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

War of the Rebellion [Book Series]

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies is a 128-volume collection of records pertaining to military activities during the American Civil War. It is augmented by The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies and the more recent Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. The process of compiling the Official Records began in 1863 when General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck proposed gathering and publishing documents and reports. Congress passed a resolution calling for printing Union military records on May 19, 1864, and President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law the next day. A new law calling for …

Ward, John [Medal of Honor Recipient]

John Ward was an African-American U.S. Army scout born in Arkansas who received a Medal of Honor for his actions in a battle with Comanche Indians in Texas in 1875. John Ward was born in Arkansas in 1847 (the exact location is unknown), and his parents were either both black and Seminole or they were African Americans who lived among the Seminole; given his birth date, he may have been born during the forced removal of the Seminole from the southeastern United States. The Ward family was among several hundred black and Seminole people from the Seminole Nation in the Indian Territory who received permission to immigrate to northern Mexico in the late 1840s, where the African Americans were safe …

Washington and Benton County Expedition

  After the battles of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, the Civil War in northwestern Arkansas settled into smaller skirmishes and interactions between irregular forces on both sides of the conflict. To attempt to control the Confederate guerrillas, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison, Union commander at Fayetteville (Washington County), sent out frequent expeditions to hunt down and dislodge Rebels. He also devised a plan to destroy or disable grist mills belonging to or operated by Rebels. Harrison felt that the mills were congregating places for the Rebels and that the destruction of those places would lessen problems with guerrillas. On August 21, 1864, some of the Union troops serving under Harrison prepared to leave Fayetteville on an expedition through Washington and Benton …

Washington, George (Lynching of)

In the spring of 1871, an African American named George Washington was lynched in Baxter County for allegedly assaulting a young girl. The girl’s father is variously referred to as James or George Calvin, with the surname sometimes given as Galvin. He lived on the White River south of Mountain Home (Baxter County). Public records reveal nothing about these people. The 1870 census lists no adult George or James Calvin or Galvin in Baxter County, or even in the state of Arkansas. The same is true in neighboring counties in Missouri. There was also no African American named George Washington listed in Baxter County. In his account of the lynching, Vincent Anderson quotes an article from the Baxter County Citizen, …

Watson, Patrick Samuel Gideon

Patrick Samuel Gideon Watson, the father of Baptist history in Arkansas, was one of the state’s early itinerate ministers and the editor of Arkansas’s first religious newspaper in 1859. Watson was born on May 2, 1816, in Falmouth, Kentucky, the son of local farmer Joseph Watson and Ann Anderson Watson. His writings indicate that he received an excellent classical education. He married Catherine Oldham Harris on March 14, 1839, in Kentucky. They were the parents of eleven children, only three of which were living by the time the family moved to Texas in the 1870s. In 1843, he was licensed to preach by the historic Forks of Licking Baptist Church in Falmouth. Shortly afterward, he and his family joined an …

Waugh’s Farm, Skirmish at

Colonel Robert Livingston and his small Union army entered Batesville (Independence County) on Christmas Day in 1863, having been sent to re-occupy the city, which had not had a continuous Union presence since June 1862. Their task was to keep the peace in the area and promote Federal control. That proved difficult, for they were surrounded by small mobile Confederate guerrilla units and outlaw gangs who preyed on small detachments, especially foraging expeditions, outside of Batesville. The most disastrous Union loss in the Batesville area was at the farm of Virginian Lewis Waugh twelve miles west of town. On February 18, 1864, a foraging train of thirty-five wagons—escorted by 100 soldiers of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry and Fourth Arkansas Mounted …

Weather in the Civil War

Drought, flooding, bone-chilling winters, and intense summer heat all had an impact on the civilian and military populations of Arkansas during the Civil War, affecting military campaigns, access to food and supplies, and health conditions throughout the state. The Civil War was fought just after the end of a meteorological period that climate historians often call the Little Ice Age. This era, lasting roughly from 1300 to 1850, featured frequent climatic shifts, with bitterly cold winters switching to periods of heavy spring flooding, often followed by mild winters and subsequent droughts. While the trend toward cooling that characterized the Little Ice Age had moved toward warming by the 1860s, Civil War Arkansas would be plagued by temperature fluctuations that could …

Weaver, Emily

Emily Weaver of Batesville (Independence County) was a young woman who found herself caught up in the unorganized Civil War legal apparatus. Though charged by the Union as a spy and sentenced to hang, her case was eventually dropped for insufficient evidence. Emily Weaver was born to Abram Weaver and Mary Burton Weaver in Chester Valley, Pennsylvania. No birth date for her is given. In 1859, she, her mother, and six of her seven brothers moved to Batesville to be near relatives while Weaver’s father and oldest brother stayed behind to finalize business affairs for an eventual relocation to Memphis, Tennessee. The family stayed at Ninth and Main streets in a house she called “Pleasant Hill.” Weaver’s family was divided, …

Welch, Thomas Rice

Thomas Rice Welch was an early Presbyterian minister and leader in Arkansas. He played an important role in the establishment of Lyon College and served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for twenty-five years. Thomas Rice Welch was born on September 15, 1825, on a farm near Nicholasville in Jessamine County, Kentucky, to John Welch and Elizabeth J. Rice (Betsey) Welch. He had at least four brothers and a sister and was named after his mother’s brother, who was a Methodist minister. Welch was encouraged by his uncle to pursue the ministry. Welch received his early education at Bethel Academy near Knoxville, Kentucky, before enrolling at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in May 1844. He …

West Point, Engagement at

aka: Little Red River Raid
The Confederacy suffered a crushing defeat on July 4, 1863, following an unsuccessful assault on the Union garrison at Helena (Phillips County), which was intended to relieve pressure on besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, and the defeat at Helena—coupled with Confederate surrender at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9—severed Arkansas, Texas, and western Louisiana from the rest of the Confederate states. Major General Sterling Price was formally tasked with the defense of Arkansas on July 23, but increasing desertions within the Rebel ranks thinned the already meager forces available to resist the imminent Union push to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Little Rock Campaign involved the movement of two Union columns: a division led by Brigadier …

Wheeler, Henry

Henry W. Wheeler was an Arkansas native who earned a Medal of Honor for valor while fighting with a Maine regiment during the 1861 Battle of Bull Run in Virginia. Henry W. Wheeler was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on September 23, 1841, the son of Hiram Wheeler and Elizabeth Wheeler. His father may have been working as a carpenter during construction of the second U.S. military installment at Fort Smith when Wheeler was born, but the family had returned to his father’s native Maine by 1860; at that time, Hiram Wheeler recorded 1,800 in real property and $2,000 in personal property in Bangor. Henry Wheeler, age eighteen, was working as a clerk, and the family included a second …

White County Courthouse

The White County Courthouse in the northeastern Arkansas city of Searcy (White County) is located in a historic district. The courthouse has hosted many local events over the years ranging from farmers’ markets to the annual Get Down Downtown festival. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the White County Courthouse as historically significant, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 3, 1977. White County built its first courthouse when the county was still in the Arkansas Territory. In 1835, one year before Arkansas’s statehood, the Territorial Legislature created White County and established a five-man commission to determine its county seat. David Crise, one of the commissioners, hosted the local government in his home, which …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (April 14, 1864)

  The Skirmish at White Oak Creek occurred on the evening of April 14, 1864, the day before Union forces seized the city of Camden (Ouachita County). Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr led the Cavalry Division of the VII Corps to a position along the creek before sunset and set up camp for the evening. Prior to retiring for the night, Carr dispatched 500 Union troops down the Washington Road, 250 men at the junction of the Washington Road and the road from Lone Grove to Camden, and 250 men to a crossroad one and a half miles away. There was also a Confederate reconnaissance group of sixty men within half a mile of Carr’s position that had met and …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (September 29, 1864)

  As part of the Fort Smith Expedition, the Skirmish at White Oak Creek was a culmination of skirmishes beginning with Clarksville (Johnson County) on September 28 and ending with Union forces arriving at Van Buren (Crawford County) on the evening of September 30. Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Infantry had his troops camp three miles beyond Clarksville on the evening of September 28. To their dismay, Confederate forces bushwhacked the Union camp on all sides. Union skirmishers drove Confederates away until dark. Throughout the night and into the early morning, Confederate forces attempted to cross Union pickets in the midst of a severe storm but failed in every attempt. One Union soldier was killed during these attempts. …

White River Expedition (August 5–8, 1862)

The White River Expedition of August 5–8, 1862, consisted of a small portion of the Union navy in Arkansas traveling from Helena (Phillips County) down the Mississippi River to the mouth of the White River to perform reconnaissance and overcome any possible Confederate forces hiding along the shoreline. Led by Colonel Isaac Shepard on board the steamer Iatan and Lieutenant Colonel Bischoff, a fleet of four gunboats, three rams, and one steamer departed on August 5at 10:30 p.m., with the exception of the gunboat White Cloud, as it remained in port taking in coal. At 3:00 a.m. on August 6, the fleet reached Old Town (Phillips County), where the gunboats continued their operation along the river and the other ships …

White River Expedition (December 13–15, 1864)

  The purpose of the White River Expedition (December 13–15, 1864) was to gain information about the Confederate whereabouts along the White River. The successful Union expedition played an important role in gathering intelligence in the White River and Augusta (Woodruff County) area. On December 13, Union colonel Hans Mattson, under the orders of his commanding division, proceeded to board the Third Minnesota Infantry, with 400 infantry and 150 cavalry, from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) onto the steamers Sir William Wallace and Kate Hart. At 8:00 that evening, Col. Mattson dispatched Captain John Flesher along with seventy-five cavalry at Peach Orchard Bluff, along the White River. Later that evening, ninety-five infantry under the command of Captain O. F. Dreher disembarked …

White River Expedition (February 20–26, 1864)

  The White River Expedition of February 20–26, 1864, resulted in Union forces capturing numerous troops from different Confederate infantry and cavalry units. To the dismay of the Union cavalry involved in this expedition, the Confederate troops in the area were able to attack Union forces, recapture some of their own troops, and retreat without Union forces keeping up. Without the proper rations, the Union forces returned to Helena (Phillips County) with the remaining Confederate prisoners to regroup. After receiving orders to travel up the White River, Major Eagleton Carmichael, commander of the expedition, and Captain Ezra King of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry embarked on February 20, 1864, from Helena aboard the Cheek, leaving at 5:00 p.m. Arriving at the …

White River Expedition (February 4–8, 1864)

Embarking on the steamer Cheek on a scouting expedition on February 4, 1864, Captain Charles O’Connell led a Union expeditionary force from Helena (Phillips County) up the White River. He commanded 100 men of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry; forty men of the Third Arkansas Infantry, African Descent under Captain John W. Robinson; and one piece of artillery and seven artillerymen of the Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery, Battery E under Lieutenant John C. Haddock. Embarking from Helena at 9:00 a.m., the small collection of Union forces destroyed one flat boat prior to reaching Friars Point at 11:00 a.m., where they saw four cotton boats and discovered their gunboat had been ordered to Memphis, Tennessee, and the steamer White to return …

White River Expedition (January 13–19, 1863)

Conducted in support of early operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi, this expedition helped Federal forces maintain control of the strategically valuable Memphis and Little Rock Railroad between DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County). Shortly after the capture of Arkansas Post in January 1863 by Major General John A. McClernand, Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman—commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas—moved his command from St. Charles (Arkansas County) toward DeValls Bluff onboard the gunboat USS St. Louis. By a rapid advance on January 17, Gorman surprised two companies of Confederate infantry and forced them to flee, interrupting their attempt to load two large cannon onto a steamboat. An additional assault upon the Confederate rear defeated and captured most of …

White River Station, Skirmish at

The Skirmish at White River Station was a small but important push for Union forces along the White River. On the evening of June 21, 1864, a detachment of 300 Confederate men from the Tenth Missouri Cavalry under Colonel Robert R. Lawther crossed the Arkansas River in small boats near the mouth of the White River. Leaving their horses on the opposite side of the river, the Confederate cavalry marched through the night and arrived on the White River at 4:00 a.m. on June 22. With a Union garrison of only fifty soldiers traveling along the White River, the Twelfth Iowa Infantry under the command of Captain Joseph R. C. Hunter defended its encampment, near the mouth of the White …

White River, Skirmish at (March 22, 1863)

  The skirmish at the head of the White River near Fayetteville (Washington County) was a small setback for the Union forces. On March 22, 1863, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison dispatched thirty-five Union men—twenty-five soldiers and ten citizens—to assist a beef contractor in receiving his livestock. Upon their arrival, the Union forces were attacked on three sides by a Confederate regiment of 200 men from Clarksville (Johnson County) under the command of Major Hall S. McConnell. A citizen in the area had informed the Confederate scouts of the Union location. Since Union forces did not expect to come across Confederates, they failed to set up a picket line, which Col. Harrison blamed on carelessness. In addition, Union forces on this mission …

White Springs, Skirmish at

The Skirmish at White Springs took place at the start of Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke’s Expedition into Missouri. On December 31, 1862, Brigadier General Joseph Orville Shelby’s command began its march northward from the vicinity of Lewisburg (Conway County) toward Missouri, with three regiments of Missouri cavalry, Elliott’s Battalion of Scouts, and Quantrill’s Company (commanded by First Lieutenant William H. Gregg). The first two days of marching proved comfortable due to temperate weather. By the third day, however, a cold rain began to fall, lasting for three days and causing much suffering. Shelby’s force made no contact with the enemy for the first two days. On the third day, Elliott’s Battalion of Scouts came upon a force of bushwhackers …

White-Baucum House

The White-Baucum House at 201 South Izard Street in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a two-story, wood-frame structure that is one of the oldest examples of Italianate architecture in Arkansas (the house also has characteristics of Steamboat Gothic). The building’s distinctive features include balustraded balconies; a low pyramidal roof; paneled, square columns; side porches; and a half-hexagon front bay. For most of its history, the house was owned by individuals and families, but the building has housed various businesses since the 1960s. The original house was completed around 1871 by Robert J. T. White, Arkansas’s secretary of state. In 1876, Colonel George F. Baucum (pronounced “Bockum”), a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, bought the house for $5,000. Baucum …

White, Hercules King Cannon

Hercules King Cannon White was a Civil War soldier and guerrilla, a prominent figure in the Brooks-Baxter War during Reconstruction, and a six-term mayor of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Hercules King Cannon White was born on April 4, 1845, in Louisville, Kentucky, the fifth of nine children of James M. White and Dorcas Trimble White. When the Civil War began, he ran away from home and, in March 1861, joined Company E of the Second Kentucky Infantry (CS), but his father found him and had him released from service on the grounds that he was only fifteen years old. The youth soon joined Company C of the First (Helm’s) Kentucky Cavalry, and he was captured at Louisville on November 26, …

Whiteley’s Mills, Skirmish at

Shortly after mustering into service, on orders of Brigadier General J. B. Sanborn, the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) moved into the Buffalo River region in an attempt to kill or capture Confederate guerrilla forces and increase Union patrol activity in the area north of the Buffalo River. On April 5, 1864, a Union force attacked a band Confederate guerrillas at Whiteley’s Mills on the headwaters of the Buffalo River. The skirmish was part of a larger operation aimed at Union control of the northwest region of Arkansas in April 1864. The Second Arkansas, while encamped near the Buffalo River, had encountered some resistance from Confederate guerrilla forces in the area before the Skirmish at Whiteley’s Mills. Major James A. Melton, …

Whitmore’s Mill, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Whitten's Mill
Fought on the same day as the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry (April 30, 1864), the Skirmish at Whitmore’s Mill took place in Grant County as part of the larger Camden Expedition. On April 28, 1864, Brigadier General Joseph Orville Shelby ordered Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Elliott and the First Missouri Cavalry Battalion (CS) to reconnoiter in and around the village of Princeton (Dallas County) to ascertain if all of Major General Frederick Steele’s force had left Camden (Ouachita County). Elliott began his operation by sending First Lieutenant W. B. Walker and Company B toward Princeton, with orders to report as soon as possible. Elliott also sent scouting parties on the roads leading from Tulip (Dallas County) to Princeton. Elliott arrived at …

Whitney’s Lane, Action at

aka: Skirmish at Searcy Landing
The Action at Whitney’s Lane was the first major contact between Federal and Confederate forces in Arkansas after the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 6–7, 1862. This action and subsequent events led the Union army to give up its objective to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County) in May 1862. Little Rock did not fall under Federal control until September 1863. Union Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s defeat of the Confederate forces under Major General Earl Van Dorn at the Battle of Pea Ridge had not been altogether decisive, but he could claim victory. Consequently, Confederate command staff in the east conceded much of the western region of the Confederacy known as the Trans-Mississippi and ordered Van Dorn to take …

Wild Haws Expedition

aka: Strawberry Creek Expedition
Ordered to screen the movements of Colonel W. D. Wood of the Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry through the Izard County area, Captain Edward Lawler of Company K, First Nebraska Cavalry Volunteers, moved through Wild Haws (Izard County) to the Strawberry River (named “Strawberry Creek” in the reports) before returning to Batesville (Independence County) from March 10 to March 12, 1864. While completing this assignment, no enemy contact was made. On March 10, 1864, Capt. Lawler received orders to move with a detachment toward Wild Haws, which was renamed LaCrosse (Izard County) in 1869. Lawler’s detachment, whose strength was not identified in official reports, was to aid in the movement of six squadrons from the Eleventh Regiment of Missouri Cavalry under …

Wilhite Cemetery

aka: Sims Cemetery
The Sims family graveyard is the oldest known cemetery near what later became the community of Pine Ridge, then Waters (Montgomery County). It is in the woods on unmarked private property off of Arkansas Highway 88, approximately two miles east of the Montgomery–Polk County line. The cemetery has about sixty-five graves. In the twenty-first century, access is limited. The Sims and Wilhite families were among the settlers who traveled by wagon train during the mid-1800s to what is now the Ouachita National Forest. Most were southern farmers looking for wooded hills with game and fish to feed their families. Many of the Sims women married Wilhite men, and the Sims Cemetery became known as the Wilhite Cemetery, although it remained …

William Frazier House

aka: Frog Level
Originally called the Frazier Plantation House, the William Frazier House near Magnolia (Columbia County) was constructed in 1852 by William Frazier, a native of Ireland who was born in 1805. According to some, the frivolous name of “Frog Level” was suggested by B. F. Askew, a young attorney in the area, because of the noise created by the numerous frogs in the river bottoms near the house. Others suggest that the plantation house may have stood at the center of a settlement named Frog Level, much like similar settlements in North Carolina and other southeastern states, and that as the settlement declined due to the growth of Magnolia, the name was transferred to the one house. The Frazier House, or …

Williams, Jeff

aka: Thomas Jefferson Williams
Thomas Jefferson (Jeff) Williams was a farmer, preacher, and Union officer in the Civil War. He serves as an example of mountain Unionists, and his experiences show how the Civil War affected farm families in northern Arkansas. Jeff Williams was born in Caswell County, North Carolina, the son of Nathan Williams and Rebecca (Jackson) Williams, a Cherokee Indian. During his childhood, the family moved to Franklin County, Tennessee. Williams married Margaret Ann Hill there in 1832, and the couple had thirteen children. Williams saw Arkansas for the first time in the spring of 1838, when he and two of his brothers formed part of a Tennessee militia company that escorted several hundred Cherokees west to Indian Territory. Six years later, following …

Wittsburg Fortification

The Wittsburg Fortification is an earthen redoubt built in July 1863 at the junction of the Wittsburg to Batesville, Mount Vernon, and Madison roads to protect Union cavalrymen as they received supplies on the St. Francis River at Wittsburg (Cross County) during the Little Rock Campaign of 1863. Union horsemen led by Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson crossed the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff on July 19, 1863, to confront a reported Confederate force under Major General Sterling Price that was said to be heading north up Crowley’s Ridge to invade Missouri. Davidson’s column of 6,000 men, failing to find Price’s phantom army, continued down the ridge, reaching Jonesboro (Craighead County) on the evening of July 24. The cavalrymen spread …

Wright’s Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

The Twelfth (Wright’s) Arkansas Cavalry Regiment was a Confederate cavalry unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. Participating in military engagements in Arkansas at Mount Elba, Easling’s Farm, Poison Spring, and Marks’ Mills, along with Price’s Missouri Raid, it was stationed in Texas when Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Theater surrendered on May 26, 1865. The unit was organized at Camden (Ouachita County) on December 17, 1863, composed of seven companies and designated the Second Battalion Arkansas State Troops under command of Lieutenant Colonel John C. Wright. In January 1864, three more companies were assigned, bringing the battalion to full regimental strength; it was re-designated the Twelfth Arkansas Cavalry, with Wright promoted to colonel. It …

Yell, James

James Yell was a lawyer, state legislator, and major general in the Arkansas State Militia during the Civil War. Never holding an active field command, he was removed from his position early in the war because of his allegiance to state troops rather than the Confederate government. He did not see action in the war. James Yell was born on March 10, 1811, in Bedford County, Tennessee. He was the son of Pearcy Yell and Jane Gist Yell, and he was the nephew of Archibald Yell, Arkansas’s first congressman and second governor. Receiving some education, he taught school for three years and also served as a magistrate in Tennessee. He married Permelia Young in Bedford County in 1832, and the …

Yocum Creek, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Duncan Springs
  Part of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) was stationed at Elkhorn Tavern, near Bentonville (Benton County), in late October 1862 to help control part of southwest Missouri until the army could enter Arkansas. On November 15, 1862, Company G under the command of Captain Rowman E. M. Mack and Company K under Captain Theodorick Youngblood, along with elements of an additional unidentified company, arrived in the area of Yocum Creek in Arkansas to evacuate loyal Union families to Elkhorn Tavern. While at the Jeremiah Youngblood farm, local Confederates attacked the Unionists and then withdrew to the south and west along Yocum Creek, with the Federals in pursuit. The fight continued southward, down the valley to Duncan Springs. At this junction, …