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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Our 46th Year 
FOR THE MEETING TUESDAY, MAY  25, 2010

Meets Fourth Tuesday; January-November
Founded March 1964
 

Second Presbyterian Church

600 Pleasant Valley Drive

Little Rock 
Program at 7 p.m. 
Online:  www.civilwarbuff.org
Jan Sarna, President 

Rick Meadows, Editor

RMeadows@aaamissouri.com / arcivilwarbuff@gmail.com 
Dues $20 Per Year
VISITORS WELCOME! 

 VISIT THE BATTLEFIELDS WHEN YOU CAN...
WHILE YOU CAN

 

Mark Christ

And

The Battle of Arkansas Post 

Mark Christ, Community Outreach Director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, will be our speaker.  A frequent speaker at our Roundtable, his talk Tuesday will be about the Battle of Arkansas Post. Little has been written about this forgotten battle.   

A native of Indiana, Christ graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1982.  After working as a journalist with the Commercial Appeal in Memphis and the Arkansas Gazette, Christ returned to college and earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2000. His thesis was on the Little Rock Campaign of 1863. Christ lives in Little Rock with his wife and two children. Since 1990 Christ has worked for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.  

Christ also serves on the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

He has authored or edited several books, which include:  

  • Rugged and Sublime

  • Getting Used to Being Shot at: The Spence Family Civil War Letters

  • All Cut to Pieces and Gone to Hell

  • The Earth Shook and Trees Trembled: Civil War Arkansas, 1863-1864

  • Sentinels of History: Reflections on Arkansas Properties on the National Register of Historic Places

  • The Die is Cast: Arkansas Goes to War, 1861

Christ’s new book, Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle For a State, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, is now available! Much of his talk Tuesday will be based on his research found in this work.  

Other chapters in the book pertain to:

  • The Battle of Helena

  • The Campaign to Capture Little Rock

  • The Western Arkansas River Valley and Fort Smith

  • The Battle of Pine Bluff

I have my copy. Hopefully Mark will bring a few copies for you to purchase!

 

 

1863 was not a good year, at least not for the Confederate forces in Arkansas. 

January 11th – The Battle of Arkansas Post

July 4th - The Battle of Helena

September 10th - Little Rock would fall

Three major engagements = three defeats.  

Arkansas Post was the Key 

Federal Major General John McClernand commanded some 30,000 infantrymen, many who had seen action at Chickasaw Bayou in the recent campaign for Vicksburg. In addition he was supported by 1000 cavalry troops, 40 cannons, and approximately 60 steamers from Admiral David Porter’s Mississippi Squadron. Included in this armada were the ironclads Baron De Kalb, Cincinnati, Louisville and the timberclad Lexington. They totaled forty-four cannons which included fourteen that were 8-inch or larger. Four tinclad vessels the Rattler, Forest Rose, New Era, and Glide and the converted side-wheel steamer the Black Hawk added another thirty pieces of artillery. Porter would direct the naval operations against Fort Hindman which was located at Arkansas Post near where the White and Arkansas Rivers converge, about 25 miles above the Mississippi River.  

In September, 1862, Theophilus Holmes ordered John W. Dunnington to develop fortifications along the White and Arkansas Rivers. As we recall Dunnington was the commander of the CSS Pontchartrain. In March William Stevens brought us an outstanding program on the Pontchartrain and the search for her in the Arkansas River. For additional information on the Pontchartrain, please refer to your March newsletter.  

Dunnington placed some of the big guns from the Pontchartrain and helped man them with about 35 of his own sailors. “The centerpiece of the Confederate defenses was Fort Hindman, a large, square fort built just below a bend in the Arkansas River.  The fort’s outer parapets were one hundred yards long, and its walls stood eighteen feet high, protected by a ditch that was twenty feet wide and eight feet deep. To augment the fortifications, pilings held in place with log chains were placed in the river to hinder the passage of any gunboats that ventured upstream.  In addition, a line of rifle pits with field works for ten artillery pieces was started two miles below Arkansas Post to menace the river road, while a second line was established above the lower works.” (Christ PG 40)   

Opposing McClernand was Confederate Brig. Gen Thomas Churchill, former postmaster of Little Rock. Churchill, who owned a plantation near Little Rock, saw action at Wilson’s Creek, commanding the Arkansas First Mounted Rifles Regiment. Churchill would live to 1905 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock. Churchill assumed command of the defenses at Arkansas Post on December 10, giving him one month to prepare for the barrage that was to come.  

Thomas Churchill

 

Churchill could only muster about 5000 troops, mainly from Texas and Arkansas to defend this position. Many of the Texas troops had hoped to serve in the Western Theater as Cavalry Regiments but when arriving in Little Rock in the fall of 1862 were ordered to remain in Arkansas as dismounted units. In November and December they were placed at Arkansas Post transferring from Camp White Sulphur Springs near Pine Bluff and Camp Nelson in Austin. “The Texas troops had left a trail of graves behind them after entering Arkansas, and diseases continued taking their toll on the men. Isaiah Harlan wrote to his brother, “this place is not as healthy as Camp Nelson”. (where 1500 of their comrades had died of disease.)  “The atmosphere is close and damp and the water is bad.” (Christ PG 43) 

Supporting Churchill were Texas Troops commanded by Col James Deshler and Col Robert R. Garland. Two companies of Arkansas Conscripts were present “but they are not worth a curs” said Col Roger Mills. Many did not have blankets and were barefooted.  In addition, a company of Louisiana cavalry command by William B. Denson and Capt. William Hart’s Arkansas Battery, among, others would lend support.  

Join us Tuesday night as Mark Christ brings to life the action at Arkansas Post .We’ll hear how John Buegel of Missouri described in his diary, “our boys fell like flies” when attacking Deshler’s position. A soldier with the Eighty-third Ohio writes as he moved forward “the balls came as thick as hail: they buzzed like bees.” 

The firepower from the Federal Fleet was too much. Asa Sample from Ohio writes “the fire of the gunboats was terribly destructive, mowing before it men, horses, breastworks, cannon and everything but the hills and river banks…” 

Churchill reported 60 killed and 80 wounded, with the Federals taking 4,791 prisoners.

Federal loses were reported 134 killed, 898 wounded, and 29 missing.  

Historians William Shea and Terrence Winschell maintain the loss of men represented roughly one-fourth of the total Confederate strength in Arkansas, Missouri, and the Indian Territory. It removed the only potential threat to the Union line of communication on the Mississippi River, cost the Rebels men and supplies they could not afford to lose, and opened the Arkansas Valley to invasion.” (Christ PG 87) Yes Arkansas Post was the Key.

 

Roundtable Makes Donation

Hart’s Battery

Flag, Hart's Battery

Your Roundtable has made a contribution to the Old State House Museum to help conserve the flag of Hart’s Battery that was recently returned from Missouri. Please see the recent article in the Arkansas Battlefield Update for additional information.  

 

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas

Top 9 List

 

The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas on May 13th released its 2010 list of the state’s most endangered places.  Included on the list is the Deadrick House in Cross County. Built about 1850, this two-story house was the home of Captain Isaac N. Deadrick of Levesque, near Wynne, Arkansas. Deadrick was Commander of Company A of the 29th Arkansas Confederate Cavalry. Deadrick, who was born in 1828, died in 1884 and is buried in the family cemetery located near the property. This unit was organized at the old Methodist Camp ground near Vanndale in 1863.

Levesque: Deadrick House

  

Constructed by slave labor, the home of Captain Isaac N. Deadrick in the Levesque community in Cross County is a two story vernacular interpretation of the Greek Revival Style. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.  According to a story found in the History of Cross County Arkansas, “Mrs. Deadrick once held several Yankee soldiers at bay in the home when they came to search for her husband, who unknown to the soldiers was hiding upstairs.  Mrs. Deadrick stood on the stairs with a pistol leveled at the soldiers and told them ‘I’ll blow your brains out if you come up these stairs.’ The men finally left empty handed.”


Go to www.preservearkansas.org for the complete list of endangered places.

Civil War Bullets from Rick

·        Friday, May 28th Civil War Days Cabot Middle School North

·        Campaign for Little Rock Markers – thanks to our volunteers who have agreed to clean our panels

·        Reed’s Bridge Update – check out the cannon and new construction at the battlefield.  Steve Shore recently announced footings have been poured for placement of the 2nd cannon and Kiosk. The re-enactment will be Sept 10-12.

·        Visit www.arkansascivilwar150.com for information about the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission

Ten Mile House

What a wonderful time we all had at the Ten Mile House last month! Thanks to Hooker in hosting us, and thanks to Tom Ezell for an outstanding presentation on David O. Dodd. Over 45 attended. Thank yous are sent to each of you who brought the refreshments and appetizers! A good time was had by all! 

________________________________________________________________________

 Civil War Roundtable Speakers 2010

Tell and invite a friend to join us! 

  • Jan – Joellen Maack – “Civil War Flags at the Old State House Museum”

  • Feb – Dr. Michael Dougan  - “Gen N. Bart Pearce”

  • Mar –  William Stevens – “CSS Pontchartrain”

  • Apr –  Tom Ezell          @  the Ten Mile House – “David O. Dodd”

  • May – Mark Christ – “Battle of Arkansas Post”

  • June –  Evans Benton – “Forrest’s West Tennessee Raid & The Battle of Parkers’ Crossroads

  • July –  Brian Brown – “Fort Henry and Fort Donelson”

  • Aug – Dr. Bill Gurley - “Confederate Grizzlies: Mosby M. Parsons and his Confederate Missouri Division”

  • Sept – Greg Biggs – “How Johnny Got His Gun”

  • Oct – Dr. William Shea – Trans Mississippi Army

  • Nov – Drew Hodges – “Confederate General Bushrod Johnson”

Hope to see you Tuesday night with Mark Christ and the Battle of Arkansas Post.