Entries - Entry Type: Event - Starting with P

Polk’s Plantation, Skirmish at

  On May 25, 1863, Confederate and Union forces engaged in a skirmish on and near Polk’s plantation, roughly six miles west of Helena (Phillips County). The fighting was part of the Federal army’s ultimately successful campaign to hold Helena for the Union. Union troops had occupied Helena since summer 1862, but Ulysses S. Grant’s need for men in his campaign against Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the spring of 1863 weakened the town’s garrison. Confederates under the command of General Theophilus Holmes, aware of Grant’s actions, wanted to retake Helena. A Federal scouting mission departed from Helena on the morning of May 25 and clashed with Confederate pickets along Little Rock Road. The Union forces consisted of roughly 150 cavalrymen from …

Pope County Militia War

The Pope County Militia War was a conflict between the Reconstruction government of the state and county partisans, some of them former Confederates, who opposed Reconstruction. It entailed the assassination of many local officials and is often seen as a prelude to the Brooks-Baxter War of 1874. Pope County, lacking a large slave economy, had been divided in terms of loyalty during the Civil War, and those divisions ran high even after the formal end of hostilities. In 1865, Governor Isaac Murphy appointed Archibald Dodson Napier, a former Federal officer, as sheriff of Pope County. On October 25, 1865, he and his deputy, Albert M. Parks, were both shot from ambush as they rode horseback along the old Springfield road …

Pope-Noland Duel

The Pope-Noland Duel took place in Arkansas Territory in 1831 between William Fontaine Pope and Charles Fenton Mercer (Fent) Noland. Little is known about Pope other than that he was the nephew and secretary of territorial governor John Pope, who was a member of the Democratic Party during his tenure in Arkansas. Fent Noland originally hailed from Virginia and was the son of politician and plantation owner William Noland, who drafted Virginia’s anti-dueling law. As a young lawyer, Fent Noland was mentored by James Woodson Bates, who was the first Arkansas territorial representative to the U.S. Congress, and went on to become a well-known writer who regularly published in the New York–based Spirit of the Times. The political scene in …

Pott’s Hill, Action at

aka: Skirmish at Big Sugar Creek
The Action at Pott’s Hill, also known as the Skirmish at Big Sugar Creek, on February 16, 1862, was the first engagement between Union and Confederate armies in Arkansas during the Civil War. The action was a precursor to the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7–8, 1862. As Brigadier General Samuel Curtis’s Union Army of the Southwest marched south toward Arkansas in February, pursuing Major General Sterling Price’s Confederate Army of the West, the Union front met the Confederate rear guard just across the Arkansas border, north of Pea Ridge (Benton County). Curtis, who had sent his men on a forced march south in search of the fleeing Confederates, was determined to engage Price’s army as soon as possible. …

Pounds, Winston (Lynching of)

Winston Pounds, accused of breaking into a white man’s house and assaulting his wife, was hanged by a mob near Wilmot (Ashley County) on August 25, 1927. Census records indicate that Winston Pounds Jr., born around 1906, was the son of farmer Winston Pounds and his wife, Florence Pounds. As sometimes happens, published accounts of the lynching vary significantly, especially between white-owned and African-American-owned newspapers. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Pounds, described as a “Negro farmhand,” entered the J. W. McGarry home while he and his wife were sleeping and assaulted Mrs. McGarry. She screamed, and he fled. Some accounts say that J. W. McGarry was actually in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and that Mrs. McGarry’s sister was staying with …

Powell, Charles (Lynching of)

On August 11, 1926, an African-American man named Charles Powell was lynched near Lewisville (Lafayette County) for allegedly murdering sheriff’s deputy James Dooley. According to the Shreveport Times, a warrant was issued for railroad worker Charles Powell on charges of beating his wife. On Wednesday morning, August 11, Deputy Dooley was sent to serve a warrant on Powell at the railway car on a side track of the Cotton Belt Railroad where he was living. Dooley was described by the Arkansas Gazette as “one of the most popular officers of the county,” while Powell was referred to as “a powerful negro…known as a bad actor” who had previously resisted arrest. When Dooley approached, Powell drew a pistol and shot Dooley …

Powell, Sam (Lynching of)

On July 6, 1910, an African-American man named Sam Powell was lynched near Huttig (Union County) for allegedly robbing A. E. Lucas and setting his house on fire. The Nashville Tennessean reported that Powell was only eighteen years old at the time. He may have been assisted in the crime by another African-American man named Claude Holmes. There is no record of a young African American named Sam Powell living in Arkansas in either 1900 or 1910. However, in 1900, an eight-year-old African American named Sam Powell was living in Lincoln Parish in northern Louisiana with his parents and eight siblings, and news stories about the lynching reported that Powell initially escaped to a lumber town named Rochelle in Grant …

Prairie D’Ane, Skirmish at

aka: Battle of Gum Grove
The Skirmish at Prairie D’Ane was an April 1864 battle in which Confederate troops tried to stop a Union advance into southwestern Arkansas. It was the second engagement of the Camden Expedition. After capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in September 1863, Union forces were in control of much of the state. From these two occupied cities, Federal troops could launch an attack into southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and eastern Texas. In March 1864, the Union launched an attack on northwest Louisiana and eastern Texas from Arkansas and New Orleans, Louisiana. The attack launched from New Orleans became known as the Red River Campaign, while the invasion launched from Little Rock became known as the Camden …

Prairie Grove Campaign

Spring 1862 was one of despair for Confederate Arkansas following the defeat at Pea Ridge (Benton County) and the capture of Helena (Phillips County) by the victorious Union army under the command of Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis. The arrival of Major General Thomas C. Hindman as commander of the Trans-Mississippi region in May brought a glimmer of hope, as he immediately began rebuilding the army protecting the state, encouraged the use of guerrilla warfare against the Union invaders, and established Confederate factories to provide much-needed supplies. Throughout the summer and fall, the armies in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas jockeyed for position and skirmished with each other, culminating with the Prairie Grove Campaign, which determined the fate of Missouri …

Prairie Grove, Battle of

The Battle of Prairie Grove was the last time two armies of almost equal strength faced each other for control of northwest Arkansas. When the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi withdrew from the bloody ground on December 7, 1862, the Union forces claimed a strategic victory. It seemed clear that Missouri and northwest Arkansas would remain under Federal protection. Brigadier General James G. Blunt’s Union command remained in the Cane Hill (Washington County) area after the engagement there on November 28. This encouraged Major General Thomas C. Hindman to attack the Federal troops with his Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) thirty miles away. The Southern army crossed the Arkansas River on December 3 and marched …

Pratt, Parley P. (Murder of)

Parley Parker Pratt, an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was murdered in Arkansas in 1857 and buried in the state, despite his wishes to be buried in Utah.The Van Buren (Crawford County) newspaper Arkansas Intelligencer, on May 15, 1857, deemed Pratt “a man of note among the Mormons.” While another notable event involving Mormons in Arkansas—the massacre of Arkansas emigrants four months later at Mountain Meadows, Utah—was formerly linked to Pratt’s murder in Arkansas, more recent inquiry suggests other circumstances may have ignited the violence at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857. Pratt was one of the key figures in the early Church leadership. Pratt’s writings, which include pamphlets, …

Presidential Visits

Until the second half of the twentieth century, the visit of a president of the United States (or even of a former president) was a historic event in Arkansas. The ease and affordability of travel—and the election of an Arkansas native as president in 1992 and 1996—have made presidential visits less noteworthy. The following chart lists the visits of presidents and former presidents to the state of Arkansas from statehood in 1836 through the year 1990. The occasions when future presidents were in Arkansas, such as Colonel Zachary Taylor’s time in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) from 1841 to 1845, are not listed. President Bill Clinton’s numerous return visits to Arkansas are not included, nor are visits by Presidents George H. …

Presley, Elvis (Arkansas Performances of)

Elvis Presley started his meteoric musical career in 1954 in Memphis, Tennessee, recording for Sam Phillips’s Sun Records. His style of music—combining country (called hillbilly in those days), gospel, blues, pop crooning, and rhythm and blues with his unique singing and dancing talents—can truly be said to have originated a particular brand of rock ‘n’ roll later dubbed rockabilly by music critics and DJs. His music career blossomed a second time in 1968 when he made a comeback after several years in the Hollywood doldrums. His second rise to fame and fortune continued until his death at his Graceland estate in Memphis on August 16, 1977, at the age of forty-two. Elvis’s presence in Arkansas has three general phases. First …

Princeton, Skirmish at (April 28, 1864)

  After Union major general Frederick Steele abandoned Camden (Ouachita County) and led his army back to Little Rock (Pulaski County), Confederate cavalry forces pursued the Federals as Confederate infantry units struggled to cross the Ouachita River. This action at Princeton (Dallas County) was a prelude to the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry on April 29–30, 1864. Confederate brigadier general Joseph O. Shelby dispatched the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion on April 28 to determine if the entire Union force had evacuated Camden. Before Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Elliott, commander of the First Missouri, departed, he sent scouting parties in several directions to find the Federals. Upon reaching Tulip (Dallas County), Elliott was contacted by one of his patrols under the command of Lieutenant …

Princeton, Skirmish at (December 8, 1863)

The December 8, 1863, Skirmish at Princeton was part of a Union reconnaissance mission out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to assess Confederate force strength and movement south of Princeton (Dallas County). The mission was led by Colonel Lewis Merrill under orders of Major General Frederick Steele, commander of Union forces in Arkansas. Merrill was told that Parsons’s Confederate cavalry brigade was camped near Princeton with artillery. Steele sought to have the enemy troops driven away from that position and wanted information about their positions, troop strength, and apparent intentions. Merrill was ordered to “exercise [his] own discretion as to when and how to advance, and also as to what was necessary to be done.” Concerns about the political and …

Prison Reform

The poor condition of Arkansas prisons has long been a subject of controversy in the state. The national prison system as a whole, and particularly in the South, was substandard up to the 1960s. Repeated scandal, evidence of extensive violence and rape, and violation of human rights brought national attention to Arkansas, placing pressure on the state to reform its penal system. Through a series of reforms beginning in 1967, the Arkansas prison system greatly improved, although issues of overcrowding still plague the state today. Calls for prison reform began in the late nineteenth century, especially with regard to the system of convict leasing, whereby prisoners were rented out to labor for private enterprises, often in horrible conditions. Governor George …

Pro-ISIL Hack of Arkansas Library Association

In 2016, a pro-ISIL group hacked the website of the Arkansas Library Association (ArLA) and released the membership directory to other ISIL supporters as a scare tactic, although the breach had few consequences for the organization. In June 2014, the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also called Islamic State (IS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), declared a global caliphate (Islamic state ruled by a religious leader). By March 2015, ISIL had established its rule over sizeable portions of Syria and Iraq and benefitted from sympathetic supporters around the world. Starting in 2015, pro-ISIL supporters began waging indiscriminate cyberattacks against various Western websites and databases. Hackers specifically targeted websites …

Pugsley v. Sellmeyer

Pugsley v. Sellmeyer is the title of an Arkansas Supreme Court case that dealt with a disciplinary decision made by the school district of Knobel (Clay County) pertaining to a student being suspended for wearing talcum powder on her face. The case has been cited in other legal actions, namely in students’ rights lawsuits, and appears in various books focusing on these matters. At the beginning of the 1921–22 academic year, Knobel High School principal N. E. Hicks informed a student assembly of new rules of conduct adopted by the district’s school board. One of the mandates prohibited female students from wearing low-necked dresses or immodest clothing, as well as banning cosmetics. Earlier in the day, senior Pearl Pugsley had …

Pulaski County Lynching of 1894

On March 11, 1894, a group of African Americans discovered the body of a “mulatto” woman hanging from a tree about halfway between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Marche (Pulaski County). The woman was never identified but was estimated at thirty years old. The body, according to reports, appeared to have been there for several days (the Arkansas Gazette even described the corpse as “decayed”). Around her neck was a placard reading, “If any body cuts this body down, they will share the same fate.” As the Arkansas Gazette reported, “The woman is supposed to have been lynched, but when, by whom and for what reason no one is able to state.” Indeed, although this murder is typically counted among …

Pulaski County Reported Lynching of 1889

In rural Pulaski County in 1889, three or four men were reportedly lynched for having beaten a prosperous farmer to death while robbing or attempting to rob him. However, the reports surrounding this event are very vague and sometimes contradictory. Although this event is included in many tabulations of lynching victims for the state, there may be reason for doubting whether a lynching actually occurred. National reports provide the most details about this event. For example, the December 18, 1889, report in the Indianapolis Journal, is one of many similar articles that circulated nationally. On Saturday, December 14, 1889, Henry Wright, described as a “well-to-do farmer,” was on his way to Fletcher’s store in the community of Big Maumelle when …