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

Minstrels [Political Faction]

By 1872, the hopes of reconstructing the South along Republican political lines were waning. The Arkansas Republican Party, like the national party, suffered a schism that threatened to end the party’s political dominance in the state. Two groups within the state party—the Minstrels (aligned with the national Republican leadership) and the Brindletails (aligned with the Liberal Republican movement)—fought for control of the governor’s office. The Minstrel faction, allegedly named due to the past profession of one of its members, relied on newcomers (often pejoratively labeled “carpetbaggers”). This group, including men such as Stephen Dorsey, John McClure, and Thomas Bowen to name a few, coalesced around Governor Powell Clayton and the political machine he controlled. By the gubernatorial election of 1872, …

Mississippi River Squadron (US)

aka: Western Gunboat Flotilla
aka: Mississippi Flotilla
aka: Mississippi Squadron
The Mississippi River Squadron was a Union military unit established in 1861 that operated vessels along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Operating under both Federal army and navy command during the Civil War, boats of the unit saw action in and near Arkansas for much of the war. Control of the Mississippi River was a major Union objective from the start of the war. The Anaconda Plan adopted by President Abraham Lincoln called for a naval blockade of the Confederate states and capture of the river to divide the Confederacy. Some ships could enter the mouth of the Mississippi and move up the river, but military commanders quickly recognized the need for a fleet to move down the river …

Mitchel, Charles Burton

Charles Burton Mitchel briefly served as a U.S. senator from the state of Arkansas before resigning his office due to the secession of Arkansas and the beginning of the Civil War. He then served in the same capacity in the Confederate government until his death in 1864. Charles Mitchel—whose name is frequently misspelled as Mitchell—was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, on September 19, 1815, to John Mitchel and his wife. Records do not show the first name of his mother or identify any siblings, although he was one of four children in the household in 1820. After attending common schools, Mitchel graduated from the University of Nashville in 1833. He then earned a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, …

Monroe’s First/Sixth Arkansas Cavalry (CS)

The First (Monroe’s) Arkansas Cavalry Regiment was a Confederate cavalry unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. Also designated as the Sixth Arkansas Cavalry and First Trans-Mississippi Cavalry, it is one of three regiments to be named First Arkansas Cavalry. Participating in military engagements in Arkansas at Cane Hill, Fayetteville, Devil’s Backbone, Pine Bluff, Elkin’s Ferry, 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 regiment originated in August 1862 with the consolidation of Captain James M. O’Neill’s Thirteenth Arkansas Cavalry Battalion and Captain Patrick H. Wheat’s cavalry squadron. Additional independent and partisan companies were assigned …

Monticello Road, Skirmish at (May 16, 1865)

  Even with the surrender of most of the military units of the Confederacy, the Civil War continued in Arkansas during the spring and early summer of 1865. Many of the southern units in the state were no longer organized and operated to the best of their abilities. Soldiers at Federal outposts throughout the state continued to hunt down these enemy fighters, and this skirmish is an example of one such action. On May 15, 1865, Captain John Norris of Company M, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry led a scout of thirty men from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The patrol started quietly and moved past several farms to determine if the enemy was present in the area. A local farmer’s wife reported …

Monticello, Skirmish at (May 24, 1865)

  In mid-1865, after four years of conflict, the Civil War was finally coming to a close. But Confederate troops still operated in southeastern Arkansas. This skirmish was part of the effort to get these troops to surrender to Union forces and thus conclude the war in the state. On May 23, 1865, Captain John Norris of the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry departed Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) with sixty men. Once outside of the city, he split his force into two groups. Taking different roads, the two parts of the unit rejoined that night about thirty miles from Pine Bluff. The Federals continued to patrol the countryside the next day before entering Monticello (Drew County) around sunset. Encountering the enemy for …

Monticello, Skirmish at (September 11, 1864)

  After the Camden Expedition in the spring of 1864, Confederate forces were primarily based in southern and eastern Arkansas. Union forces in the state continued to gather intelligence from their bases in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), as well as other locations. This skirmish occurred when a Federal column from Pine Bluff stumbled into a large unit of Confederate troops in the Monticello (Drew County) area. On the morning of September 9, 1864, under orders from Brigadier General Powell Clayton, Colonel Albert Erskine departed Pine Bluff with 300 men. Erskine and his men scouted in the direction of Monticello. That night, the command camped about fourteen miles from Monticello. Approaching the town early the next …

Moore-Jacobs House

The Moore-Jacobs House, constructed around 1870, is located in Clarendon (Monroe County). Author Margaret Moore Jacobs lived in the home for much of her life, referring to it as her “Dear Little House.” The entire complex including the house and grounds consists of four adjoining lots. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 29, 1983. The house was constructed by John Wesley Moore (grandfather of Margaret Moore Jacobs), who gave the house to Margaret and her new husband John B. (Jake) Jacobs after their marriage in the late 1920s. In 1931, the house was moved across the street to its present location, and an addition was built on the rear of the building at the …

Morgan’s Mill, Skirmish at

aka: Battle of Martin's Creek
aka: Skirmish at Spring River (February 8, 1864)
After capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County) in September 1863 and forcing Arkansas Confederates to relocate their capital to Washington (Hempstead County), Union forces in northeast Arkansas sought to solidify their control in the region and safeguard important supply lines. On Christmas Day 1863, Colonel Robert R. Livingston and his Union forces reoccupied Batesville (Independence County), where they established the headquarters of the District of Northeastern Arkansas. Union forces in Batesville subsequently set out to suppress small bands of Confederates in the region. On February 8, 1864, a Union detachment composed of elements of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, the Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry, and the First Nebraska Cavalry encountered a larger Confederate force made up of parts of Freeman’s Brigade, Missouri …

Morrison v. White

Morrison v. White was a case involving slavery in which, after numerous legal twists and turns, Jane/Alexina Morrison, who claimed to be a free white woman from Arkansas, was granted her freedom by a Louisiana district court jury in 1862. As did several other freedom suits of the time (such as Guy v. Daniel and Gary v. Stevenson), this one went well beyond the usual issue of ownership and addressed the fundamental question of who could, in fact, be enslaved—and, in particular, whether a white person could be a slave. Unlike the famous case of Dred Scott, a black man whose claim to freedom was based on his residence in a statutorily free area of the country, Jane/Alexina Morrison rested …

Morrison, Lee (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1868, an African-American man named Lee Morrison (sometimes referred to as Morsen or Morson) was lynched near Helena (Phillips County) in retaliation for a number of murders he was presumed to have committed, including that of deputy sheriff Joseph W. Maxey, and the wounding of Sheriff Bart Y. Turner the previous March. There is no information on Lee Morrison or anyone of a similar name available in public records. Sheriff Turner, born around 1840 in Tennessee, had been in Phillips County since at least 1860, when he was living in Big Creek Township. Joseph W. Maxey had been in the county since at least 1850, when he was working as a druggist and living in the household …

Moscow, Action at

The Action at Moscow on April 13, 1864, signaled that Major General Frederick Steele’s Union forces would not be allowed to occupy Camden (Ouachita County) without a fight. Although Confederate Washington (Hempstead County) would be spared from Union occupation, the Confederates were not content to merely defend this town—they went on the offensive. Steele withdrew from Prairie D’Ane (Nevada County) and began marching on Camden on April 12, 1864. His rear guard was the Frontier Division, consisting of about 5,000 men commanded by Brigadier General John M. Thayer. This division was camped near the village of Moscow, on the edge of Prairie D’Ane, on April 13, 1864. Steele’s army made slow progress on its march to Camden, so Thayer’s division …

Mound City, Burning of

This punitive expedition relates to Union efforts to secure Memphis, Tennessee, as a supply and hospital base capable of supporting ongoing operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. It stands as an early example of the shift toward hard war tactics that would increase throughout the remainder of the Civil War. The decision to burn the village of Mound City (Crittenden County), located on the shore of the Mississippi River between Marion (Crittenden County) and Memphis, had roots in an extended and destructive Confederate partisan raid conducted in Crittenden County by Captain James H. McGehee’s unattached company of Arkansas cavalry in January and February 1863 and were part of a punitive Union campaign to prevent the use of riverside communities as guerrilla bases. …

Mount Elba, Action at

The Action at Mount Elba was fought March 30, 1864, as Confederate cavalrymen attacked Union soldiers guarding a bridge across the Saline River while other Union troops pursued a Confederate supply column at Long View (Ashley County) in an effort to disrupt Rebel operations in South Arkansas and prevent attacks on Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). As Major General Frederick Steele led his Union army into south Arkansas from Little Rock (Pulaski County) in March 1864 on what became known as the Camden Expedition, Colonel Powell Clayton of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry prepared an expedition south from Pine Bluff to attack Confederate forces that were believed to be leaving Monticello (Drew County). The expedition—which left Pine Bluff on March 27, 1864—consisted …

Mount Ida Expedition

In November 1863, Lieutenant Henry C. Caldwell of the Third Iowa Cavalry led a force of Federal cavalrymen on an expedition through at least eight southern Arkansas counties. Engaging the Confederate forces on a number of occasions, he eventually reached the town of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), where he expected to find additional enemy forces. Along the way, the Federals also organized Unionist resistance to the Confederates. Lt. Caldwell’s force, consisting of the Third Iowa Cavalry and First Missouri Cavalry, left Benton (Saline County) on November 10, spending the night in Hot Springs (Garland County). The next day, the force moved down the Murfreesboro Road to within eighteen miles of the town of Murfreesboro (Pike County), where they captured a …

Mountain Federals

aka: Mountain Feds
Mountain Feds were Arkansans, primarily from the Ozark and Ouachita mountain regions, who remained loyal to—and fought for—the Union in both conventional and irregular military units during the Civil War. As the threat of war grew following the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860, Arkansas was divided amid calls for secession. Residents of the lowland areas, where there were large plantations and the majority of the state’s enslaved population lived, tended to be in favor of leaving the Union, while the people of the upland regions, few of whom owned slaves, were opposed to secession. In fact, when delegates were selected for the state’s secession convention in early 1861, the majority were Unionist in their tendencies, and the …

Mountain Home, Skirmish at

aka: Yellville Expedition
In late 1862, the Civil War along the Missouri-Arkansas border degenerated into a series of skirmishes and small raids. One of these raids was conducted by Major John Wilber in October 1862. Union brigadier general Francis Herron ordered an expedition commanded by Wilber to advance from its post at Ozark, Missouri, to Yellville (Marion County), the headquarters of General James McBride, commander of the Seventh Division of the Missouri State Guard. The intention was to surprise the Confederate force stationed at Yellville, burn or capture supplies, take prisoners, and then return to Missouri. Maj. Wilber, commander of the Fourteenth Regiment Missouri State Militia, took 125 men from his command and an additional 100 men of the Missouri Militia and advanced …

Mrs. Voche’s, Skirmish at

  Following the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Federal forces on September 10, 1863, a force of men in the Fifth Kansas Cavalry raided the community of Sulphur Springs (Jefferson County) seven miles west of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the night of September 14. By sunrise, Pine Bluff was firmly occupied by the Federal army and remained so throughout the end of the Civil War, acting as a hub to supply armies with troops and supplies. While the area remained under Federal occupation, a multitude of skirmishes erupted from all sides of the city throughout the remainder of the war, including the Skirmish at Mrs. Voche’s. According to the after-action report of Captain George W. Suesberry of …

Mud Town and Gerald Mountain, Skirmishes at

aka: Fayetteville Expedition
  Keeping the main road from Springfield, Missouri, to Fayetteville (Washington County) open was a major task for the Union troops under the command of Brigadier General John B. Sanborn, stationed at Springfield. The road was sometimes called the Wire Road, as the telegraph line ran along the road. Keeping the telegraph line in operation was a task that kept repair crews frequently on the road. Traveling this road frequently were the subsistence and ammunition trains, mail carriers, regular and irregular troops from both sides of the Civil War, civilians, and guerrillas. On August 23, 1864, members of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (US) left the Big Springs near Cassville, Missouri, on an expedition to Fayetteville. Their orders were to guard a …

Murphy, Isaac

Isaac Murphy was a teacher, attorney, and eighth governor of Arkansas. After years of relative obscurity, he became nationally famous when, at the Arkansas Secession Convention on May 6, 1861, he not only voted against secession but also resolutely refused to change his vote despite enormous crowd pressure. In 1864, he became the first elected governor of Union-controlled Arkansas. Isaac Murphy was born outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 16, 1799, to Hugh Murphy and Jane Williams Murphy. His Murphy ancestors came to the United States from the Dublin, Ireland, area between about 1737 and 1740. His father was a paper manufacturer who died during Isaac’s childhood. The executor saw to Murphy’s education but squandered the estate before committing suicide. …

Murray, John Edward

John Edward Murray was a West Point cadet and Confederate officer who is popularly known as the youngest general in the Confederate army, though he was never thus promoted. John Murray was born in March 1843 to John C. Murray and Sarah Ann (Carter) Murray in Fauquier County, Virginia. His parents also had three other sons and one daughter. At the age of six, Murray moved with his family to Arkansas, settling near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his father became a judge. In 1860, Murray received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and attended that institution until the next year. With the secession of Arkansas, Murray returned home, where his military skills were put …