Entry Type: Event - Starting with W

Waddell’s Farm (near Village Creek), Skirmish at

While on a foraging expedition on June 12, 1862, a detachment of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry engaged a Confederate force at Waddell’s Farm (also called Waddill’s Farm in some sources) near Village Creek in Jackson County, Arkansas. Bettering the Confederates, the Federals filled some thirty-six wagons with supplies before returning to Camp Tucker close to the junctions of the Black and White rivers. When Confederate major general Earl Van Dorn stripped Arkansas of all valuable military supplies to support operations in the Western Theater, Jacksonport (Jackson County) was abandoned of all reasonable defenses. The new commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Major General Thomas Hindman, had to create a new army from scratch. Consequently, he appointed individuals across the state such …

Wainwright, Larry (Murder of)

The 1967 murder of Larry Wainwright, an African-American teenager, near his home in the black neighborhood of Morning Star rocked the city of El Dorado (Union County) and remains an important civil rights–era cold case. This was not the first time Morning Star had been subjected to racist violence. Whites would regularly drive through the neighborhood and throw bottles or bricks at the black men, women, and children, seriously injuring them. Wainwright’s parents, Melvin and Louise Wainwright, and the African American community of Morning Star mourned the loss but also rallied in the wake of Wainwright’s death, ensuring that the murder was publicized beyond Union County and El Dorado. Although national attention was lacking, newspapers such as the Northwest Arkansas …

Waldron to Baker’s Springs, Scout from

The January 1864 scout from Waldron (Scott County) to Baker’s Springs (Howard County) was a Union expedition that resulted in the killing of a guerrilla chieftain and several of his men. Captain Edgar A. Barker led 100 men of Company I, Second Kansas Cavalry Regiment, and forty troopers from Company C, Sixth Kansas Cavalry Regiment, from the Union base at Waldron on January 21, 1864, in one of an almost constant series of scouting expeditions seeking Confederate troops and guerrillas in the region. There is no record of the early part of the expedition, but on January 24 at Baker’s Springs about eighty miles from Waldron, the scout found Captain James B. Williamson’s band of guerrillas “strongly posted in log …

Waldron to Mount Ida, Caddo Gap and Dallas, Scout from

On the morning of December 2, 1863, Colonel James M. Johnson of the First Arkansas Infantry Regiment (US) led a force out from the Union base at Waldron (Scott County), which the Federals had occupied a few weeks earlier, with a goal of scouting for enemy troops as far away as Arkadelphia (Clark County). The Union force consisted of 230 men of the Second Kansas Cavalry under Colonel Owen A. Bassett, a company of the First Arkansas Infantry, and two guns of Rabb’s Second Indiana Battery. After “making no halt of consequence,” the Union force reached Mount Ida (Montgomery County) on the morning of December 4. Johnson sent three patrols out to scout the area; all returned “reporting nothing worthy …

Waldron War

The Waldron War was a decade-long period of violence that began during the Reconstruction era and was characterized by arson, general lawlessness, personal and political feuds, electoral misconduct, and violence—including murder—throughout Scott County. The civil strife resulted in Governors Augustus Garland and William Read Miller dispatching the state militia to the county on at least three occasions to restore order. With much of Waldron (Scott County) burned by departing Union troops in 1864, the citizens faced the reestablishment of the infrastructure of the town. While hostile feelings remained between those sympathetic to the Union cause and the Confederate cause, much of the strife was attributed to personality conflicts within the local Republican Party. Although there was the occasional outburst of …

Waldron, Attacks on

The capture of Waldron (Scott County) was the beginning of the Federal sweep south of the Arkansas River to rid western Arkansas of Confederates and guerrilla bands, before consolidating with other forces in the spring of 1864 for the Red River Campaign. When Colonel William F. Cloud of the Second Kansas Cavalry defeated Confederate brigadier general William L. Cabell’s forces at Devil’s Backbone Ridge south of Greenwood (Sebastian County) on September 1, 1863—on the same day that Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was occupied by Major General James Gilpatrick Blunt (US)—Waldron’s northern and western sides were defenseless. More than one skirmish happened in Scott County before the order was issued to occupy Waldron. The first attack happened one day after the …

Wallace, John (Reported Lynching of)

Beginning in the 1880s and increasingly as Jim Crow laws were instituted across the South, newspapers across the United States began to expand their coverage of Southern lynchings. In addition, publications like the Chicago Tribune and organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama began to keep annual lists of lynchings. In her 1895 book The Red Record, Ida B. Wells-Barnett also attempted to include a comprehensive list of lynchings. Not all of these lists, upon further analysis, were accurate, and more recent lynching lists often also include certain erroneous accounts. Further examination of newspaper reports shows that subsequent articles, particularly local to the site of the lynchings, later corrected …

Wallace’s Ferry, Action at

aka: Action at Big Creek
The action at Wallace’s Ferry was fought July 26, 1864, as Union forces left Helena (Phillips County) on a reconnaissance mission to find Confederate cavalry raiders operating in Phillips County. In late June and early July 1864, Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby, the Confederate commander of northeast Arkansas, dispatched 1,000 cavalrymen under Colonel Archibald Dobbins and Colonel B. Frank Gordon to raid Phillips County plantations that were being operated under the auspices of the U.S. government. The Union commander in Helena, Brigadier General Napoleon B. Buford, sent out a reconnaissance in force on July 25 to locate and hinder the operations of the Rebel horsemen. The Union force under Colonel W. S. Brooks (whose brother Joseph would later be a …

Walnut Ridge Race War of 1912

The Walnut Ridge Race War of 1912 was an instance of violent nightriding (also known as whitecapping) in which a group of white vigilantes attempted to drive African Americans from the city of Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County). They did not succeed in making Walnut Ridge an all-white town, but they did manage to drive black laborers from certain local industries, which was often the aim of nightriders, who were frequently poor whites who wanted those jobs for themselves. In early April 1912, notices signed “Kit Karson and Band” were posted in Walnut Ridge ordering local African Americans to leave the city. A committee of white citizens responded to this threat by posting their own warnings to the band in question, …

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 …

Ware, Jim and Jack (Lynching of)

On July 14, 1895, brothers Jim and Jack Ware, who allegedly assisted Wiley Bunn in the murder of Allen Martin, were lynched in Hampton (Calhoun County). The Ware family had been living in Calhoun County for some time. In 1870, Moses and Easter Ware were living in Jackson Township. Among their children were two sons, fifteen-year-old James (Jim) Ware and thirteen-year-old Jack. Moses and James Ware were working as laborers. They were still in Jackson Township in 1880. Jack, along with James and James’s wife, Susan, were still living with their parents. Moses was farming, and both James and John were working as laborers. In 1880, fourteen-year-old Willey (Wiley) Bunn was living in Jackson Township with his parents, Drew and …

Warren, Will (Lynching of)

Will Warren, an African-American man, was murdered in rural Garland County on January 15, 1916, as the result of an apparent quarrel with some young white boys. After murdering Warren, a white mob burned down his house and a local black church. Warren is described in newspaper reports as being one of the leading figures in a black settlement located between Buckville (Garland County) and Cedar Glades (Garland County). Determining the exact identity of Warren is difficult, as no report on his murder includes his age, occupation, or other identifiers. However, there was a Willie Warren, then nineteen years old, listed on the 1910 census in neighboring Montgomery County working as a farm laborer. Willie Warren lived in Fir Township, …

Washington and Benton County Expedition

After the battles of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, the Civil War in northwestern Arkansas settled into smaller skirmishes and interactions between irregular forces on both sides of the conflict. To attempt to control the Confederate guerrillas, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison, Union commander at Fayetteville (Washington County), sent out frequent expeditions to hunt down and dislodge Rebels. He also devised a plan to destroy or disable grist mills belonging to or operated by Rebels. Harrison felt that the mills were congregating places for the Rebels and that the destruction of those places would lessen problems with guerrillas. On August 21, 1864, some of the Union troops serving under Harrison prepared to leave Fayetteville on an expedition through Washington and Benton counties. …

Washington, George (Lynching of)

In the spring of 1871, an African American named George Washington was lynched in Baxter County for allegedly assaulting a young girl. The girl’s father is variously referred to as James or George Calvin, with the surname sometimes given as Galvin. He lived on the White River south of Mountain Home (Baxter County). Public records reveal nothing about these people. The 1870 census lists no adult George or James Calvin or Galvin in Baxter County, or even in the state of Arkansas. The same is true in neighboring counties in Missouri. There was also no African American named George Washington listed in Baxter County. In his account of the lynching, Vincent Anderson quotes an article from the Baxter County Citizen, …

Watkins, William (Execution of)

William Watkins was hanged in White County on April 25, 1873, for the murder of his landlord; his execution made national headlines when he attempted to choke himself to death on the gallows. William Watkins, a native of Franklin, Georgia, moved to White County around 1871 and rented land near Searcy (White County) on the Little Red River from farmer William Swaggerty, possibly as a sharecropper. A newspaper reported of Watkins that “instead of working it [the land] he hunted and fished,” leading Swaggerty to ask “him to work his crop and loaf less.” Watkins, who reportedly had killed three men before moving to White County, in what was called “unquestionably one of the most cowardly and brutal murders imaginable,” …

Waugh’s Farm, Skirmish at

Colonel Robert Livingston and his small Union army entered Batesville (Independence County) on Christmas Day in 1863, having been sent to re-occupy the city, which had not had a continuous Union presence since June 1862. Their task was to keep the peace in the area and promote Federal control. That proved difficult, for they were surrounded by small mobile Confederate guerrilla units and outlaw gangs who preyed on small detachments, especially foraging expeditions, outside of Batesville. The most disastrous Union loss in the Batesville area was at the farm of Virginian Lewis Waugh twelve miles west of town. On February 18, 1864, a foraging train of thirty-five wagons—escorted by 100 soldiers of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry and Fourth Arkansas Mounted …

Wells, Elias (Lynching of)

On November 20, 1902, an African American man named Wells was lynched in Wynne (Cross County) for allegedly attempting to cut the throat of Max Campbell, a conductor on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad. Accounts vary as to Wells’s first name. Several newspapers call him Lige, while others give his name as Isaac. He is listed as Lige at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Alabama. Newspapers reported that Wells was from Augusta (Woodruff County), and there is some information available in public records that indicates that Wells’s first name may have been Elias. The 1900 federal census lists twenty-two-year-old Elisa Wells (male) living in DeView Township in Woodruff County. He was literate, working as …

West Point, Engagement at

aka: Little Red River Raid
The Confederacy suffered a crushing defeat on July 4, 1863, following an unsuccessful assault on the Union garrison at Helena (Phillips County), which was intended to relieve pressure on besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, and the defeat at Helena—coupled with Confederate surrender at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9—severed Arkansas, Texas, and western Louisiana from the rest of the Confederate states. Major General Sterling Price was formally tasked with the defense of Arkansas on July 23, but increasing desertions within the Rebel ranks thinned the already meager forces available to resist the imminent Union push to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Little Rock Campaign involved the movement of two Union columns: a division led by Brigadier …

West, John (Lynching of)

On July 28, 1922, a laborer named John West was shot to death near Guernsey (Hempstead County) after an argument at a work site over a shared drinking cup. The Arkansas Gazette gives the cause for the lynching as “impudence.” According to the Gazette, on the morning of July 28, John West, an African American recently arrived from Kansas, was working on a paving gang in Hope (Hempstead County). He had an argument with the foreman on the job, Andrew Worthing, another Kansan, who was white. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Bisbee (Arizona) Daily Review, the argument concerned West’s attempt to use the crew’s common drinking cup. When challenged by Worthing, West declared that “he was as …

Weston v. Arkansas

aka: Arkansas v. Weston
Joseph Harry Weston v. State of Arkansas dealt with two criminal cases that reached the Arkansas Supreme Court in the 1970s, the second of which led the court to declare the state’s old criminal-libel law unconstitutional. Joseph Harry Weston was the owner and editor of a tiny tabloid newspaper in Cave City (Sharp County) called the Sharp Citizen, which he printed off and on from 1972 until 1978. The paper, which was composed on typewritten stationery with hand-drawn headlines, reveled in strongly opinionated articles that alleged corruption and other scandalous behavior by public officials, businessmen, and common citizens, including Weston’s rural neighbors. The editor’s crusades got national attention but put him into almost perpetual conflict with law-enforcement officials, prosecutors, and …

Westside School Shooting

In the early afternoon of March 24, 1998, two students from Westside Middle School, located approximately two miles west of Jonesboro (Craighead County), conducted an armed ambush on teachers and students, which resulted in five dead and ten others injured. The shooters, Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson, were arrested and prosecuted for the crime. The incident was one of two school shootings in Arkansas and one of several school shootings across the nation that adjusted school administrators’ and law enforcement officers’ concepts on school security and response plans to violent incidents at schools. The students and teachers had returned from spring break the day before the shooting. Fifth period was just starting at 12:35 p.m. when a fire alarm caused …

Wheelbarrow Strike of 1915

The Wheelbarrow Strike of 1915 was a union-management conflict centered upon Wheelbarrow Mine in Johnson County’s Spadra coal fields. Lawsuits subsequent to the strike remained in the court system until 1928 and resulted in the United Mine Workers (UMW) being found guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. Many of the miners in Johnson County were members of local unions formed by the regional District 21 of the UMW, and the Wheelbarrow Mine operated under union agreements. Complications with a small strike in 1910 prevented a new union contract from being created, and the Wheelbarrow mine came under the control of the Pennsylvania Mining Company (PMC), which had been founded by the Pennsylvania businessman James Gearhart earlier that year. Because of …

White Flight

“White flight”—the departure of white residents from racially mixed cities to heavily white suburban enclaves in reaction to court-ordered school desegregation—occurred in several urban communities in Arkansas. Related changes occurred in other communities in the state during the same period, especially in the Arkansas Delta. There, many white families moved children into private, all-white “academies” as desegregation was implemented. In addition, many families—both white and black—chose to depart such communities entirely, although it seems clear that those demographic changes were caused more by a sense of economic hopelessness than school politics. While towns such as Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) evidenced “white flight” in the aftermath of court orders in the latter decades of the twentieth century, it was in the …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (April 14, 1864)

  The Skirmish at White Oak Creek occurred on the evening of April 14, 1864, the day before Union forces seized the city of Camden (Ouachita County). Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr led the Cavalry Division of the VII Corps to a position along the creek before sunset and set up camp for the evening. Prior to retiring for the night, Carr dispatched 500 Union troops down the Washington Road, 250 men at the junction of the Washington Road and the road from Lone Grove to Camden, and 250 men to a crossroad one and a half miles away. There was also a Confederate reconnaissance group of sixty men within half a mile of Carr’s position that had met and …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (September 29, 1864)

  As part of the Fort Smith Expedition, the Skirmish at White Oak Creek was a culmination of skirmishes beginning with Clarksville (Johnson County) on September 28 and ending with Union forces arriving at Van Buren (Crawford County) on the evening of September 30. Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Infantry had his troops camp three miles beyond Clarksville on the evening of September 28. To their dismay, Confederate forces bushwhacked the Union camp on all sides. Union skirmishers drove Confederates away until dark. Throughout the night and into the early morning, Confederate forces attempted to cross Union pickets in the midst of a severe storm but failed in every attempt. One Union soldier was killed during these attempts. …

White River and Attack on the Steamer Clara Bell, Operations on the

The Union army undertook the operations on the White River in late July 1864 to protect the lines of communication between the Mississippi River and Major General Frederick Steele’s headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County) as Confederate brigadier general Joseph O. Shelby’s troops rampaged through eastern Arkansas. Shelby and his men crossed the Arkansas River in May 1864 and began operations behind Union lines, including a June attack in Clarendon (Monroe County) in which they captured and sank the USS Queen City on the White River. On June 22, some 300 Confederates under Colonel Robert Lawther attacked Captain J. R. C. Hunter’s fifty-man command from the Twelfth Iowa Infantry in their camp at the mouth of the White, retreating under …

White River Expedition (August 5–8, 1862)

The White River Expedition of August 5–8, 1862, consisted of a small portion of the Union navy in Arkansas traveling from Helena (Phillips County) down the Mississippi River to the mouth of the White River to perform reconnaissance and overcome any possible Confederate forces hiding along the shoreline. Led by Colonel Isaac Shepard on board the steamer Iatan and Lieutenant Colonel Bischoff, a fleet of four gunboats, three rams, and one steamer departed on August 5at 10:30 p.m., with the exception of the gunboat White Cloud, as it remained in port taking in coal. At 3:00 a.m. on August 6, the fleet reached Old Town (Phillips County), where the gunboats continued their operation along the river and the other ships …