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

Rayburn, Howell A. “Doc”

Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn was a Civil War guerrilla chieftain who operated in the area between West Point (White County) and Des Arc (Prairie County). His legacy is a mix of fact and legend. His attacks and those of other guerrillas on Union outposts and expeditions tied up countless Union military assets that otherwise could have been used elsewhere. Doc Rayburn was born about 1841 in Roane County, Tennessee, one of six children born to farmer Hodge Rayburn and Susan Rayburn. A few years later, the family relocated to Texas. Rayburn joined the Confederate army on October 21, 1861, when he enlisted in Company C, Twelfth Texas Cavalry. The regiment moved to Des Arc in March 1862 and prepared to …

Rector, Henry Massie

Henry Massie Rector was the state’s sixth governor. He was part of Arkansas’s political dynasty during the antebellum period, but he was not always comfortable in that role and played a part in its downfall. Henry Rector was born on May 1, 1816, at Fontaine’s Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky, to Elias Rector and Fannie Bardell Thurston. He was the only one of their children to survive to maturity. Elias Rector, one of the numerous Rectors who worked as deputy surveyors under William Rector, the surveyor-general for Illinois and Missouri, served in the Missouri legislature in 1820 and as postmaster of St. Louis, Missouri. He also surveyed in Arkansas and acquired, among other speculations, a claim to the site of the …

Red River Campaign

The Red River Campaign involved a multipronged Union attack in southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana. The objectives—the capture of Texas to prevent Mexican Emperor Maximilian from threatening the region, the crippling of Confederate resistance west of the Mississippi, and the seizure of cotton land—failed as outnumbered Confederates maximized positions to repel the invasion. Afterwards, Confederate morale improved, bolstering further resistance in the Trans-Mississippi and prolonging the war. Under Union General-in-Chief Henry Halleck’s plan, Major General Nathaniel P. Banks would march from west of New Orleans, link with Rear Admiral David Porter’s Mississippi Squadron on the Red River and infantry troops from east of the Mississippi River, and coordinate their movement into northwest Louisiana while Brigadier General Frederick Steele pushed south …

Redeemers (Post-Reconstruction)

The term “redeemers” was self-applied by those who succeeded in returning the Democratic Party to prominence at the end of Reconstruction in Arkansas, generally dated to 1874. The Republican Party came to power in the state in 1868 with the passage of the Congressional Reconstruction Acts. Arkansas’s second Republican governor, Elisha Baxter, elected in 1872, worked to curry favor with conservative Democrats by appointing many to office in an effort to build strong alliances with members of that faction. This, in part, led Baxter’s 1872 electoral opponent, Joseph Brooks, to challenge Baxter’s right to hold the governorship, thus resulting in the political and military conflict known as the Brooks-Baxter War. For some time, the Brooks-Baxter War involved bipartisan alliances on …

Reed’s Mountain, Skirmish at

The series of maneuvers and skirmishes that took place on Reed’s Mountain on December 4–7, 1862, with the primary skirmish on December 6, relate directly to the aftermath of the Engagement at Cane Hill and serve as a prelude to the Battle of Prairie Grove. After his tactical victory at Cane Hill (Washington County) on November 28, Major General Thomas C. Hindman hoped to rely on Reed’s Mountain to slow a persistent Federal pursuit and conceal his planned attack against the separated portions of the Army of the Frontier. Therefore, on December 3, Hindman ordered Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke to prepare a defensive stand, anchored at the approaches to the Cove Creek and Wire roads. Information gathered through reconnaissance …

Reeves, Bass

Arkansas native Bass Reeves was one of the first black lawmen west of the Mississippi River. As one of the most respected lawmen working in Indian Territory, he achieved legendary status for the number of criminals he captured. Bass Reeves was born a slave in Crawford County in July 1838. His owners, the William S. Reeves family, moved to Grayson County, Texas, in 1846. During the Civil War, Bass became a fugitive slave and found refuge in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma) amongst the Creek and Seminole Indians. Reeves is believed to have served with the irregular or regular Union Indians that fought in Indian Territory during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Reeves settled in Van Buren (Crawford County) …

Reid, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Reid was a physician and a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Reid not only fought during the war—and at one point escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp—he also served at times in a medical role. After the war, he practiced medicine in Arkansas. He moved to Illinois around 1880, where he lived the rest of his life. Thomas Jefferson Reid was born on January 6, 1838, in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was one of twelve children born to Thomas Jefferson Reid and Frances Lightfoot Edwards “Fannie” Reid. Thomas Sr. was a descendant of Major John Reid of Virginia, who had served in the American Revolution. Reid’s mother was well educated and from a slaveholding …

Remount Camp, Skirmish at

Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby assumed command of all Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River beginning in late May 1864. Union control of the Arkansas River and the capital at Little Rock (Pulaski County) effectively isolated Shelby from the secessionist state government and most Confederate fighting forces in the southwest corner of the state. Three years of warfare had taken its toll; poverty and devastation were rampant in Arkansas’s northern counties, and the area was full of deserters from both armies. Civilians who did not or could not flee their homes teetered on the verge of starvation, as passing Union and Confederate forces pressed the common citizens for supply and forage, while roving guerrilla bands freely plundered whatever was …

Renfrow, William Cary

William Cary Renfrow was an influential political figure during the early territorial years of Oklahoma. A North Carolina native who moved to Arkansas following the Civil War, Renfrow moved to the growing Oklahoma Territory in the late 1880s, where he would play an important role in Oklahoma’s journey toward statehood. William Cary Renfrow was born on March 15, 1845, in Smithville, North Carolina, to Perry Renfrow and Lucinda Atkinson Renfrow. He got his early schooling there but stopped attending school at the age of sixteen to enlist in the Confederate army. He initially joined Company C in the Fiftieth North Carolina Regiment in February 1862, where he advanced to sergeant. As the war progressed, he transferred to Company F of …

Resolute

The steam tug Resolute joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron, serving during the Civil War under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including expeditions on the White and Red rivers during the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department. Acquired on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Quartermaster for use as a chartered auxiliary vessel on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons and served with two barges. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), an indeterminate number of unidentified Confederate partisans fired at the Resolute at 8:00 p.m. on …

Reynolds, Daniel Harris

Daniel Harris Reynolds was a lawyer, Confederate general, and state senator who ranks as one of Arkansas’s most talented and dedicated citizen-soldiers during the Civil War. Daniel Reynolds was born on December 14, 1832, in Centerburg, Ohio, to Amos and Sophia (Houck) Reynolds. He studied at Ohio Wesleyan University in the town of Delaware, where he joined the Masonic order in 1853. He studied law privately in Louisa County, Iowa, and Somerville, Tennessee, where he befriended fellow future Confederate general Otho French Strahl. Admitted to the bar in 1858, he established a legal practice in Lake Village (Chicot County) At the outset of the Civil War, Reynolds raised a cavalry company, the “Chicot Rangers,” and entered Confederate service as a …

Rhodes, Richard (Hanging of)

Few people survive a hanging, but Dr. Richard Rhodes—a plantation owner in Dallas County, living just south of present-day Sheridan (Grant County)—may have survived two. Richard Clinton Rhodes was born in North Carolina in 1801 to a prominent family. He received medical training in Europe and then opened a practice in Robeson County, North Carolina. There, he invested in land and quickly became a rich plantation owner with nearly 200 slaves. Rhodes married Susan Davis Russell when she was sixteen and he was forty-six. The Rhodes family’s oral history says that while practicing medicine in North Carolina, Rhodes delivered Susan as a newborn. The Russell family could not afford to pay Rhodes’s medical fee, so the baby girl was offered …

Rice, Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Rice was a Reconstruction-era U.S. senator from Arkansas, as well as an attorney, politician, and businessman who helped to reestablish the state following the turmoil of the Civil War. His career as senator was bookended by his involvement in the trial of David O. Dodd and the Brooks-Baxter War. Benjamin Rice was born on May 26, 1828, in East Otto, New York, to Elijah Rice and Hannah Hanks Rice; he was one of four sons, all of whom became lawyers. After attending private schools and studying law, Rice was admitted to the bar. He then moved to Irvine, Kentucky, where he practiced law for several years and also became involved in politics. He served as a member of …

Richland Creek, Skirmish at (August 16, 1864)

A running battle in northwestern Arkansas, this skirmish was typical of Federal efforts to keep guerrillas from establishing a foothold in the area. On August 15, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) ordered Lieutenant Colonel Albert Bishop to lead an expedition against a band of bushwhackers operating near Fayetteville (Washington County) under the command of Tuck Smith. Departing at 1:00 a.m. the next morning, the Federals moved eastward and found signs of enemy activity about thirteen miles outside Fayetteville. Around 7:00 a.m., the unit approached a home on Richland Creek. Between ten and fifteen horses were tied up there. The guerrilla riders were inside eating breakfast, and the Union troops surprised the entire group, causing …

Richland Creek, Skirmishes at (April 13–14, 1864)

These separate Civil War skirmishes over two days in northern Arkansas were part of a Federal effort to keep Confederate forces from organizing in the area. By attacking guerrilla bands, Union troops were able to disrupt enemy efforts severely. Captain Samuel Turner of the Sixth Missouri State Militia (US) led a patrol along Richland Creek in April 1864. Finding evidence of enemy activity in the area, he located a guerrilla camp under the command of a Captain Watkins. Attacking the camp, which numbered about sixty-three people, the Federals completely surprised the enemy, killing five, including Watkins. Several others were wounded, and one Confederate was captured. The next day, several guerrilla bands numbering more than 100 joined forces. These groups were …

Richland Creek, Skirmishes at (May 3 and 5, 1864)

 In March 1864, six companies and the headquarters of the Federal Second Arkansas Cavalry commanded by Colonel John E. Phelps were transferred from Cassville, Missouri, to Yellville (Marion County) to suppress Confederate guerrillas who were raiding southern Missouri. Other companies of the regiment were left at Berryville (Carroll County) in Arkansas, and Cassville and Springfield in Missouri. In addition to protecting Missouri, the Federals hoped that troops stationed in the northern tier of Arkansas counties would encourage Arkansas Unionists in the area to organize home-guard companies for protection. Immediately after being assigned to Yellville, however, headquarters were moved to Rolling Prairie (Boone County) in order to provide better forage for the horses. The camp was moved from time to time to …

Richland, Skirmish at

Providing enough food to the men assigned to them was difficult for the numerous Federal outposts spread across the Arkansas countryside late in the war. Gathering supplies could be dangerous work, as Union troops were vulnerable to enemy action while outside their heavily fortified outposts. This skirmish took place when Federal troops moved from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) as an escort to a beef contractor. On December 24, 1864, Lieutenant Thomas Stevenson received orders to escort a beef contractor to the post commissary. Departing at 5:00 a.m., the escort consisted of nineteen men of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry and twenty men from the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry. Leaving Pine Bluff, the Union troops moved toward Richland. Finding a bayou too deep …

Rison et al. v. Farr

The Arkansas Supreme Court decision in Rison et al. v. Farr overturned the “Iron-Clad” oath that had been passed by the 1864 session of the Union legislature in order to prevent ex-Confederates from voting. Since the case precipitated Radical Reconstruction, probably the most controversial period in Arkansas history, Rison et al. v. Farr stands as one of the most important decisions ever made at the state Supreme Court level. In 1864, Unionists, now in control of Little Rock (Pulaski County), wrote a new constitution for Arkansas. Section 2 of Article 4 provided that “every free white male citizen of the United States” aged twenty-one or over and a resident for six months “shall be deemed a qualified elector.” However, the …

Robinson, James H.

James H. Robinson was a soldier in the Third Michigan Cavalry who was awarded a Medal of Honor for his actions in Arkansas during the Civil War. However, his record of service proves a mystery, and it appears likely that he was awarded the Medal of Honor in a case of mistaken identity. Little is known about the early life of James H. Robinson. The son of Cyrus Robinson, who was a farmer, and Deborah Robinson, he was eighteen years old when he enlisted in the Third Michigan Cavalry Regiment at Corunna, Michigan, on February 22, 1864, for a three-year term. The Third Michigan had completed its initial three-year term of service and reorganized as a veteran regiment on January …

Rodger’s Crossing, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at White River (September 14, 1864)
aka: Skirmish at Huntsville
On September 12, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US), stationed in Fayetteville (Washington County), heard rumors that a Confederate group under Captain James Cooper intended to attack Union general John B. Sanborn’s train. Harrison ordered that Captain John I. Worthington escort the train to Little Sugar Creek and then move up the White River in the direction of Richland Creek and Huntsville (Madison County). Capt. Worthington attacked Capt. Cooper’s approximately eighty Confederate troops close to Jennings’ Ferry on the White River. The skirmishes that ensued toward Richland Creek and Huntsville saw nine Confederate deaths, with five suffered at the Skirmish at Rodger’s Crossing. On the same day as Worthington’s attack, a Confederate lieutenant called Rogers …

Rogers, Anthony Astley Cooper

Anthony Astley Cooper Rogers was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-First Congress, serving from 1869 to 1871. Anthony Rogers was born on February 14, 1821, in Clarksville, Tennessee. He received only minimal formal education and worked as a clerk in a dry-goods store from age fifteen to twenty-two. Looking for new opportunities, Rogers relocated to Arkansas in 1854, apparently settling in the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) area, where he bought land and slaves and joined the ranks of planters. With the possibility of civil war on the horizon, and supported by pro-Union forces, Rogers sought election as a delegate to the state secession convention in 1861. Although …

Rolling Prairie, Skirmish at

In early 1864, the northern tier of Arkansas counties of Carroll, Searcy, Newton, and Izard had been decimated by the war. This area had become a haven for jayhawkers and bushwhackers from both armies. Union general John B. Sanborn wrote to General W. S. Rosecrans in early February 1864 that 1,200 to 2,000 Confederate soldiers and bushwhackers had gathered in the aforementioned counties and were contemplating a raid into Missouri, with a view of capturing Federal trains and supplies. Sanborn then ordered 200 men of the First Arkansas Cavalry, 200 men of the Second Arkansas Cavalry, and 200 men of the Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry into Newton County, then to march so that they would arrive at Rolling Prairie …

Roseville, Skirmishes at

In late March 1864, Companies D and E of the Second Kansas Cavalry, led by Captain John Gardner of Company E, were dispatched from their post at Jenny Lind (Sebastian County) to protect Union supplies and a cache of cotton at Roseville (Logan County). Roseville, which was at that time in Franklin County, was an important port on the Arkansas River, forty-five miles southeast of Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The companies either joined or were joined by Company D of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, making a force of about 200 men. At about the same time, Confederate brigadier general Samuel Bell Maxey ordered Colonel Nicholas Battle to take a detachment of 400 to 500 men of his Thirtieth Texas Cavalry …

Ross’ Landing, Skirmish at

  Early in 1864, Chicot County witnessed an event that characterized the increasingly brutal nature of warfare in the Trans-Mississippi Department during the last full year of the Civil War. On February 14, 1864, twenty-two self-described “half bushwhackers” from Captain W. N. “Tuck” Thorp’s Company E of the Ninth Missouri Cavalry (Elliott’s Scouts, serving as the advance of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s brigade and sometimes called the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion) surprised and attacked a detachment of the First Mississippi Infantry (African Descent) under First Lieutenant Thaddeus K. Cock on the Johnson family’s Tecumseh plantation near Grand Lake. While patrolling near Lake Village (Chicot County), Capt. Thorp’s men learned from an unidentified citizen that a detachment of black Union soldiers from …