Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Flooding Impacts some Arkansas Historic Sites

The history-making flood along the Mississippi River and its tributaries is affecting some Arkansas historic sites and state parks.

Jacksonport State Park near Newport experienced a temporary closing due to high water on the White River but reopened today. The historic 1872 Courthouse Museum, visitor center and the courtyard have reopened, but the campground, picnic area, boat ramp and pavilion remain closed.  The Civil War school event sponsored in partnership with the Jackson County Historical Society and the Department of Arkansas Heritage is still on schedule for May 19-20 and will be held at the courtyard near the historic Courthouse.

Here are other Arkansas State Park closures that I'm aware of at this time:
  • Lower White River Museum at Des Arc is closed.
  • Hampson Archaeological State Park in Wilson is closed.
  • Lake Charles State Park has a detour in place in order to reach the park. Take U.S. Highway 167 from Bald Knob to Cave City, then take Arkansas 230 to Strawberry and then turn onto Arkansas 25 to the park.
  • Mississippi River State Park also has a detour in place. Arkansas 44 is closed one mile east of Marianna and one mile west of the park office. Traffic from Marianna to Bear Creek Lake is being rerouted south on Arkansas 185, east on Lee County Road 222 and then back to Arkansas 44 and the park.
  • Pinnacle Mountain State Park is experiencing some partial closures. Big Maumelle Pavilion/Restrooms, Big Maumelle Boat Launch and Big Maumelle Fishing Pear are closed due to floodwaters, the rest of the park is currently open.
  • Bull Shoals-White River State Park also has some partial closures. The marina is closed, but the campground, visitor center and trails are still open.
I'll try to keep you updated on these and other closures over the coming days. If you are planning to travel anywhere in the lower Mississippi River valley (Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi or Louisiana), please check ahead with your destination. I'm posting updates on flood conditions throughout the region twice a day at http://southernhistory.blogspot.com/.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nice Article in Times Record on 1861 seizure of Fort Smith

Barracks Building at Fort Smith
The Times Record had a nice article from Rusty Garrett yesterday on the seizure of Fort Smith in 1861 by state forces.

To read it, please click here.

The focus was the movement by state militia troops to seize the military post, although Arkansas had not yet seceeded from the Union. Upon hearing that hundreds of militiamen were on their way to Fort Smith under Colonel Solon Borland, Captain Samuel D. Sturgis, who soon became a Union general, ordered the evacuation of the post by his two companies from the 1st U.S. Cavalry.

Leaving just hours before the arrival of the state forces, Sturgis and his men set off across the border into the Choctaw Nation, carrying what supplies they could in 20 wagons. The evacuation took place at 9 p.m. on the night of April 23, 1861, just 10 days after the surrender of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Among the few men left behind was Captain Alexander Montgomery, the assistant quartermaster. He provided the following report of the arrival of Colonel Borland and the Arkansas militiamen:

Quartermaster's Storehouse at Fort Smith
About two hours after his departure a body of troops under the command of Col. Solon Borland, aide-de-camp to his excellency the governor of the State of Arkansas, accompanied by the adjutant-general of the State, arrived in steamers and took possession of the post, making me a prisoner of war, under authority and by direction of the governor of the State. Maj. R.C. Gatlin, Fifth Infantry, who happened to be in the garrison at the time on a visit, was also made prisoner of war. On giving our parole that we would not fight against the State of Arkansas or the Southern Confederate States during the existing difficulties between the latter and the United States, unless exchanged, we were permitted to go at large. The force under Colonel Borland consisted of 235 men, rank and file, with battery of artillery. Colonel Borland demanded and has taken possession of all the public property at the post and in its vicinity, inventories of which will be forwarded to the proper bureau.- Capt. Alexander Montgomery, April 24, 1861.

You can read more of the official reports on the capture at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortsmithseizure3.

You can also learn more about the entire history of Fort Smith by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortsmith.