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Our 43nd Year 

Meets Fourth Tuesday, January-November

Founded March 1964 
Second Presbyterian Church
600 Pleasant Valley Drive
Little Rock
Program at 7 p.m. 
VOL. XLIII, No. 7,
Ron Kelly, President/ Charles O. Durnett, Sec-Editor, /
Dues $15 Per Year



(See page two for details)


Our Speaker

Dr. Thomas A. DeBlack

“War by Another Name:

The Reconstruction Militia War in Arkansas."

Reconstruction was an era more devastating to the average Arkansasan than the enormity of the Civil War itself.

Dr. Thomas A. DeBlack is a professor of history at Arkansas TechUniversity in Russellville, Arkansas.  

He is a 1969 graduate of Nashville (Arkansas) High School and holds a B. A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas (1973), an M.S.E. from Ouachita Baptist University (1979), and a Ph. D. from the University of Arkansas (1995). Dr. DeBlack taught in the public schools in Arkansas for twelve years.  He is currently serving as president of the Arkansas Historical Association and is the immediate past president of the Arkansas Association of College History Teachers.

He is co-author Arkansas: A Narrative History (University of Arkansas Press, 2002), and author of With Fire and Sword: Arkansas 1861-1874 (University of Arkansas Press, 2003). In 2003 Arkansas: A Narrative History was named the winner of the Arkansas Library Association’s Arkansiana Prize, and With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861-1874 was named the first winner of the Butler-Remmel Arkansas History Literary Prize.

Dr. DeBlack is currently working on a book on Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County.  He lives in Conway with his wife Susan and their three-year-old daughter, Susannah.


After ten years at the Fletcher Library, we are moving our meeting place. At last month’s meeting, the vote was taken on the meeting locations. Second Presbyterian 10, Continue at one of the Central Arkansas libraries 8, and Little Rock Arsenal 4.

For the remainder of 2007 (July to November) we will be meeting at 600 Pleasant Valley Drive (southeast corner of Cantrell and I-430) or for the GPS folks - N34 47.167 by W092 23.361.


In the Door and up about eight steps turning right to room 67. The car in the next picture is pointing at it.
If you have trouble with stairs you can go in this door, and there will be CWRT people to direct you.


August 28, 2007 Don Nall
Jo Shelby

September 24, 2007- Nancy Dane
Conflict Along the Arkansas River Valley

October 23, 2007
- Mike Polston

General Allison Nelson
November 27, 2007

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The Battle of Poison Spring

The Red River Campaign

 Steele's army included some 13,000 men, 9,000 horses, and mules, 800 wagons, and 30 pieces of Artillery. Supplying this army was proving to be a major problem. Steele later wrote that his supplies were nearly exhausted and so was the country. With men on half-rations for almost 3 weeks, it was almost impossible to enforce the commander's orders against unauthorized foraging.
On April 17, a train of 198 wagons was sent westward along the upper Washington Road to collect corn and other foodstuffs. After loading the wagons with corn, they camped 18 miles west of Camden. At sunup, they began the march to Camden. Soon, they received reinforcements bringing the total force to 875 infantry (including the First Kansas Colored) 90 cavalry troopers and a four-gun battery of artillery including two mountain howitzers, and two rifled cannon.
The Confederates, observing this movement, gathered some 3100 cavalry, and 8 cannon under Brigadier Generals Samuel B. Maxey and John S. Marmaduke. The enemy was met about 14 miles

west of Camden at a place called Poison Spring. The Confederates under Maxey blocked the Union Advance and together he and Marmaduke attacked the front and south flanks of the long forage train.

Several times the Federals tried to make a stand, only to be pushed back beyond the stalled train. After a fierce battle, including a furious charge by a regiment of Confederate Choctaw Indians, the Federals broke in rout and were pursued for about 2 miles. The train was stalled along present day Highway 79 on the south side of the state park. Fighting took place along both sides of the road.

The Confederates captured the four cannon, complete with limbers and caissons, 170 wagons (the others being burned) and teams, took over 100 prisoners, and buried 181 Federal troops. According to a Southern officer, the wagons contained:  

 ...corn, bacon, stolen bed quilts, women's and children's clothing, hogs, geese, and all the et ceteras of unscrupulous plunder.

301 Union soldiers were listed as killed or missing. Additionally, the loss created much indignation in the Union camp as well as aggravating the critical supply situation. Confederate losses were relatively small with 111 killed, wounded, or missing. The victory at Poison Spring, along with the arrival of General E. Kirby Smith with three infantry divisions, and the report of the defeat of Union General Banks in Louisiana, raised Confederate hopes that they could cut off the supply lines and capture the entire Union army.

Prepared with the assistance of the

Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas

Civil War symposium at the

Old State House Museum


Enthusiasts of Arkansas and Civil War history need to register soon for the Old State House Museum’s annual Civil War seminar. This year’s seminar will take place Saturday, August 18, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., at the Old State House Museum, 300 West Markham Street, in downtown Little Rock.

Entitled “Revolution & Innovation in Civil War Arkansas”, this year’s symposium will feature the following sessions and speakers:

  • “An eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder”: Black Regiments in Civil War Arkansas by Mark K. Christ, Community Outreach Director, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

  • Confederate Industrial Innovation in the Transmississippi by Dr. Harold Wilson, Professor of History, Old Dominion University

  • “’I only remember the uncivil parts of that war”: The First Arkansas Cavalry (Union), Farm Colonies and the Forgotten War in the Ozarks by Colonel Robert Mackey, Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Pentagon

  • Tactical and Technological Innovations in the Transmississippi by Dr. William L. Shea, University of Arkansas Monticello

The newly released book “The Earth Reeled and Trees Trembled”: Civil War Arkansas, 1863-1864, by Mark Christ, is for sale in the Old State House Museum Store, and attendees can make plans to have their book signed during lunch.

The cost for this year’s symposium is $20, and includes lunch. Reservations are required by August 13, 2007. Call (501) 324-8641 to register. The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council provide partial support of this program.

Interment Services for
Crew Member of the CSS


  Raphael Semmes Camp 11, Sons of Confederate Veterans, will conduct funeral services for an unknown Confederate Crew Member of the Alabama. He died, going down with his ship, on June 19, 1864, in a sea battle off Cherbourg, France.
His remains were recovered during salvage operations and are being conveyed to Camp 11 from the Navy Historic Center through the gracious services of the
CSS Alabama Association.

Ceremonies will consist of a Memorial Service, Wake, Funeral Procession, and Interment in Confederate Rest of Mobile’s Magnolia Cemetery.

His Memorial Service will be conducted July 26, 2007, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile, Alabama.

His Wake will be in the home of Admiral Raphael Semmes on Government Street, on July 28, 2007.

The Funeral Procession, route yet to be finalized, will take place July 28, 2007, culminating at Confederate Rest in Mobile’s Magnolia Cemetery, wherein this patriot’s remains will be interred among approximately 1100 of his fellow Confederate war dead.

Little Rock Campaign


Highway 294 is the route of the Little Rock to Memphis military road and is the actual route Davidson followed the action at Brownsville. Confederate opposition along the road slowed Davidson, who sought a crossing over Bayou Meto.

Approximately 6.40 miles on Highway 294 to the left is a ridge on which Confederates set up eight cannon in a crescent array in the early defense of Reed's Bridge on August 27. Approximately 7.80 miles on Highway 294 is an iron marker on the right noting history of the Little Rock to Memphis Road. (e.g., a wagon trip in 1863 between the two towns required twenty days.) Fire from the Confederate guns could not stop the superior Union force.

However, Davidson was hindered long enough for most of the Confederates under Marmaduke to fall back across Bayou Meto over Reed's Bridge, which was then put to the torch. The original bridge was just to the left (looking north from the marker) of the present bridge. Davidson probed on either side of the Bridge for most of the 27th but was unable to negotiate the stream against rebel defenders on the opposite bank.

Of that day's end, 1,300 rebels having held the Bayou Meto line against 6,000 federals, Confederate Lt. Col. Frank Gordon said, "The sun went down smoke-begrimed, red-faced, and furious." Failing to cross Bayou Meto, Davidson withdrew back along the military road toward Brownsville.

The main body of the Union Army reached Brownsville on September 2, and Steele used the town for some days as a base for probing invasion routes to Little Rock. Steele was told of Shallow Ford, a little used crossing point on the Bayou Meto, south of Reed's Bridge.

The Ford had been guarded by Confederates under Col. Robert Newton, who skirmished with Union troops before withdrawing from the Ford to Ashley's Mills.

William Nelson Rector BEALL


Brigadier-General William N. R. Beall was a native of Kentucky, born in 1825. His parents moved to Arkansas, and from here, he was appointed to the United States military academy at West Point in 1844. He was graduated in 1848, and was assigned to the 4th U.S. infantry as brevet second lieutenant.

He served on the frontier in the Northwest until 1850, with promotion to second lieutenant of the 5th U.S. Infantry on April 30, 1849. From that time until 1855, he served in Indian Territory and in Texas, and was commissioned first lieutenant of the 1st U.S. Cavalry, March 3, 1855, and before the end of the month, March 27, captain in the same command. He was engaged in several Indian expeditions, encountering the hostiles in several combats and skirmishes.

The last of these expeditions was in 1860 against the Kiowa and Comanche. He was on frontier duty when his adopted State seceded from the Union. He then sent in his resignation as captain in the United States service and received the same rank in the Confederate States army.

He served in Arkansas under General Van Dorn, who, on the 17th of March 1862, recommended that he be commissioned colonel. On the 11th of April, this request was more than granted, for Captain Beall was commissioned a brigadier general in the army of the Confederate States, and on the 23rd of the same month was assigned by General Beauregard to the command of the cavalry of the army at Corinth.

On September 25, he was in command at Port Hudson, and though Gen. Frank Gardner subsequently assumed chief command, General Beall and his brigade continued to be important factors in the gallant defense of the post until its surrender. His brigade included the 10th, 12th, 15th (Northwest), 16th and 23rd Arkansas Infantry regiments, and the 1st Arkansas battalion, as well as several Mississippi and Alabama regiments, and Louisiana artillery.
His Arkansas troops lost 225 in killed, wounded, and missing during the long siege of Port Hudson, which was only terminated when they were forced to surrender by the capitulation of Vicksburg. On July 9, the post was surrendered, the men were then paroled, and some of them, including General Beall, were never exchanged. General Beall was first imprisoned on Johnson’s Island.
In 1864, by virtue of an agreement between the authorities in Washington, DC and in Richmond, he was released on parole to act as the Confederate agent to supply prisoners of war. In this capacity he maintained an office in New York City and sold cotton, which was permitted to come through the federal blockade. The proceeds were mainly devoted to the purchase of clothing and blankets for the relief of Confederate soldiers in Northern prison camps.
He was finally released on August 2, 1865. After the war, General Beall moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and engaged in business as a general commission merchant. He died on 26 July 1883, at McMinnville, Tennessee, and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, TN.
From CWRT of Arkansas WebSite


On June 26, Ed Bearss turned 84 years young and everyone who knows him would love to have his energy and vigor.
The occasion was celebrated in grand style on Friday, June 22, at the Hilton Hotel in Arlington, VA. Eighty-five people gathered for dinner and cake. Gifts included over $5000.00, which was donated to Ed's choice for preservation, the Mine Creek Battlefield in Pleasanton, Kansas. Arnold Schofield from the battlefield foundation was present to accept the donation.

This party is steeped in tradition. The 16th such party, the local Bearss brigade are the organizers and Kieran McAuliffe of Toronto, Canada, designs the birthday graphics. Many friends and admirers come yearly from all across the country to celebrate Ed's birthday and participate in his passion for battlefield preservation.
Article from History America Tours

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