Cavalry and Ninth Illinois Cavalry—began a march southeast from Moro toward Marianna, on orders from Union brigade commander Colonel William Vandever. Shortly after its departure, the detachment came under attack from a …

Marion Lynching of 1910

On March 18, 1910, two African-American men, Robert (Bob) Austin and Charles Richardson, were lynched in Marion (Crittenden County) for allegedly assisting in a jailbreak. The victims were taken from jail by a mob and hanged in front of the Crittenden County Courthouse. There is very little known about the two victims. At the time of the 1900 census, Bob Austin was living in Jasper Township with his stepfather, Bennie Ross, and his mother, Henriette. Bennie was a farmer who was renting his farm, and nineteen-year-old Bob was a farm laborer. The men could neither read nor write, although Henriette could do both. Census records provide no information about Charles Richardson. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a jailbreak occurred on …

Marisa N. Pavan, et al. v. Nathaniel Smith

aka: Pavan v. Smith
Pavan v. Smith (2017) was a U.S. Supreme Court decision that clarified the legal parenting rights for the non-biological partner in a same-sex marriage. Rather than hearing oral arguments on the matter, the Court summarily rejected the decision of the Arkansas State Supreme Court denying a wife of a mother the opportunity to be listed as a parent on the couple’s child’s birth certificate, a privilege that was presumptively granted to husbands under Arkansas law. In 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state laws that barred same-sex marriage violated the Due Process and Equal Protections Clauses of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Following that victory for marriage equality advocates, the Arkansas State Supreme Court acted …

Marks’ Mills, Action at

The Action at Marks’ Mills took place on April 25, 1864, when Confederate troops ambushed a Union supply train, capturing all the wagons and artillery and most of the troops. Confederate soldiers were accused of massacring African Americans at this battle. After the April 18 defeat at the Engagement at Poison Spring, Union forces under the command of Major General Frederick Steele continued to hold Camden (Ouachita County) while Confederate Major General Sterling Price maintained pressure on Steele from the countryside. With supplies dwindling, the acquisition of rations became important to the Union troops. The arrival of provisions from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on April 20 convinced Steele that more materials could be obtained there. Three days later, he dispatched …

Marmaduke-Walker Duel

aka: Walker-Marmaduke Duel
The Marmaduke-Walker Duel was fought during the Civil War between Confederate brigadier generals John Sappington Marmaduke and Lucius Marshall (Marsh) Walker. Marmaduke was originally from Missouri and was the son of a former governor. Walker was originally from Kentucky and nephew of President James K. Polk. Both graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. They made their way to Arkansas during the war; Marmaduke was stationed there, while Walker was granted a transfer to Arkansas due to trouble with superiors. Disagreement arose between the two in the summer of 1863 over military actions at Helena (Phillips County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County), where Walker failed to carry out operations as planned and exposed Marmaduke and his men to enemy troops. …

Marquette-Joliet Expedition

In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary, and Louis Joliet, a fur trader, undertook an expedition to explore the unsettled territory in North America from the Great Lakes region to the Gulf of Mexico for the colonial power of France. Leaving with several men in two bark canoes, Marquette and Joliet entered the Mississippi River and arrived in present-day Arkansas in June 1673. They were considered the first Europeans to come into contact with the Indians of east Arkansas since Hernando de Soto’s expedition in the 1540s. The goal given Marquette, Joliet, and their men was to document, for French and Canadian officials, an area that had been largely unknown until the late seventeenth century. Both explorers were from …

Massard Prairie, Action at

The Action at Massard Prairie on July 27, 1864, exemplified the hit-and-run nature of the Civil War in Arkansas on the western border: this was a war of raids and ambushes involving small forces, not drawn-out, large-scale battles. As a Confederate victory, it also demonstrated the difficulty faced by Union units attempting to exert control over the state during the war’s later stages. Following the failure of Union General Frederick Steele’s Camden Expedition in April 1864, Confederate and Union roles on the frontier reversed. Union forces now attempted to hold the line of the Arkansas River against Confederate raids, while emboldened Confederates became more aggressive in their operations. An opportunity presented itself to the Confederates in late July 1864. In …

Maysville, Skirmish at (January 1863)

A small engagement between a Union force of Native Americans and Confederate guerrillas, this action took place in far northwestern Arkansas. Following the Battle of Prairie Grove, the skirmish was an effort by Federal troops to maintain control of the area in the face of increasing guerrilla activity and protect nearby Indians loyal to the Union government. The exact date of the engagement is not recorded in official records. After the Battle of Prairie Grove, Major General John Schofield took command of the Army of the Frontier and ordered Colonel William Phillips to take his Indian brigade to Maysville (Benton County). Phillips’s brigade consisted of the First, Second, and Third Indian Home Guard, a battalion of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, …

Maysville, Skirmish at (July 20, 1864)

While most Confederate forces in Arkansas were concentrated south of the Arkansas River by the summer of 1864, some guerrilla units continued to operate behind Union lines. A small engagement near the border with the Indian Territory, this skirmish was typical of the fighting during this period. Federal units from Arkansas worked with Union units from other states to patrol the northwestern corner of the state and keep guerrilla activity to a minimum. Cassville, Missouri, was used as both a headquarters for Federal troops and as a staging point for these missions. On July 18, 1864, Captain James Powell of the Second Arkansas Cavalry received orders from the commanding general of the District of Southwestern Missouri, Brigadier General John Sanborn. …

Maysville, Skirmish at (May 8, 1864)

A brief and indecisive engagement on the western edge of Arkansas, this skirmish was part of the war in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) that spilled into the state. Pitting Union Cherokee troops against Confederate-allied Cherokee, this skirmish is typical of the actions fought in the area at this point of the war. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, various tribes in Indian Territory disagreed about which side, if any, they should choose in the coming conflict. The Cherokee Nation split, with some members continuing to support the Federal government and others aligning themselves with the Confederacy. Both sides organized military units to participate in the war, with numerous Confederate units and three Union regiments organized. The Union …

Maysville, Skirmish at (September 5, 1863)

The September 5, 1863, Skirmish at Maysville consisted of a series of engagements over the course of a single day between Union and Confederate troops in northwestern Arkansas that ended with the complete rout of the Federal force. Originally a mission to escort a Union officer carrying messages, the movement ended with the capture of the messenger and some of his comrades. Captain John Gardner of the Second Kansas Cavalry was ordered to ride from Springfield, Missouri, to join his regiment in the field, carrying dispatches from Brigadier General John McNeil, commander of the District of Southwestern Missouri. Gardner arrived in Cassville, Missouri, on September 1, 1863, and requested an escort of troopers from the First Arkansas Cavalry (US). The …

McClain, Doc (Lynching of)

Doc McClain (whose name is sometimes rendered Dock McLain or McLane) was lynched in Ashdown (Little River County) on May 13, 1910, for allegedly stabbing wealthy young farmer Ernest Hale. According to the 1900 census, farmer Doc McClain (whose age was not given) was living in a rented home in Franklin (Little River County) with his wife Mary (aged thirty) and their two children, Lizzie (seven) and Ezekil (three). They had been married for ten years. Neither Doc nor Mary could read or write. According to numerous accounts, Doc McClain stabbed Ernest Hale in a store sometime in April 1910. Hale survived the attack and was hospitalized. At the time, it was feared that he would die. Local citizens threatened …

McCool, John Thurman (Murder of)

John Thurman McCool, a prominent businessman of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was rebuilding his life after serving a prison sentence for forging state treasury warrants when he was shot to death outside Sheridan (Grant County) in 1962. McCool’s murder remains unsolved. The mystery surrounding the killing and the strange circumstances of his life in the six years prior to it made the murder a subject of rumors of a mob killing, of revenge, and of silencing a man who knew too much, although no evidence of any of those motives ever emerged. Thurman McCool was born in Sheridan on August 18, 1913. He grew up in Pine Bluff, married a Pine Bluff woman, and was prominent in the business and …

McDonald (Lynching of)

A pair of Marion County men were shot as suspected horse thieves on Christmas Day of 1870 by a trio of vigilantes from Springfield, Missouri. A man named McDonald was killed in the incident. According to a short article in the January 25, 1871, Arkansas Gazette, three men from Springfield “named Patterson, and Dodson, and a third, name unknown,” rode into Marion County in pursuit of a stolen horse. Once in the county, they apprehended a man named Otterbury, and while one vigilante guarded him, the other two detained a man named McDonald “whom they also accused as being one of their thieves.” After “some altercation,” the Missourians shot the two men after Otterbury “attempted to resist.” McDonald died of …

McGehee Lynching of 1894

On September 22, 1894, Luke Washington, Richard Washington, and Henry C. Robinson were lynched in McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly murdering local merchant H. C. Patton and robbing his store. One of the interesting aspects of this case is that the African-American population of McGehee (then known as McGehee Junction) reportedly took an active part in the three men’s lynching. On September 20, 1894, Patton locked his store, which was located on the edge of a cotton field some distance from the depot in McGehee, and proceeded along the walkway to his bedroom. There, Robinson and the two Washingtons allegedly killed him with a club. Although Patton was armed with a pistol, he was unable to use it in time. His attackers then …

McGraw’s Mill, Skirmish at

During the winter of 1862–1863, Union sympathizers avoiding Confederate conscription officers fled their homes throughout western Arkansas and hid in the Ouachita Mountains, where they joined Confederate deserters. These bands stole supplies from the local population. Civilians in the area were uneasy with this development and urged the Confederate government to act. One of these bands was led by Andy Brown—who was called “Captain”—of Arkadelphia (Clark County). Brown’s band had eighty-three members and was most active in the Ouachita Mountains northwest of Arkadelphia, stealing horses and wagons from nearby civilians. In response to these events, a group of mounted and armed civilians organized in Arkadelphia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William A. Crawford. Divided into two companies, the men …

McGuire’s, Affair at

A reconnaissance raid, this engagement saw Federal forces charging into the midst of an enemy encampment before withdrawing. Although the skirmish involved a daring attack, neither side reported any casualties. Major Thomas Hunt commanded part of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) stationed in Fayetteville (Washington County) in October 1863. The Federals knew that Confederate units under the command of Colonel William Brooks were operating in the area, and Hunt estimated that the enemy numbered around 1,000. The Union troops in the area numbered approximately 500. On October 11, Hunt received a demand for surrender of the town and his command from Brooks. Hunt replied that he would not surrender without a fight and immediately reinforced his picket posts and sent …

McIntyre, Samuel (Lynching of)

On April 23, 1919, an African-American man named Sam McIntyre was hanged near Forrest City (St. Francis County) for allegedly murdering another black man, John Johnson, the previous February. According to the February 10, 1919, edition of the Arkansas Gazette, on February 6, Johnson was shot through the window while playing checkers with a friend at his home on the Graham farm. McIntyre was arrested after the killing, along with U. L. “Hub” Lancaster (a white man) and Rube McGee (a black man). According to the report, “Johnson was a witness against Lancaster and McIntyre in several liquor cases, one case of assault to kill and another case charging burglary and grand larceny.” He was to testify when the case …

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 …

Militia Wars of 1868–1869

A series of conflicts fought across the state in the aftermath of the Civil War, the Militia Wars were a response to the wave of violence that swept Arkansas after the adoption of the Constitution of 1868. With the capture of Little Rock (Pulaski County) by Federal forces in 1863, Isaac Murphy was selected as the provisional governor of the state, taking office in March 1864. With little influence beyond the capital and other isolated Union outposts, Murphy was unable to consolidate his power before the end of the war. In 1866, almost the entire Unionist state government was defeated for reelection. However, Murphy and the secretary of state, who were serving four-year terms that expired in 1868, survived. The …

Miss Arkansas Pageant

The Miss Arkansas Pageant officially began in 1939, though two competitions before that year set the stage for the pageant. The pageant is Arkansas’s preliminary for the Miss America Pageant, which began in 1921. Forty-five smaller pageants lead up to the crowning of Miss Arkansas. The competition is managed by a non-profit organization and co-sponsored by the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation, Inc. The first winner of the pageant was Vivian Ferguson. However, she was later disqualified for being married, and the competition was halted until 1938, when the winner was Lorene Bailey. The next year, for the first time, the winner of the pageant was sent to compete in the Miss America pageant, thus marking the official beginning of the Miss …

Mitchell v. Globe International Publishing

aka: People's Bank and Trust Company of Mountain Home v. Globe International Publishing
Mitchell v. Globe International Publishing, Inc. 978 F. 2nd 1065 was a legal case involving First Amendment freedom of the press, as well as privacy issues. It originated in a lawsuit filed by ninety-six-year-old Nellie Mitchell, a native of Mountain Home (Baxter County). Mitchell sued Globe International, the publisher of the tabloid paper the Sun, for false light invasion of privacy after the paper published a photograph of her to illustrate one of its articles. When the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mitchell and awarded her a total of $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, Globe appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which upheld the verdict. A final effort to appeal to …

Mitchell v. United States

Mitchell v. United States et al., 313 U.S. 80 (1941), came on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging discriminatory treatment of railroad accommodations for African-American passengers on interstate train coaches passing through Arkansas, where a state law demanded segregation of races but equivalent facilities. The Supreme Court had held in earlier cases that it was adequate under the Fourteenth Amendment for separate privileges to be supplied to differing groups of people as long as they were treated similarly well. Originating in Arkansas in April 1937, the suit worked its way through the regulatory and legal system, finally ending up on the calendar of the Supreme Court in 1941. The circumstances surrounding the matter began after the only African American …

Mitchell, Charles (Lynching of)

On November 2, 1884, Charles Mitchell was murdered near Richmond (Little River County) for the alleged murder of a prominent farmer’s wife, Kate Waddell. The incident made news not only in Arkansas, but also in Texas, the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and Michigan. At the time of the 1880 census, forty-year-old Charley Mitchell—an African-American or biracial man—was living in Johnson Township of Little River County with his wife, Isabella, and their two sons, William (thirteen) and Mitchel (eleven). The census lists no occupation for Mitchell, but his two sons were working as servants. According to an October 31 article in the Arkansas Gazette, Mrs. Waddell, “an estimable woman,” was murdered on October 29 “by a notorious negro by the name …

Mitchell, Elton (Lynching of)

On June 13, 1918, an African-American farm worker named Elton Mitchell (referred to in some reports as Allen Mitchell) was hanged by a mob in Earle (Crittenden County). Newspaper reports give different dates for Mitchell’s murder, including June 22, June 13, and June 14, but the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic reported on June 14 that the murder took place on Thursday, June 13, so that is the most probable date. Mitchell’s personal history is a bit confusing, with public records placing him in several adjacent counties in northeastern Arkansas and northwestern Mississippi. At the time of the 1900 census there was an Etten Mitchell, age ten, living in Tyronza (Poinsett County) with his parents, Andrew and Parthenia Mitchell, and five …

Monroe County Lynching of 1893

In January 1893, five men were lynched in Monroe County near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) for allegedly murdering Reuben Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child, and then torching Atkinson’s house to cover up the crimes. Census and other public records yield no information on either Atkinson or his alleged murderers. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on January 7 a “prosperous farmer” named Rube Atkinson went to sell his cotton. He returned to his farm on January 8, and the following morning neighbors awoke to find that Atkinson’s house had burned down. When they went to inspect, they found three bodies in the ruins, which were later identified as those of Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child. Authorities arrested several African …

Monroe County Lynching of 1915

aka: H. M. Gandy (Lynching of)
aka: Jeff Mansell (Lynching of)
On February 27, 1915, two pearl fishermen—H. M. Gandy (sometimes referred to as Candy) and Jeff Mansell—were lynched near Indian Bay, located on the eastern bank of the White River in Monroe County. Both men were white. Most lynching victims in Arkansas’s history were black, but this incident is reminiscent of pre–Civil War days in Arkansas when vigilante justice was often meted out to white criminals. Records reveal nothing about either Gandy or Mansell. According to the Arkansas Gazette, they were fishermen and pearl hunters and lived in cabin boats on the river near Indian Bay. Although the killings occurred in Monroe County, the men’s boats were moored across the river near St. Charles (Arkansas County). They and their families …

Monticello Road, Skirmish at (May 16, 1865)

  Even with the surrender of most of the military units of the Confederacy, the Civil War continued in Arkansas during the spring and early summer of 1865. Many of the southern units in the state were no longer organized and operated to the best of their abilities. Soldiers at Federal outposts throughout the state continued to hunt down these enemy fighters, and this skirmish is an example of one such action. On May 15, 1865, Captain John Norris of Company M, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry led a scout of thirty men from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The patrol started quietly and moved past several farms to determine if the enemy was present in the area. A local farmer’s wife reported …

Monticello, Skirmish at (May 24, 1865)

  In mid-1865, after four years of conflict, the Civil War was finally coming to a close. But Confederate troops still operated in southeastern Arkansas. This skirmish was part of the effort to get these troops to surrender to Union forces and thus conclude the war in the state. On May 23, 1865, Captain John Norris of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry departed Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) with sixty men. Once outside of the city, he split his force into two groups. Taking different roads, the two parts of the unit rejoined that night about thirty miles from Pine Bluff. The Federals continued to patrol the countryside the next day before entering Monticello (Drew County) around sunset. Encountering the enemy for …

Monticello, Skirmish at (September 11, 1864)

  After the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Confederate forces were primarily based in southern and eastern Arkansas. Union forces in the state continued to gather intelligence from their bases in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), as well as other locations. This skirmish occurred when a Federal column from Pine Bluff stumbled into a large unit of Confederate troops in the Monticello (Drew County) area. On the morning of September 9, 1864, under orders from Brigadier General Powell Clayton, Colonel Albert Erskine departed Pine Bluff with 300 men. Erskine and his men scouted in the direction of Monticello. That night, the command camped about fourteen miles from Monticello. Approaching the town early the next …

Morgan’s Mill, Skirmish at

aka: Battle of Martin's Creek
aka: Skirmish at Spring River (February 8, 1864)
After capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County) in September 1863 and forcing Arkansas Confederates to relocate their capital to Washington (Hempstead County), Union forces in northeast Arkansas sought to solidify their control in the region and safeguard important supply lines. On Christmas Day 1863, Colonel Robert R. Livingston and his Union forces reoccupied Batesville (Independence County), where they established the headquarters of the District of Northeastern Arkansas. Union forces in Batesville subsequently set out to suppress small bands of Confederates in the region. On February 8, 1864, a Union detachment composed of elements of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, the Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry, and the First Nebraska Cavalry encountered a larger Confederate force made up of parts of Freeman’s Brigade, Missouri …

Morrison v. White

Morrison v. White was a case involving slavery in which, after numerous legal twists and turns, Jane/Alexina Morrison, who claimed to be a free white woman from Arkansas, was granted her freedom by a Louisiana district court jury in 1862. As did several other freedom suits of the time (such as Guy v. Daniel and Gary v. Stevenson), this one went well beyond the usual issue of ownership and addressed the fundamental question of who could, in fact, be enslaved—and, in particular, whether a white person could be a slave. Unlike the famous case of Dred Scott, a black man whose claim to freedom was based on his residence in a statutorily free area of the country, Jane/Alexina Morrison rested …

Morrison, Lee (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1868, an African-American man named Lee Morrison (sometimes referred to as Morsen or Morson) was lynched near Helena (Phillips County) in retaliation for a number of murders he was presumed to have committed, including that of deputy sheriff Joseph W. Maxey, and the wounding of Sheriff Bart Y. Turner the previous March. There is no information on Lee Morrison or anyone of a similar name available in public records. Sheriff Turner, born around 1840 in Tennessee, had been in Phillips County since at least 1860, when he was living in Big Creek Township. Joseph W. Maxey had been in the county since at least 1850, when he was working as a druggist and living in the household …

Moscow, Action at

The Action at Moscow on April 13, 1864, signaled that Major General Frederick Steele’s Union forces would not be allowed to occupy Camden (Ouachita County) without a fight. Although Confederate Washington (Hempstead County) would be spared from Union occupation, the Confederates were not content to merely defend this town—they went on the offensive. Steele withdrew from Prairie D’Ane (Nevada County) and began marching on Camden on April 12, 1864. His rear guard was the Frontier Division, consisting of about 5,000 men commanded by Brigadier General John M. Thayer. This division was camped near the village of Moscow, on the edge of Prairie D’Ane, on April 13, 1864. Steele’s army made slow progress on its march to Camden, so Thayer’s division …

Mosely, Julius (Lynching of)

On July 13, 1892, Julius Mosely, an African-American man accused of raping his stepdaughter, was lynched near Halley (Desha County) by a mob of fellow black residents. While the majority of lynchings in the South were perpetrated by white mobs against blacks, in a very small number of cases, lynchings were carried out either by mixed-race mobs or by mobs of African Americans. William Fitzhugh Brundage speculates that perhaps African Americans doubted that the all-white legal system would deal properly with crimes occurring within the black community. In addition, such lynchings often took place in cases of family-oriented crimes like incest. Interestingly, Brundage finds that such black-on-black violence was most prevalent in the Mississippi Delta regions in Mississippi, Arkansas, and …

Mound City, Burning of

This punitive expedition relates to Union efforts to secure Memphis, Tennessee, as a supply and hospital base capable of supporting ongoing operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. It stands as an early example of the shift toward hard war tactics that would increase throughout the remainder of the Civil War. The decision to burn the village of Mound City (Crittenden County), located on the shore of the Mississippi River between Marion (Crittenden County) and Memphis, had roots in an extended and destructive Confederate partisan raid conducted in Crittenden County by Captain James H. McGehee’s unattached company of Arkansas cavalry in January and February 1863 and were part of a punitive Union campaign to prevent the use of riverside communities as guerrilla bases. …

Mount Elba, Action at

The Action at Mount Elba was fought March 30, 1864, as Confederate cavalrymen attacked Union soldiers guarding a bridge across the Saline River while other Union troops pursued a Confederate supply column at Long View (Ashley County) in an effort to disrupt Rebel operations in South Arkansas and prevent attacks on Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). As Major General Frederick Steele led his Union army into south Arkansas from Little Rock (Pulaski County) in March 1864 on what became known as the Camden Expedition, Colonel Powell Clayton of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry prepared an expedition south from Pine Bluff to attack Confederate forces that were believed to be leaving Monticello (Drew County). The expedition—which left Pine Bluff on March 27, 1864—consisted …

Mount Ida Expedition

In November 1863, Lieutenant Henry C. Caldwell of the Third Iowa Cavalry led a force of Federal cavalrymen on an expedition through at least eight southern Arkansas counties. Engaging the Confederate forces on a number of occasions, he eventually reached the town of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), where he expected to find additional enemy forces. Along the way, the Federals also organized Unionist resistance to the Confederates. Lt. Caldwell’s force, consisting of the Third Iowa Cavalry and First Missouri Cavalry, left Benton (Saline County) on November 10, spending the night in Hot Springs (Garland County). The next day, the force moved down the Murfreesboro Road to within eighteen miles of the town of Murfreesboro (Pike County), where they captured a …

Mountain Home, Skirmish at

aka: Yellville Expedition
In late 1862, the Civil War along the Missouri-Arkansas border degenerated into a series of skirmishes and small raids. One of these raids was conducted by Major John Wilber in October 1862. Union brigadier general Francis Herron ordered an expedition commanded by Wilber to advance from its post at Ozark, Missouri, to Yellville (Marion County), the headquarters of General James McBride, commander of the Seventh Division of the Missouri State Guard. The intention was to surprise the Confederate force stationed at Yellville, burn or capture supplies, take prisoners, and then return to Missouri. Maj. Wilber, commander of the Fourteenth Regiment Missouri State Militia, took 125 men from his command and an additional 100 men of the Missouri Militia and advanced …

Mountain Meadows Massacre

In April 1857, near Harrison (Boone County), 120 to 150 settlers, mostly Arkansans, started a journey toward the promise of a better life in California. Before they could reach their destination, a party of Mormons and Indians attacked them while they camped on a plateau known as Mountain Meadows in southern Utah. All of the travelers died except for seventeen children, who were taken into Mormon homes. Beyond this information, little can be agreed upon, from the number of victims to who was responsible. About forty families, composed mainly of Arkansans from Marion, Crawford, Carroll, and Johnson counties, met at Beller’s Stand just south of Harrison. This migration was known by several names, including the Baker train and the Perkins train, …

Mrs. Voche’s, Skirmish at

  Following the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Federal forces on September 10, 1863, a force of men in the Fifth Kansas Cavalry raided the community of Sulphur Springs (Jefferson County) seven miles west of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the night of September 14. By sunrise, Pine Bluff was firmly occupied by the Federal army and remained so throughout the end of the Civil War, acting as a hub to supply armies with troops and supplies. While the area remained under Federal occupation, a multitude of skirmishes erupted from all sides of the city throughout the remainder of the war, including the Skirmish at Mrs. Voche’s. According to the after-action report of Captain George W. Suesberry of …

Mud Town and Gerald Mountain, Skirmishes at

aka: Fayetteville Expedition
  Keeping the main road from Springfield, Missouri, to Fayetteville (Washington County) open was a major task for the Union troops under the command of Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, stationed at Springfield. The road was sometimes called the Wire Road, as the telegraph line ran along the road. Keeping the telegraph line in operation was a task that kept repair crews frequently on the road. Traveling this road frequently were the subsistence and ammunition trains, mail carriers, regular and irregular troops from both sides of the Civil War, civilians, and guerrillas. On August 23, 1864, members of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) left the Big Springs near Cassville, Missouri, on an expedition to Fayetteville. Their orders were to guard a …

Murray, James (Murder of)

On December 6, 1897, the dead body of Constable James Murray was found by the roadside near Bonanza (Sebastian County). His hands were tied, and he had an injury to his head and bruises around his neck. Lying nearby was the unconscious body of Grant McBroom, whom he had earlier arrested. Both Murray and McBroom were white. The case attracted national attention, with newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Herald speculating wildly and describing the murder as a “lynching” to showcase the apparent lawlessness of western Arkansas during this post-Reconstruction era. Bonanza and nearby Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) are located south of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and were centers for coal mining in the region. Bonanza enjoyed …