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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Our 45th 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 

Brian Brown


Port Hudson

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Since he was about 10 years old, Brian Brown, has been a faithful member of the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas. He has served as President several times and is the current secretary/treasurer. Brian was born in Little Rock and in 1984 graduated from Southwestern College in Memphis (now Rhodes College). After graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law at Little Rock in 1988, Brian joined the Laser Law Firm, becoming a partner in 2000. Brian is admitted to practice before the U. S. Supreme Court and the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as all state and federal courts in Arkansas.  Brian speaks Spanish and Russian and has published a book on the Civil War.  

Brian has recently returned from a tour of Port Hudson, where Retired General Parker Hills led a tour for Brian. (Hills was our speaker July 2008 on the Battle of Raymond)


Last month Terry Winschel brought an outstanding program on Joseph E. Johnston and the Vicksburg Campaign. Johnston said “I am too late” to help the defenders under siege at Vicksburg. Ed Bearss wrote about the importance of keeping the Mississippi open. General Pemberton arrived in Vicksburg from Jackson on May 1. Johnston wired Pemberton “if Grant’s Army lands on the east side of the river, the safety of Mississippi depends on beating it. For that object, you should unite your whole force.”

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Raised trail through the Port Hudson battlefield area, and images of reenactments of the battle now staged at the park. Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks.


Historic image of the Port Hudson battlefield and Capt. Edmund C. Bainbridge's Battery A, 1st U.S. Artillery, 1863 
Courtesy of National Archives, NWDNS-165-CN-12545

Port Hudson was the site of the longest siege in American history, lasting 48 days, when 7,500 Confederates resisted some 40,000 Union soldiers for almost two months during 1863. Realizing that control of the Mississippi River was a key military objective of the Union, the Confederacy in August 1862, had its forces erect earthworks at Port Hudson. In 1863, Union Major General Nathaniel P. Banks moved against Port Hudson. Three Union divisions came down the Red River to assail Port Hudson from the north, while two others advanced from Baton Rouge and New Orleans to strike from the east and south. By May 22, 1863, 30,000 Union soldiers had isolated 7,500 Confederates behind 4 ½ miles of earthen fortifications. On May 26 Banks issued orders for a simultaneous attack all along the Confederate perimeter the following morning. The first Union assault fell on the Confederate left wing, which guarded the northern approaches to Port Hudson. Timely reinforcements from the center allowed the Confederates to repulse several assaults. The fighting ended on the left wing before the remaining two Union divisions advanced against the Confederate center. Here the Confederates repulsed the Federal advance across Slaughter's Field, killing approximately 2,000 Union soldiers. Union casualties included 600 African-Americans of the First and Third Louisiana Native Guards. Free blacks from New Orleans composed a majority of the First Louisiana Native Guards, including the line officers. Former slaves commanded by white officers composed the Third Louisiana Native Guards. Led by Captain Andre Cailloux, a black officer, the two regiments made their advance on the extreme right of the Union line. Captain Cailloux was shot down as he shouted orders in both French and English.

Another attempt to take Port Hudson failed on June 13, when the Confederates inflicted 1,805 casualties on the Union troops while losing fewer than 200. The Confederates held out until they learned of the surrender of Vicksburg. Without its upriver counterpart, Port Hudson, the last Confederate bastion on the Mississippi River, lacked strategic significance and the garrison surrendered on July 9, 1863. Today, the Port Hudson State Commemorative Area encompasses 889 acres of the northern portion of the battlefield, and has three observation towers, six miles of trails, a museum, a picnic area and restrooms. Four thousand Civil War veterans are buried at the Port Hudson National Cemetery, which stands just outside the old Confederate lines.

The Port Hudson State Commemorative Area is located off US Hwy 61 at 756 West Plains-Port Hudson Road, in Zachary. The park is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, there is a fee for admission. Groups are requested to call 1-888-677-3400 in advance.  Courtesy National Park Service.


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Jim Campi, of the Civil War Preservation Trust, sent me (editor) a copy of an article written in the Deerfild Valley News (VT) by Mike Eldred.

“An intersection that was once the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the war between Union and Confederate forces has become the scene of a battle between proponents of historic preservation and developers….Wal-Mart plans to build a “super center” adjacent to the site.” Representatives Peter Welch (VT), Ted Poe (TX) and actor Robert Duvall met to speak out against the plan. Welch and Poe have written a letter to Wal-Mart executive Mike Duke, “calling on him to abandon the development of the historic location overlooking the battlefield.” Welch says the proposed Wal-Mart would “compromise the historic nature of the site”. Preservations are not opposed to Wal-Mart opening a superstore in the region…just not across the road from the park. “Only 21 percent of the battlefield has been permanently protected as a park,” said Campi.


Assault of the Second Louisiana [African American] Regiment on the Confederate works at Fort Hudson, May 27th, 1863.  Clipart courtesy FCIT.  

The Battle of Fort Hudson was a severe and well-fought action. The Federal troops displayed their usual bravery, and were well handled by General Banks, driving the enemy to his second line of works. Of the [African American] regiments General Banks, in his official report, says: 'They answered every expectation. Their conduct was heroic. No troops could be more determined or more daring. They made during the day three charges upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering very heavy losses, and holding their position at nightfall with the other troops on the right of our line. The highest commendation is bestowed upon them by all officers in command on the right. Whatever doubt may have existed heretofore as to the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this day proves conclusively to those who were in a condition to observe the conduct of these regiments that the Government will find in this class of troops effective supporters and defenders. The severe test to which they were subjected, and the determined manner with which they encountered the enemy leave upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success. They require only good officers, commands of limited numbers, and careful discipline to make them excellent soldiers."— Frank Leslie, 1896 
Source: Frank Leslie, Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War (New York: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)

Arkansas Units at Port Hudson

Courtesy National Park Service Civil War Soldier’s and Sailor’s System web site 

1st/8th Arkansas Infantry Battalion – (Organized in Little Rock, March 1862) The 8th Arkansas Battalion was sometimes referred to as the 1st Arkansas Battalion, and was also known as Jones’s Battalion.  This unit marched into Port Hudson on November1, 1862 and was placed under the command of General William Beall, who would be responsible for defending the Confederate center. 

9th Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Organized at Pine Bluff, July 1861, members from Jefferson, Union, Drew, Bradley, and Ashley counties) This regiment arrived at Port Hudson on March 3, 1863 as part of Rust’s Brigade.  It was soon ordered elsewhere and departed on April 5, 1863. The 9th therefore missed the siege period and as a result, there are very few entries in the service records of soldiers from this regiment which mention Port Hudson, even though the entire regiment was probably present for this short, one month period.  

10th Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Organized in July, 1861, in Springfield, members from Cleburne, Van Buren, Conway, and Perry counties) The 10thArkansas was present at Port Hudson when General Franklin Gardner took command in December, 1862, when it was assigned to General William Beall defending the center of the Confederate lines.  When Gardner reorganized his forces in May, 1863, he placed the 10th Arkansas under the command of Colonel Steedman, defending the Confederate left, where they fought until the surrender.  

11th and 17th Consolidated Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (The 11th was organized in Saline County, July, 1861, members from Yell, Ouachita, Saline, and Sebastian counties). The 11th Arkansas Regiment arrived at Port Hudson on October 28, 1862, and the 17th Arkansas Regiment sometime later.  The two units were combined in March, 1863 to form the 11th and 17th Consolidated Mounted Infantry, under the command of Colonel John Griffith.  A detachment of the 11th and 17th served as infantry within the Port Hudson garrison during the battle and siege period, defending the center of the Confederate lines under the command of General William Beall.  However, the majority were part of Colonel John Logan’s cavalry command, which operated primarily around Clinton, LA, in support of Port Hudson.   

12th Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Organized fall of 1861, members from Dallas County) This regiment arrived at Port Hudson sometime between October, 1862 and March, 1863.  The unit was under the command of General William Beall defending the center of the Confederate line.  During the Union assault of May 27, 1863, the 12th repulsed the troops under General Neal Dow at Slaughter’s Field.  

14th Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Organized fall of 1861 in northwest Arkansas) The 14th was present at Port Hudson when General Franklin Gardner took overall command in December, 1862.  It was placed under the command of General William Beall, who would be responsible for defending the Confederate center.  On the morning of the May 27th Union attack, the 14th fought in the area known as the “Bull Pen”. During the siege period, the unit was under the command of General Beall where they fought until the surrender.  

15th Arkansas Infantry Regiment - The 15th arrived at Port Hudson on November 1, 1863 and placed under the command of General William Beall.  When General Gardner reorganized his forces in May, 1863, he placed the 15th Arkansas under the command of colonel Steedman, defending the Confederate left, where they fought until the surrender.  They occupied the position in the left-center know as “Fort Desperate.” 

16th Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Organized at Rogers November 1861, members came from Johnson, Carroll, Stone, Washington, Pike, Madison, and Searcy counties) The 16th arrived at Port Hudson on November 1, 1863 and placed under the command of General William Beall. During the Union assault on May 27th, the 16th first opposed General Sherman’s attack at Slaughter’s field, then moved north along the line to defend against General Augur’s attack.  

18th Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Assembled at DeValls Bluff summer 1861, members came from Camden, DeWitt, and Pine Bluff) The 18th also arrived at Port Hudson on November 1, 1863 under the command of General Beall. During the battle of May 27th, the unit was moved to the command of Colonel Steedman and defended the Confederate left.  

23rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment – (Organized in Helena spring 1862, members came from Craighead, Phillips, St. Francis, Monroe, Cross, Poinsett, and Chicot counties) This regiment also arrived at Port Hudson on November 1, 1863. During the May 27th Union attack, the 23rd fought in the area known as “Commissary Hill”.  During the siege period, the unit was under the command of General Beall where they fought until the surrender.  


Calendar of Events 

Reeds Bridge Battlefield – The next work day is Saturday, May 30th

Volunteers are needed to remove wood from nearby house. Wood will be salvaged and later used for replica cabins and barn that will be constructed on site. Fund raising for new cannons that will be placed at the Battlefield is still taking place. $4100 is needed to purchase the cannons. Send your check to: 

          Reeds Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society

          100 Veterans Circle

          Jacksonville, AR 72076 

June 23 – Meeting CWRT Little Rock 7:00 P.M.

Speaker Don Nall - “Confederate Cavalier, Nathan Bedford Forest” 

July 18 – Helena -Public presentation of Civil War Interpretive Plan

Presenters: Joe and Maria Brent with Mark Christ

12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery group from Camp Nelson, KY

Activities begin at 10: A.M. with presentation at the Malco Theater at noon

For additional information visit  


This Memorial Day remember those that paid the ultimate price for freedom, both blue and grey.


Hope to See You Tuesday Night with Brian Brown!