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Our 42nd 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. 
VOL. XLII, No. 4,
Jan Sarna, President  /  Charles O. Durnett, Editor, 
Dues $15 Per Year


A Day at Shiloh


Don Hamilton

On the morning of April 6, 1862, the sun rose over the Union encampment at Pittsburg Landing. Neither Ulysses S. Grant, the Union commander, nor Albert S. Johnston, the Confederate commander, could possibly know what this day would hold. It would bring advances in military tactics. It would bring innovations in the medical field. It would change all preconceived notions that the Civil War would be short-lived. For Johnston and thousands of other brave soldiers on the Union and Confederate sides, it would bring death.

On April 2, 1862, Johnston began his march from Corinth. Meanwhile, at the Union camp at Shiloh, the Federals troops spent a day drilling and merry-making. Hundreds went for a swim in Owl Creek. Others rested.

Grant wired his superior General H.W.Halleck. "I have scarcely the faintest idea of attack." told Grant to "sit tight at and wait for Buell to arrive”. William Sherman, division commander, was quoted saying to reporters, "Take your regiment to Ohio. No enemy is nearer than Corinth."

Little did he know that the night of April 5, the huge and powerful Army of the Mississippi was poised to strike just out of sight of the Union camp.

On the morning of April 6, Johnston told his fellow officers "Tonight we will water our horses in the Tennessee." When Johnston's powerful Army of the Mississippi hit the federal camps, they had achieved complete surprise. The attack pushed most Union divisions back to reform elsewhere. Others fought doggedly to hold their line.


On the night of April 6, the long-awaited arrival of Don Carlos Buell's reinforcements arrived. Through the cover of gunboat fire, his troops came in on steamboats.

That morning the Confederates were pushed back on the ground that they had fought so hard to win the day before. With the fresh troops, the weary Rebels had little chance to win a complete victory. The Southerners were forced to march back to Corinth.

The final number of dead or missing was 13,000 on the Union side and 10,500 on the Confederate side.

Shiloh was a decisive battle in the war. The South needed a win to make up for land lost in Kentucky and Ohio. It also needed to save the Mississippi Valley. Memphis and Vicksburg were now vulnerable to Union attack, and after Corinth, there is now doubt that those cities would be the next targets.

However, Grant and his men had been rid of their over-confidence by the battle of Shiloh. They now knew that hopes for and easy victory over the south were ill founded. Grant knew then that this war was going to be, in the words of a Union Soldier, "A very bloody affair”.

Shiloh is a Hebrew word meaning place of peace.


May 23: Cal Collier
3rd Arkansas at Wilderness and Spotsylvania
As always, the Arkansans acquitted themselves with great galantry and bravery.

June 27: John C. Scott, NPS –
The Pea Ridge Story including
Dr. Doug Scott’s recent archeological survey of the battlefield
July 25: Dr. Bobby Roberts
River War in Arkansas
August 22: Don Nall
The Little Drummer Boys
September 26: Michael B. Dougan
Snarling cormorants of newspaper filth:
" The Civil War Press of Arkansas."

October 24: Fred Williams
Federal Occupation of Little Rock
November 28:
Election of Officers
December 2006 –
 No meeting Scheduled in December


Check for Civil war events that you may want to attend
or reenactments that you can watch.


  Register to receive your newsletter on-line.


LifeQuest is hosting a Civil War Vignettes class. 
Here is a list of the speakers:
April 26 The Arkansas Road to Secession, Ron Kelley

May 3 Emma Edmonds:  Union Soldier & Spy,
Richard A. Williams

May 10 Confederate Covert Operations, Richard A. Williams
May 17 A Southern Family Goes to War, Ron Kelley
May 24 General Patrick Cleburne - The Man, Don Nall

For a complete listing of all of our classes go online or call 225-6073 


By David Gruenewald
Around the first of the year, our president Jan Sarna requested suggestions for ways to improve and add interest to our meetings for 2006.  I have thought for a long time that it would interesting, educational and fun to have a trivia quiz as regular part of our meetings on the events, battles and personalities that make our favorite war such an endlessly fascinating subject. 
I enjoy watching programs on TV such as Jeopardy while trying to answer the questions. At the March meeting, when our scheduled speaker canceled due to illness, I introduced the quiz idea.  The members present at the meeting tried their hand at the quiz that I had written on the subject of “Nicknames & Sobriquets” associated with Civil War Generals.  Some of the members thought the quiz was hard but most did quite well. Frankly, I wanted to write a quiz that would have a few questions that would be challenging.
At the same time, a good quiz shouldn’t have questions so obscure that no one can answer them. We had a three-way tie for first place and Don Nall was declared the winner in a tiebreaker.  He received a collection of musket balls and shell fragments donated by Ron Kelly for his efforts. 
After the meeting, I wasn’t quite sure how the idea of the quiz was received but, as time has passed, I have received nothing but positive comments on the quiz.  Jan and others want to try a quiz again and so I am writing one now for the April meeting.  I think you will have fun with it.  The one concern that I have had in doing a quiz as part of our meetings is that it not interfere or detract in any way from the presentation of our guest speaker. 
I feel that a way to eliminate this problem is to hand out the quiz before the start of the meeting.  Each individual can work through the quiz before the start of the meeting.  Then after the meeting starts but before the presentation, we can go through the quiz with the answers and decide on the winner. 
I hope that that can be done in about five minutes.  Of course, taking the quiz is optional and no one should feel required to participate if they don’t want to.
The quiz is not meant to reveal what you know or don’t know but, hopefully to be fun and educational.  If we decide to make the quiz a part of our meetings, then it will be best to have a different member volunteer to write the quiz for the next meeting.
Several members have approached me with ideas that they have in mind.  It will be helpful if everyone who wants to try the quiz come to the meeting equipped with a pen or pencil.  I will bring some pencils from my workshop but I have a limited number. 
Let’s give the quiz another try and then decide if we want to do it one an ongoing basis. 


In March our friend and Former State Historian, John L. Ferguson, died at his Little Rock home, he was 80. Ferguson served as chair of Arkansas’ Bicentennial Celebration Committee in 1976 and was named a distinguished fellow of the Arkansas Museum of Science and History in 1993. Ferguson retired as State Historian May 1, 2005. “There was controversy”, archival manager Russell P. Baker said. “He didn’t want to retire, but his health was bad. I think it was fitting that he retired on the 100th anniversary of the organization he led for so long.”
Under Ferguson’s leadership, the Arkansas History Commission formed the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program in 1968, which registers historic places and structures with the national registry. The program is now a part of the Arkansas Department of Heritage.

Ferguson organized the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, located at Old Washington, and traveled extensively to help organize historical societies around the state, Baker said.
The Arkansas History Commission became part of the Department of Parks and Tourism in 1971, where he served as director of the history division. The commission moved into its present quarters in the One Capitol Mall building in 1979.
 Ferguson wrote several books on Arkansas history, including Arkansas and the Civil War, Historic Arkansas, Arkansas Lives, The Church Called County Line. In 1966, Ferguson co-wrote a textbook called Historic Arkansas, which was used in Arkansas high schools for nearly a decade.
“It had several good maps and charts in it,” Baker said. “We still use it as a resource today.”  His long tenure at the commission was not unusual. “There have only been three State Historians since the commission’s founding in 1905. There is a tradition of longevity. I don’t think he could imagine life without getting up and going into work.”


A special thanks to Vice President Ron Kelly for filling in last month. His program A SOUTHERN FAMILY GOES TO WAR was exactly what we needed. Superintendent John Scott fell ill at the last moment and could not make the meeting. He will return to us in June.


Editorial Review

What they should do is provide a swagger stick with each book,
because this is typical Ed Bearss. You might as well be standing
just outside the tour bus looking across what is now an empty field.


Ed continues to create the images of those Yankees charging up
 the field and you standing on the road cutting them down.
--- Chasles   Durnett




Edwin C. Bearss

Book Description
Few historians have ever captured the drama, excitement, and tragedy of the War Between the States quite like Edwin Bearss. The acclaimed "Homer of the Civil War," has won a huge, devoted following with his extraordinary battlefield tours and eloquent soliloquies about the heroes, scoundrels, and little-known moments of a conflict that still fascinates America. Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga, Gettysburg: these hallowed battles and more than a dozen more come alive as never before, rich with human interest and colorful detail culled from a lifetime of study.
Illustrated with detailed maps and archival images, this 448-page volume commemorates the 140th anniversary of the war's end with a unique narrative of its most critical battles, translating Bearss' inimitable delivery into print. As he guides readers from the first shots at Fort Sumter to Gettysburg's bloody fields to the dignified surrender at Appomattox, his engagingly plainspoken but expert account demonstrates why he stands beside Shelby Foote, James McPherson, and Ken Burns in the front rank of modern chroniclers of the Civil War, as the Pulitzer Prize-winning McPherson himself points out in his admiring introduction.

A must for every one of America's countless Civil War and history buffs alike, this major work will stand as an important reference and enduring legacy of a great historian for generations to come.

About the Author
At 80, Edwin C. Bearss is the America's premier battlefield historian. The former Chief Historian of the National Park Service and its current historian emeritus, Bearss leads tours of America's battlefields more than 300 days per year.
During World War II Bearss was wounded in the South Pacific. After attending Georgetown University he began working for the National Park Service at the Vicksburg battlefield park, where he oversaw the discovery and excavation of the sunken Civil War ironside S.S. Cairo. He was appointed Chief Historian of the National Park Service in 1981. Bearss developed a unique and engaging tour style that appeals to all interest levels and has inspired a legion of fans. In 1990 Bearss was one of the major experts employed by Ken Burns for his award-winning series, The Civil War. Bearss has consulted on numerous documentaries, books, and films including Gods and Generals and is a frequent face on the History Channel's Civil War Journal. Bearss is the author of 13 books, including the three-volume definitive history of the Vicksburg Campaign.
Ed is a tireless advocate for preservation of Civil War battlefield sites and has testified before Congress on numerous occasions. He is on the board of directors of the Civil War Preservation Trust and has been honored by nearly every group in the United States that supports Civil War education and preservation.
According to James McPherson, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, "Ed will deny this, but he has a photographic memory containing an enormous range of information. I have learned a great deal from him. He has an enormous amount of knowledge, not just on the Civil War, but in every aspect of history¿" Shelby Foote is another known fan; the reclusive historian is known to show up on Ed's tours unannounced. Ed Bearss lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Margie.
James McPherson (Introduction) is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom and more than a dozen other books about the Civil War. McPherson is a professor of history at Princeton University.
Brooks D. Simpson (editor) is a history professor at Arizona State University and the author of Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, of which the New York Times said, "Simpson has done a masterly job. He has given us a detailed and exciting narrative of how one man succeeded, where so many others had failed"...He is is an oft-published authority on the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction and frequently leads tours of Civil War battlefields with Ed Bearss.

The notion that “Union strength” caused the South
to lose the war is primarily northern. Nevertheless,
here we have a gentleman from
Wisconsin writing
what most of us already knew. However, he does
put the scattered facts together in a cognitive way.
His story reads more like a novel, complete with
verbal flashbacks. It is a quick read, even when
you say, “that’s not right” and go look up his premise.
Worth checking out of the library for an afternoon read.
Charles Durnett


Dixie Betrayed:

How the South Really Lost the Civil War

by David J. Eicher

For more than a century, since the end of the Civil War, the conventional wisdom has been that the South lost because of overwhelming Union strength and bad luck. The politicians and generals on the Confederate side have been lionized as noble warriors who bravely fought for an honorable cause that had little chance of succeeding. But in Dixie Betrayed, historian David J. Eicher reveals for the first time the real story, a calamity of political conspiracy, discord, and dysfunction that cost the South the Civil War.

Drawing on a wide variety of previously unexplored sources, Eicher shows how President Jefferson Davis viciously fought with the Confederate House and Senate, state governors, and his own cabinet. Confederate senators threatened each other with physical violence; some were brutal drunks, others, hopeless idealists who would not bend even when flexibility was the difference between victory and defeat. Military commanders were assigned not by skill but because of personal connections. Debates over such issues as whether the Confederacy needed a Supreme Court stretched out for years, squandering time that would have been better spent on making certain that troops were well fed. Davis frequently interfered with his generals in the field, micromanaging their campaigns and playing favorites, ignoring the chain of command. He trusted a number of men who were utterly incompetent.

Moreover, Secession did not end with the breakaway of the Confederacy and Davis's election as president; some states, led by their governors, wanted to set themselves up as separate nations, further undermining efforts to conduct a unified war effort. Tensions were so extreme that the vice president of the Confederacy refused to live in the same state as Davis-and this while they were trying to win a war.

One of the most provocative and controversial books about the Civil War to be published in decades, Dixie Betrayed blasts away previous myths with the force of a cannonball and the grace of a gentleman. For Civil War buffs as well anyone interested in how governments of any age can self-destruct during wartime, it is essential reading.



for  Don and Shiloh