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

CSS Arkansas

During the Civil War, the Confederate navy’s ironclad vessel bearing the state’s name was the ram CSS Arkansas. It was in use only twenty-three days, yet earned the rage of the Union and the respect of the Confederacy. The Confederate navy’s task to defend rivers from its better-equipped adversary’s attacks and blockades required the building of vessels capable of meeting the challenge. To this end, on August 24, 1861, the navy ordered two ironclads from Memphis, Tennessee, shipbuilder John T. Shirley; one was christened the CSS Arkansas. The CSS Arkansas’s keel was laid in October 1861, with work continuing through the winter. While the vessel was under construction, news arrived that Union naval forces were en route to capture Memphis. …

CSS Maurepas

Like many vessels that saw active military service with the Confederate navy during the Civil War, the CSS Maurepas started out as a civilian vessel engaged in river commerce and transportation. In 1858, J. A. Cotton of New Orleans, Louisiana, contracted with the shipbuilding yards in New Albany, Indiana, for a wooden-hulled sidewheel steamer packet named the Grosse Tete. Upon completion, the vessel measured 180 feet with a thirty-four-foot beam. It weighed 399 tons, drafted seven feet, and carried a crew of seventy-nine. Between 1858 and 1860, the Grosse Tete worked the New Orleans–Bends commercial trade route, piloted by Captain Isaac Hopper. In 1860, the Bayou Sara Mail Company purchased the Grosse Tete and placed it under Captain J. McQuoid for …

CSS Pontchartrain

The CSS Pontchartrain was a Confederate warship that served on the Arkansas and White rivers. While it never saw combat in Arkansas, the Pontchartrain played a supporting role in several battles and affected Union strategy in 1862 and 1863. The CSS Pontchartrain began its career as the Lizzie Simmons, a 454-ton sidewheel paddleboat built at New Albany, Indiana, in 1859. The Lizzie Simmons ran between New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Ouachita River in 1860 under Captain George Hamilton Kirk; it then worked the river between New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee, under Captain W. B. Richardson. The Confederate navy purchased the ship in October 12, 1861, and converted it into a gunboat in January and February 1862. It was renamed the …

Curtis, Samuel Ryan

Samuel Ryan Curtis was the Union general responsible for the victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge, the capture of Helena (Phillips County), and the repulse of Price’s 1864 invasion of Missouri and Kansas. Samuel Curtis was born on a farm in Clinton County, New York, on February 3, 1805, to Zarah and Phalley Yale Curtis prior to the family’s move to Licking County, Ohio. He married Belinda Buckingham in 1831. The couple had six children. A West Point graduate (1831), Curtis resigned his commission in June 1832. During his civilian life, Curtis served as an engineer for the Muskingum River and the Des Moines River improvement projects, the National Road, and the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Admitted to …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (December 1, 1864)

The December 1, 1864, Skirmish at Cypress Creek was one of many military events of the Civil War to occur within the Arkansas River Valley, exemplifying both the contentious nature of the Union’s occupation of the area around the Arkansas River and the ongoing role of guerrilla fighting. The only known surviving document is a report by Colonel Abraham H. Ryan of the Third Arkansas Cavalry. According to this report, Captain Marvin C. Gates of Company C, Third Arkansas Cavalry, along with two men in the advance, came upon five of the enemy near Cypress Creek in Perry County, nine miles from Lewisburg (Conway County), where the report was composed. Capt. Gates charged and was killed. None of the enemy …

Cypress Creek, Skirmish at (May 13, 1864)

  This action was the first engagement between Federal and Confederate forces during Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby’s movement into northern and eastern Arkansas during the summer of 1864. Near the Arkansas River, Federal forces worked to determine the strength of Confederate forces and keep them from crossing the river if possible. After the conclusion of the Camden Expedition in early May 1864, Federal forces remained in several fortified cities across the state, while Confederate forces held southern Arkansas. Seeing an opportunity to operate more freely in central and northern Arkansas, Confederate commanders ordered units of cavalry to move across the state and determine Union strength, among other tasks. Shelby led his brigade of Missouri cavalry from southern Arkansas in …