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

J. H. Miller

The stern-wheel steamer J. H. Miller joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron and served under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries during the Civil War, including expeditions on the White River. The capture and destruction of the J. H. Miller illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, almost a year after Union forces took control of Little Rock (Pulaski County). In February 1864, the J. H. Miller, displacing 130 tons, began chartered service on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Captain Stephen R. Harrington of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, reporting from camp thirty miles from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the north bank of the Arkansas River, an …

Jacksonport, Affair at

A brief engagement along the banks on the White River, this event was part of a Federal push to disrupt Confederate recruiting and organizational efforts in northern Arkansas.   Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Black of the Third Missouri Cavalry (US) led his command north from Little Rock (Pulaski County) in late November 1863. Passing through Old Austin (Lonoke County), the Federals joined a unit of Arkansan Unionists in engaging an enemy force. Pushing the Confederates back to Bayou Des Arc, Black dispersed the enemy before moving on to Searcy (White County). On November 21, Black sent a battalion under the command of Major John Lennon to Jacksonport (Jackson County) with orders to capture the ferry across the White River. About 100 …

Jacksonport, Attack on

Having moved to Jacksonport (Jackson County) from Batesville (Independence County) in April 1864 to improve supply allocation, communication, and potential access to reinforcements, Colonel Robert R. Livingston’s camps were attacked by a combined Confederate force commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Love on April 20, 1864. The attack was unsuccessful. Commanding the District of Northeastern Arkansas, Union colonel Robert R. Livingston was finding his post at Batesville difficult to maintain due to a lack of resources aggravated by guerrilla harassment of foraging expeditions. Over time, it became clear that movement down the White River to a more practical location such as Augusta (Woodruff County), or even as far as DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), was necessary. Leaving 450 men in Batesville, …

Jacksonport, Skirmish at

aka: Augusta Expedition (April 22–24, 1864)
On April 24, 1864, the advance guard of Colonel Robert R. Livingston’s column returning from an expedition to Augusta (Woodruff County) briefly engaged elements of J. H. McGehee’s Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry outside of Jacksonport (Jackson County). After a short skirmish, Livingston’s column returned to Jacksonport as planned. Moving from Batesville (Independence County) to Jacksonport, Colonel Livingston, commanding the District of Northeastern Arkansas, had planned to fortify a camp and gather much-needed supplies there before marching on to Augusta to clear supply lines further and obtain reinforcements. On April 20, 1864, Livingston’s men successfully defended Jacksonport from a surprise attack by Confederates. Later that night, he received a dispatch from Brigadier General Christopher C. Andrews in Augusta requesting that Livingston …

Jayhawkers and Bushwhackers

aka: Bushwackers and Jayhawkers
aka: Guerrillas (Civil War)
Jayhawker and bushwhacker designate the principal warring parties in the Civil War’s guerrilla conflict, although the names were not unique to Arkansas and actually predated the war by many years. While their application and meaning were never precise—a problem compounded by being woven into postwar folklore—they generally bore negative connotations. Originally, “jayhawker” referred to Union sympathizers, “bushwhacker” to Confederate sympathizers, but the distinction lost much of its meaning in the chaos of war. “Jayhawker” originated in Kansas, and according to some authorities, it came into use in the late 1840s. The name was inspired primarily by the predatory habits of the hawk, but it implied, too, the noisy, mischievous nature of the jay. The combination became the “jayhawk,” a bird …

Jenkins’ Ferry, Engagement at

The Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry occurred April 29–30, 1864, when Confederates caught the Federal army retreating from Camden (Ouachita County) near the Saline River. After intense combat, the Union troops crossed the river and returned to Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Camden Expedition had not gone well for Major General Frederick Steele. Poor logistical conditions and an increasing Confederate presence in southwestern Arkansas led to the abandonment of his planned invasion route toward Shreveport, Louisiana. Shifting eastward and capturing Camden, Steele hoped to find the logistical support necessary to continue his movement toward northwestern Louisiana. From Camden, Steele dispatched troops to obtain supplies. On April 18, 1864, the first foray resulted in the disastrous loss of some 301 combatants and …

John D. Perry

The side-wheel steamer John D. Perry joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron, serving under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including expeditions on the White River during the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Built by the Howard Shipyard of Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1858 and initially home-ported at Louisville, Kentucky, the John D. Perry displaced 382 tons. Its exact date of transfer to Federal service is not known, but John S. Nanson owned and piloted it as a river transport in Missouri in the late 1850s. In the first month of the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers briefly used the Perry in an unsuccessful attempt to transport ammunition southward down the Mississippi …

John Wilson Martin House

aka: Bradley County Historical Museum
The John Wilson Martin House in Warren (Bradley County), the oldest surviving residence in the town, was the home of a notable Civil War doctor. Now housing the Bradley County Historical Museum, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 27, 1990. John Wilson Martin was born on June 8, 1819, in Harrison County, Virginia, and went to New Orleans, Louisiana, around 1843 to attend lectures at Tulane University. He was settled in Warren by 1848, when he married Mary Elizabeth Franklin and established what became a flourishing medical practice. It was said that Martin would ride by “horseback all day to reach the frequently remote residences” of the sick. Martin’s medical practice was especially active, …

Johnson, George T. F.

aka: George Taylor
George Taylor F. Johnson received the Medal of Honor for valor while serving as an armorer onboard the USS Lackawanna during the Union navy’s operations against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Following the Civil War, he was a resident of Paragould (Greene County). Details of George Taylor F. Johnson’s life are largely unknown; even his name is listed in multiple variations, including George Taylor F. Johnson, George F. Taylor Johnson, and George Taylor (the medal was awarded under the name George Taylor). Sources say he was born on November 15, 1830, but they vary on the location of his birth. Some sources claim Redditch, in Worcestershire, England, while other sources claim Watertown, New York. Johnson enlisted in the U.S. …

Johnson, James Madison

James Madison Johnson migrated to Arkansas shortly after statehood in 1836. He rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general in the Union army during the Civil War, was twice elected to the U.S. Congress (though he was never seated), and served as the state’s second Reconstruction-era lieutenant governor. James Madison Johnson was born in Warren County, Tennessee. The year of his birth is uncertain, with sources listing 1829, 1832, or 1833; however, 1833 is recorded on the headstone marking his grave, and December 8 is the agreed-upon day. He was the son of James Martin Johnson and Elizabeth Dunagin Johnson. In about 1836, Johnson and his family moved to Arkansas, settling in Madison County. He attended Arkansas College and …

Jonesboro, Skirmish at

In 1862, Jonesboro was a small hamlet and the Craighead County seat on Crowley’s Ridge. Captain Mitchell A. Adair, fresh from the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Corinth, was sent home to Jonesboro (Craighead County) with some of the Twenty-third Arkansas Infantry for rest and relaxation. Memphis, Tennessee, fell into Union hands in June 1862, and Adair and his men were not able to rejoin the Twenty-third Arkansas on the east side of the Mississippi River. As there was no local Confederate force to protect local property and citizens, Adair and the men of Craighead County volunteered and helped form Company I of the Thirtieth Arkansas Infantry on July 2, 1862, at Jonesboro. They were assigned to the …