Losing Your Love….at Jenkins’ Ferry

Randal and wife

One of more enduring stories surrounding the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry centers around General Horace Randal and his wife, Nannie.

Randal commanded a Brigade of  troops under Walker’s Texas Division at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry. We know what happened to him…during the height of the battle as he and Generals William Scurry and Thomas Waul led their Texans into battle, all three were shot down. Scurry goes down with a gunshot would to the abdomen, Waul nearly has his right arm blown off and Randal is shot in the chest. It was a bad day for Texas.

Scurry would lay in the mud for hours, refusing to be moved. At the conclusion of the battle, once the Federals had made their escape across the Saline River, General Scurry asked if they had won the day. Assured they had, he uttered the now famous line, “Now take me to a nearby house where I can be made comfortable and die.” They did – and he did.

The Randal related story centers on his wife, Nannie. Horace Randal was married twice. He married Julia Bassett in 1858. She is the young lady shown with Randal in today’s blog. She was a beauty in the eyes of any generation. Their marriage ended tragically, as she died in childbirth in 1861, neither her nor the child surviving.

Horace Randal remarried in 1862 to Nannie Taylor with whom a son, Horace Jr. was born in 1863.

The story goes that following his wounding during the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Randal was taken to a nearby house to be treated. His wife, Nannie, was said to be traveling with the army and was a few hours behind. Upon hearing the news, Nannie Randal rushed to her husband’s side, only to discover he had been mortally wounded. This was not unheard of, as wives of the commanders would sometimes travel with their husbands during some of the campaigns. It would have been interesting to know more about how she was traveling.

Upon the death of General Scurry, his remains were carried about ten miles south to the tiny settlement of Tulip, where he was laid to rest with full military honors. Following the service, the Confederates returned to Jenkins’ Ferry where they had camped following the battle and discovered General Randal had died. So, the entire procession was repeated with Randal’s remains carried to Tulip and buried alongside General Scurry. Here they would remain for about six months until the Texas troops returned to the area for the purpose of removing both Generals back to their native soil. General Scurry is buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin and General Randal is buried in the Marshall, Texas. Scurry and Randal county Texas are named in their honor.

There are some fragmented pieces of information about Nannie Taylor Randal following the war. One story has her marrying a Federal officer and moving to Oklahoma where she died.

It must have a horrific day for Nannie Randal, as she rushed to her fallen Generals side, surrounded by death and destruction. Arriving at his bedside, knowing there was no hope, no chance of recovery, there now only for the death vigil.

She was lucky though and never realized it. There were scores of wives and mothers a lifetime away from Jenkins’ Ferry who never had the opportunity to spend those final moments with their loved ones, to know what happened to them, to see them buried with dignity.

No….there were too many wives and mothers who never knew what happened to their soldier – his remains forever lying in an unmarked grave in that dreadful Saline River bottom.

Not knowing is far worse that knowing sometimes.




A House in the Midst of Pickett’s Charge…

Medal of Honor

First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing is about to receive the Medal of Honor, 151 years after his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg. It was Cushing, we are told, who was one of the ones instrumental in holding back the Confederate wave that day resulting in what will forever be known as the “High Tide of the Confederacy.”

One of those Confederates marching toward Lieutenant Cushing that day was one of my ancestors.

John James House was a cousin on my mother’s side of our family. Her House family (that’s the actual surname) originated from Brunswick County, Virginia with her portion of the family eventually migrating to southern Arkansas.

John James House was a Confederate, serving with the 56th Virginia Infantry. He originally enlisted in the 21st Virginia before reenlisting in the 56th Virginia in February of 1863. His life would take a dreadful turn on the afternoon of July 3, 1863 as he, along with thousands of others, found themselves in southern Pennsylvania at a place called Gettysburg.

He was a part of Garnett’s Brigade of Pickett’s Division of Longstreet’s First Corp. On the afternoon of July 3rd, what would be forever be known as “Pickett’s Charge” commenced as House and thousands of other Confederates began the march toward the copse of trees. The results we all know were disastrous for the Confederacy as casualty rates for some units exceeded 50%.

Many were shot down as they made the march over open ground. Private House made it to the wall, where a sea of blue soldiers awaited him. After his capture, he was transferred, first to Fort Delaware and then at Point Lookout, Maryland, where he died on January 24, 1864 of chronic diarrhea – his personal effects given to friends before his death. He is buried in the mass grave at Point Lookout, forever surrounded by his comrades.

Nearly half of the 3,490 recipients of the Medal of Honor served during the Civil War. There was one such recipient that fought at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas.

Union General Eugene Carr commanded the Federal Cavalry Division at Jenkins’ Ferry. He was not involved in the actual battle, as the overall commander, General Frederick Steele, had dispatched Carr and his Cavalry to Little Rock as soon as the pontoon bridge was operational across the swollen Saline River. Steele was concerned over rumors that Confederate Cavalry was headed toward Little Rock in an effort to seize the state capitol. Carr’s objective was to protect the city until the bulk of the Federal Army arrived back in the city.

Carr received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7, 1862, where he was wounded in the neck, arm and ankle. The citation for the Medal of Honor read: “[Carr had] directed the deployment of his command and held his ground, under a brisk fire of shot and shell in which he was several times wounded.”

Carr would go on to make a name for himself after the Civil War, fighting throughout the Plaines in the Indian Wars. Among his scouts during those campaigns were James “Wild Bill” Hickok and William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (is history cool or what?).

With the posthumous selection of Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing, it caused me to ponder who from the 1864 Camden Expedition could be candidates for the Medal of Honor. Two names come to mind; General Samuel Rice, who was the overall commander of the Federal defenses during the battle. Rice would be mortally wounded during the battle. Also, Colonel Samuel Crawford, who commanded the Second Kansas Colored Infantry at Jenkins’ Ferry. Though not a popular choice amongst my Confederate brethren, Crawford none the less significantly affected the outcome of the battle by his efforts in capturing the Confederate artillery batteries that had been brought onto the field.

The articles on Lieutenant Cushing indicated it was a 25 year effort by some to have him posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. This will no doubt open the gates for others who might wish to see a Federal soldier honored for their service during the Civil War. The odds of General Rice or Colonel Crawford obtaining such an offer would be slim, given the immense amount of effort it would take. In the long run, at the end of the day, does it really matter?

Private John James House stood on opposite sides with Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing that day 151 years ago at Gettysburg. They have both long since crossed over the river.

Bravery was exhibited by both armies that day at Gettysburg, just as it was at Jenkins’ Ferry.

Those who study the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry and the other battles of the Camden Expedition know the sacrifices of all of these brave men – Confederate and Union – so what better way to honor them than to never forget them.

That much we can do. They deserve nothing less.

Romancing the Flag…

Romancing the Flag

A Civil War blogger recently wrote a blog using the picture in today’s blog and entitled it “romancing the flag.”

Whenever I see a painting of a Civil War color bearer, I don’t see romance as much as I see ultimate honor and sacrifice. Sweeping forward ahead of his unit, he was most certainly a target, and at Jenkins’ Ferry, there were at least two Confederate bearers shot down carrying their battle flag across the hell that was Grooms’ Field.

April 30, 1864 was a bad day for the color bearers on both sides at Jenkins’ Ferry.

On the Confederate side, as the 33rd Arkansas Confederate Infantry moved over open ground across Grooms’ Field toward the Federal line, the infantry unit was mowed down, with scores of the 33rd Arkansas going down in the mud. Among them was Captain Washington Dickson, who, seeing the color bearer of the 33rd Arkansas go down wounded, picked up the Confederate battle flag and continued across the field. Captain Dickson would go down himself, shot three times as he carried the flag. Captain Dickson would die at Jenkins’ Ferry.

Captain Dickson was not a soldier – he was a Dentist, as an ad he placed in a Magnolia, Arkansas newspaper reflects:

“Living in Lamartine Community, Dr. W.T. Dickson offers his professional service in dentistry, stating these terms-”cash” or a note with 10 % from date.”

But he answered the call of duty and enlisted in the Confederate Army, serving alongside his brothers, Christopher and Josiah.

After his death at Jenkins’ Ferry, his body would be carried back to his hometown of Waldo, Arkansas, where he was buried in an unmarked grave.

Things were just as bad on the Federal side.

As they charged across Groom’s Field, one of the units firing deadly volleys into the 33rd Arkansas was the 40th Illinois Infantry, under command of Colonel John Garrett. The 40th was firing furiously, with Colonel Garrett reporting his unit alone fired over 50,000 rounds during the battle. Though they were positioned behind makeshift breastworks of fallen trees, the 40th suffered their share of casualties as well.

Among some of those who went down were the color bearers of the 40th Illinois – three of them:

Color Corporal Robert Bare – severely wounded in the right side

Color Sargent Mortimer Nelson – severely wounded in left shoulder

Color Corporal Thomas Davis – severely wounded in left thigh

But they weren’t alone, as others in the 40th went down as well. Below is a list compiled by Colonel Garrett:

Private Phillip Mudgett – Killed

Corporal William Thompson – severely wounded in the right arm

Corporal Kyman Thurston – two fingers were shot off

Private William Reagan – severely wounded in the breast

Private Joseph Kindle – severely wounded in the lower jaw

Private Francis George – severely wounded in the neck

Private Joseph Runyon – wounded in the side

Private Ebenezer Mother – severely wounded through the neck

Private Birchem Blackwood – severely wounded in the left leg

Private Nehemiah Kitchen – severely wounded in the bowels

Sargent Thomas Canaday – Killed

Private John Hunt – Killed

Private James Auld – Killed

Private Charles Schrader – Killed

1st Lt William Baird – severely wounded in the right leg

Private Henry Smidt – severely wounded in the left leg

Private Wilson Stradley – severely wounded in both hips

Private Henry Brown – slightly wounded in the hip

Private John Seams – severely wounded in the calf of left leg

Private John Polson – slightly wounded in the back

Private William Dotson – middle finger shot off of left hand

Private Eugene Wines – severely wounded in right arm

Private Ernst Hartz – slightly wounded in left side

Sargent Robert Simmons – Killed

Sargent John Dawson – severely wounded in the right arm

Corporal Benjamin Ford – mortally wounded in the bowels

Private Samuel Rees – severely wounded in the bowels

Private John Mark – severely wounded in the left leg

Private Peter Keasler – severely wounded in the left leg

Private John Cole – severely wounded in the right arm

Private Ashley Cody – slightly wounded in the head

Private Milton Walker – slightly wounded in the shoulder

Private Isaac Lee – mortally wounded in the left breast

Private David Patrick – severely wounded in the left thigh

Private James Hogan – slightly wounded in the left hop

Private John Burkhead – slightly wounded in the right foot

Reading the types of wounds suffered, it must have been a hellacious six hours in that river bottom, as wave after wave of Confederates bore down on the Federal line.


A soldier with the 33rd Arkansas recalled the moments prior to stepping off into battle at Jenkins’ Ferry:

“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.”

It wasn’t romance that day in those Saline River bottoms….it was honor.






Ballparks & Battlefields…


Often, when I speak to groups, there is always the statistical portion of the talk, where I try to put into perspective the number of men who were in that Saline River swamp on April 30, 1864. But somehow it seems, the numbers never seem to have the impact that I expect. I believe that is because it’s just hard to wrap your mind around the number of people who fought at Jenkins’ Ferry.

So today, I thought it would be interesting to compare the number of troops in a different manner – a 21st century way.

The Federal Army’s Third Brigade set up their line of battle in the tree line between Grooms’ and Tucker’s fields. We’ve spoke of this before – 5,000 Federal troops were placed in a line, forming a wall of defense against repeated Confederate attacks. 5,000 men shoulder to shoulder in those river bottoms. Now consider this:

Dickey Stephens Ballpark in North Little Rock has a capacity of 5,000 people.

The 2012 population for the entire city of Sheridan, Arkansas is 4,770 people.

So, if you were to gather the entire population of Sheridan; every man, woman and child, and transport them by bus to Dickey Stephens Ballpark to enjoy a summer night of baseball – filling the stadium – you would still have 230 less than formed that wall of blue in the Saline River bottoms. And if we used a standard school bus to transport the group? It would take 69 school buses to move that group from Sheridan to North Little Rock and you would still have less people gathered than just the Federal line alone at Jenkins’ Ferry.

Ever attended a concert at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock or a Razorback Basketball game in Fayetteville? Filling each of those venues to absolute capacity and it would still be less than the number of soldiers who were gathered in the Saline River bottoms that April day.

The battle of Jenkins’ Ferry may be considered small on a Gettysburg or Fredericksburg scale…but it was just as deadly.

And those 5,000 Federals? I think you’d much rather enjoy a night at the ballpark then to face this.




The Future…


Following the Civil War, both armies sought to commemorate the close bonds they had developed during the war. Organizations such as the “Grand Army of the Republic” (GAR), the fraternal organization for veterans of the Union Army as well as the “United Confederate Veterans,” named for their Confederate counterparts soon sprang up.

Our nation’s “Memorial Day” tradition of honoring deceased veterans by decorating their graves was initiated by the GAR on May 30, 1868.

Realizing that as they ranks aged, a day would come when the last veteran would pass away, causing the extinction of the organizations, the GAR and the UCV created groups made up of the sons of both groups thus the “Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War” and “Sons of Confederate Veterans” were created.

The GAR ceased to exist, with the death of its last member, Albert Woolson, who died on August 2, 1956 at the age of 109.

The UCV lost it’s last member on February 26, 1951 with the death of James W. Moore, who died at the age of 99.

Today, both heritage groups, the SUVCW and the SCV, seek to continue to honor their Civil War ancestors. The 7,000 members of the SUVCW and the 31,000 members of the SCV share a similar goal – preserving the legacy of their ancestors. It is an honorable endeavor, one I hope will continue for generations to come.

My son Stephen Ryan is far too young to know much outside of his toy box, books and stuffed animals. But one day, I hope he will develop a love of history and an appreciation of where he came from. My ancestors served in both armies during the Civil War, with my Walker family literally torn in half because of the war.

It would be heartbreaking to see these organizations slowly ebb away due the lack of young people entering their ranks.

Today’s generation is becoming more and more “virtual.” By that, it seems so many are content to pass away their younger years sitting in front of a video game. There’s even a television commercial where the mother shuts off the power to the house in order to force her son outside to play. It’s imperative that groups such as the SUVCW and the SCV give significant consideration to how to attract younger members to their ranks. The key to that of course, is fathers passing down the love of history and heritage to their sons. That is what I hope will happen here one day. But the young person has to willingly embrace their heritage, you cannot force history upon anyone.

To learn more about these groups, click on the links below:

Sons of Confederate Veterans

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Where History Marched Before Me…

1911 Parade

I work at an interesting location.

I am beginning my 21st year with the Little Rock Police Department. I enjoy my job – I am good at my job – and I plan to retire from my job. That being said, I hope to arrive at the intersection of Markham and State streets for the next several years, after which I’ll take my pension and see what else the world has to offer.

Being a history buff, I’ve known for a long time the significance of the address where I work. In 1911, over 12,000 Confederate veterans converged upon the city of Little Rock for one of the largest post war reunions in the history of the south. During the weeklong event, the city’s population swelled by over 140,000, a figure unmatched until the night in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected to the presidency.

One of the highlights of the event was the parade. On May 18, 1911, thousands of veterans marched down the streets of Little Rock as tens of thousands of citizens gathered on the streets to cheer them on. It was said it took two hours for the parade to pass by a single point. Can you imagine? Veterans who fought across those hallowed battlefields a half century before marching before you. Yes, there were veterans of the 1864 Camden Expedition and Jenkins’ Ferry among them.

And Markham and State streets? The parade, this amazingly once in a lifetime event, begin there, literally right in front of my building.

I work the third watch. So, there are times in the middle of the night where you can take a break and step outside where the streets are deserted. Here, you can almost imagine those veterans gathered in front of you. The city is quiet late at night and you can almost hear those soldiers – the sounds of “Dixie” being played – the smell of thousands of horses – as these men prepare to step off in the grandest review Arkansas has ever seen.

When I visit the battlefields of the Camden Expedition, I am always taken in by the peacefulness of these places. The quiet. The calm. As he lay dying, Mary Custis Lee, wife of General Robert E. Lee, remarked that his mind began to take him “back to those dreadful battlefields.” It is difficult to comprehend the horror that occurred in these places.

It’s easy to feel the spirit of those Confederate veterans at Markham and State streets.

They are all gone now.

These were proud men who had laid down their arms honorably. They were far from defeated.

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The Rebel Yell at Jenkins’ Ferry

Rebel Yell

In the PBS mini-series, “The Civil War,” they mention two reactions of Union soldiers about the dreadful Rebel Yell:

“[It was] a peculiar corkscrew sensation that went up your spine when you heard it”

“If you claim you heard [the Rebel Yell] and weren’t scared that means you never heard it”.

In my book, “Harvest of Death: The Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas,” I mention the Rebel Yell as it was let loose across the Saline River bottoms that rainy Saturday morning in April of 1864:

“As soon as [General John B.] Clark’s and [General Lucien] Gause’s brigades were in place, Sterling Price ordered the charge. The Confederates let loose a frightful “Rebel Yell” and charged across Groom’s field toward the Federal’s log breastworks. Waiting for the Rebels were members of the 50th Indiana and 2nd Kansas Colored Infantries. Crouched behind their makeshift defenses, the Federals patiently held their fire watching as the Confederates charged toward them. When the Rebels were just short of the breastworks, the order was given and a massive volley was fired by the Federals directly into the cheering Rebels.”

But what was the Rebel Yell?

It has been called the battle cry of the Confederacy, described as a cross between a Native American and Scottish war cry. As Confederate troops swept across a battlefield toward the Federal troops, they let our this whoop – this scream – this godforsaken yell.

Regardless of how it was described, one thing was certain – it caused absolute terror in the Union ranks.

Whenever I walk the battlefield at Jenkins’ Ferry, I am always taken in by the quietness of the area, the peacefulness of the place. It only makes it harder to comprehend that such a battle took place there. As I walk what was once a raging battlefield, I try to take myself back to that morning of April 30, 1864, when two armies waged war on the ground I am standing upon. I wonder what the sound of battle must have been like. The thousands of rounds of muskets going off with the sounds of bullets whizzing through the air. There would be the sounds of the wounded – their moans and screams penetrating my soul. Yelling – constant yelling, as troops were ordered here and there on both sides. Then there was “THE yell” – that dreadful war cry that brought terror to those who heard it.

There is no doubt the Rebel Yell was heard that day at Jenkins’ Ferry.

In the 1930’s, as the last Confederate veterans gathered together in ever smaller reunions, one group was asked to give the Rebel Yell one final time. The video link below is to the Smithsonian’s website and is amazing to watch. I’m sure the effect of the Rebel Yell is diminished a bit as each of the 90+ year old soldiers give their impression of it.

What Did The Rebel Yell Sound Like?

Some say when the wind is calm on a quiet day at Jenkins’ Ferry, you hear things. Me? Yes, I’ve heard things that I cannot explain (that is for another blog).

The sounds of war have been replaced today by the sounds of silence…as it should be.

Frank Buckles…


At the beginning of 2014, there were 11,173 WWII veterans alive in Arkansas. That figure is certainly lower as we enter the fall, with more and more veterans passing away each day. It is estimated that by 2036, the last WWII veteran will be gone, forever closing an amazing chapter in our countries history.

The last WWI veteran, Corporal Frank Buckles, died February 27, 2011, at age 110. His story came to the forefront only towards the end of life, as the list of living veterans dwindled down until he was the last one….out of four million who served, he was the last remaining veteran.

The last one.

I remember growing up at Tull and seeing one our communities WWI veterans, Luther Tull, sitting inside our small country store, always sitting in a rocking chair next to a wood stove. He was one the “early ones” to pass away, in 1979. Frank Buckles would survive Luther Tull – he would survive them all.

Toward the end of his life, when he knew his time was short, Frank Buckles had one request: to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery close to “his General” – General John J. “Blackjack” Pershing. In death, he got his wish, receiving a heroes burial with both the President and Vice President paying their respects.

I watched several interviews with Frank Buckles in the months prior to his death. He was a colorful fellow and a living link to our past. Now granted, at 110 years old, his death should not have been a shock – but it was in a way. As a historian, I wanted him to stick around forever, selfish of not wanting that chapter of our history to close.

The “Great War,” as WWI was known began 100 years ago last month. By the time the armistice was declared in 1918, over 320,000 Americans were dead or wounded. Grant County was not spared as ten young men never made it back home:

Pvt. Ezra E. Brewer
Pvt. Ernest E. Brumbelow
Pvt. John T. Davis
Pvt. James Earl
Pvt. Finis Gallion
Pvt. Ober Harris
Pvt. Ezra Nall
Cpl. John D. Pumphrey
Pvt. William Sharlottie
Pvt. Charlie S. Lisenby

My great-uncle, Benjamin Walker, was a private, serving as an ambulance driver in France during the war. My father said “Uncle Ben” would seldom speak of the war. When he did, he would describe the horror he witnessed caring for the wounded he transported to safety, speaking softly, his voice in an almost hushed tone.

But time passes. Eventually we shall be writing the same blog when that last WWII veteran passes from us.

Walking about today is the last WWII veteran. We’ll not know his name or anything about him until he stands above the rest as the last one. At that time, he will receive the celebrity status Frank Buckles received.

No doubt you’ve seen WWII veterans about, a license plate or a ball cap reflecting their service to our country. It’s almost a cliche these days to “thank a veteran” but perhaps we lose sight of that with these older veterans. But they are just as important.

WWI was known as “The Great War.” Our WWII veterans are remembered as “The Greatest Generation,” and rightfully so.

Next time you see a veteran – thank a veteran – especially the members of the Greatest Generation.



Fearless and Incorruptible…


This flag caught the breeze at Jenkins’ Ferry.

Occasionally I come across some amazing artifacts housed in museums and archives across our country. One such item is located in the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City. This was the personal flag of Confederate General John Marmaduke, who commanded a Division during the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry.

During the battle, Marmaduke was gathered with Generals Kirby Smith and Sterling Price, observing the action from the ridge that overlooked the Saline River bottoms. This flag would have flown alongside Marmaduke – a witness to the horror of Jenkins’ Ferry.

Here is what the State Museum says about the flag:

General Marmaduke’s Headquarter’s flag; horizontal, rectangular, dark blue background with white appliqued elements. There is a white crescent moon, on the moon is a sunburst embroidered with gold metallic thread. In the center of the sunburst is appliqued the letter “M” in blue silk and outlined in gold metallic thread. Below the tip of the crescent moon is a white Latin cross, the cross is outlined in gold metallic thread. There are two loops of metallic braid linking the cross to the crescent moon. There is white ribbon forming a decorative edge (remains on the bottom edge only). There is a hoist on the proper right edge. There are three pairs of white ribbons on the hoist serving as ties. Flag is in Fair Condition. Constructed of 1 piece of silk with appliqueed decoration. About 50% of original material remains. Large areas of original flag missing.

Flag was made by Mrs. Jordan in Arkansas in 1863. It was stationed at his headquarters. It was captured along with General Marmaduke at the battle of Mine Creek, Kansas on October 25, 1864. John Sappington Marmaduke graduated from West Point in 1857. In 1861, he resigned his U.S. commission to serve in the Missouri State Guard, and later the Confederate Army in Virginia. His service at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee gained him promotion to brigadier general. In this capacity he served as a part of General Sterling Price’s forces and participated in Price’s unsuccessful raid into Missouri in 1864. 

In addition to the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Marmaduke also commanded troops during the 1864 Camden Expedition at Poison Spring and Elkins’ Ferry.

He was a West Point graduate. He attended both Harvard and Yale and following the Civil War, served as 25th Governor of Missouri, dying in office on December 28, 1887.

He was interred in the City Cemetery in Jefferson City, Missouri.

His inscription reads: “He was fearless and incorruptible.”

That flag would have been rain soaked that April morning in 1864 and what a story it could tell.







The Blue…The Gray…and The Green

CSA Note 3

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I enjoy taking the hour drive from my home to Grant County where I’ll spend the afternoon in Sheridan and Leola taking in the sights, always spending the most time at Jenkins’ Ferry State Park. As I’ve said, that park brings back some of my fondest childhood memories and I always like to park and walk about, taking in the peace and quiet of an area that 150 years ago, was far from quiet.

It’s a little hard to drive through the area these days as the economic downturn that has affected so much of our country has certainly had an impact here. In both Sheridan and Leola (two of the larger towns around the battlefield), there are several empty storefronts. One restaurant that my family and I used to enjoy visiting, the “ice house,” has shut its doors due to the tough economic times. And all of this saddens me greatly as my heart will always belong to Grant County where I was raised. You might wonder what this has to do with the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry…. plenty.

In a study commissioned by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), the economic benefits of Civil War Battlefields were examined. And the results of the study were amazing. The average Civil War tourist will travel hundreds of miles to view a Civil War battlefield. They are on average 50 years old, have a household income of $65,053 and 53.5% are college graduates. These Civil War tourists went shopping and spent money on lodging, food and beverages during their visit. On average, they spent almost $50 per person per day. This means a family of four spent nearly $1,000 during their visit to the Civil War Battlefield with the areas around the top twelve battlefields receiving $173 million dollars in revenue generated by Civil War tourists.


The best part? With the exception of providing some information brochures for the visitors, the financial outlay by Sheridan and Leola would be minimal. They don’t have to provide any increase city/county employees nor any additional police or fire protection. And with one of the most outstanding museums right there in Grant County with the largest collection of Jenkins’ Ferry related artifacts on display, there is very little folks need to do except get the word out that one of the largest Civil War battles in Arkansas history occurred right in their backyard. In other words, Grant County is sitting on a Civil War economic gold mine, one that will help take the bite out of the economic hard times.

I’m not suggesting this will solve all of the tough times, but with some good planning between the city and county fathers, I think that both Sheridan and Leola might see more folks in their restaurants and in their hotels. Is it not worth a chance? If you live in Grant County, I’m placing two links on the blog that I would like for you to take a look at. They both pertain to the economic study I mentioned. The first is a brochure and the second is the actual study. Download the documents and see for yourself how the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry might just be a path to prosperity for Grant County.


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