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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 43nd 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. XLIII, No. 2,
Ron Kelly, President/ Charles O. Durnett, Sec-Editor, 
Dues $15 Per Year


Where the South Lost the Civil War…



Tom Ezell

Early in the Civil War, while eastern Confederate armies were running amok and repeatedly defeating and humiliating US forces, tough western US forces under a bold young general handed the Cornfederates a decisive defeat that shocked the Confederate cause and was a deadly portent of things to come.

145 years ago in 1862, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant finished a spectacular campaign by capturing Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. This battle 

came ten days after Grant's capture of Fort Henry, just ten miles to the west on the Tennessee River, and opened the way for Union occupation of the Confederate heartland, from Paducah on the Ohio River all the way south to Florence, Alabama.

Assult on Ft. HenryAssult on Ft. Henry

Ft. Donelson River Battery
Fort Donelson river battery

After Grant surrounded Fort Henry and forced the surrender of its garrison of approximately 100 men, he marched his force eight miles east to the much more formidable Fort Donelson. This earthen fort sat on a high bluff and had a normal garrison of 6,000.

After the fall of Fort Henry, an additional 15,000 Confederate troops were rushed to reinforce Fort Donelson. Grant crossed the narrow strip of land between the two rivers with only about 15,000 troops. One of Grant's officers, Brigadier General John McClernand, initiated battle on February 13 when he tried to capture a Rebel battery on Fort Donelson's ring of outer defenses. Although unsuccessful, this action probably convinced the Confederates that they faced a superior force, even though they actually outnumbered Grant.

Fort Henry and Fort Doanldson

Fort Henry and Fort Doanldson


A big thanks to Randy Philhours for his excellent presentation last month on the Marmaduke Walker Duel and it consequences.


March 27, 2007  Brian Brown
Home from Gettysburg

April 24, 2007 - Miss Ellie
Women during the War Between the States

 May 22, 2007 - Cal Collier

June 26, 2007 - W. D. Honnoll
M. J. Thompson: The Swamp Fox

July 24, 2007 - Dr. Thomas A. DeBlack

August 28, 2007


September 24, 2007
October 23, 2007
November 27, 2007

We Who Study

  Must Also Strive To Save!

February 1861


Military forces began to move
inexorably towards conflict.
The Magnetic Telegraph Company
Dated: Carlisle (Barracks, Penn.) 6th Feby, 1861
To: Col. L. Thomas, Asst. Adj. Genl.

"Three ten P.M. I have just sent off by railroad Lieut. Holliday with forty two men and forty horses.
     L. P. Graham Major, 2nd Dragoons." (4-820)
Thursday, February 7th, saw the "Johnson Connections" focus on the ferment for Secession in Arkansas, as Senator R. W. Johnson wired to his family back home, counseling moderation....
The Magnetic Telegraph Company
Dated: Washington Feby 7, 1861
To: R. H. Johnson (and) James B. Johnson, Little Rock.
"Southern states which captured (Government) forts were in the act of seceding (and) were threatened with troops and their ports and commerce endangered. If Totten resists, for God's sake, deliberate and go stop the assault. R. W. Johnson."
The following telegram appears on blank paper with various phrases crossed out. These are shown within brackets [ --- ]. William K. Sebastain was a Senator from Arkansas.
"US Senate Feby 7th, 1861.
His Excel'y H. M. Rector. Little Rock, Ark.
 [For God's sake] The [motions impel] motions which impelled capture of forts in other states do not exist in ours. It is all premature. We implore you prevent attack on Arsenal if Totten resists. R.W. Johnson, W. K. Sebastain."         
American Telegraph Company
From: Washington Feby 7, 1861
To: Edmund Burgevin Little Rock
"For God's sake do not attack the Arsenal. It can do no good and  will be productive of great harm. C. B. Johnson."   
American Telegraph Company
From: Washington, Feby 7, 1861
To: Gov. Rector Little Rock, Ark.
"For God's sake allow no attack to be made on Fort Totten. A. Rust"
Magnetic Telegraph Company
Dated: Wash'n Feb 7th, 1861   
To: John Pope, Esq.  Little Rock Ark.
"For God's sake do not complicate matters by an attack. It will be premature and do untractable harm. We cannot justify it. The reasons that existed elsewhere for seizure do not exist with us.
Albert Pike, R. W. Johnson.    
As it turned out, Captain James Totten surrendered Little Rock Arsenal on February 8th, resulting in the following return telegram:
 Little Rock, Feby 8, 1861.
 To: C. B. Johnson Wash.
 (You) spoke too late, like Irishman who swallowed an egg. Arsenal now in hands of Governor. Edmund Burgevin.
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., February 10, 1861.     
SIR: In answer to your telegram dated Washington, February 9, 1861,
I this morning answered by telegraph as follows:
I have retired with my command from Little Rock Arsenal, and the governor of Arkansas, in the name of the United State, has charge of all the public property, to hold the same until legally absolved from the trust. I have reported particulars by mail, and shall duplicate them, and explain the whole matter thoroughly. I shall order and proceed with my command to Saint Louis, where I beg that orders may be sent me for my future guidance.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
              JAS. TOTTEN,
          Captain, Second Artillery.

Little Rock Arsenal


The Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trails Foundation, represented by six organizations around the state, came together in February for the annual meeting. Your part is the Central Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trails (CACWHT), which has the same membership as the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas. Only the officers are different.
The mission of the ACWHTF is to assist with the acquisition of Civil War-related properties in Arkansas, fund interpretive exhibits and activities, and to raise funds for further historic and archeological research into the events and personalities surrounding the Civil War in Arkansas.
Then main product that you see from ACWHTF is the newsletter knows as the ARKANSAS BATTLEFIELD UPDATE. You will be receiving a new copy in the next few weeks, outlining all the activities that it participants and activities. This is part your organization.
The 2007 Chairman of the Central Arkansas Civil war Heritage trail is Charles Durnette, who also serves as your secretary/editor.

Members of the CWRT of Arkansas are also part of the TASK FORCE, that you help form last year. The main project is to look into the sites making up the Battle of Little Rock and the protection of the signage at each of the sites (here are the minutes of the first meeting).
Brownsville Task Force Minutes
Saturday, January 20, 2007 at Lonoke County Museum in Lonoke, AR
Those Attending:
Joe Brewer, Bradley Dr. Cabot
Mrs. McSwain, librarian from Lonoke

Jack Danielson, Reed’s Bridge Preservation

Sheryl Miller, Lonoke County Museum

Chuck Durnette, Central Arkansas Civil War Round Table and the Sons of Confederate Veterans

Don Hamilton, Central Arkansas Civil War Round Table

Clem Papineau, Historian and writer

Mark Christ, Arkansas Department of Historic Preservation

Rick Meadows, Central Arkansas Civil War Round Table

 Sheryl Miller gave us a short tour of museum and we heard portion of a diorama explaining the Brownsville battle.

Discussion –

            ·           3 segments of the Brownsville Campaign have been identified by Mark Christ

            ·           Brownsville Segment (battle field) and 2 off Military Road between Brownsville and Jacksonville

            ·           Parts of 2 small parcels have been placed on the National Historic Registry

Mark Christ suggested that we try to obtain a piece of land at the Brownsville location.  According to group agreement, this could anchor the Eastern Section of the Campaign and Reed’s Bridge can be considered the Western anchor of the running battle. Mark suggested that several wayside makers could be placed along Military Road from Furlow to Reed’s Bridge describing the engagement.

Clem Papineau suggested that we consider land 200 yards off Hwy 31 down Watson Lane as a possible site of the Eastern anchor. Gary Mitchell, who is a member of the Lonoke County Museum, supposedly owns the land. There is approximately 5-15 acres of land just north of Watson Lane that is not being farmed and is prone to flooding. The Two Prairie Bayou is on the eastern border of this property. The county maintains Watson Lane with gravel. Clem pointed out the old Brownsville park is on the south side of the road next to Mrs. Lawson’s old house.

After our meeting Clem took us to the proposed site. The land (5-15 acres north of Watson Lane) has been marked and is located just south of the old Brownsville town. An interpreter-walking trail would be very suitable at this site. Wayside markers explaining the battle and the old town would work nicely on this property. With the help from the county, the road could be upgraded. There is blacktop for a short distance from Hwy 31. There is also ample space for the construction of a parking lot. Even though the battle did not occur at the property of Watson Lane, the bridge over Two Prairie Bayou which confederate troops used to retreat thru Brownsville is located only 100-400 yards north of the proposed site. Interpretive hiking trails could be constructed to the actual site of the bridge, with owner’s permission. All roads that were used in the battle are funneled into this section.

Part of The Trail of Tears was along the Military Road. This has additional historical and preservation importance.

Other discussion during our meeting centered on the effect that this effort would have in promoting heritage and tourism in Lonoke County, the City of Lonoke, Pulaski County and the City of Jacksonville. Visitors would come to sites in both Brownsville and Reeds Bridge.

Don Hamilton suggested before any attempt to discuss with Guy Mitchell or other property owners about the use of the property, that we try to inform residents of the community and government official about the importance of this project.

Clem has done much research on the Brownsville Battle and the Military Road. Since he has much of this on a CD, he is willing to edit it for a presentation to the community. Mark Christ will assist Clem. Sheryl Miller offered to host the presentation with a joint meeting of the Lonoke County Museum and the Lonoke County Historical Society. She felt at least 50 people would attend. We have targeted Sunday, April 15 at 2pm for the presentation.

Jack Danielson and Don Hamilton suggested inviting county judges of Pulaski and Lonoke County as well as state senators, state representatives, and local government officials to the presentation. Also included could be

representatives of the Chamber of Commerce of Lonoke and Jacksonville. A street map of the proposed location could be mailed out to the county judges with the invitation or at a fellowship meeting.

What type of organization do we need? Dan suggested that we have representatives from Reed’s Bridge, Brownsville/Lonoke Community, and the Central Arkansas Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

At the close of meeting, Jack Danielson, offered the use of the Jacksonville military museum for the next meeting place.

Respectively,  Rick Meadows
Amendment to minutes

Date for joint meeting between the Lonoke County Museum and the Lonoke County Historical Society has been moved to:

Sunday, March 18th  2 p.m.
Lonoke County Museum





You have heard of the Irish Brigade, now read a book about the Confederates from the Emerald Isle that regularly beat up on them.  From the Louisiana Swamp rifles of the 10TH Louisiana Confederate Infantry, to the men of the First Virginia in Pickett’s Charge – the Irish were there.

Irish Confederates

The Civil War’s Forgotten Soldiers

Phillip Thomas Tucker



 Contemporary Civil War scholarship has brought to light the  important roles certain ethnic groups played during that tumultuous  time in our nation's history. Two new books, focusing on the  
participation of Irish immigrants in both the Union and Confederate  armies, add to this growing area of knowledge.


While the famed fighting prowess of the Irish Brigade at Antietam  and Gettysburg is well known, in God Help the Irish! historian  Phillip T. Tucker emphasizes the lives and experiences of the  individual Irish soldiers fighting in the ranks of the Brigade, supplying  a better understanding of the Irish Brigade and why it became one  of the elite combat units of the Civil War.
  The axiom that the winners of wars write the histories is especially valid in regard to the story of the Irish who fought for the Confederacy from 1861–1865. Throughout the course of the Civil War, Irish Confederates made invaluable contributions to all aspects of the war effort. Yet, the Irish have largely been the forgotten soldiers of the South. In Irish Confederates: The Civil War's Forgotten Soldiers, Tucker illuminates these overlooked participants.
  Together, the two books provide a full picture of the roles Irish soldiers played in the Civil War.
PHILLIP THOMAS TUCKER, winner of the Douglas Southall Freeman Award in 1993, has written fifteen books on Civil War, Irish, and African American history. He is an historian for the United States Air Force in Washington, D.C., and lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

We Who Study

     Must Also Strive To Save!


We have two new LINKS on your Website that might be of interest. The first deals with the Australians that fought as Confederates in our Civil War, and the second is a directory of everything Arkansas. You can find them at on the LINKS page.

American Civil War Veterans in Australia

This website is a dedication to the Australian Union and Confederate Veterans of the American Civil War of 1861 - 1865. It has been created from numerous sources, government documents, research libraries and hundreds of pieces of information emailed in and donated by individuals from all over Australia and the United States; and includes work by individuals in both the "Sons of Confederate Veterans", the "Sons of Union Veterans", the "American Civil War Round Table of Queensland" the "American Civil of Round Table of Australia", the late Roy Parker and others. Hundred of thousands of individuals from all over the world participated in the American "War Between the States"; many in the north forcibly and against their will, inducted into Union service right off ships as they immigrated to America seeking a better life.

Great Arkansas

Arkansas directory contains relevant links across Arkansas including local guide, investment, advertising, shopping, service, travel, transportation, education, history, culture.