Our 48th 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

“Grant’s Canal: the Unions’ Attempt to Bypass Vicksburg”


Dave Bastian

Join us Tuesday when Dave Bastian from Annapolis, Maryland brings our program. Bastian is retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Commanding General.  He also served twice as Assistant Director of Civil Works. Bastian is a graduate of Georgia Tech and holds a Masters Degree in River Engineering from Delft in the Netherlands.  His topic is based on his book with the same name which was published in 1995 and is now out of print. Bastian will discuss the two Union campaigns against Vicksburg and focuses on the efforts to divert the Mississippi River away from Vicksburg by digging a canal across the narrow bend opposite the town.  Had they succeeded, they would have had immediate and complete control of the river. Bastian will explore Vicksburg’s geographical importance and the topographical characteristics that made it so defensible. Bastian has authored over 50 technical papers and articles, mostly in the fields of navigation and dredging. During part of his career, Bastian lived in Vicksburg.

Digging the Canal by Dave Bastian

“During the summer of 1862, the Federals’ first attempt to bypass Vicksburg by digging a canal across DeSoto Peninsula failed. By January 1863, the Federals had reoccupied the Louisiana shore opposite Vicksburg. Gen U.S. Grant ordered work on the canal resumed. The canal was to be 60 feet wide, one and one-half miles long, and deep enough to float any vessel on the river. Ground was broken on January 30. Negro work gangs assisted by fatigue details from the Union Army began to work. Later stern pumps and dredge boats were employed. To stop the work, the Confederates placed several big guns on the shore opposite the canal’s exit but the work progressed. On March 7, the upper dam gave way, flooding the entire peninsula. “Grant’s Canal” had failed.”

Grant’s Canal Today

In the book, Vicksburg is the Key, our friends Terry Winschel and William Shea write that Grant explored several options on how to make the most of the command of water. During the winter and spring of the year, the Mississippi River would flood its banks for miles across the Mississippi Valley.  One course of action described by Winschel and Shea was for Grant to “crowd everybody back aboard the transports, race around De Soto Point, and storm Vicksburg. Grant did not seriously consider such a move. A slightly less direct approach would have been to rush the transports past Vicksburg and disembark the army downstream on the east bank.” Both of these options were too risky. (page 62)

Join us Tuesday as Dave Bastian brings another plan, one that any good hydraulic engineer would love to undertake! Bastian will argue that if the Federals had been successful, the Vicksburg would no longer have been an important target. His power point program is complete maps, photographs, and sketches some made by members of the expedition.


Civil War Symposium DVD Order Form

To order a copy of the Civil War Symposium – An Empire in Extent: Civil War West of the Mississippi, that was held at Fayetteville in August, mail your request to:

University of Arkansas, University Relations-Production Services

2 East Center Street

Fayetteville, AR 72701

Cost of the DVD is $45 plus $12 shipping charges.

Jeannie Nuss of NBCNews.com wrote on 10/18/2012

“The story of David O. Dodd is relatively unknown outside of Arkansas, but the teenage spy who chose to hang rather than betray the Confederate cause is a folk hero to many in his home state.” The Civil War Trust has the complete article on their web site.

The Civil War Trust also has the Weekend Event at Old Washington State Park scheduled for November 2-4 on their Events Roundup Page. Thanks for the publicity!

Visit www.civilwar150.org to read the David O Dodd story, and to see other Civil War events.


Civil War Marker Dedications in White County

Saturday, October 27 at 11:00 A.M. The Des Arc Bayou Marker will be dedicated near the flag pole at the Gum Springs Volunteer Fire Department on Highway 267 a few miles southwest of Searcy. The Des Arc Bayou Action in 1864 involved 221 Federals encamped on the bank of Des Arc Bayou. They were attacked by 500 Confederates resulting in 131 Federal casualties. No Confederate loses are known. Following the action Federals forces retreated to Brownsville, near Lonoke.                                                    For additional information call 501-454-1901.

Saturday, November 17 at 11:00 A.M. The West Point Marker will be dedicated at the West Point Volunteer Fire Department on Highway 36. The marker will depict the Naval Combat that occurred on August 14, 1863 when 500 Confederate cavalry attacked the Union Gunboat U.S.S. Cricket and her two steamers the Kaskaskia and the Tom Sugg. This was the only naval action of the successful 1863 Federal campaign to capture Little Rock.

Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Update

November 1, 2012 – South Arkansas Community College Lecture

“The Camden Expedition & Its Role in the Red River Campaign”

with Dr. Gary Joiner of LSU – Shreveport

The lecture will be held on Thursday, November 1 at 6:30 P.M. at the SouthArk Library Auditorium in Camden. For additional information call 870-862-8131

Spend the night in Camden and then take the short drive over to Old Washington State Park for the weekend.

November 3 – 4, 2012 Civil War Weekend at Historic Washington State Park

We will interpret the early years of the Civil War in Arkansas. Living historians and re-enactors will depict and demonstrate events of the day. Tours of many of the historic homes and surrey rides will be available. Call 870-983-2684 for additional information or visit: HistoricWashington@arkansas.com

November 8 – 15 Traveling Exhibit at the Arkansas State Library

“Fought in Earnest: Civil War Arkansas”

Original documents, photographs, maps, drawings, paintings, and artifacts that illustrate the story of the Civil War in Arkansas as well as much primary source material will be on hand. The Library is located at 900 W. Capital, 2nd floor in Little Rock.

Call 501-682-2837 for additional information or email danny@library.arkansas.gov.

December 1 -2, 2012 – 150th Anniversary Battle of Prairie Grove

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

The park will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove. The original battle, fought on December 7, 1862, saw about 22,000 soldiers fighting most of the day, with about 2,700 killed, wounded, or missing. Every even-numbered year, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park hosts a battle reenactment. During the weekend there will be many lead and self-guided activities including tours through the Union, Confederate, and civilian camps, various military drills, cooking, spinning, and lace making demonstrations along with other living history programs. “Sutlers Row” features a number of vendors selling 19th century reproduction, books, and souvenirs. The battle demonstration begins at 1 p.m. each day, featuring charges and counterattacks by Union and Confederate infantry and cavalry. The reenactment is held on the actual battlefield near the historic Borden House. Contact the park (closer to event time) for a detailed schedule. Call 479-846-2990 or contact holly.houser@arkansas.gov.

Antietam as a Model

As a member of the National Trust of Historic Preservation I see articles worth printing for members of our Roundtable that you would appreciate reading. One was recently printed in Preservation. Civil War author and historian, Nicholas Redding explains how the farmsteads and rolling hills today at Antietam appear similar to how Union and Confederate soldiers would have seen them. Civil War Historian Nicholas Redding Photo Courtesy Stephen Voss

Redding writes “Antietam offers a sweeping landscape. Traversing Antietam, a visitor meets some of the most familiar names in American history: The Dunker Church, The Cornfield, The Blood Lane, and Burnside’s Bridge. The stories of the men who served at Antietam once brought veterans to tears and today draw thousands of Americans to this place year after year.

All this was threatened in the 1980’s when rural western Maryland found itself the target of developers hoping to build a bucolic exurb of Washington, D.C.  Fortunately, the fledging battlefield preservation community was able to mobilize quickly and thwart development before it was too late.

Through the work of the battlefield preservation community and a blend of conservation easements, progressive local land-use policies, and targeted state and federal land acquisition, Antietam today is a case study for what can be accomplished when all levels of government and the private sector work together.  The legacy of this work is an unparalleled experience for millions of visitors who, in turn, pump millions of dollars into the local economy.”

Thank you Nicholas for your sincere words.  Hopefully someday, our Arkansas legislators will work closely with local preservation organizations in the state to preserve our historic places and battlefields.

Civil War Bullets from Rick

  • Thru October 27“Invasion or Liberation? The Civil War in Arkansas” an exhibit at the Butler Center in Little Rock
  • During October – “The Civil War in Arkansas” and exhibit at Little Rock’s Historic Arkansas Museum featuring artifacts from its collection.
  • During October“Battle Colors of Arkansas” The museum’s battle flag collection will be on display at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock
  • November 19-20Blue-Gray Days, Carlton Plantation and the Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee will host Civil War Living History with re-enactors and military demonstrations.

Nomination of Roundtable Officers

At our meeting Tuesday, we will nominate officers to serve for the 2013 campaign. Current officers are listed below. If you are not at the meeting Tuesday, you may be conscripted into service! No more 90 day enlistments!

President – Jan Sarna

Vice President- Dick Brannon

Secretary – Rick Meadows

Treasurer – Brian Brown

Web Master – Pris Weathers

News Letter Editor – Rick Meadows

At Large Member of Board – Don Hamilton

Civil War Roundtable Speakers 2012

  • May – Dr. Roger Pauly, History Professor at UCA – Armies of the Western and Eastern Theater and Their Differences
  • June – Mark Christ –Community Outreach Director, Department of Arkansas Heritage – The Battle of Pine Bluff
  • July – Alan Thompson – General Dandridge McRae
  • August Jerry Potter Attorney from Memphis, The Sultana
  • September – Dr. Michael Dougan – Retired history professor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro Major Cush’s Civil War: William Minor Quesenbury on the Western Frontier
  • October – Dave Bastian from Maryland – Grant’s Canal: the Unions’ Attempt to  Bypass Vicksburg
  • November – David Casto, Charles O. Durnett Award winner –The 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry and a forgotten skirmish near Augusta.”

Thanks go out to Dr. Michael Dougan and his program last month. We hope to see you Tuesday night with Dave Bastian and Grant’s Canal!

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