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    Our 40th 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. 
    Brian Brown, President  /  Charles O. Durnett, Editor, 
    Dues $15 Per Year VISITORS WELCOME! 





    Superintendent Ralph W. Jones

    Union and Confederate troops had frequently skirmished near Honey Springs Depot in the Indian Territory. The Union commander in the area, Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, correctly surmised that Confederate forces, mostly Native American troops under the command of Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper, were about to concentrate and would then attack his force at Fort Gibson.

     He decided to defeat the Confederates at Honey Springs Depot before Brig. Gen. William Cabell’s brigade, advancing from Fort Smith, Arkansas, joined them. Blunt began crossing the swollen Arkansas River on July 15, 1863, and, by midnight on July 16-17, he had a force of 3,000 men, composed of whites, Native Americans, and African Americans,

    Operations to Control Indian Territory (1863)
    Principal Commanders:
    Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt [US]; Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper [CS]
    Estimated Casualties:
    716 totals (US 79; CS 637)

      Even after Fort Smith was occupied in September 1863, by Union forces, Confederate resistance in Indian Territory continued. Colonel Phillips led 1,500 Union soldiers from Fort Gibson south to a point near the Texas border in February 1864, intent upon bringing the area under control, offer amnesty as provided in President Lincoln's proclamation of the previous December. His purpose was not only to obtain formal repudiation of Confederate treaties with the tribes, but also to gain active support among the Indians.

     Phillips' tactics were hardly conducive to friendly relations. He told his men: "Those who are still in arms are rebels, and ought to die. Do not kill a prisoner after he has surrendered. Nevertheless, I do not ask you to take prisoners. I do ask you to make your footsteps severe and terrible." Phillips sent side parties from his main column to clean out Confederate pockets and to distribute copies of Lincoln's amnesty proclamation, which were printed in the Indians' languages.


    To each tribe he wrote, "I think you understand that I am in earnest. Do you want peace? If so, let me know before we come to destroy." The countryside was systematically and totally laid waste. At Middle Boggy, near present-day Atoka, a sharp engagement occurred when a detachment from Phillips' force came upon a group of Confederate soldiers, forty-seven of whom were killed, with many additional wounded. In all, Phillips marched about 400 miles, killed 250 Confederates, lost none of his own men, and returned only when his ammunition ran low. He was away from Fort Gibson for nearly a month, and, except for six day's rations, subsisted off the countryside. However, his mission was only partially successful, for it served to strengthen Confederate Indian resistance in the Territory, while it made no converts to the Union.

    Ralph W. Jones, superintendent Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site, Oklahoma Historical Society. A native Oklahoman he began working for the OHS on 1 Nov 69, as an assistant curator for collections; Aug 71, he became curator of the State Museum of History; and in Feb 72 was named Director of Museum (division). By October 1998, he had become the superintendent at Honey Springs emphasizing preservation through development: land acquisition, road construction, preparing wayside markers, and interpretive trails, acquiring a temporary visitor center while awaiting construction of permanent building.

     Through both education and training, Ralph is a student of history and a professional historical agency administrator. Subsequent to his graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma (1971-1972) he has continued his passion for history at the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), "Seminar on the Interpretation and Management of History Museums," Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts (1971); AASLH, "Advanced Seminar on the Interpretation and Management of Museums," Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (1977).

     Ralph has made presentations to many local and county historical societies in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, as well as to regional museums and historical associations.  Recently his talks have been to civic and patriotic organizations and have focused on the Civil War in Indian Territory and the Engagement at Honey Springs.

     Among other distinguished organizations, he is a participating member of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (now the Civil War Preservation Trust); Indian Territory Posse of Oklahoma Westerners; and the American Association for State and Local History.



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    August 24, 2004 --

    Supt. Ralph Jones, superintendent of

    Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site,”The Battle of Honey Springs“ 

     September 28, 2004 --

    Don Montgomery, Historical Interpreter, Prairie Grove Battlefield. The Biennial Reenactment  

     October 26, 2004 --

    Our Annual joint meeting with the North Pulaski Roundtable to hear Mark L. Cantrell, historian, of

    El Reno, OK 

     November 23, 2004 --

    Drew Hodges, speaking on “A. P. Hill” 

     Election of Officers 

     December 2004 –

     No meeting Scheduled in December

     PROGRAMS FOR 2005

    January 25, 2005 – TBA

     February 22, 2005 - TBA

     March 22, 2005 - TBA

     April 26, 2005 –

    Tom Ezell,   The Battle of

    Jenkin's Ferry, 141 ST Anniversary

     May 24, 2005 - TBA


    We Who Study Must Also Strive To Save!


    No. 3,-Report of

    Brig. Gen. William Steele, C. S. Army.


    Camp on little Boggy, C. N.,

    August 28,1863.


    MAJOR: I have the honor to report that I arrived at this place yesterday, having been obliged to fall back before superior numbers. We were closely pursued until we left Perryville, since which time we have not been molested. On me 26th, shots were exchanged frequently between their advance and my rear, and in the evening, it was necessary to use my whole force to hold them in check until my train could get away. The advance of General Bankhead's command is now within a few miles, in consequence of orders sent direct to the regimental commanders. I retired on this road to meet the troops that I expected, and to enable me to concentrate. The Creeks, who were encamped above North Fork Town, were ordered to join at Perryville, which they had ample time to do, but failed to do so. I have not heard from them. A Choctaw regiment joined, but about half of its numbers were unarmed. Col. Stand Wane, who was on a scout to Webber's Falls, where the enemy was reported crossing, has not joined. Many of the Cherokees have left to look after their families. Of the two regiments, there are probably not more than 100 in camp. General Cabell’s brigade had been ordered to the vicinity of Fort Smith to resist a threatened movement from Cassville, and in the hope that the movement in that direction would arrest the desertions in the Arkansas troops. My communications by way of Fort Smith have been rendered very uncertain by recent movements.


    Very respectfully,




    Assistant Adjutant-General, little Rock.


    August 27-29, 2004

    Fourth Annual Battle of Perryville

    Indian Territory

    Saturday... Living History for the public 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

    Saturday...Main Battle at 6:00 p.m.

    Saturday night...  Dance after the battle at the Chambers Community Center

    Sunday Morning... Church Service at 11:00 a.m.

    In the old town of Perryville

    Sunday...Battle at 1:00 p.m.

    Sunday.... Events Closes 2:00p.m.


    For information, see


    Sept. 18-19, 2004:

    Living History Event,

    Arkansas Post National Memorial

    Gillett, AR.

    In 1686, Henri de Tonti established a trading post known as "Poste de Arkansea" at the Quapaw village of Osotouy. It was the first semi-permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley. The establishment of the Post was the first step in a long struggle between France, Spain, and England over the interior of the North American continent.

     Over the years, the Post relocated as necessary due to flooding from the Arkansas River, but its position always served of strategic importance for the French, Spanish, American, and Confederate military. Spanish soldiers and British partisans clashed here in the 1783 "Colbert Raid”, the only Revolutionary War action in Arkansas.

     Arkansas Post became part of the United States following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. By 1819, the post was a thriving river port and the largest city in the region and selected as the first capital of the Arkansas Territory.

     During the Civil War, Confederate troops tried to maintain tactical control of the confluence of the two rivers, and in 1862 they constructed a massive earthen fortification known as Fort Hindman at the Post. In January 1863 Union troops destroyed the fort, ensuring control of the Arkansas River.

     From Fort Hindman, at Arkansas Post, Confederates had been disrupting Union shipping on the Mississippi River. Maj. Gen. John McClernand, therefore, undertook a combined force movement on Arkansas Post to capture it. Union boats began landing troops near Arkansas Post in the evening of January 9, 1863. The troops started up river towards Fort Hindman. Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s corps overran Rebel trenches, and the enemy retreated to the protection of the fort and adjacent rifle-pits. Rear Adm. David Porter, on the 10th, moved his fleet towards Fort Hindman and bombarded it withdrawing at dusk. Union artillery fired on the fort from artillery positions across the river on the 11th, and the infantry moved into position for an attack. Union ironclads commenced shelling the fort and Porter’s fleet passed it to cutoff any retreat. As a result of this envelopment, and the attack by McClernand’s troops, the Confederate command surrendered in the afternoon. Although Union losses were high and the victory did not contribute to the capture of Vicksburg, it did eliminate one more impediment to Union shipping on the Mississippi.

    Estimated Casualties:

    6,547 totals (US 1,047; CS 5,500)

    Canadians Participating in War


    To CWRT of Arkansas

    I attend the Rockland County Civil War Round Table and thought you might want to give you some information on the role Canadians and wives played during the American Civil War. Approximately 50,000 Canadians served in the War and my great-great grandfather was one of them. I found 150 Civil War letters in my mother's attic to and between my great-great grandparents Charles and Nancy McDowell. 


    "Civil War Letters of a Canadian private and his wife"


    by  Lisa Saunders

    Photos of private Charles McDowell can be retrieved from


    I carefully unfolded the stiff yellowed paper, knowing I was touching a letter written during the American Civil War. It was one of many stuffed in a little wooden box, just discovered in my mother's attic. This particular letter, written by my great-great grandfather Charles McDowell to his wife Nancy, was written on a small, plain piece stationary--not at all fancy like some of the others in the batch that bore sketches of the White House and battle engagements. I gently smoothed it flat on the table, afraid I would tear it. The handwriting was strange, the ink somewhat faded, making it difficult to read. And then suddenly I came upon a word I recognized in an instant--Abe!


    It read, "We have Seward [the Secretary of State] down here about every other day, and sometimes he fetches Old Abe with him and [he] looks about like any old farmer." I couldn't believe it. Charles met Lincoln!


    In addition to the letters was Nancy's obituary, which reads:


    "MRS. MCDOWELL IS DEAD - SHOOK HANDS WITH LINCOLN. With the death of Mrs. Nancy Wager McDowell...the town of Sodus probably loses the distinction of having a resident who could boast of having shaken hands and talked with the martyred Lincoln…She was married in 1860 to Charles McDowell, a native of Canadda, who came to America when a young man.  Mr. McDowell was a member of the Ninth New York Heavy Artillery in the Union Army and it was while stationed near Washington that his wife had an opportunity to speak with the President. Mrs. McDowell passed nearly a year in that vicinity and many were the pies she baked for the soldiers stationed at the capital. Typhoid Fever caused her to return to Alton to the home of her parents…" ("The Record,," Sodus, Wayne County, N.Y. September 18, 1931)


    I took the collection of approximately 150 letters back home to Maryland and began what was to become an exciting ten-year adventure. First I arranged the letters from Charles by date and began to read. Once I grew accustomed to his old style handwriting and run on sentences, I felt myself leaving the present and entering his past. I traveled back over 130 years and joined Charles in heart and mind.  I felt his loneliness, his boredom, his fear.  I laughed when he found a reason to laugh.  He and his brother had enlisted despite his Canadian father's pleas to stay out of the war. As the months of his service turned into years,  I hurt over his deep longing for his wife and home and for the life and family he left behind in Canada. During the Siege of Petersburg he wrote of former life in Canada:


     "It’s a- getting so cold. I don’t know but we shall heft to set up tonight and keep a fire.  It is a-freezing fast.  But we had the good luck to make a haul on a couple of blankets the other night when we was guarding baggage.  I find a man has to look out for himself here.  If he don’t, nobody else will look out for him. My cousin was over to see us the other day. He is pretty sick of the war.  I think I must write a letter to Canada before long. I haven't wrote to them since you left.  Don’t you think it is too bad it has been so long since I wrote?  I feel most ashamed to write now.  I shall heft to apologize pretty well.  As soon as my time is out I think I shall go and see them Sometimes when I get to thinking about my native land and what good times I have had there it makes a feeling come over me that makes me feel sad.  Little did I think when I left home that I would be gone for seven years.  Oh how I long to see my sister Margaret and all the rest, and if I get out of this alive it won’t be long before I can see her.  She thought [my likeness] an awful sight. She feels pretty bad about us.  She is afraid we will never come home alive but I live in hopes that we will come out all right."


    In other letters I was shocked to read of the desertions, hangings, amputations, and even theft and murder among Union troops. Charles wrote home about the battles of Cold Harbor, Jerusalem Plank Road, Monocacy, Opequon (Winchester), Cedar Creek, the Siege of Petersburg, an attack by Moseby's Men, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. I knew the letters told a valuable story, one that took me over ten years to research and compile.


    "Ever True" is the customary way people signed off on the letters. I chose Ever True as the title for my book because it also holds another meaning: it speaks of the love that is ever true between Charles and Nancy and of Charles's ever true sense of duty towards his new country despite war’s infidelities, scandals, and ever-present threat of death. Most letters begin with "I now take pen in hand to write a few lines letting you know that I am well at present and I hope these few lines will find you the same." My hope is that my readers will find themselves well and thoroughly enjoying their journey through Ever True!


    Lisa Saunders

    Submitted by: Lisa Saunders 


    To learn more about EVER TRUE (published by Heritage Books) or the New York 9th Heavy Artillery, please visit t


    About the author: Lisa Saunders resides in New York's Historic Hudson Valley with her husband and two daughters. A Cornell University graduate, Lisa has published a children's novel, Ride a Horse, Not an Elevator, several short stories, and has written a book about life with her second daughter Elizabeth, born with severe disabilities.  She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. To learn more about Lisa's work, visit her website at




    As you heard at the last meeting, the city was considering a proposal to relocate the David O. Dodd memorial, from its present home on the premises of the UALR School of Law, to a site near the Arkansas Museum of Military History.  The monument commemorates the hanging of David O. Dodd, and is located as close as possible to the actual site (which, in fact, is now occupied by  interstate-30.)


    The granite marker says:
    “In Memory of
    David O. Dodd
    The Boy Martyr of the Confederacy
    This marks the place of his execution
    January 8, 1864”


    Don Hamilton and Brian Brown had a petition and follow-up ideas for those concerned about this move. The problem may be resolved, at least for the time being. Here is the latest report from Don:


    "Bryan Day (City Parks Director) telephoned me yesterday and said that the DOD marker would not be moved. Last week, I wrote Bryan a letter expressing my opposition and enclosing a copy of the Battlefield Update Summer issue with Tom Ezell's article stating the CACWHT opposition."




    The Battle of Honey Springs


    And our speaker


    Supt. Ralph Jones