Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Brief History of the County During the Civil-War

Civil War through Reconstruction
Most county residents opposed secession. Alexander Adams, the county’s representative in the state legislature, voted against secession until the final vote. He was one of the last four holdouts. In May 1861, the Mill Creek Peace Organization Society was formed with the aim of keeping peace in the county and maintaining neutrality in the coming war. That November, Governor Henry Massie Rector ordered the county’s state militia and the Third Arkansas Cavalry to arrest members of the group. Society members who resisted were shot. The ninety-seven who were arrested either joined the Confederate Eighth Arkansas Infantry or were sent to prison at Little Rock (Pulaski County).

When the state left the Union, Izard County organized two companies; one for the Seventh Arkansas Infantry and one for the Fourteenth Arkansas Infantry. Early skirmishes between Rebel and Union troops occurred at Calico Rock Landing (May 26, 1862), Sylamore (May 29, 1862), and Mt. Olive (June 17, 1862). Confederate Colonel Thomas R. Freeman led his bushwhackers against Union troops in skirmishes north of Oxford (December 10, 1863) and at Lunenburg (January 20, 1864). In January 1864, Union troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Baumer were ordered to hunt down Freeman. The troops attacked Mt. Olive and Sylamore, burning both towns.

During the war, jayhawkers and bushwhackers inflicted the greatest devastation to the county. In May 1862, Union General Samuel Curtis, headquartered at Batesville (Independence County), ordered his troops to steal horses, mules, cattle, crops, money, and anything else of value and to burn whatever was left. Local vigilantes captured and hanged many of these Union marauders. Property tax records for 1861 show the county had 5,618 cattle and 1,614 horses; by 1865, only 2,017 cattle and 501 horses remained.

After the war, many people starved in Izard County, resorting to eating grass and bark. Crops did not return for two years. During Reconstruction, life was difficult for freed slaves. Lack of work, discrimination, and the Ku Klux Klan and “regulators” drove many African Americans out of the county. By 1870, the black population had dropped to 164 people.

We all may be hillbillys...but we have an awesome heritage!

Many thanks to the The Encyclopedia of Arkansas Heritage and Culture.

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