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

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 …

Sugar Creek, Action at

aka: Battle of Dunagin's Farm
aka: Action at Little Sugar Creek
The Action at Sugar Creek, commonly known as the Battle of Dunagin’s Farm, was the first battle of the Civil War wholly fought in Arkansas and was part of the tug of war between the North and the South for control of Missouri. In late 1861, after the victory at Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, the Missouri State Guard under Major General Sterling Price occupied Springfield, Missouri, and settled into winter quarters, not expecting pressure from Federal troops until spring. But on January 1, 1862, Major General Samuel R. Curtis and the Union’s Army of the Southwest prepared to march on Springfield and rid Missouri of enemy troops. Price, aware of the Federals’ advance, knew that he could not …

Sugar Loaf Prairie, Affair at

The 1865 Affair at Sugar Loaf Prairie was a unique encounter between Union troops and guerrillas in extreme northern Arkansas in which a cave was used as a hiding place. On January 8, 1865, a scouting mission of twenty-five men of the Seventy-third Infantry Enrolled Missouri Militia under the command of Lieutenant Willis Kissel moved from Forsyth, Missouri, in an effort to look for two bands of guerrillas who were operating in the southern part of the state. Moving into Arkansas, the Federals learned from a local family that the guerrilla band under the command of Alfred Cook was hiding in a cave near Sugar Loaf Prairie about two miles away. Kissel captured Cook’s son, and the youth led the …

Sultana

The Sultana steamboat disaster in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, has been called America’s worst maritime disaster. More people died in the sinking of the riverboat Sultana than on the Titanic. However, for a nation that had just emerged from war and was still reeling from the assassination of President Lincoln, the estimated loss of up to 1,800 soldiers returning home on the Mississippi River was scarcely covered in the national news. The remains of the steamboat are believed to lie buried in Arkansas. Those aboard the boat were mostly Union soldiers from Midwestern states such as Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. Having been taken prisoners of war, they were sent to the notoriously overcrowded Confederate prisons of …

Sylamore, Skirmishes at (January 23 and 26, 1864)

After Arkansas seceded from the Union in May 1861, the Confederate Congress urged state leaders to make provisions for the manufacture of arms and munitions, including saltpeter, a major component of gunpowder. On August 21, the steamboat New Moon arrived at Sylamore (Stone County) with a cargo of thirty huge kettles, a steam engine, and a hammer mill to produce gunpowder for the Confederacy. They were brought up the North Fork of Sylamore Creek to what became known as Gunner Pool (now located in the Ozark National Forest). Governor Henry Rector placed Colonel Thomas R. Freeman in charge of the militia units to protect the munitions efforts. As steamships loaded and unloaded cargo and supplies for all of northern Arkansas …