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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Newsletter Archive - We have left these online because they contain valuable articles. For the most up-to-date Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas Newsletter please use the Newsletter button in the Menu. 


    Our 39th Year Meets Fourth Tuesday, January-November/Founded March 1964 
    Fletcher Branch Library, H & Buchanan (East of University Ave.), 
    Little Rock Program at 7 p.m. 
    Charles Durnett, President  /  Jerry L. Russell, Editor,
    Dues $15 Per Year VISITORS WELCOME! 
    (This meeting only)

    The Great Beefsteak Raid

    by Cal Collier

    WE HAVE CHANGED OUR meeting date/place (see above) to accommodate our perennial May speaker, Founding Member Cal Collier.

    Altho’ a combination of health problems caused Cal and Melba to forego their trip home last year, we can resume the tradition of their visits this year.

    Cal Collier served in the U.S. Air Force, spending some of his time at LRAFB. A native of Virginia, he grew up on the Civil War, and, while he was in Arkansas, became interested in the activities of Arkansas’ Confederate soldiers. This resulted in his writing of three books: They’ll Do To Tie To, a history of the Third Arkansas Infantry which served in the Army of Northern Virginia; First In, Last Out, a history of the Capitol Guards (First Arkansas Infantry), which served in the Army of Tennessee; and The War Child’s Children, a history of the Third Arkansas Cavalry, which served under Forrest and Gen. Joe Wheeler (called the ?war child because of his slight stature). 

    Cal was a member of the Arkansas Civil War Centennial Commission in the early sixties, and is a Founding Member of our Round Table.

    He and Melba moved to Baltimore several years ago, to be near his children in the Washington, D.C., area, and his last surviving sibling. He is an active member of the Baltimore CWRT and has made several talks to that group. He has also spoken to the National Congress of Civil War Round Tables and the Confederate Historical Institute on several occasions.

    In 2000, he was the recipient of our group’s Patrick Cleburne Award, given for contributions to Arkansas Civil War history, joining Ed Bearss, Jerry Russell, Don Hamilton, and Bill O’Donnell, who were the previous recipients. Since that time, former Sen. Dale Bumpers has also become a recipient.

    Each May, Cal and Melba return to Little Rock for his Air Force squadron re-union, and we take advantage of those visits to add an outstanding program to our schedule.

    His program this time will be about The Great Beefsteak Raid, an 1864 Virginia event involving Wade Hampton and his Rebel cavalrymen and a herd of Yankee cattle, gathered to feed Grant’s Army. (You may have seen the movie based on this action, starring William Holden and Richard Widmark.)

    Federal General August Kautz (who was later the president of the Lincoln Assassination conspirators’ court martial) was in charge of the Federal commissary during the siege of Petersburg. Among his resources was this large herd of cattle.

     The Confederates learned about the tempting target, and a daring raid behind enemy lines allowed Gen. Hampton and his hard-riding cavalrymen to stampede the herd out of Union hands and into the Confederate lines. The Rebels ate beef for the next several weeks.

    You won’t want to miss Cal’s dynamic presentation (Cal’s presentations are always dynamic) on this almost-forgotten Civil War action.

    Remember, we will be meeting  Tuesday, May 20 (NOT the fourth Tuesday), at the Terry Branch Library, 2015 Napa Valley Drive.

    Rodney Parham, going north from Markham, reaches an intersection with Green Mountain Drive (past the commercial strip where Franke’s is--Market Place), and takes a hard right (Green Mountain is to the left, and the continuation of Rodney Parham is on the right). Straight ahead puts you on Hinson Road. 

    Go two blocks and you’ll come to Napa Valley; Terry Branch will be on your immediate left as you turn on Napa Valley.  It’s at the corner of Hinson Road and Napa Valley.

    The time is the same--7 p.m. And the fellowship is the same--outstanding.

    See you there.

    STEPHEN MCATEER, director and curator for the MacArthur Arkansas Military History Museum, will also be our guest Tuesday night, to give a brief report on the status and progress of this wonderful, relatively new museum on the military history of Arkansas (including the Civil War).

    THANKS TO Supt. John Scott for his presentation last month on Pea Ridge Today and what’s going on up there.  He is always an enjoyable guest.

    (Click here)

    June 24, 2003--Randy Philhours, Paragould, The Marmaduke-Walker Duel.
    July 22, 2003--Beau Cantrell, Broken Arrow OK, 
    August 26, 2003--Dr. Brian Steel Wills, UVA- Wise, Forrest in the Summer of '64.
    September 23, 2003--Dr. Dan Sutherland, The University of Arkansas, Guerilla Warfare.
    October 28, 2003--Landon Smith, Jackson, Miss, Prai-rie d'Ane.
    November 25, 2003--Rob McGregor, Little Rock, Jefferson Davis, Before & After the Civil War.

    WE REPORT WITH REGRET the passing of William W. O’Donnell, one of our Founding Members, on May 4. He was a faithful member for nearly 40 years (we started in March 1964), gave many talks to the group, received the Patrick Cleburne Award for his contribution to Arkansas Civil War history, and authored, in 1986, Civil War Quadrennium: Little Rock During The Civil War, an official publication of the Arkansas Sesquicentennial.

    Several years ago, we authorized the expenditure of $100 for a commemorative brick in the MacArthur Museum walk to honor our late president, Robert Grubbs, who died unexpectedly during a meeting of the CWRT of North Pulaski County (which he also served as president).

    I would suggest that we honor Bill O’Donnell in the same manner.

    an SCV newsletter from Dallas, shared commentary on this book:

    Myths & Realities of American Slavery, The True History of Slavery in America, by John C. Perry; White Mane Publishing Company, Inc., 63 West Burd St., Shippensburg, PA 17257; $39.95; 304 pages.

     Many of the racial problems of the US have arisen because of misunderstandings regarding slavery and its history.  Now John Perry has cast a bright light on the darkness of popular misconceptions. Drawing on many sources he has provided an unbiased discussion that is very readable as well as informative.  This is no defense of slavery but it does point out that slavery was certainly not a Southern development.  He goes far back in time to discuss slavery through the ages and around the world.  One interesting point made in passing is that slavery can be considered a step in the development of civilization; prior to the advent of slavery, enemies captured in battle were killed.  The trade in African slaves was ages old before it expanded to the Americas, with Africans enslaving and selling other Africans throughout Africa and Asia. 

    African slavery in America was a late step in the history of slavery.  As a matter of fact North America received only a fraction of the Africans sold into slavery.  The first slaves imported to America were actually indentured servants whose period of servitude were for stated lengths.  One of the first twenty such servants brought into Virginia was a black man who later was responsible for servants for life when he won the right in court to own another man.  Although slavery was a fact throughout the American colonies, it became more prevalent throughout the South due to reasons of climate and economy. 

    However, the common concept of throngs of slaves laboring on vast plantations was never a true picture.  Over 75% of Southern households owned no slaves. Only a very small fraction of people actually owned slaves and those who did usually owned one or two.  The day-to-day world of the slave is described in much detail.  In contrast to the storied mistreatment of slaves, the average slave in the South was usually better off in health, home, and general living conditions than the average Northern factory worker.  When freedom for Southern slaves came, it was a by-product of war rather than through financial reimbursement of their owners, the method used elsewhere in the world.  That warfare left a residual of antipathy that remains today.  The author has performed a great service by analyzing and presenting this information.  We can only hope that it becomes widely read and understood.


    Northern states were in the midst of a depression before the war broke out.  The United States Treasury was bankrupt. 

    Northern Congressional representa-tives wanted high protective tariffs.  The vast bulk of the Federal income came from those tariffs and was paid by the South, which depended heavily on imports.  Therefore the South always fought the North’s pet desires for such unjust protective tariffs.  However, with the departure of the Southern states, this obstacle was removed and one of the first acts of the Republican-dominated 37th Congress was the immediate passage of the Morrill Tariff. 

     At 47% this tariff went into effect in early March of 1861.  At the same time, the Confederate Congress instituted a low 10% tariff, true to the South’s historic aversion to protective tariffs.  The natural result of the difference between these tariffs would be to divert trade from New York and Boston to the Southern ports.  If the secession of the South was allowed to stand, the tariff in the North would have to be lowered to match that of the South or the Northern states would suffer financial ruin.  Lincoln had already vowed in his Inaugural Address to enforce the Morril Tariff at Charleston and other Southern ports.  As representatives of the Virginia Convention, Mr. John Baldwin and Mr. A.H.H. Stuart went to Washington and met with Abraham Lincoln.  They urged him to delay action that opened the war.  In reply, Lincoln asked, ?What is to become of my revenue in New York if there is a 10% tariff at Charleston?

    When war did occur, overseas observers easily discerned the principal reason.  As Karl Marx and Friedrick Engels stated in their book The Civil War in the United States (1861; reprint, New York, 1961) ?The war between the North and the South is tariff war.  The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty.

    *For every three horses required by the cavalry, artillery, or supply columns, an additional two horses were required to transport fodder.

    * There were 37 different nationalities in the ranks of one Louisiana regiment.

    * Soldiers on both sides soon learned that the barrel of a musket could hold nearly a pint of whiskey.

    * During the siege of Vicksburg in 1863, there were 39 Missouri regiments: 22 in blue, 17 in gray.

    * Reflecting the heavy losses throughout the Confederate Army of Tennessee, at the end of 1864, the 3rd and 18th Tennessee regiments had a total strength of twelve men.

    * Although The Confederate States of America appeared on currency, laws, and military regulations, that term was never officially adopted by the Southern states.

    * Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest had 29 horses shot out from under him in battle.

    * Robert E. Lee’s hair was black at the beginning of the War; completely white at the end of the War.

    See You Tuesday Night at Terry Branch Library for Cal Collier and The Great Beefsteak Raid.

    We Who Study Must Also Strive To Save!