Entries - Time Period: Civil War through Reconstruction (1861 - 1874) - Starting with A

Adams, Charles William

Charles William Adams served as a Confederate general in Arkansas. A planter and lawyer from Helena (Phillips County), Adams served at the Battle of Prairie Grove and later as the commander of the Northern Sub-District of the Confederate Department of Arkansas. Adams is sometimes cited as a Confederate general from Arkansas, but he never officially reached that rank. Adams is the maternal grandfather of Helen Keller. Charles Adams was born on August 16, 1817, to Benjamin and Susannah Adams in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved with his family to New Albany, Indiana, in 1819. Growing up in that city, Adams worked in a mercantile house before moving to Helena in 1835. He later became a cashier at the Real Estate Bank …

Adams, Samuel

Samuel Adams served as acting governor of Arkansas from April 29, 1844, to November 9, 1844. As president of the state Senate, Adams became governor when Arkansas’s second state governor, Archibald Yell, resigned after being elected to Congress only six months before the end of his term. After his time as acting governor, Adams went on to serve as state treasurer until his retirement. Samuel Adams was born in Halifax County, Virginia, on June 5, 1805, to Sylvester Adams and Fanny (Smith) Adams. When he was a child, his family moved to Humphreys County, Tennessee, where he lived until 1835. Adams was self-taught as there was no formal schooling in this rural area. At the age of nineteen, he married …

American Missionary Association

The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a nondenominational abolitionist society dedicated to providing education and political rights to African Americans. Founded on the premise that denying citizenship to African Americans was a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the AMA sought to find solutions to what was called the “Negro problem” in a divided America. In Arkansas, the AMA focused its efforts on providing education to freedmen and women, seeking to train them to survive in the antebellum South. Although the AMA’s efforts in Arkansas lasted barely a decade, the educational push of the organization persists in several remaining educational institutions. The AMA was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 1846 through the merger of a group of abolitionists who …

Andrews, Christopher Columbus

As a Union brigadier general, Christopher Columbus Andrews distinguished himself in numerous military campaigns in Arkansas. After the Civil War, he had a successful career as an author and diplomat. Born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, on October 27, 1829, to Luther Andrews and Nabby Beard Andrews, Christopher Columbus Andrews attended Francestown Academy and studied law both privately and at Harvard University. Andrews passed the Massachusetts bar examination in 1850 and, soon thereafter, migrated to Kansas Territory, where he advocated for Kansas’s admission as a free state. Andrews moved to Minnesota in 1856, where he established a law practice and published a series of letters based on his travels throughout the territory. He discussed the area’s Native American culture and championed …

Arkadelphia Male and Female Institute

aka: Arkadelphia Institute
aka: Arkadelphia Female Seminary
aka: Arkadelphia Female College
aka: Arkadelphia Female Academy
Several educational institutions with variations of the name Arkadelphia Male and Female Institute operated in Arkadelphia (Clark County) during the nineteenth century. The first opened in 1850. Arkadelphia was the seat of Clark County, with a population of 248 in 1850. With a newspaper, several churches, and a saloon, the town was one of the larger settlements along the Ouachita River. Early efforts to open a school in the town began in 1843. That year, an election was held in Arkadelphia to select three trustees to create a school and sell part of the sixteenth section on the west side of the Ouachita. Three trustees were elected, but one died before taking office, and little progress was made toward opening …

Arkadelphia, Skirmish at

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, an attack on northwest Louisiana and eastern Texas was launched from both Arkansas and New Orleans, Louisiana. Leaving Little Rock on March 23, Major General Frederick Steele set out to help the Union column from New Orleans capture Shreveport, Louisiana, which was the headquarters for the Confederate Trans-Mississippi. Arriving in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on March 29, Steele remained for three days waiting for reinforcements from Fort Smith under the command of Brigadier General John …

Arkansas Cannon, Seizure of

aka: United States v. Six Boxes of Arms
This court case involved the seizure of a cannon in the North intended for a state in the South on the cusp of secession and, thereby, epitomized the political and military tensions that characterized the final months of sectional breakdown prior to the Civil War. The decision rendered in this case also established an important legal precedent in relation to lawful seizure of property and the retention of legal ownership with war on the horizon. On February 15, 1861, William J. Syms and Samuel R. Syms of the New York City munitions supply firm of W. J. Syms and Brother contracted with the State of Arkansas for an order of munitions to be delivered in two parts in early April. …

Arkansas Freeman

The Arkansas Freeman, which began publication on August 21, 1869, was the first newspaper in Arkansas printed by an African American and focusing upon the black community. It was in publication for less than one year, having become symptomatic of the divisions within the Republican Party, particularly where African Americans were involved. The idea to found a black press was approved on June 20, 1869, by a committee of African Americans, led by local advocate Jerome Lewis, at Wesley Chapel Methodist Church on the campus of Philander Smith College; a dinner was later held at the City Hall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to raise funds to establish a newspaper. The committee included several ministers and community leaders who felt …

Arkansas Mounted Rifles [Civil War]

After Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861, state troops were mustered into the Confederate army in early July. Among them were two regiments, the First and Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles. These two regiments were formed into a brigade of Arkansas units under the command of Brigadier General Ben McCulloch, who oversaw the organization of these two special regiments at a rendezvous point near Bentonville (Benton County). He intended to use the Arkansas Mounted Rifles as a unique battalion that could not only ride with regular cavalry on horseback but also dismount and fight as infantry. McCulloch also felt that the Arkansas Mounted Rifles would make excellent scouts, given their familiarity with the territory. Their duties in the …

Arkansas Peace Society

The Arkansas Peace Society was a loose affiliation of local anti-Confederate groups that formed in response to Arkansas’s secession from the Union. These groups operated like secret societies in several north Arkansas counties until late in 1861, when local militias and the Confederate government of the state began carrying out large-scale arrests of perceived traitors in the region. The Arkansas Peace Society was quickly broken up, though north Arkansas contributed approximately ninety percent of soldiers from the state who fought for the Union, while jayhawkers and bushwhackers also roamed the area with some intensity. The upland counties of northern Arkansas, where slavery was not a major component of the local economy, contained a large number of people opposed to the …

Arkansas Post, Battle of

aka: Battle of Fort Hindman
aka: Battle of Post of Arkansas
The Battle of Arkansas Post, also known as the Battle of Fort Hindman, was a Civil War battle fought January 9–11, 1863, as Union troops under Major General John A. McClernand sought to stop Confederate harassment of Union shipping on the Arkansas River and possibly to mount an offensive against the Arkansas capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County). In the fall of 1862, Confederate officials ordered construction of fortifications on the Arkansas River. They selected high ground at a horseshoe bend in the river near the territorial-era village of Arkansas Post (Arkansas County) and constructed a large, square, heavily armed fortification. It was called Post of Arkansas by Confederates and Fort Hindman by the Union side. Brigadier General Thomas J. …

Arkansas River and Prairie Grove, Skirmishes at

Two related skirmishes that took place in northwestern Arkansas, these events were part of Confederate efforts to disrupt Union occupation activities. While ultimately inconsequential, these actions frustrated Federal commanders and led to more active campaigning in the state in an effort to stop Confederate forces. On the night of April 6, at least 500 Confederates crossed the Arkansas River near Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Colonel William Judson of the Union District of the Frontier claimed that they were Missourians working to disrupt agricultural efforts in the state. Union troops from the Fort Smith area engaged the Confederates that night, with six Federals being killed. On the evening of April 7, 1864, a party of Federal soldiers from the First Arkansas …

Arkansas River, Scout to

aka: Skirmish at Threkeld's Ferry
  While northwestern Arkansas was tentatively under Union control by early 1863, many Confederate partisan units still maintained a noticeable presence in the area. Large-scale campaigning in the region had evolved into regular scouting and reconnaissance missions, which many times developed into brutal small-scale skirmishes. On February 5, 1863, a force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Stuart consisting of 100 troopers from his own Tenth Illinois Cavalry and an additional 125 men from the First Arkansas Cavalry moved out of Fayetteville (Washington County) on a scouting expedition south to the Arkansas River. When the force reached the river (probably on February 7), approximately four miles below the mouth of Frog Bayou, it received intelligence revealing that a small Confederate force was …

Arkansas State Troops (CS)

aka: Army of Arkansas
On May 20, 1861, the Arkansas Secession Convention passed an ordinance creating an Army of Arkansas with a First Division in western Arkansas and a Second Division in the eastern part of the state. These were placed under the command of a major general, with brigadier generals heading the two divisions. The Army of Arkansas was to be controlled by the state Military Board, which the convention had formed five days earlier with the power to call out the militia and use it as needed to defend the state. Despite that, the convention elected James Yell as major general, Nicholas Bartlett Pearce of Benton County as brigadier of the First Division, and Thomas H. Bradley of Crittenden County to lead …

Ashley’s Station, Action at

aka: Action at Jones' Station
aka: Action at DeValls Bluff
The Action at Ashley’s Station was Confederate Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s attack on Union hay-cutting operations west of DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and the final action of a summer of Confederate raiding against Union targets in northeast Arkansas. In the summer of 1864, DeValls Bluff was a major depot for Federal cavalry stationed along the White River. Union authorities contracted with civilian hay cutters to operate in the Grand Prairie west of the White River stronghold and supply fodder for its thousands of horses and mules. On August 20, 1864, Shelby set out from camps around Searcy (White County) with 2,000 to 2,500 men to strike the railroad from Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County), believing he would …

Atkins, Jerry (Lynching of)

Jerry Atkins, a black man, was murdered in Union County on November 21, 1865, for having allegedly murdered two school-age children. The lynching was notable for the viciousness it exhibited, a brutality that foreshadowed later lynchings in the state and nation, as well as the fact that it was witnessed by federal troops still occupying the state following the Civil War. Little information exists regarding the lynching. According to an account of the event in the Goodspeed history of the area, Atkins waylaid and murdered two siblings on their way to school on November 7, 1865. The two children were Sarah K. Simpson, who was thirteen years old, and Jesse G. Simpson, eight. The diary of George W. Lewis of …

Augusta Expedition (December 7–8, 1864)

Fearing that several Confederate guerrillas and partisan bands were operating in northeastern Arkansas, Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews dispatched 100 men under Captain Joseph H. Swan to Augusta (Woodruff County) to capture enemy groups believed to be there. The expedition resulted in no combat, but intelligence was gathered regarding the movement of Confederates and the deprived condition of the civilian population. For Union troops stationed in northeastern Arkansas, constant rumors of the movement of guerrilla and partisan units kept Union troops busy. During November and early December 1864, Andrews, commanding the Second Division, Seventh Army Corps at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), had received reports on the movements of small enemy units under the command of Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn and …

Augusta Expedition (January 4–27, 1865)

In an effort to continue to conduct expeditions into northeastern Arkansas to disrupt Confederate and guerrilla activities, Union colonel Washington F. Geiger was dispatched with 1,050 men to occupy Augusta (Woodruff County) on January 4, 1865. Wet and cold conditions made travel difficult. Nonetheless, Geiger occupied the town from January 11 to January 24, 1865. Holding it for thirteen days, Geiger returned to Brownsville (Lonoke County); he had not engaged the enemy, but he captured seven prisoners and gained supplies from the region. The fatiguing task of occupation duty often meant moving troops to demonstrate projection of force capabilities, gathering intelligence, and/or acquiring supplies. Concerned about the movements of small Confederate and guerrilla groups in northeastern Arkansas in late 1864 …

Augusta, Skirmish at

Attempting to locate and destroy Confederate brigadier general Joseph Shelby somewhere in the Little Red River valley, Union forces under Colonel Washington F. Geiger engaged in a small skirmish in the town of Augusta (Woodruff County) on August 10, 1864. The small Confederate force fled the city. The presence of Brig. Gen. Shelby’s command in northeastern Arkansas plagued Union forces there. After two failed expeditions to destroy Shelby, Union major general Frederick Steele outfitted Brigadier General Joseph R. West in August 1864 with 3,094 men to locate and destroy Shelby, who was believed to be in the Little Red River valley. Brig. Gen. West divided his command into two provisional brigades. The first, commanded by Col. Geiger of the Eighth …