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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 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. 
    Gaylord Northrop, President  /  Charles O. Durnett, Editor, 
    Dues $15 Per Year VISITORS WELCOME! 

    Jefferson Davis, Before & After the Civil War 
    by Rob MacGregor, Little Rock CWRT

      We have all read books or heard speeches about the exploits of Jefferson Davis while he served as president of the Confederate States of America.  However, what of this man before and after his tenure as head of the doomed secession movement? How did a West Point graduate-turned-planter find himself at the center of our nation's greatest conflict?  Moreover, what became of Davis after the last guns sounded?

    Last November Rob presented us with the first of the series "Before the War". This month he will follow up with Episode II "After the War". 

    Rob MacGregor is a Crowley’s Ridge boy, growing up in Jonesboro; he attended Arkansas State University, graduating with a Batchelor’s degree in Math. He is a salesman in the field of Agriculture & Business Equipment. He has spoken previously to the Civil War R T of Forrest City; other CWRTs. 

    Rob’s interest in Civil War History grew out of his interest in Genealogy: His Great-great-Grandfather, William Darden Peterson, emigrated to North Carolina. Later generations moved to Tennessee, and on to Arkansas. His interest in Civil War History was bolstered by the introductory course he took at ASU in Civil War History. (He has recently taken the UALR course on Civil War History.) He has been a Civil War Reenactor for the past 15 years: Company D, 1st Ark Rgmt (CSA). (Clan MacGregor; originally mustered in Pine Bluff). 

    THANKS TO Dr. Tom DeBlack, Arkansas Tech,  for his fine presentation 
    Fire & Sword: Arkansas 1861-1864. 

    Reminder about CWRT 2004 dues.

    The dues are $15.00 for a family membership. Because of recent changes we are publishing a list of those who had paid their dues (at least what our records show). If you have paid your dues and your name is not on the list, contact Brian Brown. If you would like to pay your dues contact Brian at: 

    Brian Brown, Treasurer 
    Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas 
    P.O. Box 25501 
    Little Rock, Ark. 72221 

    James W. Ayers 
    Randy & Deborah Baldwin
    Bill Beck 
    Laura Bradach
    J.R. Bissett 
    Dennis R. Bowles 
    John F. Breen 
    Edward T. Bridgers
    Brian Brown 
    Charlie Calkins 
    Bob Coons
    Jerry Donoho 
    Kay & Charles Durnette
    Vernon Dutton
    Dr John Ferguson
    Thomas Ezell 
    Betty Gentry
    David F. Gruenewald
    Don F. Hamilton 
    William J. Hamilton 
    David Hodges 
    Drew Hodges
    John C. Heuston
    Logan Kaufman
    Randy Kersten 
    David King 
    Cecil A. Knight
    Donald G Linton
    Stewart W. Long 
    Mary Cooper Miller
    Harvey Moore
    Gaylord Northrup
    Larry Puckett
    Kevin Quinn 
    Pam Ray
    Bobby Roberts 
    Henry L. Rogers
    Wesley H. Ross 
    Jim Ryals 
    The Jan Sarna Family
    Robert F. Shaver 
    Lonnie & Jane Anne Spikes 
    H. Stebbins 
    James W. Townsend 
    Robert Trammell
    Joseph Ward 
    Mr. Kenny Ziegenfelder

    Civil War -Histories-Battles-People-Current Events 

    PLACES of interest 

    Searchable Chronology Database 

    DISPATCHES Current Info-Monthly Newsletter 

    LINKS major historical and preservation source 

    RESOURCE for historical Civil War information 

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    Copyright ©1997 Civil War Round Table of Arkansas


    February 24, 2004 --
    Rob MacGregor, Little Rock CWRT Jefferson Davis, Before & After the Civil War 
    March 23, 2004 -- 
    Jim Woodrick, Jackson, Miss. CWRT, 

    March is the 40TH Anniversary 
    for the
    Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas

    April 27, 2004 -- 
    Dr. William Shea, UA-Monticello, 
    May 25, 2004 -- 
    Cal Collier, Towson, Md., 
    June 22, 2004 -- 
    July 27, 2004 -- 
    Gaylord Northrop, Sherwood, 
    Command & Control in Confederate Arkansas. 
    August 24, 2004 -- 
    Supt. Ralph Jones, Fort Gibson, Okla., 
    The Battle of Honey Springs. 
    September 28, 2004 -- 
    October 26, 2004 -- 
    November 23, 2004 --
    December, 2004 – 
    No meeting Scheduled in December 

    A reminder about the last civil war tour coming in April. A Memorial to Jerry L. Russell (1933-2003), Founder & National Chairman of the Confederate Historical Institute.

    "The Final Days of the Confederacy
    /Spring 1865" 
    with EDWIN C. BEARSS 

    April 1-4, 2004; Raleigh, North Carolina 
    With Tours of Battles of Averasboro and Bentonville  Optional Tour to Monroes Cross Roads
    Seating is Limited---Reserve your Space Now! 

    For more information contact:
    Alice Anne Russell/CHI
    P.O. Box 7388, 
    Little Rock AR 72217 


    Check for more information

    This coming March 20, 2004 the annual Patrick R. Cleburne Memorial Service will be held at the Maple Hill Cemetery, Helena. In addition to the Service a special ceremony will be held. The reburial of Confederate soldiers found in a mass grave. Watch the WebSite for developing details.
    Those who may want to attend can extend their visit by touring Helena as they did during the War.

    Tour Today
    As They Did In 1863

    Touring Helena just as they did in 1863 is limited because of today's growth. However, Tom Ezell, historian, re-enactor, and member of the SCV, has provided a short self guided tour for those visiting today. Modern-day Helena has grown a great deal, and has lapped over the hills to form the town of West Helena. 

    There isn't a whole lot of wartime or antebellum Helena left except for about half a dozen houses that have been converted into bed-&-breakfast inns for the most part. Most of the battery sites (D, on Hindman Hill; C, on Graveyard Hill; B, and A, on Rightor Hill) have been preserved in part and can be visited. The slopes where the Confederate charges occurred have pretty much been overtaken by housing development, the overlooks from the battery positions now look back into town, not to the west where the bad guys were and where most of the fighting took place. 

    For the most part, the federal regiments camped in the small plain between the west edge of town and the foot of the hills surrounding the towns. I don't recall exactly where the camps were for the Minnesota regiments were, but a fellow named Charles Maggio (proprietor of Maggio's Family Grocery at 70 Highway 20. (Take the first left turn as you come off the Mississippi River Bridge onto Highway 49) is an avid relic hunter, and has documented most of the Federal camps there. His little store is more of a museum than a grocery store, and is well worth a visit while you are in town. 

    The Federal campsites are all under the residential areas of town, now, so you will likely be tramping through folks' back yards to get there. The site of Fort Curtis is marked, about one block east of 49B, and is currently occupied by a large Baptist church. This marks the western edge of town from 1860-1865, and from there to the hills is the open area for the Federal camps. 

    Civil War Things to See in Helena: 
    1.   Phillips County Library & Museum, on Pecan Street. Nice assortment of relics and historical articles from Helena, including Cleburne's personal "Book of Common Prayer" that is about the only artifact of his that's still in Arkansas other than his tombstone and monument. Several artifacts from CS Maj. General Thomas C. Hindman, who was also a resident of Helena, including the bullet that killed him in 1868. In addition, on display is a hand-painted silk flag presented to the Helena volunteers (the Phillips County Guards) in 1861 as they marched off to War. 

    2.   Maple Hill Cemetery, on Holly Street. The main cemetery is where Hindman and his family are buried at the end of the entrance drive. Turn right immediately as you enter the cemetery and follow the little signs to the Confederate Cemetery over on the next hill. Cleburne's monument stands here to the left of the drive on top of the hill, across from a larger Confederate monument. Many of the CS dead from the July 4, 1863 Battle of Helena are buried here, as well as other Helena CW veterans. Behind Cleburne's monument is the small tombstone brought from his original grave near Columbia, TN; and Cleburne is actually buried under this marker -- not under the monument. Take time to enjoy the view... including that of the Mississippi River just in the distance. 

    3.  Downtown Helena: Mostly focused on the annual "King Biscuit Blues Festival" held each October. A good part of Civil War Helena was wiped out when the built and upgraded the levee to help keep the river out of the streets late in the 19th century. The main street down in Old Helena now is Cherry Street, which was three blocks back from the waterfront during the War. Cleburne lived in a hotel on Front Street (or Water Street, since it faced directly onto the river bank and the wharf boat), and the old Nash & Cleburne drug store was at Front and Rightor Streets if I remember right. Be sure to visit the Delta Cultural Center at Cherry and Missouri streets, there is a fair effort at interpretation here, and it's a good place to get oriented as to the other sights and sites in town. Good places to eat include Pasquale's Tamales (tamales, sandwiches, and Louisiana cuisine) and Oliver's (steaks and seafood), service is great and friendly at both places, and prices are cheap. 

    4.  Battery C and Battery D sites. These will take a bit of navigation to get up to... ask the ladies at the Delta Cultural Center for a map and directions. Battery C offers an especially nice view back into the old town, and where the Federal camps were. You'll need to park by the fence down the hill and slip past the chained gate (to stop vehicles since part of the road is washed out just on the other side), but it's well worth it, and no one will bother you about it. 

    That is pretty much it. Be advised that Helena and Phillips County are deep in the Mississippi Delta, and all that implies. There are some nice places and houses with the folks with the Old Money, and there are some places that much verge onto slums. It's a poor county. 

    There are several good references to read before starting your tour, for example Ed Bearss' article on the 1863 battle, printed in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly (about 30 years ago), the chapter (34) on Helena in Warren Grabau's new book, "Ninety-Eight Days: A Geographer's View of the Vicksburg Campaign", as well as Perdue's biography of Cleburne, "Pat Cleburne: Confederate General"; Mauriel Joslyn's collection, "A Meteor Shining Brightly"; and Neal and Kremm's biography of Hindman, "The Lion of the South."  The Federal campaign to occupy Helena is covered in the closing pages of William Shea's and Earl Hess' "Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West" and opening of Michael Banasik's "Embattled Arkansas: The Prairie Grove Campaign of 1862."

    Arkansas's Confederate Generals

    Patrick Ronayne CLEBURNE (1828-1864)

    Pat Cleburne, one of only two foreign-born officers to attain the rank of major general in the Confederate service, was born March 17, 1828 in Bridgepark Cottage on the River Bride, ten miles west of Cork, Ireland. After a three-year enlistment in Her Majesty's 41st Regiment of Foot, he purchased his discharge and emigrated to the United States in 1849, landing at New Orleans. Educated as an apothecary (pharmacist), he first worked in Cincinnati but soon took up residence in Helena, Arkansas, where he became a partner in a drugstore, and then studied law. By the outbreak of the Civil War he had become successful in the legal profession, and had accumulated considerable property. He was elected colonel of the 15th Arkansas in 1861, and was promoted brigadier general to rank from March 4, 1862. The month following he led a brigade at Shiloh and later commanded a brigade at Perryville and a division at Richmond. His promotion to major general dated from December 13, 1862.

    Cleburne rapidly established a reputation as a superb combat officer on every battlefield of the western army. He further distinguished himself at Murfreesboro, and received a vote of thanks from the Confederate Congress for saving the trains of the Army of Tennessee after the Chattanooga campaign. A savage fighter of the Bedford Forrest stamp, his death at the battle of Franklin, on November 30, 1864, in the forefront of his division, was a calamity to the Confederate cause perhaps only exceeded by the demise of Stonewall Jackson. Perhaps the best division commander of the Confederacy, Cleburne was eulogized by his friend and former commander, William J. Hardee: "When his Division defended, no odds could break its lines; When it attacked, no numbers resisted its onslaught."

    General Cleburne was the first to suggest (in a circular letter) the emancipation and arming of the Confederacy's slaves and their muster into military service. His proposal, now known as "Cleburne's Memorial", was squelched by his superior officers at the time it was proposed, but was belatedly put forth by the Confederate government at the end of the war.

    First buried near Columbia, TN, Cleburne's remains were removed to his adopted home town of Helena, Arkansas, in 1870, where he is buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Maple Hill Cemetery.
    Arkansas provided a number of general officers to the Confederacy, both the political appointees of the Arkansas Military Board who oversaw the raising of the state army at the beginning of the war, as well as those who rose to general officer rank in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS), the "official" Confederate army.

    We Who Study Must Also Strive To Save!

    AND REMEMBER --- 2004 dues $15!


    Don't forget, our 40th birthday will be in March.


    Visit The Battlefields When You Can...While You Can