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

Napoleon Expedition

By the summer of 1862, Federal forces under the command of Major General Samuel Curtis occupied the city of Helena (Phillips County). After the activation of the Emancipation Proclamation in early 1863, one of the regiments being formed at Helena was the Second Arkansas Regiment (African Descent). In May 1863, an expedition was sent down the Mississippi River to gather additional recruits for the regiment. Major General Benjamin Prentiss ordered that the steamboat Pike—escorted by a detachment of the First Indiana Cavalry, Thirty-sixth Iowa Infantry, and twenty-five men of the Second Arkansas Regiment (African Descent) with one howitzer—embark upon a recruitment expedition. The force, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George W. DeCosta of the Second Arkansas, left Helena on …

Napoleon, Seizure of Ordnance Stores at

United States military supplies were frequently captured across the South as states began to secede in late 1860 and early 1861. While the seizure of the Little Rock Arsenal is a well-known example of state troops taking control of Federal military posts, the capture of other posts and military supplies took place in the state during the secession crisis, including the seizure of ordnance stores at Napoleon (Desha County). The debate over secession intensified in November 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected as president of the United States. In response to the prodding of Arkansas governor Henry Rector and other pro-secessionist politicians, the House of Representatives in the Arkansas General Assembly passed a bill on December 22, 1860, calling for …

Nelson, Allison

Allison Nelson was the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia; a state legislator; and a brigadier general in the Confederate army. He died while serving in Arkansas and is buried in the state. Allison Nelson was born on March 11, 1822, in Fulton County, Georgia, the son of John Nelson; his mother’s name is unrecorded. His father was a ferry operator on the Chattahoochee River and was murdered in 1825. Nelson married Mary Sledge Greene in 1840, and the couple would eventually have two daughters and a son. During the Mexican War, Nelson raised a company of volunteers from Georgia and was elected as captain of the unit, known as the Kennesaw Rangers. The Georgians never saw any action during the war, …

Newspapers during the Civil War

When the Civil War began in 1861, Arkansas was still basically a frontier state, with thirty to forty small newspapers; only about ten remained by 1862. By the end of the war in 1865, only one of those newspapers, the Washington Telegraph in Hempstead County, had published throughout the conflict. The Arkansas State Gazette suspended publication in 1863 but restarted in May 1865. Arkansas’s newspapers were weeklies with small staffs—primarily just editors and printers. The papers were highly partisan, poorly documented, and had little fresh news from the outside world. The papers got much of their outside news through exchanges, in which editors mailed free copies of their papers to each other. The editors then selected news items from these …

Newton, Robert Crittenden

Robert Crittenden Newton was a noted Confederate officer who served in several roles during the Civil War. He attained the rank of colonel and led a brigade during part of his service. Robert C. Newton was born on June 2, 1840, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to U.S. Representative Thomas Newton and Mary Allen Newton. He had three brothers and a sister. Thomas Newton died in 1853, and Mary Newton married James Johnson, a planter. Newton studied at the Western Military Institute in Tennessee and with private tutors in Little Rock before serving as the deputy clerk for the Pulaski County Circuit Court. Studying for the bar at the same time, Newton became a lawyer in 1860. While practicing law, …

Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Nineteenth Arkansas Infantry Regiment was the name of several separate units that served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. The earliest unit organized that became known as the Nineteenth Arkansas mustered in at Nashville (Howard County) in November 1861. The ten companies of the regiment were raised in Pike, Polk, Sevier, and Scott counties. The unit became known as Dawson’s Nineteenth to distinguish it from other regiments with the same number and in honor of its first colonel, C. L. Dawson. While present at the Battle of Pea Ridge, the regiment did not see any action. One of the few units not to move east of the Mississippi River after the battle, the Nineteenth Arkansas served in …

Ninth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Ninth Arkansas Infantry Regiment was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. The regiment was created on July 20, 1861, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Comprising mainly companies from southeastern Arkansas, the regiment had units from Drew, Jefferson, Bradley, and Ashley counties. The one company not from that corner of the state hailed from Mississippi County. The elected colonel of the unit was John Bradley, a lawyer and Methodist minister. The unit moved across the Mississippi River, first to Memphis and later to Union City, Tennessee, before entering Kentucky. During the Battle of Belmont, Missouri, the Ninth Arkansas was in reserve at Columbus, Kentucky, on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River. …

Norristown, Skirmish at (May 19, 1864)

A brief engagement, this skirmish was part of Brigadier General Joseph Shelby’s expedition across much of Arkansas in the summer of 1864. While trying to cross the Arkansas River near present-day Russellville (Pope County), Shelby’s men were attacked by a Federal patrol tasked with shadowing the Confederates. Ultimately inconclusive, this skirmish was one of many between Shelby’s Confederate forces and Union troops during the expedition. In early May 1864, Shelby and his brigade were ordered to move from southwestern Arkansas to northern and eastern Arkansas in an effort to prevent Federal forces from utilizing the White River and the Little Rock and DeValls Bluff Railroad to supply the Union-occupied capital city. Crossing the Ouachita River at Rockport (Hot Spring County), …

Norristown, Skirmish at (September 6, 1864)

One of the earliest engagements between Confederate and Union forces during Major General Sterling Price’s 1864 raid into Missouri, this skirmish would ultimately prove to be bloodless. In the late summer of 1864, Price was ordered by Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi, to prepare for an invasion of Missouri. The expedition would be used to gain new recruits and supplies, as well as to lower the morale of the civilian population across the north. Based in southern and southwestern Arkansas, the Confederate troops taking part in the raid began to move northward in August 1864. The Confederate offensive operations were delayed for several days as munitions and other supplies were gathered, and …