Our 47th Year
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

Apostrophes to the Stars and Stripes: The Arkansas Secession Convention

With Dr. Michael Dougan

Tuesday night we are blessed to have our good friend, Dr. Michel Dougan, from Jonesboro speak on the Arkansas Secession Conventions that were held in 1861. Yes, there were two conventions, with two outcomes. We are actually getting a 2 for 1 special! Discussion on 2 conventions in a 1 hour setting! His talk will discuss the influence of the “Family”, how geography and Union sentiment affected politics in Arkansas, and the election of Abraham Lincoln in November of 1860.

One of the best sources for understanding issues facing the people and the convention delegates of 1861 is Confederate Arkansas: The People and Policies of a Frontier State in Wartime, Tuscaloosa, 1976. The author….Dr. Dougan! In 1972 Dougan was awarded the Mrs. Simon Baruch University Award by the UDC for his work.

A native of Neosho, Missouri, Dougan has retired from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. When he is not giving lectures, Dougan spends time running half marathons and playing softball. Based on his longevity and not his batting average, someday he maybe inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame! Dr. Dougan brings not only his knowledge of Arkansas and her people but also his wit.

Arkansas was and still is a small state based on population. Today it is not unusual for someone to travel out of state to meet another Arkansan who have common acquaintances. Prior to the Civil War, Arkansas had its own “family.” This included Democratic leaders, the Conways, Seviers, Rectors, and the Johnsons.

The population of Arkansas was growing and with it new families with new ideas. Small farmers from the mountains of east Tennessee would settle in similar lands in northwest and north central Arkansas. Former residents of the large rich farmlands of Alabama, Mississippi and western Tennessee would settle in the Arkansas Delta. Cotton was king. Land prices and wealth was increasing.

Stirring speeches were given by Thomas Hindman, Albert Pike, and James Yell. South Carolina had seceded in December. The day Abraham Lincoln delivered his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861,delegates met at the Old State House to discuss secession.  What was Arkansas to do?

In his book, Confederate Arkansas, Dougan writes “The issuance of Lincoln’s inaugural gave the secessionists at home the occasion to set off a new round of petitions calling for secession.  Conservatives replied that these petitions were frequently based on “false representations of the meaning of Lincoln’s message. As the delegates pondered the meaning of the inaugural, the secessionists launched their attack.” (PG 49) Come Tuesday to gain a better understanding of the policies, politics, and other factors that caused Arkansas to have not one, but two secession conventions.


Reel to Real: Gone with the Wind and The Civil War in Arkansas

Beginning May 1st at the Historic Arkansas Museum at 200 E. Third St in downtown Little Rock, visitors will be able to see Vivien Leigh’s Oscar for her starring role as Scarlett O’Hara. Other items on display will include photos, an original script, Scarlett’s straw hat, and the gray suit worn by Clark Gable. These items are part of Shaw-Tumblin Collection of Gone With the Wind.

On April 26th at 7:00 the Historic Arkansas Commission and Foundation Board of Directors will sponsor, Giving Voice Memorial Dedication. This sold out event will dedicate and honor the enslaved people who lived and worked where the Historic Arkansas Museum is now located. As contrasted to reel life in Gone With the Wind, these stories are based on real life.


Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Kathryn Heller, Programming and Outreach Coordinator, who also serves as Newsletter Editor of The Butler Banner, recently announced the latest collection of Civil War items that have been processed by the Butler Center. Included in this list are:

  • Letters from: James B. Young, Young was a Quartermaster Sgt with the 9th Kansas Cav. Thirteen letters while stationed in Little Rock and DeValls Bluff to home describe events and conditions in 1864. (13 letters in collection)
  • Ledger book, record of persons and articles employed for transportation along the railroad from Little Rock to DeValls Bluff from January to November 1865 by the U.S. Army quartermaster, J.H. Pratt. (200 pages)
  • William S. Brooks – Collection of 2 letters written from Helena. Brooks was promoted to Lt. Col and commanded 56th US Colored Inf. Killed at Big Creek in Phillips County, July 26, 1864.
  • Other collections from J.H. Tucker, David E. Ballard, Dick Ransom, are featured.

Kathryn encourages our readers to watch out for the upcoming announcement of a new web site hosted by the Butler Center on the Civil War. Target date is May 1st. Our readers are among the first to hear this good news! Thanks for the notice Kathryn! For additional information visit, www.butlercenter.org. For details on the new collections, call Stephanie Bayless, Assistant Manager Manuscript Division at 501-320-5725.


Historic Jacksonport Courthouse

Mary Cooper Miller, editor of the Ozark Bugle Blast, newsletter of the Batesville Area Civil War Round Table announced a new Civil War exhibit in the Courthouse at Jacksonport State Park. Stories of William E. Bevens, private from Jackson County are depicted. Visitors will also see armaments, flags and items used by soldiers during the war. Included are haversacks, knapsacks, sewing cases, letters, and ration cans. Bevens served with the Jackson Guards, enlisting in 1861. Reminiscences of a Private, a book about Bevens is available in the bookstore. Bevens served in Company G of the First Arkansas Infantry. On June 5, 1865, Bevens surrendered along with 6000 additional Confederate troops at Jacksonport. For additional information about the exhibit call the State Park at 870-523-2143.


The Conspirator

For the modern movie critic, be sure to see Robert Redford’s recent movie, The Conspirator, starring James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, and Tom Wilkinson. Mary Surratt, played by Wright, is accused of plotting to assassinate President Lincoln.

In his review of the historic drama, Jeffrey Van Camp states that “The Conspirator is a good example of Hollywood getting history right. Robert Redford shows us what happened in the months after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  Unlike the creators of recent films like The Social Network and Unstoppable, with The Conspirator, Director Robert Redford proves that he can make a gripping film that holds tight to the truth.  And without the added nonsense, what we end up with is a story that is both historically accurate and excessively relevant nearly 150 years later.”


Guide to Civil War Manuscript Collections

Since 1905, the Arkansas History Commission has been collecting documents related to the Civil War. A 19 page guide of some of the holdings is available at the Commission. Additional information is available online at www.ark-ives.com and www.ark-cat.com. Other resources including Civil War maps, newspapers from 1861-1865, photographs, and various files containing biographical, family history, and a variety of topics related to the Civil War years in Arkansas are available. Some  papers that I plan to review are:

  • William E. Woodruff, Jr – Confederate artillery officer
  • John & Harriet Woodruff Jabine papers – daughter of William Woodruff, who were married in 1855 at the family home in Little Rock, which is now an endangered property
  • Weaver-Field family papers – Samuel M. Weaver and Mary Eliza Rose Weaver were parents of the first Arkansan killed in the Civil War, Omer Rose Weaver

Perhaps there is a family or area of the state that you wish to explore. With the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War now in progress, a tremendous increase in research related to the Civil War is anticipated. Thanks to the hard work of the Arkansas History Commission!

Chaplains in the Civil War

Thanks to Steve Chamness of Cabot who has loaned me his book, Stories of Faith and Courgae from The Civil War: Battlefields Blessings, by Terry Turley. On page 26 of the book, Turley writes: “Civil War chaplains were vital parts of the morale and spiritual guidance of both the Blue and Gray forces.  While some officers viewed them as a menace, many generals such as Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Joshua Chamberlain appreciated their presence.

It is interesting that two-thirds of the 600 Confederate chaplains were under 30 and the average age was 28, while several were only 21. Only a small handful were under 50.  The oldest Confederate chaplain was Airstides Smith, who was 53 year of age.

Most Civil War chaplains did not fear wielding their swords against the enemy.  Many of them fought valiantly and ministered to the spiritual needs of the soldiers.” Chaplain J.M. Campbell stated: “The sword of the Spirit can still defeat the power of the enemy, if we are willing to use it.”

Rev. Francis Springer, Chaplain of the U.S. Army of the Frontier who saw action in the Prairie Grove Campaign and served in Fort Smith during the war observed several concerns that affected his ministry. One concern was that often reviews and inspections were held on the Sabbath in front of the chapel which would keep troops from attending worship services. Second, the paymaster would pay the troops on the Lord’s Day. Troops would spend their time paying off debts to the local sutler. Third, idle troops would spend time in all sorts of evil ways from gambling, drinking, and spending time with the “gentler sex.”

To learn more about the role of chaplains read, The Preacher’s Tale: The Civil War Journal of Rev. Francis Springer, Chaplain, U.S. Army of the Frontier edited by William Furry and published by The University of Arkansas Press, 2001. Call 800-626-0090 to order this book.

Civil War Bullets from Rick

  • April 23 – DeValls Bluff Sesquicentennial Event – Prairie County Community Center.  9-3  Series of programs commemorating the crucial role DeValls Bluff played in the Civil War.  9:00 A.M. Welcome and dedication of 5 new wayside markers; 9:45 A.M. Chapel service; 10:15 “For Weal or Woe-Women’s Influences on the War Between the States”; 11:15 A.M. “Flags of the Civil War”; 12:00 P.M. lunch; 1:00 P.M. “Lifestyles of the Civil War soldier” For more information contact:                                Stacy Sawyer at 870-659-5652                           

  • April 30 – Kick-Off Event at the Old State House Museum 9-7

The updated schedule is: 9:30 A.M. Firing demonstration and period  weapons talk; 10:10 A.M. Heritage Month and Civil War Sesquicentennial presentations; 11:00 A.M. Period performance of Julius Caesar; 12:00 P.M. Debate over secession or cooperation; 1:30 P.M. Firing demonstration and period weapons talk; 2:00 P.M. Flag presentation and militia muster; 3:00 P.M. Meeting of the Arkansas Secession Convention; 4:00 P.M. Airing of AETN’s CW 150 program; 5:00 P.M. Militia Ball; 6:00 P.M. Encore period performance of Julius Caesar. Visitors will see a special screening of the new AETN documentary about the Civil War; special documents on exhibit from the Arkansas History Commission, such as the 1861 Arkansas Constitution and the original secession document; and the first of five exhibits put on by the Old State House Museum about the Civil War, titled An Enduring Union. For additional information call 501-324-9685.

Civil War Roundtable Speakers 2011

  • May – Dr. Carl Moneyhon – History Professor at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock – “Lincoln and the Constitution”
  • June – TBA
  • July – TBA
  • August – Mark Christ –Community Outreach Director, Department of Arkansas Heritage –  “Spence Brothers from Arkadelphia and 1861”

Thanks go out to Tom Ezell for the program last month about The Arsenal Crisis. We hope to see you Tuesday night with Dr. Michael Dougan!

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