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

L’Anguille Ferry, Skirmish at

On August 3, 1862, a skirmish took place at L’Anguille Ferry, just north of Marianna (Lee County). The skirmish was in direct response to a Union victory at the Action at Hill’s Plantation, which took place July 7. The Confederate victory at L’Anguille Ferry resulted in Union troops in eastern Arkansas remaining near the Mississippi River until the following year. One of the regiments so affected by the Action at Hill’s Plantation in Woodruff County was that of Colonel William H. Parsons of Texas. He planned to avenge his loss to the Union at Hill’s Plantation. With the blessing of General Thomas C. Hindman, he went searching for a target. The First Wisconsin Cavalry, under the command of Colonel Edward …

Lady Baxter

Lady Baxter is a Civil War–era sixty-four-pounder siege gun that was used by forces loyal to Elisha Baxter in the Brooks-Baxter War, his 1874 altercation with Joseph Brooks over the governorship of Arkansas during Reconstruction. The cannon is on display on the grounds of the Old State House Museum in Little Rock (Pulaski County). During the Civil War, the siege gun that would become known as Lady Baxter was part of the armaments of the CSS Pontchartrain, one of two Confederate gunboats that plied Arkansas’s waters. Along with most of the Pontchartrain’s other heavy weapons, the gun was removed from the vessel to provide cannon for Fort Hindman, the major earthwork guarding the Confederate garrison at Arkansas Post. A Union …

LaGrange, Skirmish at

The Skirmish at LaGrange was fought on May 1, 1863, as Federal cavalrymen from the Union base at Helena (Phillips County) sought Confederate horsemen operating in the area. Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman ordered Captain John Q. A. DeHuff of Company B, Third Iowa Cavalry, to lead 160 men of his regiment toward LaGrange (Lee County) on the morning of May 1, 1863, “and endeavor to learn the movements, if any[,] of the enemy”—most likely Confederate horsemen in Archibald Dobbins’s Arkansas Cavalry Regiment who were operating “between [the] White and Mississippi Rivers” at the time. The Federal column had advanced to within a mile of LaGrange when its advance guard, twenty-nine men of Company D under Lieutenant William C. Niblack, …

Lamb’s Plantation, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Helena (August 1, 1864)
  Part of the Confederate campaign to disrupt Union operations in eastern Arkansas in the summer of 1864, the Skirmish at Lamb’s Plantation pitted Southern cavalry against freed slaves and Northern civilians. While this was not a major military engagement, the Confederates were successful in their attack and forced many of the families in the area from their land, while tying up Federal troops. Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby commanded a brigade of Missouri cavalry in eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Shelby was tasked with gathering recruits for the Southern cause, stopping bands of guerrillas from attacking civilians, and wreaking as much havoc as possible on Union outposts in the area. He tried to avoid a major engagement with Federal …

Lawrenceville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Green's Farm
This short skirmish appears to have taken place as part of general operations in southeastern Arkansas, with no direct connection to any larger Civil War campaign. At 7:00 a.m. on November 19, 1863, Major William J. Teed led the Eighth Missouri Cavalry (US) in an attack against a Confederate force commanded by Major John B. Cocke, eight miles west of Lawrenceville (Monroe County) on the farmland of a Dr. Green. Teed’s force captured and destroyed cooking utensils and a variety of other material goods and foodstuffs. The estimated casualties amounted to four Confederates killed. A claim made by local citizens that Maj. Cocke and a Lieutenant McBride numbered among the Confederate dead could not be confirmed by Teed. Maj. Cocke, …

Lewisburg to Strahan’s Ferry, Expedition from

The expedition for Lewisburg (Conway County) to Strahan’s Landing (Johnson County) saw a Union anti-guerrilla operation’s mission shift to protecting steamboats carrying desperately needed supplies to the garrison at Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Major George L. Childress left the Union base at Brownsville (Lonoke County) on November 21, 1864, with 300 men of the Eighth Missouri Cavalry Regiment (US) and 200 troopers of the Ninth Iowa Cavalry under Major Willis Drummond for temporary duty at Lewisburg, where Colonel Abraham Ryan’s Third Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) was involved in heavy anti-guerrilla activity. After arriving on November 24, the cavalrymen from Brownsville were sent out two days later to “scour [the] country above Dover (Pope County) and on the Big Piney.” After …

Lewisburg, Scouts from (August 11–14, 1864)

The scouts by troops from the Third Arkansas Cavalry Regiment (US) from Lewisburg (Conway County) were sent out in search of Confederate troops and guerrillas as General Joseph O. Shelby’s men operated in north-central and eastern Arkansas in the late summer of 1864. Shelby’s troops had been operating north of the Arkansas River and between the White and Mississippi rivers since May 1864, forcing irregular troops into service with established regiments, conscripting every male aged fifteen to fifty into Confederate service, sinking the USS Queen City in Clarendon (Monroe County), and skirmishing with U.S. soldiers throughout the region. In early August, Shelby sent Colonel Archibald Dobbins to attack federally leased farms in Phillips County while Colonel Thomas McCray gathered recruits …

Lewisburg, Scouts from (June 1864)

The scouts from Lewisburg (Conway County) were conducted in an effort to locate Confederate troops under Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby who were recruiting soldiers and attacking Union targets in central and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Shelby drove off troops from the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) and Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US) garrisoning Dardanelle (Yell County) in the early hours of May 17, 1864, and spent the next two days moving approximately 1,200 Confederate soldiers across the Arkansas River to begin operations behind Federal lines along the river. Union forces struggled to determine the location of the Confederate force and, by late May, had abandoned their bases at Batesville (Independence County) and Jacksonport (Jackson County). Shelby officially took …

Lewisburg, Scouts from (September 6–12, 1864)

A flurry of Union scouting expeditions set out from Lewisburg (Conway County) between September 6 and 12, 1864, as Colonel Abraham H. Ryan tried to determine the locations of Confederate troops while Major General Sterling Price was beginning his invasion of Missouri in the fall of 1864. Ryan, commanding the Third Arkansas Cavalry (US) from its base at Lewisburg on the Arkansas River, began sending scouting expeditions into the region on September 6 to determine where Price’s troops were operating; they, in fact, were beginning to cross the Arkansas at Dardanelle (Yell County) on September 6. A patrol of the Third Arkansas scattered Confederate pickets and captured thirteen horses at Norristown (Pope County) on the same day. Ryan dispatched scouts …

Lewisburg, Skirmish at

Lewisburg (Conway County), a thriving town in the 1860s, was the site of a significant occupation force of Union troops during the Civil War. Located about fifty miles west of Little Rock (Pulaski County), it was the first and most significant river port along the way to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Indian Territory. Federal troops under the command of General Frederick Steele raised the U.S. flag there on September 28, 1863, and remained there as an occupation force until August 1865. As Conway County had divided interests and loyalties, two Union companies were raised there soon after the Rebels abandoned their relatively unprotected positions in late 1863. These units were assigned to the newly formed Third Arkansas Regimental Cavalry …

Lick Creek Expedition

aka: Helena Expedition (March 6–10, 1863)
aka: Big Creek Expedition
  The Lick Creek Expedition was an attempt to find Confederate forces located around Big and Lick creeks in Phillips County. On March 6, 1863, Brigadier General Benjamin M. Prentiss in Helena (Phillips County) dispatched 500 men from the Fifth Kansas Cavalry under the command of Major Samuel Walker. After searching for Confederate forces for two days, Walker reported back to Prentiss early on March 8 that they could not find any Confederates in the area. Walker took a different approach and advised Major Edward F. Winslow of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry to cross Big Creek while he moved across another area of the creek. Both Maj. Walker and Maj. Winslow encountered small Confederate forces; Winslow killed one Confederate, destroyed their …

Lick Creek, Skirmish at

With the capture of Helena (Phillips County) on the Mississippi River, Federal forces had a tenuous foothold in Arkansas. Deep in enemy territory, the Union troops were forced to constantly patrol against the threat of a Confederate attack on the city. When Federal units did leave the city, they were likely to draw the attention of enemy forces and be attacked. Colonel Powell Clayton of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry led an expedition from Helena on January 11, 1863, in the direction of the White River. On January 12, Lieutenant James Bradford, commanding twenty-five men of the Second Wisconsin Cavalry, left on a mission to deliver a number of dispatches back to Helena from the expedition. Leaving the expedition near Big …

Limestone Valley, Skirmish at

A small skirmish between Arkansas Federals and Confederate-leaning guerrillas in the rugged Ozark Mountains, this engagement was part of an effort to keep Confederate forces both from attacking Union units and from terrorizing the local population. This engagement is typical of the type of fighting at this point of the war between Union forces and irregular units. On April 14, 1864, Colonel John Phelps of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) ordered Major James Melton to take 110 men and move against a guerrilla force nearby under the command of a man known as Sissell (quite likely John Cecil). Melton and his men departed the next day. Captain John Bailey and his company were ordered to work with Melton’s unit in …

Little Red River, Skirmish at (June 6, 1864)

aka: Skirmish at Beeler's Ferry
On May 27, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby was promoted to command all Arkansas Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River. Earlier that month, Union forces concluded their disastrous Camden Expedition and for the remainder of the war in Arkansas were reluctant to launch any large-scale operations outside of defending their own garrisons and supply lines. Shelby had about 1,200 men under his command at the time of his promotion, and during the next three months, he aggressively recruited men of fighting age within his jurisdiction, many of whom were deserters evading conscription or bushwhackers. In a letter to Major General Sterling Price dated July 27, Shelby boasted that he had 5,000 men under his command. The number was likely …

Little Red River, Skirmish at (May 17, 1862)

The Skirmish at Little Red River on May 17, 1862, was one of many that took place as foraging parties of Union major general Samuel R. Curtis searched for much needed provisions. On this rainy Saturday morning, about 100 Rebels, loosely organized but determined to thwart the Federals in their advance toward Little Rock (Pulaski County), attacked the foraging party sent by Colonel George E. Waring Jr. of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry. This skirmish—which took place two days before the most significant engagement in White County, the Action at Whitney’s Lane—coupled with skirmishes continuing into June, ultimately led to Curtis’s abandonment of his assignment to take the capital city and assume military authority over the state. Following the Union victory …

Little Red River, Skirmishes at (June 5 and 7, 1862)

As the Federal forces under Major General Samuel R. Curtis attempted to move from Batesville (Independence County) down the Little Red River area toward Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Rebels were determined to keep up the constant harassment of the enemy. During May and June 1862, Rebel forces repeatedly thwarted Curtis’s efforts to advance toward his goal of capturing Little Rock and assuming control over the capital city and the Arkansas River and its tributaries. The skirmishes in early June that occurred near the Little Red River—following the most significant action in White County, the Action at Whitney’s Lane—contributed greatly to the abandonment of Curtis’s objective. The Little Red River flows through north-central Arkansas for approximately 100 miles, merging on …

Little River, Skirmish at

Throughout the Civil War, dangerous bands of guerrillas roamed throughout Mississippi County, Arkansas, and the adjacent Missouri counties of Dunklin and Pemiscot, terrorizing citizens with looting, murder, and other forms of lawlessness. Due to the rampant activities of these renegades, composed primarily of Confederate deserters and civilian sympathizers, commerce in affected communities came to a standstill. As part of a concerted effort by Union military commanders to suppress these activities, Captain Valentine Preuitt received orders on April 5, 1864, from Major John W. Rabb (Second Missouri Artillery, Commanding at New Madrid, Missouri) to lead a scouting expedition from New Madrid into the aforementioned districts. Departing camp in the early hours of April 6, Capt. Preuitt’s expedition, comprising Companies G, K, …

Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad

The Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) railroad span was organized in November 1853 as the Little Rock and Fort Smith Branch of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company. In 1859, while it was still a company only on paper, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a proposed act allowing the Little Rock and Fort Smith Branch to merge with the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad, forming the Central Pacific Railroad. This merger never happened, but it clearly shows the manipulation of railroad markets in Arkansas. The start of the Civil War in 1861 postponed plans for the proposed Little Rock and Fort Smith Branch. Following the war, in 1866, Congress gave the State of Arkansas ten alternating …

Little Rock Arsenal, Seizure of the

The seizure of the Little Rock Arsenal was an event during the secession crisis of 1861. The people of Arkansas were contemplating leaving the Union, and armed volunteer companies from around the state took control of the Federal arsenal from soldiers of the U.S. Army. The crisis began in November 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. In response to the prodding of Governor Henry Rector, the Arkansas House of Representatives passed a bill on December 22, calling for voters to decide if a state secession convention should be held and, if so, select delegates to attend. The state Senate passed the bill on January 15, 1861, and the election was set for February 18. During …

Little Rock Campaign

aka: Arkansas Expedition
The Little Rock Campaign was a Civil War campaign in which the Union army under Major General Frederick Steele maneuvered Confederate troops under Major General Sterling Price out of the Arkansas capital, thus returning Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Federal control in 1863 and giving the Union effective control of the strategically important Arkansas River Valley. Conditions were right for a Federal campaign to capture Little Rock and add it to the list of Union-controlled capitals of states that had seceded. The July 4, 1863, Battle of Helena had cost Confederate attackers heavy casualties and crippled their morale. The fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the same day made thousands of Union soldiers available for duty on other fronts. Authorities in …

Little Rock Convention of Colored Citizens (1865)

With only a month remaining in 1865, not long after the Civil War ended, African-American leaders and their white allies and guests met in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Arkansas met from Thursday, November 30, through Saturday, December 2. Conventions of African Americans, led by free blacks, had been held frequently in cities in the North in the three decades before the outbreak of the Civil War. Continuing in that tradition, the Colored Convention in Little Rock was an organized effort by African Americans in Arkansas to make their commitment to the duties and rights of full citizenship known to white political and economic leaders, even in the state’s uncertain new postwar reality. …

Little Rock Fortifications (Civil War)

Both Confederate and Union forces constructed fortifications to protect Arkansas’s capital between 1863 and 1865, with the Confederates concentrating their efforts on the north side of the river while Union works were built primarily south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Following the Confederate defeat in the July 4, 1863, Battle of Helena, most of the Confederate troops in the state fell back to central Arkansas and braced for a Union offensive toward Little Rock. Major General Sterling Price reported that, in late July, “I commenced the construction of a line of rifle-pits and other defensive works on the north side of the Arkansas [River], and pushed them forward to completion as rapidly as I could.” The works stretched from Big …

Little Rock National Cemetery

Little Rock National Cemetery is the largest national cemetery in Arkansas and the only one closed to new interments. It is unknown when the first interment took place, or who it was, because the cemetery was part of the city cemetery at the time. The last active-duty burial was a man from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) killed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 20, 1996. In 1866, the land that is now the cemetery was outside the city limits of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and served as a Union encampment for the troops who continued to occupy the city. In September 1866, the first 9.1 acres were …

Little Rock to Benton, Scout from (March 27–31, 1864)

The March 27–31, 1864, Scout from Little Rock to Benton was undertaken after the bulk of the Federal forces in Little Rock (Pulaski County) marched south on March 23, 1864, to participate in the Camden Expedition, leaving a vacuum in the region that was soon filled by guerrillas and cotton thieves. Captain Enoch H. Vance of Company E, Fourth Arkansas Cavalry (US), led troopers from his regiment out of Little Rock at 3:00 a.m. on March 27, 1864, toward Benton (Saline County). Circling to the west, the party had just passed Brown’s tannery when they spotted two guerrillas. The column’s advance troops gave chase, but the bushwhackers escaped, though Vance observed that “one of them was run so close that …

Little Rock to Benton, Scout from (November 27–30, 1864)

The November 27–30, 1864, scouting expedition from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Benton (Saline County) was undertaken in an effort to engage with Confederate forces south of the Union base in the capital. Captain William Hawley of the Third U.S. Cavalry Regiment led detachments of the Third U.S. and the Third Missouri Cavalry Regiment out of Little Rock on November 27, 1864, taking the road toward Jenkins’ Ferry. After the Federals rode about eight miles, Confederate guerrillas fired on their advance troops. The U.S. soldiers returned fire, and “every effort [was] made to capture them, but without success,” though a citizen riding with the bushwhackers was arrested and sent to Little Rock. The command rode another twenty-eight miles before camping …

Little Rock to Benton, Scout from (September 6–7, 1864)

Union cavalrymen conducted the scout from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Benton (Saline County) to determine what Confederate forces were in the area as Major General Sterling Price began his invasion of Missouri in the fall of 1864. Two women came into Little Rock on September 3, 1864, and reported that they had been detained by Price’s army about nine miles south of the Saline River two days earlier. They said that Price, Brigadier General John Sappington Marmaduke, and one other Confederate general were in the camp, that Brigadier General William Lewis Cabell and his cavalry brigade were in Benton, and that the Confederate troops “declared that they were going to have Little Rock before the end of the week.” …

Little Rock to Clear Lake, Scout from

aka: Skirmish at Clear Lake
aka: Skirmish at Plum Bayou
The March 10–13, 1865, Union scout from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Clear Lake by the Third Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment ended with an ambush by a large group of bushwhackers that left several Federal soldiers wounded—two mortally—and eleven men prisoners of war. On the evening of March 9, 1865, Brigadier General Frederick Salomon sent a message to Brigadier General Powell Clayton, saying, “I am at this hour starting a small scout into the Clear Lake neighborhood”—near present-day England (Lonoke County)—after learning that around twenty-five Confederate guerrillas were gathering there. He warned Clayton that the bushwhackers would likely fall back toward Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and asked if he could send a force to intercept them, a request Clayton denied since …

Little Rock to Mount Elba, Expedition from

aka: Scout from Pine Bluff toward Camden and Monticello (January 26–31, 1865)
The January 22–February 4, 1865, expedition from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Mount Elba (Cleveland County), which included two artillery batteries, three cavalry regiments, and six infantry regiments, was the last Union operation in the Civil War in Arkansas involving a relatively large number of combined-arms troops. On January 22, 1865, a Union force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery left Little Rock for southwestern Arkansas to confront Confederates who one Iowan said were “attacking our pickets, making forays upon our baggage trains, and committing depredations generally.” Led by Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr, the expedition would pick up additional troops at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and would ultimately consist of the First Iowa, First Missouri, and Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry Regiments; …

Little Rock, Skirmish at (September 2, 1864)

  The skirmish at the tannery near Little Rock (Pulaski County) proved a minor affair but provided local Union forces with intelligence on the whereabouts of area Confederate movements and posts. On September 2, 1864, Captain Thomas J. Mitchell of the Third Missouri Cavalry reported that approximately seventy-five Confederate troops attacked the Union forces at the tannery but failed to repel them. The number of Confederate wounded is unknown, while Union forces lost several horses but captured a Confederate soldier. The Confederate prisoner informed Capt. Mitchell that he belonged to Colonel John L. Logan’s regiment, consisting of 150 to 200 men, which started its march from Benton (Saline County) that morning. On the south side of the Saline River were …

Logan County Lynching of 1874

aka: Sarber County Lynching of 1874
Brothers William G. Harris and Randolph Harris and their brother-in-law Robert Skidmore were lynched in the early morning hours of August 6, 1874, after a mob took them from the jail in Roseville (Logan County), where they were being held for stealing horses. William Harris, age twenty-four, led a gang that had terrorized the area for several years. He had been arrested for the May 2, 1872, murder of a man named McCoy and McCoy’s son who had recently moved to Arkansas from Alabama; a contemporary newspaper article reported that “the trouble was about a saddle blanket, and was unprovoked by the McCoys.” Harris was freed on $10,000 bond, owing to “the flexible conscience of the judge and prosecuting attorney …

Longview, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Easling's Farm
  Longview, situated in the northwest corner of Ashley County on the Saline River, was an important transportation hub for antebellum Arkansans. When the Civil War broke out, it became even more important due to both armies’ desperate need of transportation routes for military operations. River routes were especially important in Arkansas, which had only thirty-eight miles of railroad tracks at the start of the war, the fewest of any Confederate state. By 1864, Union forces had captured the northern two-thirds of Arkansas, and the bulk of the remaining Confederate troops in the state had retreated to camps near Camden (Ouachita County). A Confederate pontoon bridge built over the Saline River at Longview made the town a crucial link between Confederate forces in …

Loudermilk, William Murphy

In 1952, Jonesboro (Craighead County) resident William M. Loudermilk became the last Confederate veteran to die in Arkansas; he had been the last survivor to have served in a North Carolina unit. At the time of his death, he was one of the nation’s last nine surviving Confederate veterans. Being a native of North Carolina, he had served in a unit from his home state but moved to Jonesboro sometime in the late 1880s. He lived in northeastern Arkansas for over sixty years until his death in 1952. William Murphy Loudermilk was born near Murphy, North Carolina, in Cherokee County on October 27, 1847. He was the fifth of nine children born to Daniel Loudermilk and Nellie Thompson Loudermilk. Little …

Lucas, George Washington

George Washington Lucas was a young soldier in a Missouri cavalry regiment during the Civil War. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for killing an Arkansas militia general in Benton (Saline County) in 1864. George Washington Lucas was born in 1845 in Brown County, Illinois, to wealthy physician Daniel B. Lucas and his wife, Sarah Ann Lucas; he had five brothers and a sister. After the Civil War began, the eighteen-year-old private crossed the Mississippi River to enlist in Company C of the Third Missouri Cavalry (US) at Palmyra, Missouri, on February 21, 1862; his occupation was listed as farmer. Lucas was engaged in several scouting expeditions while the Third Missouri served in Arkansas, including one on July 25, …

Lunenburg, Skirmish at

By the winter of 1863, much of Izard County was overrun by lawless bands of bushwhackers and guerrillas. Late that year, Union colonel Robert Livingston, commanding the First Nebraska Cavalry, was dispatched to Batesville (Independence County), having been commanded to bring some order to northern Arkansas. On January 19, Livingston dispatched a force of approximately forty-four troopers of the Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry Volunteers (US), led by Captain Taylor Baxter, to seek out and engage the Missouri cavalry of Colonel Thomas Freeman, which was known to be operating in the region. (Baxter was the brother of future governor Elisha Baxter.) The next day, Baxter’s force attacked Freeman’s forces camped in the Copper Valley near Lunenburg (Izard County). After a brief …