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Reports of Brigadier General William L. Cabell, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, of engagement at Poison Spring and action at Marks’ Mills

January 03, 2008 By: admin Category: Marks' Mills, Official Records, Poison Springs, The Civil War Hub of Arkansas

No. 52. Reports of Brigadier General William L. Cabell, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, of engagement at Poison Spring and action at Marks’ Mills.

HEADQUARTERS CABELL’S BRIGADE, April 20, 1864.

MAJOR:I have the honor to state that on the evening of the 17th, I was detached from Fagan’s division and ordered to report to General Marmaduke for special duty. On the night of the 17th, we left camp and moved to attack the enemy, who had a large commissary train under their protection. After moving out and marching a short distance the command returned to camp. Early on the morning of the 18th, I being the senior officer to Fagan’s division present, Colonel Crawford was ordered to report to me with his brigade. Immediately after he reported I moved, under the direction of General Marmaduke, to attack and to capture the Federal train, then on the Camden and Prairie D’Ane road, about 10 miles distant. After marching up that road to the vicinity of the Poison Spring my advance was fired on by the enemy’s advance guard. I dismounted all my command except Morgan’s regiment and Gunter’s and McMurtrey’s battalions, and moved up on foot and formed line of battle immediately in front of the enemy, Crawford’s brigade on the right, Hughey’s battery in the center, and Cabell’s brigade on the left; Hill’s regiment, of Cabell’s brigade, held in reserve as a support to the battery. Morgan’s regiment, of Cabell’s brigade, was sent to the rear on the Camden road about 2 miles to prevent the enemy from re-enforcing from Camden; Gunter’s battalion, of Cabell’s brigade, was ordered to protect our extreme left flank; McMurtrey’s battalion, of Crawford’s brigade, was ordered to protect our extreme right flank. After these dispositions were made I ordered out a heavy line of skirmishers from each brigade. The skirmishers moved out rapidly and kept up a brisk fire on the enemy, driving them back several times.

After my line of battle was formed General Maxey arrived with his command, and being the senior officer present assumed command, placing his division of Texas and Indians on the left. After getting his division into line he attached the enemy’s right flank. I was ordered as soon as I heard that this division was heavily engaged with the enemy to open with my artillery. This order was obeyed. My artillery opened at and kept up a continued fire on the enemy as well as the train. The practice of this battery, commanded by Captain Hughey, was magnificent. After a very severe and heavy cannonading with my battery, and after Maxey’s division had become well engaged with the enemy, I moved up my whole command by direction of General Maxey; moved across an open field for about 200 yards, the enemy being under cover of the timber in front. After reaching the timber I halted Cabell’s brigade for a few moments to form line, the enemy then being in front with a heavy line of skirmishers about 80 yards distant. I ordered my men to charge them at once, which they did in grand style (Monroe’s regiment on the right, Gordon’s in the center, and Trader’s State troops on the left), driving the enemy before them from the train under a very heavy fire. I then ordered Crawford’s brigade to move up rapidly, which was done, and to assist in pursuit of the fleeing enemy. I continued with my division, which had been re-enforced by Greene’s brigade, to pursue the enemy until he was scattered and completely routed and we had complete possession of the train and all his artillery, which was captured by my command, Gordon’s regiment, of Cabell’s brigade, capturing one rifled piece; McMurtrey’s battalion, of Crawford’s brigade, capturing two howitzers, and Crawford’s and Wright’s regiments, of the same brigade, the fourth piece.

After I had continued the pursuit as far as considered it necessary, about 2 1/2 miles, and my men being much exhausted, as the troops to withdraw. This order was repeated by General Marmaduke, who arrived on the field immediately afterward, which was done in as good order as could possibly be done, mixed up as the different commands were. Never were men known to fight better than my whole command. It was a continuous huzza from the moment the command to charge was given to the close of the fight. Both officers and men behaved with the greatest coolness and with the greatest gallantry. It would be doing wrong to particularize when every one did so nobly. I must mention, however, the gallant conduct of Colonels Monroe, Gordon, Trader, and Morgan; also Majors Harrell, Reiff, Arrington, and Portis, and Lieutenant-Colonels O’Neil, Fayth, and Bull, of Cabell’s brigade. Colonel Hill, although not engaged, did great service with his command in getting the train off the field. Colonel Crawford, commanding brigade, acted with the greatest gallantry. I refer you to his report in reference to his officers.

The enemy’s strength was about 2,500 men, from all the information I could get-1,500 negroes and about 1,000 white troops, with four pieces of artillery. The number of killed of the enemy was very great, especially among the negroes. You could track our troops by the dead bodies lying on the ground. I estimated his loss, from what I saw and heard from reliable officers, as follows: Killed-negroes, 450; Indians, 7; white troops, 30; total, 487. No estimate of wounded can be made.

Morgan’s regiment, which was stationed on the Camden road east of the battle-ground, killed at least 80 negroes and captured 35 prisoners. My whole command captured 62 prisoners-58 white troops and 4 negroes.

My staff officers-Major Duffy, inspector-general; Captain King, assistant adjutant-general; Surg. John H. Carroll; Lieutenant W. J. Tyus, acting assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenants Carlton and Inks, acting aides-de-camp, and Captain Ballos, quartermaster-deserve especial mention for their gallantry on the field.

Captain Hughey with his officers and men deserve especial mention for the skillful manner with which they handled their guns.

In conclusion, I ask to be allowed to bear testimony to the gallantry displayed not only by my own command of Arkansas troops, but to that of the Missouri, Texas, and Choctaw troops. I never did see troops display more gallantry and more kindly feelings toward each other. I would also state that I captured a stand of colors belonging to the negro regiment. I gave it to an officer to carry it to the rear, but have not been able to find either the officer or the colors since.

I regret the loss of several brave and good soldiers. My whole loss was as follows:

Killed. Wounded. Missing.

Cabell’s brigade 6 35 1

Crawford’s brigade 2 7 —

Total 8 42 1

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. L. CABELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major OCHILTREE,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Maxey’s Division.

Page 790-792 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.

Report of Brigadier General James F. Fagan, C. S. Army, commanding division, of action at Marks’ Mills

January 03, 2008 By: admin Category: Camden, Marks' Mills, Mount Elba, Official Records, The Civil War Hub of Arkansas

No. 51. Report of Brigadier General James F. Fagan, C. S. Army, commanding division, of action at Marks’ Mills.

HEADQUARTERS FAGAN’S DIVISION,
Camp Scurry, May 7, 1864.

COLONEL: In accordance with instructions from district headquarters, on the 22nd ultimo I moved with my division to Eldorado Landing, where I was joined by General Shelby’s brigade. I was to cross the Ouachita, interrupt the enemy’s line of communication toward Arkansas River, destroy his supplies, &c. Reaching Eldorado Landing on the 24th, and hearing from scouts previously sent out by General Shelby that a train had left Camden for Pine Bluff guarded by a large force of the enemy, I made quick preparations for a move against it. Early next morning, with no train except ordnance and ambulance, we moved toward Mount Elba, on the Saline. The enemy’s train was one day’s march in advance of us. By quick and heavy marching we gained a point before halting that commanded that portion of the road still between the enemy and his crossing of the Saline at Mount Elba. This was about midnight, when after having marched 45 miles a halt was made to rest. I had gained a position on a neighborhood road intersecting the Camden and Pine Bluff road at Marks’ Mills. My scouts before daylight brought me the news of the enemy’s camp. He had yet to pass Marks’ Mills. I determined to attack him at that point. Moved out at daybreak, Shelby’s division in front (Shelby’s and Crawford’s brigades) and Cabell’s division (Cabell’s and Dockery’s brigades) bringing up the rear. On nearing the main road I ordered General Shelby with his division to move rapidly to the right and place himself in front of the enemy and between his train and Mount Elba. General Cabell’s division was dismounted and placed in line of battle parallel to the road on which the enemy was moving. Skirmishing parties were thrown forward. They were fired on by the enemy. General Cabell’s brigade opened the fight in a bold and vigorous manner. Soon Dockery’s brigade was in position on the left, when it, too, promptly engaged enemy. Owing to the distance General Shelby had to travel his attack was not simultaneously with General Shelby had to travel his attack was not simultaneously with General Cabell’s. Soon, however, and when Cabell’s division was hotly engaged and acting in the most determined and gallant manner, General Shelby’s opening guns proclaimed him in the place intended. Down he came upon the head of the enemy’s train, which was now pushing to gain the crossing at Mount Elba, driving everything before him, capturing many prisoners, wagons, arms, &c. The engagement was now general. The enemy’s lines could not sustain the combined attack. They wavered and showed signs of giving way. Our brave troops moved upon them with terrible and crushing effect. It was not long before the enemy’s forces broke in dismay and confusion, completely routed. Our victory was decided and complete.

The forces opposed to our own were not less than 2,500, mostly infantry. Five hundred of them were killed and wounded. One entire infantry brigade (Second, of Salomon’s division, Seventh Army Corps) we captured with all their arms. Many other prisoners were taken (in all over 1,300), 6 pieces of artillery (all they had), their entire train of 300 wagons, a large number of ambulances, very many small-arms, and 150 negroes.

It is but due our troops to mention that they fought a force superior in number. A regiment at Mount Elba to guard the crossing had been sent out, which, together with other similar details and one-fourth of Cabell’s division to hold horses, reduced my command to less than 2,500. It is too frequently the case that all are reported as having done their whole duty, when perhaps the facts do not sustain the assertion. In this engagement I am proud to say no exaggeration or embellishment is necessary to entitle the troops under me to the entire confidence and full praise of their commanding generals. The rich fruits of the engagement show with what determination and bravery these gallant men fought. To Brigadier-Generals Cabell and Shelby, commanding divisions, and to Brigadier-General Dockery, Colonels Monroe, Shanks, and Wright, commanding brigades, I take pleasure in according the highest praise. They are well deserving of that credit and honor that attaches to brave and gallant conduct. For an account of our loss attention is called to the reports of division commanders. It does not exceed, however, 150 killed and seriously wounded.

To my staff I am indebted for material aid. My assistant adjutant-general, Captain Thomas, and my aide-de-camp, Captain Belding, who have for more than three years of struggle and was been with me, deserve again all I can say of brave and gallant officers. Major Duval, quartermaster; Major Fall, commissary of subsistence; Major John D. Adams, Captain Anderson, and Lieutenant Gause, volunteer aides-de-camp; Major Rapley and Captain W. F. Bourne, acting assistant inspector-generals, were active throughout the engagement in the discharge of important duties. I take pleasure in thanking Colonel C. J. Turnbull for valuable assistance rendered me on the expedition, as well as for his daring and gallant conduct on the field. He is an officer of high merit. This report could be continued at much length in mention of individual daring and gallantry during the engagement, but where every one discharged his whole duty it is difficult to particularize. At the close of the engagement, which lasted about four hours, heavy details were necessarily made to take charge of the prisoners, wagons, ambulances, artillery, loose horses, mules, &c., to be taken to the rear. A strong force was necessary for the safe passage to the south bank of the Ouachita of these prisoners and property. This, with my loss in the fight, reduced my force near 1,500 men. It was night before I got the train and prisoners on their way. We bivouacked on the battle-field, and early next morning moved up the Saline River, hearing that a Federal train was then en route from Princeton to Little Rock. I continued for several days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) attempting a crossing of the Saline, but without success. The rumor of the Federal train proved incorrect. The river was swimming at every point, and on arriving at the last crossing before getting to the military road, and finding it utterly impossible to cross there (Pratt’s Ferry), I moved out on the Princeton and Benton road, where I remained Thursday night, hoping to hear something from district or department headquarters, as I had several days before dispatched to district headquarters my route.

Hearing nothing of the evacuation of Camden on Friday morning, and being entirely without forage and subsistence, I moved out toward the Ouachita at the only point where anything of forage, &c., could be had between Princeton and Arkansas River. Just before midnight, when 34 miles from Jenkins’ Ferry, I received a brief dispatch stating the enemy was marching on Little Rock, and was within 8 miles of Jenkins’ Ferry. I at once ordered everything put in readiness, and by the time that I could see the road moved as rapidly as the animals could travel for the scene of action on the 30th. On my arrival the fight had just closed. Being ordered by General Smith to do so, I ordered a part of Shelby’s brigade forward. They reached the ferry, when further pursuit was impossible.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your friend and obedient servant,

J. F. FAGAN,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Lieutenant Colonel J. F. BELTON,

Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Arkansas.

Page 788-790 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.

Unpublished Scouting Report (Marks’ Mills)

December 30, 2007 By: admin Category: Marks' Mills, Research, The Civil War Hub of Arkansas

An unpublished scouting report by Private J.P. Jackman of the 4th Missouri Cavalry to Gen. Marmaduke describing the Union column the day before the battle April 25th. Provided by Mr. Terry Justice from General Marmaduke’s Papers and Letters 1862-1864 from the National Archives.

April 24th, 1864
General. J. S. Marmaduke

Sir, I have scouted both roads, the Camden & Price and Camden & Pine Bluff – from the best information, that train of supplies consisted of about 300 wagons & escort of about 2,500 mostly infantry Ohio & Indiana – A large scout of Cavalry passed up to Princeton last Monday & returned Wednesday with about 250 infantry & four wagons, the whole command ^claimed^ to be reinforcements from the Bluff, it was not the case. A train of 450 wagons passed the road yesterday evening 12 miles from Camden escorted by about 2,000 infantry, 200 cavalry & two (2) pieces of artillery supposed to be going to Pine Bluff after supplies, they had about 1,500 Negroes principally women & children. The train was well closed up, moving up rapidily as possible, then 60 miles from Pine Bluff. If you can send a force to the side the river at any time requird, I can find out of its whereabouts^ on return^ & communicate to you by courier in time to Capture it. The information I give you is reliable, also I have ladies on South roads working for me & will keep me posted, in regard to any movements made by enemy. It is almost impossible to remain in here without being forced out by Yankees. I would like to hear from you as soon as possible if you with me to watch for that train.

Respectfully, J. P. Jackman, Private 4th Mo.
Cavalry in charge Special Detail.

Battle Of Marks’ Mills (A History)

December 30, 2007 By: admin Category: Marks' Mills, Research, The Civil War Hub of Arkansas

Confederate Reports Series 1, Volume XXXIV,
Chapter LXVI, Pages 793-795 HEADQUARTERS
CABELL’S BRIGADE, May 3, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my division in the battle of Marks’ Mills on the 25th of last month, being a portion of Fagan’s division, which, together with Shelby’s command, formed a command to operate east of the Ouachita River: On the 23rd, General Dockery was ordered to report to me, and I to command a division composed of Cabell’s and Dockery’s brigades.

On the morning of the 25th, while marching to the road leading from Chanbersville to Mount Elba, it was reported that a train of wagons belonging to the enemy, escorted by a large force, was moving from that place toward Mount Elba. The order of march that morning was, Shelby’s division in front and Cabell’s division in rear,Dockery’s brigade, of Cabell’s division, being rear guard to the whole command, and marched in rear of the wagons and ambulances. After getting in the neighborhood of the train General Shelby was ordered on the road leading toward Mount Elba to intercept the train and to attack in front and in the rear. Cabell’s brigade moved up to the road
leading direct to Marks’ Mills. After detaching Hill’s regiment and one company of Monroe’s regiment and sending them to ascertain if there was any enemy on our left flank, in moving down the Marks’ Mills road the enemy’s pickets were soon encountered, and it was definitely known that the train was moving rapidly toward Mount Elba. I at once formed Monroe’s regiment, of Cabell’s brigade, in line of battle, dismounted them, and Colonel Monroe by my order threw out two companies rapidly as skirmishers and drove them back until I could dismount Cabell’s brigade and form it into line of battle. This was done, Gunter’s command, composed of his battalion and Pettus’ battalion of State troops, on the right, Monroe’s regiment on his left, and Morgan’s regiment on Monroe’s left, crossing the road, Gordon’s regiment acting as a support to the battery, which was planted to sweep the road.

Skirmishers were thrown out in front of our whole line, and were engaged all the time with those of the enemy. As soon as I commenced forming line of battle I sent my aid to General Dockery to hasten forward with his command. General Fagan being present ordered me to command Cabell’s brigade and all the troops in my front, and that he would give General Dockery, I sent to General Fagan and informed him of my position, which was moving, and which could be distinctly heard.

I received orders to "move rapidly forward and attack the train." This order was promptly obeyed, and my whole line of skirmishers and all excepting two companies of skirmishers under Colonel Monroe, who were heavily engaged with the enemy, who were forming line of battle on my left, moved forward rapidly under a tremendous fire, driving him through the train and beyond it some 300 or 400 yards until they were completely routed, throwing down their arms and giving themselves up as prisoners.

These men were captured by General Shelby’s command, who were moving rapidly in their rear. Hearing heavy firing on my left flank and rear, I halted my men, formed line, and marched to the rear in line of battle, and moved forward in line to aid Colonel Monroe, who was fighting at least 1,500 infantry and a battery of artillery, which was posted in the road about 100 yards above a house, which was also filled with infantry. As fast as each regiment came into position it became heavily engaged with the enemy.

At this time Captain Hughey’s battery of artillery was firing rapidly, and, from the movements of the enemy’s lines, was evidently doing terrible work, and continued to fire grape and canister into the enemy’s battery, which was about 400 yards in advance, until nearly all the horses and a good many of the Cannoneers were killed. The musketry firing was terrible. Notwithstanding this terrible fire Cabell’s brigade stood for an hour and a half without any assistance. The brigade suffered here terribly, and some of its best officers and men were killed and many wounded. After this General Dockery’s command came up on the left of Cabell’s brigade and attacked the enemy vigorously, supported by Hill’s regiment, of Cabell’s brigade. I charged the enemy (about that time I heard two pieces of artillery, and I knew the gallant Shelby was coming to my relief) and drove him into the house and through the train, capturing 2 pieces of artillery and over 200 prisoners.

(See Colonels Gordon, Monroe, Morgan, and Gunter’s reports, which are respectfully submitted.) The train was then completely in our possession. The enemy, however, returned some distance higher up the road to our left and attempted to recapture the train by taking advantage of the confusion of the troops owing to the commingling of commands.

Two regiments of Shelby’s arrived. I immediately formed line of battle with Cabell’s brigade and threw Shelby’s two regiments as mounted men on my right and moved rapidly toward the enemy. The firing at once became general and very heavy. My men continued to advance steadily, notwithstanding the heavy fire, and routed them the third time, and continued the pursuit until they were driven more than a mile beyond the rear of the train, when I halted the footmen and sent a cavalry regiment in pursuit, who captured many prisoners.

No report has been furnished by General Dockery with reference to the part his brigade took in the action; besides, I did not consider him under my control after the brigadier-general commanding informed me that he would carry them into action. The killed and wounded of Cabell’s brigade show how stubborn the enemy was and how reluctantly they gave up the train. Men never fought better. They whipped the best infantry regiments that the enemy had (old veterans, as they were called), and then in numbers superior to them.

It would be invidious to particularize any regiment when all fought, both officers and men, with gallantry and with such daring. Three different positions were taken; three different lines of battle formed by this brigade, and each time they drove the foul invader off with terrific slaughter. It is not detracting from my command to say that this brigade bore the brunt of the fight. For five hours it poured a deadly fire into the enemy’s ranks. At the same time it was subjected to a fire from the enemy that has carried sorrow to many a family.

Colonels Monroe, Gordon, Morgan, Pettus, and Hill; Lieutenant-Colonels Basham (who was wounded), Bull, Harrell, Fayth; also Majors Reiff, Portis, and Adams, deserve great credit for daring and intrepidity, as well as the faithful discharge of duty during the fight. The brave Lieutenant-Colonel O’Neil, of Monroe’s regiment, fell at the front urging his men forward.

Colonel Pettus fell mortally wounded while gallantly urging the men forward. Many officers and men fell that day who have left proud names of their State and friends to cherish. This brigade here, as it did at the Poison Spring, charged the enemy with an intrepidity unknown, and bore the brunt of the fight, as it did there.

1864 Map South  East ArkansasThe conduct of this brigade, although sadness was sent to many a happy home, will never be forgotten. A grateful people will reward it for its heroism, and will mingle their tears with those of the survivors for those who fell on that bloody field. It is with great pleasure that I am able to bear testimony to the gallantry of the Missouri troops and their gallant leader, General Shelby, and to the perfect harmony which characterized their every move with the Arkansas troops. I also wish to return my thanks to Captains Belding and Thomas, of General Fagan’s staff, and to Lieutenant Field, of my own staff, for their assistance. To Captain Belding and Lieutenant Field, both of whom exposed themselves regardless of all danger, I am particularly indebted for their assistance at a most critical moment. Lieutenant Field was seriously wounded. My staff-officers-Major Duffy, inspectorgeneral; Captain King, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant Inks aide; Lieutenant Carlton, aide-decamp, and Lieutenant Tyus, acting assistant adjutant-general; also, Dr. Carroll, brigade surgeon-acted with great gallantry and gave me great assistance.

Lieutenant Field, who was wounded, was noted for his daring and intrepidity. Captain Hughey and his battery deserve especial mention for their gallantry and for their successful practice. The number of the enemy’s killed I estimate at 150; wounded, 300; prisoners, 1,300. The number of prisoners captured by my command was nearly 500, including Colonel Drake, the Federal commanding officer. Exact number not known. Number of pieces of artillery, 4. The following is my loss, viz: Command. Killed. Wounded. Missing. Cabell’s brigade 31 62 93 Dockery’s brigade 10 40 50 Total 41 102 143 This embraces only wounded in hospitals. The slightly wounded would increase the number of wounded to over 200 in Cabell’s brigade alone.

I am, sir,
very respectfully,
your obedient servant,
W. L. CABELL,
Brigadier-General.

Download High Resolution Map of South East Arkansas 1864 (Marks’ Mills/Mt. Elba Areas)

This article can be found in the April, 2007 edition of the newsletter, available for download at the top of the page.

April 24, 1864 Dispatches (Marks’ Mills)

December 29, 2007 By: admin Category: Marks' Mills, Official Records, Pine Bluff, The Civil War Hub of Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, April 26, 1864.

Colonel POWELL CLAYTON,

Commanding, Pine Bluff:

By orders from Department of Arkansas I have succeeded General Kimball. Maintain the crossing of the Saline; preserve the bridge. Use all the force at your command for this purpose. Reply and tell me how your forces are disposed of, infantry and cavalry.

J. R. WEST,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

 

LITTLE ROCK, ARK., April 26, 1864.

Colonel POWELL CLAYTON,

Commanding, Pine Bluff:

Two thousand infantry, two batteries of artillery, and the Fifth Kansas Cavalry left for Pine Bluff early this morning. They go through light.

Respectfully,

W. S. GREEN,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

LITTLE ROCK, ARK., April 26, 1864.

Colonel POWELL CLAYTON,

Commanding, Pine Bluff, Ark.:

Dispatch received; 2,500 men are on the way to Pine Bluff to escort a train of supplies, thence to General Steele. Can you strengthen it by 200 cavalry and 300 infantry? It should go as strong as possible. Your front will be free as long as this force is in advance. I rely upon your assurance that the Saline can be crossed without delay. Can you give Mrs. McLean any information about her husband’s position?

J. R. WEST,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Page 300 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI. 

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