13,000 dead and wounded in Benton and over 7,000 in Sheridan. The disaster would make international headlines. That is what you would get with a disaster wiping out 41% of the population.

Examining casualty rates during the Civil War is fascinating. While commanders focused on tried and true 18th century infantry movements, the advancement in weaponry played an important role in raising the number of killed and wounded on both sides.

My ancestor, John McLain, was a Private in the 33rd Arkansas Confederate Infantry at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. He survived that dreadful day.

But all didn’t go well for his unit. The 33rd Arkansas took approximately 220 men into battle that morning in the Saline River swamp. Of those, ninety-two were killed or wounded in less than hour. That is a 41% casualty rate.

They were one of the first units brought to battle that morning. As part of General James Tappan’s Brigade, initially, the 33rd were held in reserve on the ridge overlooking the Saline River bottoms with the 19th/24th and 27th/38th Consolidated Arkansas units pushing across Grooms’ field toward the wall of 5,000 Federals hunkered down behind make-shift breastworks.

A veteran of the 27th Arkansas recalled that moment:

“When we passed through the timber, we entered an open field and marched through it toward the thick growth of timber on the opposite side and when we had got in thirty paces of the edge of the timber a destructive fire was opened up on us from a solid line of the enemy who were posted behind trees and logs in the edge of the timber. The deadly messengers flew thick and fast, killing and wounding the men at a fearful rate. Several of the men sank down, either shot dead or fatally wounded. It appeared that the missiles came as thick as hail. Our line staggered but there was no panic but it really appeared impossible to withstand such a raking fire. We heard the roar of the enemy’s small arms and the hissing of the Minnie balls as they sped through the air, with a thud when they struck a man, or a splash in the mud and water when they struck the ground. The terrible war of the guns and the noise of the balls were making and despairing groans of the wounded seemed awful. There were no orders given to return the fire but onward we went carrying our guns on our shoulders while terrible vollies [sic] were poured into our ranks.”

Watching from the ridge overlooking the bottom was the 33rd Arkansas. One of their soldiers would write later:

“After our regiment had stood there in line for twenty minutes it was ordered forward and into action. There was nothing of the romance of war or battle. No waving of banners; no martial music; no thronging of women, children and gray-haired men to the battlements of a beautiful city to witness the sentiment about this. The rain pattered down steadily. The men stood in the ranks, cold, wet, and hungry and gazed down into that dismal, cheerless swamp.”

Once they stepped off into the bottom, things went to absolute hell for the 33rd Arkansas.

As they charged across the muddy field, which had been planted in corn now ankle high, they marched into a swarm of enemy fire. One soldier later recalled how you could hold you hat up in the air and catch a hat full of minie balls being fired at them. There was a distance of approximately 200 yards they had to cover in order to make it to the Federal line. Once they got to within a hundred yards or so, the Federals opened up with a dreadful fire, dropping soldiers up and down the line. One of those who went down was their commander, Colonel Hiram Grinstead. A soldier recalled his fatal wounding:

“There was confusion in our lines every now and then and some of the boys would get a little shaky and start back to the rear. I recollect at one time that Colonel Grinstead darted in before one of these men who had started to the rear and with his sword drawn back in a threatening manner, I heard the Colonel yell out distinctly, for he was close to me, ‘If you don’t go back, I will kill you,’ and the man stopped and turned round and went back…Very soon after this Colonel Grinstead fell. I did not see him fall. But someone said ‘Colonel Grinstead is killed,’ and I looked and saw him lying on the ground.”

By the time it was over, the dead and wounded of the 33rd Arkansas was scattered across the battlefield, the screams of the wounded echoing throughout the river bottom.

41% of the men of the 33rd Arkansas went down in the mud at Jenkins’ Ferry. Today, even a single death of a soldier overseas in the Middle East makes national news. Imagine how a 41% casualty rate would devastate a unit (and a community).

High casualty during the Civil War wasn’t uncommon. In 1864, at the Battle of Cold Harbor, there were 7,000 soldiers killed within the first twenty minutes of the battle.

It was a dreadful slaughter.

Many of the dead would be carried back to Camden where they would be buried, including their commander, Colonel Grinstead. They rest silently today gather forever amongst one another.

But many remain on the battlefield today where they lay – in unmarked graves, the cornfield having been abandoned by the families who lived there – unable to plow a field where the bodies almost outnumbered the corn.


Founded Bauxite, Arkansas…Fought with Robert E. Lee


If you attended Bauxite schools in the days before the old high school burned, then you’ll probably remember the gentlemen pictured in today’s blog.

In the lobby of Bauxite High School was a trophy case containing trophies and footballs from championship footballs teams of days gone by. Above the case was the portrait of an elderly looking man who always resembled Colonel Sanders more than any teacher I had ever known. Being a history buff even in high school, I scoured the library until I found who he was; “Colonel Gibbons – the Founder of Bauxite.” And for years, his portrait gazed down silently as we went about the school day.

His name as John Rison Gibbons – and he was indeed the founder of the town of Bauxite.

Arriving in 1900 after hearing that J.C. Branner, the state geologist of Arkansas had discovered Bauxite (used to make aluminum) in Saline and Pulaski counties, Gibbons traveled to Arkansas from Georgia representing the American Bauxite Company (or Pittsburg Reduction Company).

What he found was a gold mine of ore and soon enough had laid out the town of Bauxite and built a railroad. In addition, his company constructed houses (my dad referred to them as “bauxite houses” and a few still survive) as well as schools and hospitals. By 1905 the company owned the majority of the ore deposits and in 1907 the company changed its named to the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA)

But building a town that, during World War II, produced 98% of the world’s Bauxite, was just a part of John Gibbons’ amazing life.

Born November 16, 1843 in Virginia, he was preparing to attend the University of Virginia when the Civil War broke out.

During the war, Gibbons served as a private in the 1st Virginia Cavalry. This unit, commanded by General JEB Stuart, was everywhere during the war. Here is a list of the battles Gibbons fought in:

First Battle of Bull Run

Peninsula Campaign

Seven Days’ Battle

Second Battle of Bull Run

Battle of Antietam

Battle of Fredericksburg

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Brandy Station

Battle of Gettysburg

Bristoe Campaign

Overland Campaign

Seige of Petersburg

Valley Campaign of 1864


Notice the last one. Gibbons was at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, witnessing Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses Grant.

Later, following the war, Gibbons became involved in the United Confederate Veterans, a group that was the precursor of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It was during his post-war involvement with the group that he received the honorary rank of “Colonel” and was addressed as “Colonel Gibbons.”

Dying in Bauxite in 1919, He was transported by train to Georgia, where his family had settled following the Civil War. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Cartersville.

The Saline County town he founded survives and thrives today but I’ll bet few have ever heard of the man who put their town on the map and his Civil War connection.

Shaking my Family Tree…and a Confederate General Falls Out


The old days of researching your family tree only through hours spent in dusty archives and old cemeteries seem to be evolving. Nowadays, there is the internet, there are digital records and – the newest tool – DNA.

Thanks to DNA, I can tell you that Confederate General JEB Stuart and I are related. Now, granted he is “only” a fourth cousin, three times removed but go back eight generations and you’ll find that he and I share the same grandparents – John Walker II and Katherine Rutherford.

I’ve researched my Walker genealogy extensively as well as my mother’s line. I’ve been far more successful with her side, making my way back to Jamestowne, connecting with three “immigrant ancestors.”

Sites such as ancestry.com are fine – to a point. But you have to take the information with a grain of salt. By that I mean, as long as you pay the monthly subscription, then you can pretty much create any family tree you want, without having to worry about posting the documentation to back up your research.

I am very old fashioned in that I still prefer the non-internet way of genealogical research. I have files and journal books filled with information that hopefully my children will make some sense out of after I’m gone. But the DNA? It’s interesting how closely it mirrors the research I’ve spent a lifetime working on.

It’s pretty amazing knowing that JEB Stuart and I have the same blood coursing through our bodies (not to mention that the good General has the Walker name in his family tree).

That all being said, researching your Civil War ancestry is easier than ever.

I would suggest a website call “Fold3” – it has an incredible database of digitized, online, military service records. Not only does it contain Civil War but Revolutionary War records as well. It is well worth the subscription price and you can view/print your ancestor’s military records. Here is a link to their website:

Click Here to View the Fold3 Military Service Records Website

If you have an Arkansas Confederate ancestor, below is a link to the Confederate Service Records available through the Arkansas History Commission:

Click Here to View the Confederate Service Records Available Through the Arkansas History Commission

Not sure if your ancestor served? Visit the website below, maintained by the National Archives, where you can search by soldier’s name:

Click Here to Search the National Archives Civil War Soldier Database

And you’ve ever wondered if you had an ancestor who fought at Jenkins’ Ferry or one of the other battles of the 1864 Camden Expedition, send me an email and I’ll work with you to try to locate that ancestor. There’s no charge for this. I do this for the love of history.

You never know who might fall out when you shake that family tree.


Killing a General…in Downtown Benton, Arkansas (and Getting a Medal for it)


I’ll bet you didn’t know that a Confederate Brigadier General was killed in downtown Benton.

And I’ll bet you didn’t know they gave the Congressional Medal of Honor to the nineteen year old soldier who killed him.

On July 25, 1864, a company of the 3rd Missouri Union Cavalry was on patrol in Saline County, when they reportedly encountered Confederate Brigadier General George M. Holt and his bodyguard detachment. Depending upon which side you believe, either Holt was shot down in the midst of a fight or he was shot in the back as he fled from the 3rd Missouri.

The deed is said to have occurred on River street in Benton near what is now Ringgold Elementary school.

For his actions in firing the fatal shot that took down the Confederate General, Private George Lucas was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. The Medal of Honor citation stated:

“Pursued and killed Confederate Brig. Gen. George M. Holt, Arkansas Militia, capturing his arms and horse.”

Lucas was born in 1845 in Adams County, Illinois. He enlisted in the Company C of the 3rd Missouri Cavalry at Mount Sterling, Illinois. Lucas was at the battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, though the 3rd Missouri, one of the cavalry units commanded by General Eugene Carr (another Medal of Honor recipient) and were one of the first units across the Saline River on the afternoon of April 29, 1864 as soon as the pontoon bridge was operational. Carr’s Cavalry Division was ordered by Frederick Steele to move with all possible speed to Little Rock, to thwart any attempt by Confederate Cavalry under General James Fagan to recapture Little Rock while the Seventh Corps was waffling across southern Arkansas. Lucas would be issued the Medal of Honor in December of 1864. Surviving the war, he would marry, have a daughter and live until 1921 when he would die in his native Illinois. He was buried in Mounds Cemetery in Brown County, Illinois.

The gentleman he killed, General George Holt, was a resident of Saline County who helped raise the 11th Arkansas CSA Infantry. Again, having to gather bits and pieces of the story, it seems that Holt’s family claimed his body (though I can’t find where he is buried).

I have to admit that I discovered this while searching the list of Medal of Honor recipients which is odd considering I lived in Benton for almost fifteen years and devoured anything history I could lay my hands on about the city. I did read one Arkansas Civil War message board thread about the incident where there appeared to be some hesitation by some to erect a marker to commemorate the incident. Me? It’s history and the fact that a Brigadier General was shot down in your hometown merits some recognition instead of determining the issue based only on the sentiments of some who might not want the world to know that a Yankee took out a Confederate General right in the midst of their hometown.

There needs to be a marker commemorating this event.


Come Stand Where History Happened….

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On October 31st, you’ll have a rare opportunity to stand where history happened.

During the overnight hours of May 2, 1864, 13,000 men marched north upon the dirt road in today’s photograph. After setting fire to over 200 wagons on the ridge overlooking the Saline River bottoms, Union General Frederick Steele ordered a forced march back to Little Rock. As they approached the pioneer settlement of Belfast, one of the foot soldiers recalled:

“…and all that night the march continued, with no stop but what the mud enforced…The road was all the way through timber: and details of cavalry kindled and kept up continuous fires, till through the whole forest ran a sinuous line fitful flames. It was a strange, wild time.”

General Steele refused to allow the men to camp. He would not feel comfortable until he reached the safety of Little Rock. He did allow the men to refill their canteens in the town’s spring as they marched by.

I’ve drank from that spring.

Now granted, nowadays with environmental studies and bottled water you can purchase by the caseload, perhaps drinking from a country stream on the side of the road may not be the greatest idea but, heck – when your father shows you the very stream where thousands of Yankees filled their canteens – the idea of a ten year old boy drinking from the same spring was too good to pass up and pretty darn awesome.

The pioneer village of Belfast was settled in the 1850’s and included a stagecoach stop, stores and an inn with houses scattered across the area. By the 1870’s the railroad line arrived but was placed several miles away, causing many in the town to move away, with the town abandoned a short time afterward.

But to folks like my father, the memory of that village and of the time the Yankees marched through did not deserved to pass into history. I remember as a child visiting the site which at a time when there was  no marker. The spring was there, I can even recall a Prince Albert Tobacco can hanging upon a sapling adjacent to it that the local folks would use to dip down into the spring to enjoy a cool drink (not much in the way of bottled water in those days).

In 1974, descendants of those who lived there erected a large granite marker to commemorate the site.

Several years ago, the timber company who owned the property began leasing the property out to hunting clubs and in doing so began gating off many of the area roads – including the Camden Road that ran alongside the marker.

So for years the marker has set there – as a silent sentential to an exciting moment in history.

Isolating the site also ensured protection of the site. It’s disheartening to read of civil war sites being vandalized. Even as late as a few days ago, one of the markers at the Prairie Grove Battlefield in northwest Arkansas was broken apart. By preventing access to the area around the marker, it has insured its survival.

I received several emails yesterday about the blog I wrote on what would have been my father’s 90th birthday. Some of you shared similar memories of growing up in the area and visiting the Old Belfast marker as a child and the fond memories it brought back and asking what the site looked like today.

When I last visited it in 2012, the area around the marker had grown up extensively, with the spring all but overtaken by the vegetation.

All of this initiated a series of back and forth emails yesterday with the timber management company that owns the property, the result being is that we have obtained permission to have a clean up day at the site, cutting back some of the vegetation and sprucing up the marker and spring. Something I did learn from my emails yesterday; the area is on their own list sites they maintain and protect.  That is very reassuring, because as much as I have been disheartened by the restricted access to the site, I am pleased to know the site has been spared the vandalism that is plaguing some of our civil war sites.

So on Saturday morning, October 31st, we’ll gather at the marker and enjoy a fall morning sprucing up the monument and spring. We’ll stand where those soldiers stood, filling their canteens and alongside the original road they marched upon. Bring your tools – bring your lawn chairs – if you’re not up to piling brush and weed-eating, then by all means come on out. Take this rare opportunity to be in the presence of history. It will only take a couple of hours and afterward lunch is on me. And then we’ll take some time and share the history of this amazing place. I’ll have signed copies of my book free for those who stop by.

Opportunities to visit the Old Belfast marker just don’t occur anymore. I would encourage you to make plans to join us on October 31st. It is one of the very few intact historical sites related to Jenkins’ Ferry and the 1864 Camden Expedition.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Happy 90th Birthday Mr. Walker…


Today would have been my father’s 90th birthday.

If there was ever an advocate for preserving the Jenkins’ Ferry battlefield, it was my parents.

Four of my father’s  Great-Grandfathers served in the Civil War. William Houston Walker served as a Private in the 3rd Tennessee Confederate Infantry; Nicholas Archibald Tull served as a Private in the 4th Arkansas Union Cavalry; William Brence serve as a Private in the 128th Illinois Infantry and John Haywood Willmon served as a Private in Turnbull’s Arkansas Confederate Infantry.

It was never a “Confederate vs. Union” thing with my father. As you see above, his civil war ancestors were evenly split between the Union and Confederate armies.

To him, it was always about preserving the stories of the bravery of that place in the Saline River bottoms. It grieved him knowing that, through apathy and the passage of time, what happened at Jenkins’ Ferry might fade away and it become known simply as just a country swimming hole.

Growing up in the community of Tull (named for one of our ancestors), located only fifteen miles north of the battlefield, my father would have undoubtedly come in contact with one of the aged veterans still alive during his youth. He did spend a lot of time with his Great-Great-Grandmother, Martha Jane Myrick, who’s first husband, James Parrott, had served as a Private in the 11th Arkansas Confederate Infantry. My father recalled hearing “Grannie Myrick” sit for hours telling stories of the Civil War (she was born near Memphis in 1840).

The photograph in today’s blog was taken about thirty years ago. We had spent the day tracing the route of the Federal army as it marched north from present day Prattsville. We had stopped at the “Old Belfast” marker, just east of Tull, the site of the pioneer settlement the army marched by following the battle, stopping to fill their canteens in the spring that still flows adjacent to the marker. It is a treasured photograph.

One day, my children will celebrate my 90th birthday. I’d like to think that helping to preserve the memory of battlefields such as Jenkins’ Ferry might be one of the legacies I leave behind.

Happy birthday Mr. Walker.



From Elkins’ Ferry to Jefferson Davis…

csa cavalry

He gets captured at the Battle of Elkins’ Ferry – makes his escape from the Yankees – travels eastward and tells Confederate President Jefferson Davis of his capture and escape.

This almost sounds like something from a movie. But it’s not. Today, I’ll introduce you to Wiley Fackler

Wiley Fackler was a young Confederate Officer that April morning in 1864 as he set astride his horse near the Little Missouri River at Elkins’ Ferry. The instructions given him by his commander, Confederate General John Marmaduke were clear; move forward to the crossing site and determine the strength of the Federal line on the east side of the river.

Fackler moved forward – a little too forward – and soon found himself surrounded by a regiment of Federal soldiers who took the twenty-three year old prisoner. The Federal commander, Colonel Francis Drake, recalled the moment Fackler was captured:

“I ordered my line to advance to our old position and take the men’s knapsacks, which had been left on the ground where we encamped, now in possession of the enemy. The men went forward, retook their knapsacks, and Company D, Captain Hale, captured while doing so Lieutenant Fackler, an aide-de-camp of General Marmaduke.”

Of course, the Confederates remembered Fackler’s capture a bit differently as a soldier in General Joseph Shelby’s Division would later recall:

“As Steele was crossing the Little Missouri river, General Marmaduke sent Wiley Fackler, a young soldier belonging to his escort, with instructions to the troops watching and fighting the Federals in their efforts to get over. Wiley, ignorant of the localities and of all the changes which had taken place in the position of the Confederates, rode boldly on until surrounded by half a regiment of blue coats demanding his surrender. He complied gracefully.”

Now here is where the story gets a bit cloudy.

According to the Confederate version of things, Lieutenant Wiley, once captured, was sent to Little Rock where he “escaped on the road.” Once free, he road north into Missouri where he spent time there before riding eastward through Maryland and Virginia “as a medical student” before winding up in Richmond, Virginia where he met with President Jefferson Davis who, according to the Confederate version; “listened with pleasure to his story, complimented him on his daring and ingenuity, and sent him back to his command with the bars of a Lieutenant upon his collar.”

So he’s captured at the Battle of Elkins’ Ferry and from there eventually winds up sitting across the table from President Jefferson Davis?

This sounds too good to be true if you’re Wiley Fackler.

We do know he was born in 1841 in Virginia and by 1850 was living in Saline County, Missouri. It was while living in Missouri that Fackler enlisted in the Confederate army in 1861.

By December of 1861, he had been captured and sent to the Federal prison in Alton, Illinois. After being paroled, he returned to the army only to be wounded a year later at the Battle of Hartsville, Tennessee.

Trying to research Fackler has been a bit tedious.

One short biography makes note that after the Civil War ended, Fackler was “afterward killed by the Indians on the Plains.”

Thus far, I’ve found no photographs of him or where he is buried, though if the “killed by the Indians” is correct, and then it’s possible he’s resting today in an unmarked grave.

His involvement at the Battle of Elkins’ Ferry merited mention in two separate post-war memories.

Finding stories such as these help fill in the pieces of the puzzle that was the 1864 Camden Expedition.

One of the Lucky Ones…at Jenkins’ Ferry

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William Hogsett was in the midst of the fight at Jenkins’ Ferry.

The photograph of the left is of a young William about the time he was at Jenkins’ Ferry. The right photograph is of a much older William, having survived the war into old age.

On the morning of April 30, 1864, Hogsett was serving as Private in Company K of the 19th Texas Infantry. Initially enlisting on May 10, 1862, he was one of 886 men mustered in that day. Shortly after, the 19th received orders to march to Little Rock. By August 29th they had arrived at Camp Josephine McDermott near Rondo, in northeast Arkansas. An outbreak of measles and dysentery killed twenty-four and hospitalized almost fifty before the marched into central Arkansas, arriving at Camp Nelson, near present day Cabot on October 24th. More men died of disease here, bringing the total dead of disease to 119.

He had been absent almost as much as he served. A year after enlisting he was “left sick at Monroe, La,” and laster listed as AWOL (absent without leave) from October 16, 1863 to February 17, 1864. He returned to active duty just in time for the commencement of the Red River Campaign.

Following the battles at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, the 19th Texas, as part of Walker’s Texas Division, marched toward Arkansas in pursuit of Frederick Steele’s army.

He was there at Jenkins’ Ferry as his commander, General William Scurry, was shot down in the mud.

Walker’s Division brought around 2,000 men into battle at Jenkins’ Ferry, losing nearly 450 men – an almost 25% casualty rate.

Private Hogsett would survive Jenkins’ Ferry, afterward being transferred to Marshall, Texas where he was assigned to guard duty at Camp Davis. 

Following the war, he would settle in Hopkins County, Texas, dying September 12, 1913, having lived almost fifty years after Jenkins’ Ferry.

A few years before his death, a short biography appeared in the Hopkins County newspaper: 

“W. M. Hogsett was born in the state of Tennessee on the 22nd day of February 1835. At the age of sixteen years he came to Texas with his mother and located near the old Lollar store. His father was a soldier in the Mexican war and died in the year 1846, while he was serving his country as a soldier. 
At the age of 21 years Mr. Hogsett married Miss Elizabeth Liles, daughter of William Liles then of Sulphur Springs and began to battle with the question of bread and butter. By this union five children were born, only one of these is living, Amos Hogsett. Mr. Hogsett lost his first companion and subsequently married Melvina Voss, and were the parents of six children, four of these are living. They all reside in the county, only one living at home, Miss Pearl, a bright intellectual woman of engaging manners and social disposition. Mr. Hogsett is living at this time near where his mother located when he was a child.

He has farmed and raised stock for a livelihood. Some years ago he diverted his attention to the raising of blooded horses and mules. He has handled some of the best-blooded animals, perhaps, that have ever been imported into the county. His name is familiar to every old citizen of the county as a stock man and as an active, energetic and industrious citizen. He has lived a lifetime as a friend and neighbor of Sealin Stout, who was the champion bear hunter in an early day in the county. They have passed many hours fire hunting at night.”

One of the survivors at Jenkins’ Ferry who, no doubt, told many of his time in that dreadful swamp.

Where the Heck was the Battle?

Guesses Creek

A battle was fought somewhere in the midst of the blue box shown above.

On the afternoon of April 29, 1864, the Federal Army – 13,000 strong – were moving up the Military Road toward Jenkins’ Ferry. The rain that had began mid-morning was now falling in torrents, turning the road into a mud march. Once the head of Steele’s army reached the Saline River, they discovered the river bank-full and rising. This stalled the army all along the road for several miles with the rear of the army located somewhere near where the “Cannon Ball” house once stood, south of Leola.

The delay gave the advance guard of the Confederate army time to close in on the Federal army.

Confederate Colonel Colton Greene of Marmaduke’s Cavalry Division attacked the Federal rear guard with Col. William Lafayette Jeffers’s Eighth Missouri Cavalry and Captain Samuel S. Harris’s Fourth Missouri Light Artillery Battery. Greene also ordered the Fourth Missouri Cavalry to reinforce this attack.

Commanding the Federal rear guard was Colonel Adolph Engelmann of the 43rd Illinois Infantry. Looking south, Engelmann saw the Confederate Cavalry thundering up the road toward him. He immediately deployed the 40th Iowa – 43rd Illinois – 27th Wisconsin along with Vaughn’s Battery of the Illinois Light Artillery to block the Confederate advance.

In addition to musket fire, there was also artillery fire as both sides banged away at one another.

One of the shells blew a hole in a two story house sitting alongside the Military road. The house would be forever known afterward as the “Cannon Ball house.”

Now…one of the mysteries of the Battle of Guesses’ Creek (as this action was known) was the exact location of the placement of the two opposing armies. Relic hunters have tried in vain over the years to locate the exact location without success. They’ve found traces of a fight – fired minie balls here and there – but as yet no known concentration.

1700 yards. That is the maximum range of an artillery shell fired by the type of cannons placed at Guesses’ Creek. Based upon the location the shell impacted the Cannon Ball House there are a few assumptions that can be made. As the Confederates were firing in a northerly direction, it was likely a Confederate shell that impacted the house. In order to at least get the makings of possible location where the action occurred, the blue grid area reflects an area that extends out approximately 1700 yards from the impact site at the Cannon Ball house.

There is one significant advantage to locating the location. Grant County Road #1 was constructed on what was once the Military Road, so it’s easy to visualize the road the soldiers marched upon. What is hard to visualize is the large number of troops that were concentrated in the middle of the road. Three regiments of Federal soldiers would have accounted for hundreds of men facing off against hundreds of Confederates. The issue is where? Where along the road could that many men have fought? The road itself is just a few yards wide and the area was wooded in the area they marched through.

One of the soldiers in Walker’s Texas Division recalled the scene as they marched through the area hours later:

“…Trees cut half in two by cannonballs; limbs of trees torn off and lying in the road; fences down and scattered in endless confusion; houses riddled with cannon and musket balls…in a word, a general desolation prevailing everywhere.”

With that description, it’s fairly obvious there should be traces left of that afternoon.

I am honored to know a group of gentlemen who have devoted over forty years studying every facet of the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. Several of these men have searched the areas on and around the battlefield and unearthed some amazing relics that help tell the story of the events that unfolded there. This “network” of relic hunters keep their ears to the ground to any significant finds that are discovered in the area.

And nothing significant has been reported out of the action at Guesses’ Creek.

This is not meant to encourage anyone to take shovel in hand and descend upon the area within the blue grid. The entire area is on private property and the utmost respect should be afforded the landowners.

But it would be beneficial if a historical organization such as the Arkansas Archeological Survey could be brought in and, with the land owners permission, survey the area to determine if the exact location of the action between the two armies could be pinpointed.

If you’ve read my previous blogs on this clash between Engelmann and Greene, then you know that I have always advocated the action at Guesses’ Creek being separated from the more significant clash the following day at Jenkins’ Ferry.

In order to do that, pinpointing the site of the battle is vitally important.

Eventually, there will be a driving tour CD produced that will cover the action between Tulip and the Prattsville. I’d like to see Guesses’ Creek receive it’s proper place in the history of 1864 Civil War Arkansas.


Live Video Streaming…at Jenkins’ Ferry



I watched a live sunrise at a Civil War battlefield this morning (and I was 125 miles away at the time).

Today, my friend Ron Kelley provided a live tour of the battlefield at Helena, with an audience from across the country, all from a simple app he downloaded to his smart-phone.

21st century technology is amazing in how it can be used to bring 19th century history to life.

Applications such as “Periscope” downloaded to your smart-phone allows you to view live video streaming events from individuals all over the world. It’s a variety of streams – some serious – some absolutely silly – but all give you a glimpse into the lives of interesting people in near and faraway lands.

Periscope is relatively new and I’m sure it’s experiencing the growing pains that new smart-phone applications go through after launching but well worth downloading.

The historical applications to Periscope are numerous. Imagine being able to to a live video stream from Jenkins’ Ferry, Elkins’ Ferry or the other battlefields of 1864 Civil War Arkansas or coming along on one of the Grant County Museum’s historical events.

Also, imagine being able to live stream to a classroom – giving them a unique perspective of our Arkansas Civil War battlefields.

The applications are endless.

Over the next few weeks, I’m planning to experiment a bit with Periscope toward the goal of a live video stream from the Jenkins’ Ferry State Park where viewers can type questions directly on their smart-phone during this live event. What I saw this morning watching Ron Kelley’s live video stream of Battery C at the Helena battlefield was fascinating. How cool will it be for folks who are unable to visit the battlefield at Jenkins’ Ferry due to distance to be able to virtually experience this hallowed ground – even asking to see certain portions of the battlefield during the live video stream.

In addition to streaming from the battlefield, I’ll also experiment with a “live video blog” similar to the blogs I post on Youtube but in a live streaming format.

I’ll be adding a “Live Event” tab on my webpage www.1864arkansas.com and will post schedules on Facebook, Twitter and the webpage of upcoming times I’ll be video streaming.

So, take a moment to download Periscope from the app store of your smart-phone. It’s free so what do you have to lose?

Periscope has many intriguing applications – stay tuned and be ready to tune in.