Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with N

Napoleon Expedition

By the summer of 1862, Federal forces under the command of Major General Samuel Curtis occupied the city of Helena (Phillips County). After the activation of the Emancipation Proclamation in early 1863, one of the regiments being formed at Helena was the Second Arkansas Regiment (African Descent). In May 1863, an expedition was sent down the Mississippi River to gather additional recruits for the regiment. Major General Benjamin Prentiss ordered that the steamboat Pike—escorted by a detachment of the First Indiana Cavalry, Thirty-sixth Iowa Infantry, and twenty-five men of the Second Arkansas Regiment (African Descent) with one howitzer—embark upon a recruitment expedition. The force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George W. DeCosta of the Second Arkansas, left Helena on …

Napoleon, Seizure of Ordnance Stores at

United States military supplies were frequently captured across the South as states began to secede in late 1860 and early 1861. While the seizure of the Little Rock Arsenal is a well-known example of state troops taking control of Federal military posts, the capture of other posts and military supplies took place in the state during the secession crisis, including the seizure of ordnance stores at Napoleon (Desha County). The debate over secession intensified in November 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected as president of the United States. In response to the prodding of Arkansas governor Henry Rector and other pro-secessionist politicians, the House of Representatives in the Arkansas General Assembly passed a bill on December 22, 1860, calling for …

National Championship Chuckwagon Races

The National Championship Chuckwagon Race is held every Labor Day weekend at Dan and Peggy Eoff’s ranch in Clinton (Van Buren County). Spectators from across the United States travel to the small town nestled in the Ozark Mountains to see the largest outdoor chuckwagon race in the country. The chuckwagon is associated with Charles Goodnight, who designed the first wagon to follow the cattle trails in the 1800s. Stories hold that, at the end of the cattle drive, the cowhands would collect their pay, pack up their supplies, and race into town. Legend has it that the last one there had to buy the first round of drinks for all. The races were started in 1986 when Dan and Peggy …

Neely, Amos (Lynching of)

In mid-August 1898, a twenty-three-year-old African-American man named Amos Neely was lynched near Sheridan (Grant County) for an alleged assault on a white woman. The victim of the assault was a “Mrs. Reinhart,” sometimes referred to in newspapers as Rhinehart, Reinhardt, or even Kinehart. Records indicate that there were several Reinharts living in Grant County at the time, and it is impossible to identify her. The lynching victim’s name was reported as Amos Neely, but no trace of him can be found in Grant County records. Neely allegedly committed the assault in April 1898. On April 13, the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had been jailed in Sheridan the previous Saturday (April 9) and that he confessed the following day. …

Negro Boys Industrial School Fire of 1959

aka: Wrightsville Fire of 1959
On March 5, 1959, twenty-one African-American boys burned to death inside a dormitory at an Arkansas reform school in Wrightsville (Pulaski County). The doors were locked from the outside. The fire mysteriously ignited around 4:00 a.m. on a cold, wet morning, following earlier thunderstorms in the same area of rural Pulaski County. The institution was one mile down a dirt road from the mostly black town of Wrightsville, then an unincorporated hamlet thirteen miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Forty-eight children, ages thirteen to seventeen, managed to claw their way to safety by knocking out two of the window screens. Amidst the choking, blinding smoke and heat, four or five boys at a time tried to fight their way …

Nelson, Bud (Lynching of)

Sometime between October 27 and November 1, 1926, Bud Nelson was shot near Tarry (Lincoln County) for the alleged murder of twenty-four-year-old planter Ed Henderson in neighboring Jefferson County. According to accounts published in the Arkansas Gazette and the Cleveland County Herald, Ed Henderson was riding his horse past the house of Ed Young, who was a black tenant on the land of Ed’s father, John H. Henderson. According to the Cleveland County Herald, Ed Henderson was looking for some mules that had strayed. He asked Nelson, who was sitting on a cotton bale across the road from Ed Young’s house, about the mules. The Herald stated that Ed Henderson was a very popular young man “and was always known …

Nelson, Dan T. (Lynching of)

Dan T. Nelson was lynched by a mob of African Americans in Lincoln County on November 13, 1893, for allegedly murdering Ben Betts. Unlike most lynchings in Arkansas (and the United States), several of the perpetrators of this crime were actually tried and sent to jail, perhaps because the mob was composed entirely of African Americans. According to an account published in the Arkansas Gazette, on November 7, Ben Betts, an African American, accompanied a relative to Dan Nelson’s home near Varner (Lincoln County) to help that relative collect a rent bill from Nelson. Betts and Nelson got into an argument, and Betts ordered Nelson out of the house. Nelson emerged from the dwelling, armed with a hatchet and carrying …

Nevada County Race War of 1897

On May 29, 1897, white employees of the Sayre Lumber Company near Prescott (Nevada County) set fire to a cabin where ten of the company’s African-American workers were sleeping. When the black laborers attempted to flee, the mob fired shots at them. No one was killed, and, due to the diligence of a private detective, indictments were actually brought down in the case (although the accused were eventually acquitted). According to the New York Times, “bad blood had existed among the white and colored laborers of the lumbering district of that section for some time past, and frequently efforts have been made by the employees of the Nevada County camps to run the negroes off, but always without avail.” On …

New Gascony, Battle of (Reconstruction)

The Battle of New Gascony was a skirmish in the Reconstruction-era Brooks-Baxter War in which supporters of Elisha Baxter attacked a militia force loyal to Joseph Brooks near New Gascony (Jefferson County) in 1874. The election of 1872 was rife with irregularities but resulted in Elisha Baxter assuming the governorship of Arkansas. Following a series of legislative and legal maneuvers, losing candidate Joseph Brooks won a legal ruling declaring him the winner. On April 15, 1874, Brooks and a group of armed followers confronted Baxter at what is now the Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and threw him out, leading to several weeks of armed confrontations in what became known as the Brooks-Baxter War. Hercules King Cannon …

New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812

The New Madrid Earthquakes took place between December 1811 and April 1812 along an active fault line that extends roughly from Marked Tree (Poinsett County) in a northeasterly direction, crossing several states for about 150 miles. The earthquakes and aftershocks caused extensive damage throughout northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri, altering the landscape, affecting settlement of the area, and leaving noticeable reminders that another huge earthquake could happen at any time. The town of New Madrid, Missouri, on the Mississippi River, was founded by Revolutionary War hero George Morgan in 1789. The town was named by Morgan in an attempt to ingratiate himself and receive a land grant from the King of Spain. Its later pronunciation placed the emphasis on the …

Newton County Draft War

The Newton County Draft War was the last armed incident of the documented Arkansas draft wars, as well as one of the most colorful, as word of the “Cecil Cove Slackers” spread to national publications. In 1918, Newton County—located in the Ozark Mountains—was one of the most isolated and least developed regions in Arkansas, not yet crossed by railroads or serviceable highways. The Cecil Cove region—twelve miles long and eight miles wide, bordered by steep cliffs and caves, and only traversable by foot or mule—was an exceptional hiding spot. In the last months of World War I, several draft resistors in the region successfully eluded authorities. Later interviews with the deserters outline a now familiar refrain for draft resistance in …

Norman, Will (Lynching of)

On June 19, 1913, twenty-one-year-old Will Norman was lynched in Hot Springs (Garland County) for the alleged assault and murder of Garland Huff, the daughter of Judge C. Floyd Huff. In 1910, C. Floyd Huff was living in Hot Springs with his wife, Octavia, and four children: William (thirteen years old), Garland (eleven), C. Floyd Jr. (ten), and Robert E. C. (six). According to some reports, Will Norman had been employed by the Huffs for about two years prior to 1913. Little other information is available regarding him. According to newspaper reports, on June 19, Norman dragged Garland Huff into a closet. When she resisted his advances, he beat her, crushing her skull in five places. He then locked her …

Norristown, Skirmish at (May 19, 1864)

A brief engagement, this skirmish was part of Brigadier General Joseph Shelby’s expedition across much of Arkansas in the summer of 1864. While trying to cross the Arkansas River near present-day Russellville (Pope County), Shelby’s men were attacked by a Federal patrol tasked with shadowing the Confederates. Ultimately inconclusive, this skirmish was one of many between Shelby’s Confederate forces and Union troops during the expedition. In early May 1864, Shelby and his brigade were ordered to move from southwestern Arkansas to northern and eastern Arkansas in an effort to prevent Federal forces from utilizing the White River and the Little Rock and DeValls Bluff Railroad to supply the Union-occupied capital city. Crossing the Ouachita River at Rockport (Hot Spring County), …

Norristown, Skirmish at (September 6, 1864)

One of the earliest engagements between Confederate and Union forces during Major General Sterling Price’s 1864 raid into Missouri, this skirmish would ultimately prove to be bloodless. In the late summer of 1864, Price was ordered by Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi, to prepare for an invasion of Missouri. The expedition would be used to gain new recruits and supplies, as well as to lower the morale of the civilian population across the north. Based in southern and southwestern Arkansas, the Confederate troops taking part in the raid began to move northward in August 1864. The Confederate offensive operations were delayed for several days as munitions and other supplies were gathered, and …