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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Confederate Cemeteries in Arkansas
Collated by James P. Coffin
Arkansas Historical Association

1908 - Volume 2

 

 

Fayetteville.
By Mrs. J.D. Walker

Vice-President, Southern Memorial Association

The Southern Memorial Association of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was organized June 10, 1872, with thirty-eight earnest workers; later auxiliaries were formed at Prairie Grove, Cane Hill and Springdale, aiding materially in the work. By the untiring efforts of these devoted women, grounds for a cemetery, beautifully located on a hill east of town were purchased and enclosed and about nine hundred bodies of the brave soldiers of Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Texas, gathered from the wayside and from the battlefields of Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge, were interred therein. The grounds were enclosed by a stone wall and shrubs and trees were planted, but a monument was a dream of the future. All thought and energy were directed to that end and in October, 1896, the corner stone was laid with impressive ceremonies and on June 10th the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization of the association, the beautiful monument was unveiled by the president of the association, Mrs. Lizzie Pollard, to the admiring gaze of enthusiastic thousands.

The plan of the cemetery is octagon in shape, and divided into eight triangular sections, with the apex of each section resting at the base of the monument, which is the center of the grounds. Four of these sections are for graves, alternating with four for ornamental shrubbery. One grave section is devoted to Missouri, one to Texas, one to Louisiana and one to Arkansas.

The monument is of beautiful gray granite, surmounted by a statue in copper bronze of a private soldier at parade rest. Near the base on each of the four sides is carved the name of the state whose grave section it fronts, and at the top of each is the seal and coat of arms for that state. The bronze sentinel on the summit keeps watch and ward, not only over the victims of war, but over other care worn veterans of that terrible conflict, who, dying since then, have claimed a place beside their comrades in arms. The Southern Memorial Association gives to each a white marble marker, with name, rank and dates inscribed thereon. The cemetery contains three acres and a resting place is offered to any southern soldier who desires it, so long as space remains.

Our cemetery is among the few in the South dedicated solely to the Confederate dead. At the head of the Missouri section lies the gallant General W.Y. Slack, killed at the battle of Pea Ridge. Only a few commissioned officers are buried here, mostly the self-effacing privates, the rank and file, to whose courage and patriotism no monument can do justice.


Helena Confederate Cemetery
 

Helena
By Major Greenfield Quaries


In May, 1869,the Phillips County Memorial Association was organized at Phillips Academy, fourteen miles west of Helena, with a branch organization at Helena. The two associations were naturally one. The object of the organization was to care for the Confederate dead and decorate their graves. Mrs. John T. Jones of Lexa was elected president and Miss Mary Moore Lambert, vice president.

The association began at once to gather up the remains of hundreds of dead soldiers who were buried in haste after the battle of Helena, July 4, 1863, and to re-inter them in the present burial ground, which was donated by Henry P. Coolridge, Henry C. Righter and Albertis Wilkins. It is situated on a beautiful plateau, upon a wooded hillside, a part of Crowley's Ridge, three hundred feet above the Majestic Mississippi, which now and then makes a pilgrimage to the foot of this historic ridge, as if to pay homage to the heroes buried there.

For twenty years these devoted women had visions of a lofty shaft to honor the soldiers buried there. Efforts were often made to kindle this sacred fire, but as often it smoldered in the ashes of indifference. Finally in 1889 the flame burst forth and the association determined that a main shaft should be built and that there should be grouped around it monuments to distinguish officers who had entered the Confederate service from Helena and Phillips County. This idea was afterwards abandoned and the work was entered upon of erecting a separate shaft in member of Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, whose remains had been removed from Maury County, Tennessee, and re-interred near his adopted home, where he had entered Confederate service. After years of effort this monument was unveiled and dedicated on Sunday, May 10, 1891, with appropriate exercises, chiefly of a religious character.

Inspired by this success, the association revived its efforts to erect a tall shaft to the memory of all the Confederate dead buried there and their labors finally crowned with success when in May, 1892, they dedicated the larger monument as a "Confederate Memorial." This monument from base to apex is thirty-seven feet in height, surmounted by a life size figure of a Confederate soldier, facing the east, and stands on one of the highest points on Crowley's Ridge, in the center of the cemetery. There is a drive-way all around the monument and on all sides, outside the drive-way, are Confederate graves, marked with simple marble slabs. The Cleburne shaft stands in the same enclosure, just thirty feet from the larger monument.

Among the gallant Confederate soldiers who are buried at Helena are Major General Thomas C. Hindman and Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, already mentioned. They were warm friends in life and their graves are but a few feet apart. Cleburne fell on the battlefield, fighting for the land of his adoption, while the thread of Hindman's life was cut by an assassin's bullet. Near them rest the remains of Lieutenant Colonel Paul F. Anderson, who during a considerable period of the war commanded the fourth regiment of Tennessee cavalry, known in the army of Tennessee as "Paul's People," and carved for himself a name for faithfulness to duty and skill and gallantry in its execution second to no officer of equal rank in the army.

Little Rock Confederate Cemetery

Little Rock
By Mrs. Margaret T. Rose


During the occupancy of Little Rock by Confederate troops, many of them died in hospitals there and it is estimated that approximately nine hundred were buried in a plot of ground in Oakland cemetery, owned by the city. Around this plot the Memorial Association has placed stone coping with a tablet stating the estimated number of Confederate soldiers resting there. No other work has been done in this plot, as it was impossible to locate even many of the graves, many having been buried two or three together, wrapped in their blankets.


In another part of what was then the grounds of Oakland Cemetery, but enclosed, a large number of Confederate soldiers were buried, how many, no one knows, but it is estimated and generally believed nearly six hundred. This ground was entirely neglected and overgrown with briars until 1884, when the Memorial Association was organized, the object of the organization being to erect a monument and care of these graves. The organization was effected at the home of Mrs. Weaver, and her daughter, Mrs. Mary Field, was chosen president. This ground was given to the Memorial Association by the city council and a stone wall was built around it and later an iron gate was erected at the entrance. A few years ago the city council made a further grant of a lot at the entrance, on which it was planned to erect a house for a care taker, but nothing further has been done towards carrying out this plan. Small marble head stones have been erected, but as no record of the names ever came into the possession of the association, only numbers could be cut on the stones. The last improvement is the erection of an iron speaker's stand.

The remains of some soldiers who were buried at Mt. Holly cemetery were removed to this plot and re-interred, a mound raised over this their last resting place, and two years ago, in opening a new street in the southern part of the city, a number of bones were found, said to be those of southern soldiers, and they were buried in this Confederate cemetery.

The Memorial Association some years ago became the Memorial Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, but that wrought no change in their work, it still owns and cares for the cemetery.


 

Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery

Camp Nelson, Lonoke County
By T.J. Young
Commander, James Adams Camp, No. 1036 U.C.V.

Soon after James Adams Camp, No. 1036, United Confederate Veterans, was organized in 1897, the writer was informed that there were four to five hundred Confederate soldiers buried in the vicinity of a large spring, near which General Nelson's division of Texas cavalry was camped at one time during the war, and during which time his command was scourged by an epidemic, the victims having been buried in various places near their camp. The larger number were in the woods on the land owned by Comrade Gateley, who willingly gave a deed to the ground, and we entered upon the work of establishing a cemetery there. Failing to carry out our plans through contributions and collections, I went to work to get a bill through the legislature, asking an appropriation of public money to complete our plans. In this we were successful, the legislature of 1905 having appropriated one thousand dollars for the purpose of establishing a Confederate Cemetery at Camp Nelson, in Lonoke County, Arkansas, and naming T.J. Young, W.F. Gibson and Grandison Apple as trustees, under whose direction the work was to be done and the appropriation expended. The ground was cleared and enclosed with a substantial wire fence, with wire posts, the graves marked with granite headstones and a monument erected, which was dedicated with appropriate ceremony on October 4, 1906. This monument was made of Batesville marble, stands about twelve feet high and weighs about twenty thousand pounds.

This cemetery is located about four miles south of Austin and three miles east of Cabot, both in Lonoke County, Arkansas.

 


Washington Confederate Section



Washington
By Judge A.H. Carriagen


The cemetery at Washington, Hempstead County, is not specifically a Confederate cemetery, but was incorporated by a special act of the legislature of the State in 1858, by the terms of which the ruling elders of the Presbyterian Church of Washington and their successors in office, are made the trustees. It is enclosed by a good wire fence, with pois d'arc posts, and is kept in order by the outlay of a fund which is replenished from time to time by the sale of lots and private subscriptions.

In this cemetery, grouped together, are seventy-four graves of Confederate soldiers who died at this post and were buried there during the war, most of whom are now supposed to have been from Missouri and Texas. A record of the names and homes of these dead soldiers was kept by a Confederate, who removed from the State years ago and later died, and the record cannot be found. In the midst of this plot the citizens of Washington, in January or February, 1887, erected a modest monument of marble some twelve feet high, on one of the faces of the pedestal of which is this inscription:

Erected to our citizens
To the memory of our
Confederate Soldiers,
Who died at this Post during the late Civil War;
Far from home & kindred.

In this cemetery many other Confederate soldiers have been buried, some who fell in the struggle, notably four who were killed in the battle of Oak Hill, Missouri, and many more of the citizens of Washington, who survived the war, but have now passed away.


Clarksville Confederate Section

Clarksville
By Colonel Jordan E. Cravens

At the close of the war between the states there were about one hundred and seventy unknown Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery at Clarksville, owned by the M.E. Church, South, and some time after the board of trustees of that church undertook to lay off the ground containing those graves and to provide for keeping them in order. These soldiers were promiscuously buried in various parts of the grounds and their remains taken up and re-interred in a plot of ground, square in form, and a little monument erected in the center of the plot. This monument is ten feet and four inches in height, with a granite base, twenty-six inches square and twenty inches in depth, with the following inscription thereon:

Sacred to the memory of
Our Confederate dead
1861- 1865

This work was done by citizens, before the organization of either the camp of Confederate Veterans or the chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, during the early part of the year 1891, probably in February or March of that year. Since the organization of the Daughters of the Confederacy they have caused small, unlettered headstones of marble to be placed at the head of each grave and have on hand the money for a curbing around the plot of ground.

The board of trustees of the church some years ago turned over to the ladies of the town the management and control of the cemetery grounds without regard to their church membership, and that organization is known as "The Ladies Cemetery Association," keeps them in perfect order, and they, in conjunction with the Daughters of the Confederacy, annually decorate the graves of the Confederate dead therein, the decoration ceremonies usually being performed over the graves of the "Unknown Confederate dead" above mentioned.

 

Camden Confederate Section

Camden
By Mrs. J.W. Meek

Directly north of Camden, on a high point of land not far from the banks of the Ouachita River, lies a city of the dead. Major W.L. Bradley of Virginia was one of the earliest settlers in this portion of the State, and was owner of wide territory. At some time between 1840 and 1850, he donated this site to the settlement, to be used as a burial ground.

This especial "God's acre" has never possessed any designation beyond that of "The Cemetery", in former days and the "Old Cemetery" in these latter ones. An annex "Forest Grove" has been added to it, and within recent years, a beautiful "Greenwood" has been enclosed. It is around the tombs and graves of the old cemetery that the early history of Camden, and to a certain extent, that of Arkansas, centers. There the pioneers were interred, with pine slabs or native rock for headstones. In after years her citizens laid them down to sleep beneath marble mausoleums and brick vaults.

Her soldiers were given a resting place in a distinct portion of the enclosure. General Price, commanding a corps under General Kirby Smith, and Marmaduke in charge of a brigade, were camped north and east of the old cemetery. It was here that they laid their dead comrades in quiet burial unknown to the citizens of the town. Owing to the sad fortune of war, it was only occasionally that those of our own town were given public burial.

Shortly after peace had been declared a Memorial Association was formed. A public decoration day was first observed under its auspices on the 9th of November, 1866. It had been the loving work of this association for some time previous to discover, and if possible to identify, the graves of all Confederate soldiers buried in the enclosure. Even in the short period which had elapsed since their interment, many of the graves had become leveled and the markings of headstones, obliterated. About two hundred and fifty graves, doubtless a large majority, were discovered. The names of only fifty could be ascertained. There were all neatly marked and designated, "Confederate Soldier" being put on those whose names were unknown. An obelisk, upon a pedestal and base, was erected in the largest group of graves and dedicated to the "Unknown Dead."

The ceremonies for the decoration day were inaugurated by an address by Rev. Horace Jewell in the M.E. Church, South. Following this, the large assembly of citizens marched to the cemetery. Among them were about seventy-five women and as many maidens, all dressed in white and bearing wreaths of flowers. The clergy and orator of the day were next, preceding a long line of carriages and horsemen. Hon. E.A. Warren was orator, and Rev. Wheat conducted the devotional exercises for the day. Rev. Wheat composed a hymn for the occasion which was sung at the closing of the ceremonies. The central monument and each grave were lavishly bedecked; wreaths bearing the names of those killed in service were placed about the central obelisk.

The graves were preserved until the year 1886. At that time a Confederate Monument Association was formed. It was due to the efforts of the association and of friends that a handsome granite monument was erected on May 29, 1886. That was unveiled at the annual decoration day. Dr. J.W. Meek, as chairman, made the presentation speech, which was responded to by the mayor, C.K. Sithen. Governor S.P. Hughes was orator for the day. An iron gate supported by columns surrounds the now level enclosure, and the rich granite shaft, standing on a pedestal, and surmounted by a black cannon ball, shows clear within the shade of contrasting evergreens. Three graves of soldiers are outside the enclosure in different parts of the cemetery, each marked by a white headstone.

The grave of Colonel Hiram L. Grinstead, for whom the local chapter of U.D.C. is named, was similarly honored by that organization on May 6, 1906. Colonel Grinstead and Lieutenant Hugh McCollum gave their lives at the battle of Jenkins' Ferry, April, 1864. They were brought to the home burial grounds, and each buried, one in the morning, one in the evening.

The grave of Hugh McCollum stands as it was made: A mausoleum of brick, built high at the head; native vines and ferns cover it, as it stands under a large green tree, grown since he was laid away. A tall monument near by reveals the words: "W.P. Ratcliffe - A consecrated and courageous minister of God." He was chaplain of the Southern Confederacy, and a forceful pioneer of Methodism in the State of Arkansas.

There are other graves of unknown soldiers scattered about the cemetery; and, moreover, many veterans who resided at Camden after the war when death called were buried here beside their comrades.
 

Van Buren Confederate Memorial
 

Van Buren
By Mrs. Fannie Dunham Scott

There is no distinct Confederate cemetery at Van Buren but during the war the city gave a plot of ground in its cemetery in which to bury the Confederate soldiers who died here or whose remains were brought here from the battlefields in this part of the State for interment. In all, these numbered four hundred and sixty, and were from Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and the Indian Territory. The Van Buren Monument was first erected in 1899 in the center of this plot, but has been removed to the court house square, where it can be seen by more people. To see it is to admire it, as it is one the most beautiful and appropriate monuments in the State. The Daughters of the Confederacy are arranging to put a curbing around the plot of ground above referred to and place a slab with proper inscription where the monument first stood.

 

Fort Smith Confederate Section

Fort Smith
Rev. M. McN. McKay, D.D.

Prior to the war between the states there was a cemetery contiguous to and belonging to the military post at Fort Smith, and while that territory was in the possession of the Confederate forces and authorities, our people buried the Confederate soldiers who died there, together with many who were killed at Oak Hill, Prairie Grove, Elk Horn and other battles in contiguous territory, including two general officers, McIntosh and Steen. There are more than three hundred unmarked graves of Confederate soldiers in this cemetery. When the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Confederate Veterans, assisted by the citizens of Fort Smith, a few years ago, raised the fund necessary to erect a monument to the Confederate soldiers, it was their purpose to place this monument over these unmarked graves, in the Federal cemetery, but then the Secretary of War, Elihu Root, refused the consent of the war department, unless certain of the inscriptions could be changed or omitted. This requirement was declined by those in charge and the beautiful monument was erected in 1903, and now stands in the county court yard in Fort Smith, where every body must pass and so receive the full benefit of the inscription, "Lest we Forget."

The Daughters of the Confederacy have now purchased a double lot in the city cemetery, which is being used for the interment of such old soldiers as have no other resting place.


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James P. Coffin was born in Rogersville, Tenn., September 22, 1838, and moved with his parents to Knoxville, Tenn., in October 1846, where he grew to manhood. Was educated in the private schools and the East Tennessee University at Knoxville, graduating at the University of North Carolina with a degree of A.B. in the class of 1859. Entered the Confederate army as a private in what became Company I, 2d regiment, Tennessee Cavalry, in the summer of 1861, being elected 2d lieutenant of that company in May, 1862, and later promoted to 1st lieutenant, serving as such until he surrendered under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, in North Carolina, April 26th, 1865. Was married to Miss Lucy Lyons in Hawkins County, Tenn., Nov. 3d, 1862, she died at Powhatan, Ark., March 8th, 1887. Of this union three children, two sons and one daughter were born, all of whom still survive.

Removed to Memphis, Tenn., in October 1865, and thence to Lawrence County, Arkansas in January 1869. Served as clerk of the Circuit Court of Lawrence County from January, 1873, to November, 1885. Was then in the real estate and insurance business at Powhatan until July, 1890, when he was elected cashier of the Lawrence County Bank at Walnut Ridge and removed there. In July, 1891, removed to Batesville to become cashier of and open People's Savings Bank, remaining in the position until January 16th, 1905, when that institution was absorbed by the First National Bank of Batesville, of which he became cashier and remains such until the present.

Mr. Coffin has been a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (Southern) since 1874 and has three times represented the Presbytery of Arkansas in the General Assembly of that church. He has been a member of the board of trustees of Arkansas College at Batesville since 1875, serving as secretary of the board from 1893 to 1901 and as president thereof since the last named date. - Editor.

 

Photographs by www.ArkansasTies.com