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Our 46th Year 

Meets Fourth Tuesday; January-November
Founded March 1964

Second Presbyterian Church

600 Pleasant Valley Drive

Little Rock 
Program at 7 p.m. 
Jan Sarna, President  - Rick Meadows, Editor

Dues $20 Per Year



The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong

Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry 


Tom Wing 

Tom Wing, Associate Professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Ft. Smith, will be the speaker for the regular monthly meeting of The Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc. 

While working as a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service in 1996 and researching the Civil War in Fort Smith, Wing became acquainted with the diary. Strong’s diary exists in three forms: the original handwritten version, a transcription by the author’s great granddaughter, and a Wing’s copy. In 1998 Wing entered graduate school at the University of Oklahoma and for his master’s thesis, edited the diary.  

The diary covers time Strong saw duty in southwest Missouri, the Indian Territory, camp life in Fort Smith, marches along the Arkansas River Valley, and the Camden Expedition which includes the Battle of Poison Springs and Jenkins Ferry. Strong describes the capture of the steamboat J.R. Williams on the Arkansas River by Cherokee Confederate Brigadier General Stand Waite.  

In addition of describing camp life of the common soldier, the diary also shows the hardships of the civilians who suffered loss of crops and property at the hands of foraging troops.  He also mentions the African-American and Native-American troops he encountered. “A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land”: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K. Twelfth Kansas Infantry is available at the Butler Center in Little Rock and the University of Arkansas Press in Fayetteville. 

In addition to his duties at the University, Wing is working on the restoration of the Drennen-Scott Home in Van Buren. John Drennen was an early settler in Van Buren. Part of the home was built before statehood. The home is being restored to depict The Trail of Tears, The Underground Railroad, and architecture of the 18thcentury. Upon completion of the restoration project, history students from the University will take classes in the home.   

The meeting will be held at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday night, January 27th, in Little Rock at the Second Presbyterian Church. Hope to see you Tuesday night with Tom Wing and Private Strong! 



Kansas and the Civil War 

Kansas entered the Union as the thirty-fourth state on January 29, 1861.  Less than three months later, on April 12, Fort Sumter was attacked by Confederate troops and the Civil War began.  Most Kansans strongly favored the cause of the Union.  Governor Charles Robinson at once began recruiting troops for the Union armies.  More than 20,000 “Jayhawkers” enlisted, and the state contributed 19 regiments and four batteries to the Union forces.  Although many of these volunteer soldiers hailed from states other than Kansas, this was a remarkable showing for an infant state with only 30,000 men of military age.  Kansas soldiers suffered nearly 8,500 casualties. 

The first major action of Kansas troops occurred at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861. During 1862 several Kansas units served in campaigns in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.  In Arkansas a brigade commanded by James G. Blunt, the first Kansan to become a major-general, fought at Rhea’s Mills, Cane Hill, and Prairie Grove.  Kansas regiments, both white and black, were used in the Indian territory in 1862 and 1863.  In 1863 Kansans also served under General U.S. Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, under General Rosencrans at Chickamauga, and against Morgan’s Raiders in Indiana.   

In 1864, Confederate forces under General Sterling Price moved north into Missouri.  Their initial objective was St. Louis.  Price failed to reach St. Louis as Union troops forced him to swing west toward Kansas City.  Actions were fought at Lexington, the Big and Little Blue Rivers, and at Westport. Price was defeated and forced to retreat south along the Kansas-Missouri border.  He decided to try to seize Fort Scott, a Union supply center, but was defeated again by Federal troops under Generals Samuel Curtis, Alfred Pleasanton, and Blunt.  Approximately 25,000 men were involved in the pursuit and series of rear guard actions.  Nearly 10,000 were engaged at Mine Creek alone, the largest battle fought on Kansas soil.  

Courtesy Kansas State Historical Society 

Henry A. Strong was born in Illinois. His father was the postmaster at Mansfield, Kansas.  Strong entered the service on August 16, 1862. Mound City, Kansas was listed as his place of residence. The Twelfth Kansas moved to Fort Scott at the end of October 1863. In December, the regiment proceeded to Fort Smith. The winter of 1863-1864 was especially cold, dispelling any thought of the “sunny south”. In addition to serving in Fort Smith and along the Arkansas River Valley, the Twelfth Kansas spent time in Little Rock, “quite a business place and a pretty town”. (PG 46 the diary) 



The Battle of the J.R. Williams

June 15, 1864

Just east of Stigler, OK

Courtesy Oklahoma Historical Society 

According to the “The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,” the Union Navy confiscated the steamboat from its owner sometime in 1862.  Upon inspection, military authorities claimed the stern-wheeler was used to carry military contraband into Confederate ports.  As a result, the vessel was seized and pressed into Union naval service for the war effort.   

The J.R. Williams was used with several other steamboats to resupply gunboats during the battles up and down the Mississippi. After the fall of Vicksburg, she was sent to Little Rock.  The boat was used to shuttle Union troops and supplies up and down the Arkansas River.   

Stand Watie and his Confederate Indian Brigade were waiting for the boat as it rounded the bend of the river near Pheasant bluff, about five miles below the juncture with the Canadian River. She was carrying quartermaster stores valued at about $120,000 (over $4.2 million in today’s dollars). Her cargo included thousands of yards of cloth and linen, many pounds of cotton yarn, blankets, shawls, skirts, harnesses, boots, and a thousand barrels of flour, fifteen tons of bacon shoulders, and a large assortment of tinware.  

Henry Strong describes the engagement by writing in the diary:

“Twenty-five of the Regt., myself included, under command of Lt. Cook started to Fort Gibson on the Steamer J.R. Williams.  We got down finely til four p.m.  Passed Fort Coffee on a high point on the south side of the river….At four p.m., fifty miles above Fort Smith and near the mouth of the Canadian, a force of Rebels under Cooper, attacked the boat from the south bank of the river with artillery, four pieces.  They soon disabled the boat, which the pilot ran to opposite side, or as near as the shallow water would permit.  The engineer and fireman were killed at the second or third shot and the boat disabled.  The escort got behind the freight and returned the fire to the best advantage we could.  When the Rebels opened fire on the boat I was sitting up on the hurricane deck, but I got below as soon as possible and got my gun.  As soon as the Lt. saw that it would be folly to stay on the boat longer, as we would all be killed, he ordered us to leave the boat.  It was about forty yards from this boat to the water’s edge, and three or four hundred across the sandbar to timber, where we would be safe from the Rebel fire.  At the command we all jumped overboard, water waist deep and waded ashore, then across the bar to the woods where we all reached….The Rebs kept up a most terrific fire, until we got out of sight, with both artillery and small arms and some of their balls came pretty close to a fell, so Lt. Cook decided to stay under cover of the woods until night, and then venture back to the boat, if it could not be got away, to fire it… 

But just as the Lt. had decided what course to pursue, the Capt. of the boat and Lt. Huston, who had hid in the hull of the boat when the firing took place, came out from their hiding place and took the boat, and went over to the Rebels.  Now they had the means of coming to the boat, and we could not prevent it.  So we started for Fort Smith, as we had nothing to eat and no one living between this and the Fort.” 

Strong concludes his entry by stating that they “started taking a northeast course through the woods and some brooks…We came to this road (Ft. Smith/Ft Gibson) at ten o’clock. Not a man spoke above a whisper the whole night…When we got fatigued that we could not possibly go any farther, would lie down and rest a few minutes.” The next morning the 9th Kansas met them on the road with food, and his company arrived safely in Fort Smith at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, covering the 40 miles since noon the day before.  (PG 51-52 the diary)



Scheduled Speakers in 2009  

Jan Tom Wing, History Prof, U of A Ft. Smith “A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land”:

      The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co K, 12thKansas Infantry 

Feb Mark Kalkbrenner, Chair SECWHT: General William J. Hardee 

Mar Col. Mark Vlahos, Vice Commander 134th LRAFB: “U.S. Regulars” 

Apr Terry Winschel, NPS Vicksburg: “I am too late” Joseph E. Johnston and the Fall of Vicksburg 

May Brian Brown: Fort Hudson  

Jun Don Nall, Local historian: “Confederate Cavalier, Nathan Bedford Forest” 

July Drew Hodges, UALR History Professor: TBA 

Aug Open  

Sept C. Fred Williams, UALR History Professor: Albert Pike 

Oct Mark Christ, Ark Dept of Historic Preservation: TBA 

Nov Bill Shea, Professor, UAM: TBA


2009 Officers, The Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc.


President  Jan Sarna

*Vice President  David Gruenewald

Secretary/Treasurer Brian Brown

Web Master  Pris Weathers

Newsletter Editor Rick Meadows

At Large Board  Don Hamilton

 *to be voted on at general membership in January



Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc

2009 Membership Dues 

Membership dues for 2009 are to be paid now. These monies help to pay for the transportation and lodging costs of our speakers. Printing costs for our newsletter and brochures we have at various locations in Central Arkansas are also supported by your dues. In addition, monies are used for the wayside signs for the Campaign for Little Rock that the CWRT of Arkansas purchases and maintains.  

Additional monetary gifts that you make will be used for preservation efforts for Civil War battlefields and places of historical importance related to the Civil War. 

2009 Membership Dues Statement

$20 per year, Make Checks payable to:

The Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc.

(Please disregard this notice if dues have already been paid) 




Address     City   State  Zip Code


______________________________________________________________________________________Phone     e-mail address


Membership dues ……………………………….. $20

Additional $$ for preservation………………………______ 


Total                               _______


Mail to:


Brian Brown, Treasurer

The Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, Inc.

P.O. Box 25501

Little Rock, AR 72221


Or pay online at our website:

Questions? Call Brian at 501-376-2981


Hope to see you January 27, 2008 at the Civil War Roundtable Meeting!


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