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

Salem, Capture of Wagon Train at

This engagement involved Union forces escorting a wagon train of Unionist Arkansans to Missouri. Guerrillas attacked the wagon train, inflicting heavy casualties. Unionist families fled to Federal outposts during the Civil War, seeking sanctuary from both Confederate sympathizers and guerrillas. After Jacksonport (Jackson County) fell to Union forces, families from the surrounding area began to take refuge at the town under the protection of the Federal troops. The town also served as the headquarters of the District of Northeast Arkansas under the command of Colonel Robert Livingston of the First Nebraska Cavalry. In an effort to relieve some of the pressure that the refugees were placing on his resources, Livingston ordered the families sent to Rolla, Missouri. Departing Jacksonport in …

Saline Bottom, Skirmish at

This skirmish served as a prelude to the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry in Grant County and was part of the Camden Expedition, a Federal operation undertaken by Major General Frederick Steele’s Seventh Army Corps to assist Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s Red River Campaign in Louisiana. On March 23, Steele moved out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) toward Camden (Ouachita County), intending to re-supply prior to his scheduled rendezvous with Brigadier General John Milton Thayer’s Fort Smith (Sebastian County) column at Arkadelphia (Clark County) on April 1. After this, they planned to join Banks at Shreveport, Louisiana, to form a joint movement toward Texas. The link with Thayer, however, did not occur until April 9, south of the Little Missouri …

Saltpeter Mining

Potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, is a naturally occurring mineral that is vital to the production of gunpowder. Found in limestone caves in the Arkansas Ozarks, it became one of the state’s most important chemical industries during the Civil War due to the Confederacy’s demand for arms. Although this resource was a definite advantage for the Confederacy, problems with labor, security, and transportation made Arkansas’s saltpeter mines an ultimate failure. Saltpeter deposits were known by early Arkansas settlers long before the Civil War in Madison, Searcy, Independence, Marion, and Newton counties. A geographical survey was conducted by Dale David Owens from 1857 to 1860. His findings were published in 1860, and, by 1862, the Confederacy, looking to arm itself for the …

Sarber, John Newton

John Newton Sarber was a Union soldier who remained in Arkansas after the Civil War and served in the state Senate, where he introduced a number of influential bills, including those creating the public school system and what is now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He also served as U.S. marshal of the U.S. Western District Court at Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Logan County was originally named Sarber County in his honor. John Newton Sarber was born on October 28, 1837, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Stephen and Lucille Sarber; he had one brother and two sisters. His mother died giving birth in 1849. The abolitionist family moved to Kansas Territory in 1855. Sarber and his father …

Scatterville, Skirmish at

  During a raid of northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri in the late summer of 1864, a battalion of Union cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John T. Burris defeated a Confederate recruiting party and a group of guerrillas at Scatterville (Clay County) on July 28, 1864. After the skirmish, the Union forces burned several structures in the town. In an effort to clear northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri of small bands of Confederate regulars, guerrillas, and general bushwhackers who had been menacing the countryside, Burris left New Madrid, Missouri, with a battalion consisting of the Second Cavalry Missouri State Militia and the First Cavalry Missouri Volunteers on July 21, 1864. From July 21 to July 26, Burris’s battalion …

Schnable, John Adams

Lieutenant Colonel John Adams Schnable was a noted Arkansas architect and engineer who designed and built Spring Mill and two rock bridges over Salado Creek in Independence County, as well as the Jacksonport (Jackson County) courthouse in Jackson County. He was a Civil War veteran and one of the few German immigrants who fought on the side of the Confederacy. John Schnable (name spelling varies) was born on June 11, 1817, in the German Confederation shortly after its creation in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna. Researchers are unsure about the names of his parents. He was directly involved in the Revolution of 1848 and, as a result, migrated to the United States and arrived in Virginia in 1851, where …

Searcy County, Skirmish at

The July 4, 1864, Skirmish at Searcy County was a Union response to the operations of Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby north of the Arkansas River after the Camden Expedition in 1864. During most of the summer, Shelby and his men had operated freely behind Union lines, causing much havoc, but this engagement was a rare Federal victory. After the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Shelby received orders to move northward across the Arkansas River and behind Federal lines. The Confederates were tasked with gathering recruits and stopping lawless bands roaming the area from preying on civilians. Shelby also used this opportunity to make strikes against Federal outposts and generally make himself and his men …

Searcy, Affair at

A small engagement fought during a scouting mission by Union troops, this action is typical of the type of fighting during this point of the war in the state. Federal outposts worked to keep their supply lines open and disrupt any enemy movements by sending out multiple scouting parties. Colonel Oliver Wood commanded the Federal post at Brownsville (Lonoke County) and worked to ensure that Confederate forces in the area remained off balance and unable to launch an effective attack on the men stationed in the area. Scouting parties also gathered food from the surrounding countryside to supplement the meager rations issued to the Union troops. In May 1864, Wood accompanied a scouting party as it searched for enemy troops …

Searcy, Fairview, and Augusta Expeditions

aka: Attack on Steamers Celeste and Commercial
  The purpose of the Searcy, Fairview, and Augusta expeditions was to aid Union forces previously engaged in conflict with Confederates northeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and then to pursue Confederate general Joseph O. Shelby. Brigadier General Joseph R. West departed Little Rock on August 27, 1864, with 600 cavalrymen to assist Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Clark and his 800 men of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry. Prior to West’s arrival, Clark’s men had engaged Shelby’s forces on August 26 at Cypress Bayou, four miles north of Austin—now called Old Austin (Lonoke County). He then followed Shelby’s rear guard to Bull Bayou, where ten Confederates and two Union soldiers were killed. Because he had not heard from Union forces and his …

Searcy, Skirmish near (August 13, 1864)

Starting in May 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Shelby was in sole command of all Confederate forces north of the Arkansas River; he actively recruited local men of fighting age and mustered his force effectively to harass Union garrisons and supply lines along the White River. Within Shelby’s Iron Brigade, munitions were in short supply and were acquired through raids on the enemy. By mid-July, a detail led by Colonel Thomas H. McCray and his brigade had procured for Shelby more than 800 firearms and badly needed ammunition from a transport on the Mississippi River. Successful hit-and-run tactics over the summer sufficiently frustrated Union command at Little Rock (Pulaski County) and warranted more than one expedition mounted to deal with Shelby. …

Searcy, Skirmish near (September 13, 1864)

    After the Union’s Red River Campaign of 1864 failed, most military action in Arkansas was limited to guerrilla maneuvers and quick cavalry strikes for the remainder of the war. By this time, Confederate forces across the state were too small and thinly concentrated to mount an effective frontal assault on Union-held areas. Local Union commanders were focused more on protecting their own garrisons and maintaining a hold on Arkansas’s rivers than on conquering additional territory, which would bring logistical problems of protecting longer supply lines and imposing local order. This was the climate in which Confederate brigadier general Joseph O. (Jo) Shelby operated following his promotion on May 27 as commander of Confederate forces north of the Arkansas …

Secession Convention

On May 6, 1861, a body of men chosen by Arkansas voters in an election held on February 18, 1861, voted to remove Arkansas from the United States of America. Arkansas’s secession ultimately failed in 1865 due to the military defeat of the Confederacy. States’ rights versus the national government had a contentious history prior to 1861. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 suggested that states retained powers to protect citizens from the federal government, and the Hartford Convention of 1814–1815 paved the way for the Doctrine of Nullification that South Carolina unsuccessfully invoked in 1832. States’ rights debates—notably among U.S. senators Daniel Webster, Robert Y. Hayne, and John C. Calhoun—led to a theoretical acceptance of this …

Second Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

The Second Arkansas Cavalry was the name of several Confederate units that served during the Civil War. These units are not to be confused with the Second Arkansas Mounted Rifles, which served for much of the war as an infantry regiment. The first unit to be organized as the Second Arkansas Cavalry was based on the Second Arkansas Cavalry Battalion. After the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee in April 1862, the battalion was created from independent companies in northern Mississippi. This unit consisted of five companies from Calhoun, Bradley, Jefferson, Dallas, and Ashley counties. In May 1862, the battalion consolidated with the Sixth Arkansas Cavalry Battalion, which consisted of four companies from Drew, Crittenden, and White counties, along with two …

Second Arkansas Cavalry (US)

Arkansas seceded from the Union in 1861, but support for the Confederacy was not universal among the population. In the mountains of north-central Arkansas, groups of men formed secret societies to resist Confederate authority (known collectively as the Arkansas Peace Society). Hundreds more fled to southern Missouri to escape persecution by secessionist forces. In other parts of the state, far from the Union lines, people were forced to bide their time and keep quiet. As a distinct minority in a state frenzied by war, many Arkansas Unionists could ill afford to have their true sympathies known. During the summer of 1862, the Union army made its way to Helena (Phillips County) after an abortive attempt to capture Little Rock (Pulaski …

Second Arkansas Infantry (African Descent) (US)

aka: Fifty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry
The Second Arkansas Infantry (African Descent) was one of the many African-American units formed following the Emancipation Proclamation. The regiment was raised under the commands of Lieutenant Colonel George W. De Costa and Major George W. Burchard in early 1863 and was composed primarily of freed slaves in the Arkansas River Valley. Before the unit could officially report for muster as part of the District of Eastern Arkansas, it found itself engaged in the Battle of Helena. On the morning of July 4, 1863, Confederate forces under the command of Lieutenant General Theophilus Holmes organized a three-pronged attack on the fortified Union position at Helena (Phillips County). The attack would ultimately fail, securing eastern Arkansas as a Union supply stronghold …

Second Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Second Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate regiment that saw service in the Western Theater during the Civil War. It is not to be confused with the Second Arkansas Infantry Battalion, which fought in the Eastern Theater. The Second Arkansas was formed in the summer of 1861. Former congressman Thomas Hindman of Helena (Phillips County) obtained permission from Confederate secretary of war LeRoy Walker to recruit an infantry regiment. The state was responsible for providing the arms for the unit. Ten companies were raised by June 1, with six at Helena and four at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The companies were from Phillips, Jefferson, Bradley, and Saline counties. Support from state authorities never materialized, and Hindman personally provided the funds …

Second Arkansas Infantry (US)

The Second Arkansas Infantry Regiment served in the Federal army during the Civil War. Comprised of white Unionists, the unit served almost exclusively within Arkansas. Efforts were made to organize units of white Unionists in the state with the arrival of Federal forces in 1862. The Second Arkansas began recruitment in September 1863 in Springfield, Missouri. The unit recruited Unionists who fled Arkansas, as well as pro-Union men who remained in the northwestern corner of the state. Recruiting for the regiment was slow, and when the organized companies met in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in January 1864, only four companies were able to meet the minimum number of men required. Even before these units moved to Fort Smith, the regiment …

Second Arkansas Infantry Battalion (CS)

The Second Arkansas Infantry Battalion was a Confederate unit that served in the Eastern Theater during the American Civil War. It was one of only three Arkansas units to serve in Virginia, along with the First and Third Arkansas Infantry regiments. Decimated during the Seven Days Battles, it saw its survivors discharged or transferred into the Third Arkansas Infantry. In September 1861, three independent companies organized at Hot Springs (Garland County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and El Dorado (Union County). On the recommendation of recruiting officers for the First Arkansas Infantry, they journeyed to Virginia to join that regiment. When the three companies arrived, the First Arkansas had the required ten companies. On October 29, 1861, the three new companies …

Seventeenth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Seventeenth Arkansas was a unit that served in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. The unit saw service in Arkansas and in the Western Theater of the war. Another unit was also known as the Seventeenth Arkansas Infantry for a period. The regiment organized on November 17, 1861, with eight companies from Washington, Sebastian, Madison, and Hempstead counties. The unit never gained two more companies to grow to full strength. Frank Rector was elected as the first colonel of the regiment. Assigned to Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch’s division in the Army of the West, the regiment served in a brigade under the command of Colonel Louis Herbert. The regiment’s first action came on February 18, 1862, at …

Seventh Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Seventh Arkansas Infantry was a regiment that served in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. Spending most of its service in the Western Theater, the regiment served for the duration of the war. After Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861, military units began to organize across the state. Companies organized in communities and moved to a number of camps to create larger units. Ten companies from northeastern Arkansas organized at Smithville (Lawrence County) into the Seventh Arkansas on June 16, 1861. The companies in the new regiment were from Jackson, Independence, Marion, Izard, Fulton, White, and Randolph counties. The first colonel of the regiment was Robert Shaver, an attorney from Lawrence County. The unit …

Shallow Ford, Skirmish at (August 30, 1863)

A Civil War engagement during the Little Rock Campaign, the Skirmish at Shallow Ford was fought as Federal forces crossed Bayou Meto. Confederate forces tried to hold the enemy back but were ultimately unsuccessful. Confederate colonel Robert Newton and his cavalry brigade were tasked with covering the Shallow Ford crossing of Bayou Meto to obstruct Federal forces under the command of Major General Frederick Steele. In late August 1863, Newton’s brigade moved around the area near the ford in response to multiple reports of Federal movements. On August 29, he received word that no sign of Union troops had been found in the immediate vicinity. He moved his command near Shallow Ford, where they camped that night. The next morning, …

Shallow Ford, Skirmish at (September 2, 1863)

A brief and inconsequential Civil War skirmish, this engagement was part of the Little Rock Campaign and saw Federal troops working to establish a foothold near the capital city. Confederate forces worked to prevent Union troops marching out of Helena (Phillips County) from capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County). However, the losses suffered at the July 4, 1863, Battle of Helena—coupled with a disorganized command structure—hampered defensive efforts. Confederate units were shifted around to meet the Federal threats, but the lack of troops prevented every avenue of approach to the city from being consistently guarded. Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s Missouri cavalry brigade was posted east of Little Rock with other units in an effort to watch Federal movements. Shelby was …

Shaver, Robert Glenn

Robert Glenn Shaver was a former Confederate officer who raised Arkansas troops for the war, a commander who was wounded in battle, and a former outlaw who once fled the United States to escape punishment. Robert Shaver was born on April 18, 1831, in Sullivan County, Tennessee, exactly on the line between Virginia and Tennessee. He was the third of four children born to David and Martha (May) Shaver. He attended school at home, and from 1846 to 1850, he attended Emory and Henry College in Virginia. Shaver and his parents moved to Arkansas in 1850, settling east of Batesville (Independence County) in Lawrence County (now Sharp County). On June 10, 1856, Shaver married Adelaide Louise Ringgold. Before she died …

Shelby, Joseph Orville

aka: Jo Shelby
aka: J. O. Shelby
aka: Joseph O. Shelby
Joseph Orville Shelby was a Confederate major general from Missouri who is recognized as perhaps the most accomplished Confederate cavalryman in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. He was involved in most of the Civil War campaigns that took place in Arkansas. Joseph Orville Shelby was born on December 12, 1830, in Lexington, Kentucky, to a wealthy, aristocratic family that boasted veterans of the American Revolution. In 1852, he moved to Waverly, Missouri, and established a rope-making operation that soon made him a wealthy man. The slave-owning Shelby was actively embroiled in the border war with abolitionist Kansans, taking part in cross-border raids in the late 1850s. As civil war became imminent, Shelby raised a company of troops, the Lafayette County Cavalry, at …

Shiloh Meeting Hall

aka: Shiloh Church
Located on the banks of Spring Creek in downtown Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), the historic Shiloh Meeting Hall—formerly called the Shiloh Church and the Odd Fellows Lodge—is one of the oldest buildings in northwestern Arkansas. Built in 1871, it has served as a gathering place for church congregations, fraternal organizations, and civic clubs, and it has hosted many community events. The two-story frame building was a collaborative project of the Shiloh Regular Baptist Church (also known as the Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church), Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Springdale Masonic Lodge No. 316. Land was donated by the Reverend John Holcomb, who was a minister, an elder, and an influential member of the Shiloh …

Sixth Arkansas Volunteer Infantry (CS)

aka: Capital Guards
The Sixth Arkansas Infantry was a military unit that served in the Confederate army from 1861 until its surrender in 1865. The Sixth served almost exclusively in the western theater and became known as one of the finest units in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Formed from ten companies on June 10, 1861, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the Sixth Arkansas Infantry consisted of units from Pulaski, Arkansas, Dallas, Calhoun, Ouachita, Lafayette, Columbia, and Union counties. The original field officers were Colonel Richard Lyon, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander T. Hawthorn, and Major Dawson L. Kilgore. On June 19, 1861, the regiment marched to Pocahontas (Randolph County), where its training commenced. In July 1861, the regiment joined the Second, Fifth, Seventh, and …

Smith, Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson Smith was a Union major general during the Civil War, commanding a division during the capture of Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post and during numerous other campaigns. Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on April 28, 1815, Andrew Jackson Smith was the son of Samuel Smith and Anne Lacey Wilkinson Smith. Entering the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1834, Smith graduated four years later and received a commission as a second lieutenant and served with the First Dragoons. Smith slowly rose through the ranks over the next two decades, serving on the western frontier and in the Mexican War, including with the Mormon Battalion. Smith married Ann Mason Simpson on October 17, 1844, in St. Louis, Missouri. …

Smith, Edmund Kirby

Edmund Kirby Smith was a Confederate general during the Civil War. Seeing service in both the Eastern and Western Theaters of the war, he is best remembered for serving as the commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi, which included Arkansas. Edmund Kirby Smith was born on May 16, 1824, in St. Augustine, Florida, the son of Joseph Lee Smith and Frances Kirby Smith. His father, a lawyer by training, served as an army officer during the War of 1812 and for several years after the conflict before resigning his commission in 1821. He became the judge for the eastern district of the Florida Territory the same year. Edmund was the youngest child in the family, with an older …

Smith, Sarah Jane

An enigmatic figure who left few documentable details of her life or wartime experiences, Sarah Jane Smith was a Confederate sympathizer who sabotaged Union military telegraph wires and poles on two known occasions near Springfield and Rolla, Missouri, in 1864. The known details of Smith’s life are limited to information gleaned from court documents, due to her illiteracy (she signed her statement to the provost marshal with an “x”) and lack of a fixed residence. Although several secondary sources describe Smith as a smuggler and saboteur of two years’ duration, there is no documentation of her involvement in any smuggling activity or in any sabotage activities other than the two incidents chronicled in her trial records. Born in approximately 1846, …

Smith, V. V.

aka: Volney Voltaire Smith
The last Reconstruction Republican lieutenant governor, known for attempting a coup d’état aimed at displacing a sitting governor, Volney Voltaire Smith was also the most distinguished nineteenth-century figure to have died in the state insane asylum. V. V. Smith was born in 1842, apparently in Rochester, New York. His father was Delazon Smith, a noted Democratic newspaperman and politician. Delazon Smith attended Oberlin College and then wrote an exposé on it for its support of abolition, was lost for eleven months while on a diplomatic assignment in Ecuador (thus becoming known as “Tyler’s Lost Commission”), and served less than three weeks as one of Oregon’s first U.S. senators. V. V. Smith’s mother, Eliza Volk, died in 1846. Two years later, …

Smithville, Skirmish at (June 17, 1862)

  After securing Missouri for the Union by routing the Confederate Army of the West at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Union Army of the Southwest under General Samuel Curtis moved into northeast Arkansas and occupied Batesville (Independence County) on its mission to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). There, Curtis divided his force in the region, and the Fifth Illinois Cavalry (US) moved into Pocahontas (Randolph County) from Doniphan, Missouri, to reinforce a Union division under General Frederick Steele. From there, a battalion of the Fifth Illinois under Major A. H. Seley was sent to the vicinity of Smithville, the seat of government for Lawrence County and a strategic location along the Military Road that connected …

Snyder, Oliver P.

Oliver P. Snyder was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Second District of Arkansas in the Forty-Second and Forty-Third Congresses, serving from 1871 to 1875. Oliver P. Snyder was born in New Madrid County in Missouri on November 13, 1833, to Jeremiah Snyder and Elizabeth Randolph Snyder. He completed a basic course of study before moving to Arkansas in 1853. There, he continued studies in both science and literature as well as the law. He was soon admitted to the bar, opening a practice in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). As the Civil War drew to a close, Snyder, who had originally opposed secession, entered the political arena, winning election to the Arkansas House of …

Southern Memorial Association of Washington County

The Southern Memorial Association of Washington County (SMA) was formed in 1872 to care for Confederate graves in northwestern Arkansas. The result was the construction of the Confederate Cemetery at Fayetteville (Washington County), which remains under the group’s care. The Southern Memorial Association may be the oldest organization of its type in continual operation. The Southern Memorial Association of Washington County was organized on June 10, 1872, to collect scattered Confederate graves in northwestern Arkansas into one central location, the Confederate Cemetery at Fayetteville, for more effective grave stewardship. On June 10, 1873, the one-year anniversary of the group, the association dedicated the cemetery, which contained about 500 relocated graves at that time. Because soldiers from Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and …

Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas Expedition

By late 1862, much of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas was overrun by large armies of both the Union and Confederacy. After they marched off to other campaigns outside the region, the area was left in the hands of smaller Federal and Confederate forces that were in frequent competition, both sides attempting to gain an advantage. Information-gathering incursions, such as this one initiated by Federal forces into Boone County in late 1862, were typical of the smaller military operations. On November 8, 1862, Captain Milton Burch of the Fourteenth Missouri Cavalry (Militia) was ordered to lead a detachment of Missouri militia from Ozark, Missouri, into northern Arkansas to gather information about Confederate forces in the area. The force of approximately …

Sprague, Charles Leslie

Charles Leslie Sprague was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) native who died while serving on the crew in a test run of the Confederate naval H.L. Hunley, the first combat submarine to sink an enemy warship. Charles Leslie Sprague was born in Little Rock on February 6, 1842, the youngest of four sons of Dr. Alden Sprague and Sophronia Stores Eldridge Sprague. Alden Sprague died on April 26, 1847, and Charles and his mother moved back to her native New Hampshire to live with her sister, Lucinda Eldridge Billings, and her family. Sophronia Sprague died on December 5, 1853, and it is possible that young Charles moved to Tennessee to live with relatives, as her brother lived there. Charles enlisted …

Sprague, John Wilson

John Wilson Sprague was a general in the Union army during the Civil War and served as the assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the District of Arkansas immediately following the end of the conflict. John W. Sprague was born on April 4, 1817, in White Creek, New York, to Otis and Polly Sprague; he had several siblings. He attended local schools and, at the age of thirteen, began attending the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Sprague left the college without receiving a degree and worked in the grocery business in Troy, New York, before moving to Ohio in 1845. Living in several towns over the course of his time in Erie County, Sprague worked in the shipping industry and served …

Spring River near Smithville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Spring River (April 13, 1864)
aka: Skirmish at Smithville (April 13, 1864)
Union forces sought to solidify their control in northeast Arkansas and safeguard important supply lines after Federal troops occupied Little Rock (Pulaski County) in September 1863 and the state’s Confederates fled to establish a new capital at Washington (Hempstead County). Colonel Robert R. Livingston and his Union forces reoccupied Batesville (Independence County) on Christmas Day 1863 to establish the headquarters of the District of Northeastern Arkansas. Union forces at Batesville attempted to suppress small bands of regular and irregular Confederates in the region during the following months. Confederate bands were especially active in the vicinity of Smithville, the seat of government for Lawrence County. Union forces collided with a larger Confederate force composed of elements of Freeman’s Brigade on February …

Spring River, Action at

aka: Battle of Salem
The largest Civil War engagement in Fulton County, the Action at Spring River occurred when Union forces from Missouri ventured into north-central Arkansas in search of Confederate cavalry bands seeking to unite as a regiment. Fought over the space of four hours, the battle resulted in the temporary elimination of a Confederate presence in southern Missouri, as well as sixteen Union and well over 100 Confederate casualties. Lieutenant Colonel. Samuel N. Wood of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry Regiment led a force of 250 troopers of his regiment and 130 men of the Third Iowa Cavalry led by Major William C. Drake south from Missouri on March 10, 1862. They were in pursuit of Confederate troops commanded by Colonel W.O. Coleman, …

St. Charles, Capture of

A bloodless engagement, the January 13, 1863, capture of St. Charles (Arkansas County) was part of a larger Federal movement up the White River after the capture of Fort Hindman earlier that month. St. Charles served as an important Confederate stronghold before its abandonment and subsequent capture. Located on high ground on the west bank of the White River, St. Charles is the first defensible location north of the junction of the White and the Arkansas rivers. Fortified by Confederate forces in June 1862, St. Charles was attacked by Federal forces the same month. While Union troops did take St. Charles, it was only after a substantial engagement that saw massive casualties among the Federal sailors in the expedition. With …

St. Charles, Engagement at

After the fall of Memphis, Tennessee, the Confederate navy was on the defense. Three Confederate war ships made their way up Arkansas’s White River to save themselves and also to defend the White River from invasion by the Union troops. Union major general Samuel R. Curtis and his Army of the Southwest advanced from Pea Ridge (Benton County) through the Ozark Mountains to Batesville (Independence County). Curtis later set up headquarters at Jacksonport (Jackson County), where the White and Black rivers converged. Confederate major general Thomas C. Hindman, the “Lion of the South,” was in charge of the defense of Arkansas. Hindman’s main objective was to slow the Union side’s movement so that the Confederates could prepare to defend Arkansas. …

St. Francis Road, Skirmish at

This brief engagement in Phillips County occurred in relation to some of the earliest Federal operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman, commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas headquartered at Helena (Phillips County), reported that an unspecified unit of Texas cavalry had attacked a Federal outpost of pickets on the St. Francis Road near Helena on December 23, 1862. Casualties at the outpost included two Federal soldiers killed and sixteen wounded, with no report of Confederate losses. Federal cavalry vigorously pursued the Texans and forced them to scatter in order to make their final escape through a patch of woods. Although unidentified in the official reports, the attack may have been conducted by Captain Alfred Johnson’s Company …

Star City Confederate Memorial

The Star City Confederate Memorial is a commemorative sculpture erected in Star City (Lincoln County) in 1926 by the Captain J. Martin Meroney Chapter No. 1831 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to remember local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Though Lincoln County was not formed until 1871, portions of two Confederate infantry and two cavalry companies, as well as a company of Home Guards, were raised in the area that would later encompass the Reconstruction-era county. In the early twentieth century, the members of the Captain J. Martin Meroney Chapter No. 1831 of the UDC decided to emulate other chapters around Arkansas and erect a statue in memory of local Confederates. …

Steamboats (Civil War)

Steamboats during the Civil War won little glamour but played a critical role. With rivers serving as the lifeblood of the Confederacy, steamboats permitted the rapid movement of heavy cargo up and down the waterways. Both Union and Confederate forces in Arkansas relied on steamboats to move troops and supplies, with Little Rock (Pulaski County), Helena (Phillips County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), and DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) serving as supply centers and shipping hubs. Essentially, steamboats made the war effort possible. By the start of the Civil War, the great majority of Arkansas’s commerce traveled by steamboat. Flatboats and keelboats had once moved agricultural products downriver to New Orleans, Louisiana, but neither type of boat could easily make the return …

Steamer Alamo, Attack on

As the Civil War in Arkansas progressed and Federal forces advanced farther into the interior of the state, the rivers became important byways for the transportation of soldiers and supplies. The steamboat Alamo was one of the many steamers put into service on the Arkansas River by Federal authorities. In November 1864, on a routine supply trip to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the steamer was attacked by Confederate forces. Such attacks along the rivers were common. On November 29, 1864, a detachment of thirty soldiers of the Fortieth Iowa Volunteers under the command of Second Lieutenant John T. S. Fry boarded the steamer Alamo at Dardanelle (Yell County). The detachment was to guard the steamer on a supply run to …

Steamer Miller, Capture of

The capture and destruction of the Union stern-wheel steamer J. H. Miller illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, almost a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In February 1864, the J. H. Miller, displacing 130 tons of water, joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron serving under charter 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, unidentified Confederate guerrillas attacked and captured Miller on August 17, 1864, from the south side of the Arkansas River and burned the …

Steamer Perry, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union side-wheel steamer John D. Perry illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, one year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In the spring of 1863 the Union Army’s Quartermaster Department chartered the John D. Perry for service on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), approximately 100 unidentified Confederate partisans attacked the Perry on September 9, 1864, just below Clarendon (Monroe County) from the east side of the White River while the vessel transported a portion of Major General Joseph …

Steamer Resolute, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union steam tug Resolute illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, more than a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. Chartered on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department for use as an auxiliary vessel, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons of water and served with two barges transporting troops and supplies on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, commanding 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 October 11, 1864, …

Steele, Frederick

Frederick Steele was a United States Volunteers major general and the commander of the Department of Arkansas in the Civil War. Union forces under his command took military control of the northern half of the state in September 1863. Faced with immense military and political problems as a result of the continuing war, however, Steele failed in his larger mission of politically and militarily stabilizing the state. Frederick Steele was born on January 14, 1819, in Delhi, New York, the son of Nathaniel Steele III and his second wife, Dameras Johnson. Frederick Steele never married or had children. Little is known of Steele’s early years. He entered West Point in 1839. A friend and classmate of Ulysses S. Grant, he …

Steiner, Christian

Christian Steiner was a soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry during an 1869 battle against Apache Indians in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. He died in Hot Springs (Garland County) and is buried there. Christian Steiner was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, in 1843. By 1860, he had immigrated to the United States and was living with saloon keeper Philip Steiner, then twenty-seven, who was presumably his brother, and his brother’s wife, Louisa (twenty-one), in the Third Ward of St. Louis, Missouri. Seventeen-year-old Christian Steiner’s occupation was listed as saddler in the 1860 census. As the Civil War broke out, Steiner joined many of St. Louis’s citizens of German descent in enlisting in the Union army. …

Stewart’s Plantation, Skirmish at

Following his victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, General Samuel Curtis, with intentions of capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County), moved his Union Army of the Southwest into northeast Arkansas, occupying Batesville (Independence County). Here, he split his force into three divisions, with one division under the command of General Frederick Steele dispatched to occupy the river port town of Jacksonport (Jackson County). While on a foraging expedition, made necessary by major supply problems that would lead to a cross-country march to Helena (Phillips County) to establish a supply line on the Mississippi River, Steele’s forces engaged Confederate forces in the Skirmish at Stewart’s Plantation on June 27, 1862. As supplies began to run low, Steele received …