Timeline Decline of Arkansas Post 1822-1900

Following the removal of the Territorial Capital to Little Rock, a flurry of activity returned to Arkansas Post in the fall of 1862 when Confederate forces constructed an earthwork fort to defend the Arkansas River and serve as a base of operations to harass United States forces operating on the Mississippi River. In the first week of January 1863, and combined force of United States Army and Navy forces ascended the Arkansas River with Arkansas Post as their intended target. A two day battle ensued, pitting 32,000 US troops and nine gunboats against 5,000-7,000 Confederate soldiers. Outnumbered nearly five to one, the Confederate forces surrendered on January 11, 1863, and nearly 5,000 Confederate soldiers were taken prisoner.

Following the Civil War, the old town site area was abandoned, and the community of Arkansas Post moved along the river's edge about one mile north. A small river-port town struggled to survive there in the final years on the 19th-century.

1822 John James Audubon, the famous naturalist-artist, visits Arkansas Post and while there painted, and documented the Traill's Flycatcher.

1824 The Quapaw Treaty was re-written by the Arkansas Territorial Government in Little Rock. All Quapaw lands were ceded to the Territory and the Tribe was "relocated" to northeastern Oklahoma.

1830 The population of Arkansas Post had dwindled to 114.

1832 Washington Irving visits Arkansas Post on his return from visiting the Indian Territory.

An unsuccessful effort is made to establish a Catholic Church at Arkansas Post by Father Edmond Saulnier.

1837 Washington Irving's Short story based upon his visit to the Post, The Creole Village, is first published.

A second effort is made to establish a Catholic Church at the Post. is made by Father Dupuy; This effort was continued into 1838 by Father Donnelly, Dupuy's successor. This second effort likely failed to due the poor economic situation in the region.

1838 December 24 A branch house of the State Bank of Arkansas opened State Bank

1839 June 19 Proposals for the construction of a permanent building to house the branch of the State Bank were solicited in the Arkansas Gazette.

1840 April 4 Frederic and Felicite Notrebe sell an 80-foot lot to the State Bank as a site for the Arkansas Post branch bank. Construction on the new bank building begins shortly thereafter.

November The Arkansas Post Jockey Club established a racetrack to the north of the Post on a portion of Spanish Land Grant No. 2296. Races were held in 1840 and 1841.

1841 The State Bank building was completed by early February. The total construction cost for the two-story brick structure was $15,761.29.

1842 August The Sisters of Loretto establish St. Ambrose's Female Academy at Arkansas Post, following the closure of an academy at Pine Bluff. The founder of the academy was Sister Allodia Vessels. The academy likely only operated for one or two years.

1843 January 31 The State Legislature passed an act "to place the Bank of the State of Arkansas in liquidation." By the end of the year, all of the branches of the bank were closed, including the one at Arkansas Post.

1853 Three commissioners were elected to relocate the seat of Arkansas County. Arkansas Post had served as the county seat since the creation of the county in 1813.

1854 The new county seat was named De Witt, in honor of De Witt Clinton, former Governor of New York.

1855 September The seat of Arkansas County was officially moved from the Post to De Witt. The removal of the county seat was a deathblow to the community of Arkansas Post, which had been steadily declining since 1821.

1857 A visitor to the Post wrote that the old State Bank building was being used only for "holding elections and stabling horses.

1861 May Arkansas secedes from the Union and joins the Confederacy.

1862 September. Construction begins on a massive earthwork fort at the bend of the river near Arkansas Post. Known as Fort Hindman, it was constructed largely by the labor of approximately 500 slaves.

1863 January 3 Following a major defeat outside Vicksburg in late December, US Army commanders McClernand and Sherman meet with Admiral Porter to discuss an attack against the Confederate garrison at Arkansas Post.

January 9 The combined US Army and Navy fleets turn up the White River, and crossed into the Arkansas River through a cut-off. Confederate sentries alert General Churchill of the impending arrival of US forces in the area. Churchill orders the garrison of Fort Hindman to abandon their winter quarters, and retreat behind a defense line stretching west from the Fort to Post Bayou, approximately one mile in length. Work is begun to strengthen the defense line along its entire length.

January 10 US troops disembark from the transport fleet about six miles down river from the Fort, and begin to make their way towards the Fort; Confederate outer defenses are abandoned during this time. In the late afternoon the three ironclad gunboats in the Naval fleet (The USS Baron de Kalb, USS Cincinnati, and USS Louisville) move within range of Fort Hindman and shell the both the fort and the Confederate forces there for two hours, before the sun sets.

January 11 During the morning hours Major General McClernand orders his three corps into position north of the Confederate defense line. Mid-day a two-hour artillery barrage commences, including both the gunboats and field artillery. Following this, a land assault on the Confederate line begins. The Confederates, including soldiers from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, hold out until about 4:30 in the afternoon, when soldiers in the middle of the defense line put up white flags. Nearly 5,000 Confederate soldiers are taken captive following the surrender.

January 12-15 United States forces remain in the area of Arkansas Post for several days. Organizing the nearly 5,000 prisoners, rounding up all ordinance stores and other useable equipment, burying the fallen US soldiers and rendering the fort non-functional are the tasks that occupy the attention of the troops. A Naval reconnaissance up the Arkansas River proves that water levels are too low for the fleet to proceed upriver towards Little Rock.

January 16 The combined US Army and Navy fleets depart Arkansas Post, and return to the Mississippi River. The Confederate Prisoners were taken first to St. Louis, and later to Camp Douglas, outside of Chicago. The Arkansas Post area remains quiet for the remainder of the war.

May Most of the Confederate Prisoners of War taken at the Battle of Arkansas Post are released, and sent to Eastern theatres of the War.

1866-68

US Soldiers buried on the Battlefield at Arkansas Post are relocated to Pine Bluff, and later the National Cemetery in Little Rock.

1860s to 1880s

Following the end of the Civil War, southeast Arkansas, like most of the former Confederacy is hit by a major economic depression. During this time the community of Arkansas Post relocated about one mile north of the historic town site area. A small number of businesses, including the Fogee Store, serve area farms and are located near a steamboat landing.

Erosion of the river bend adjacent to Arkansas Post continues, and by the mid-1880s over fifty percent of Fort Hindman had fallen into the Arkansas River.

1890-91

The first archeological work done in the area of Arkansas Post occurs at the Menard mound site. Field work was done by Edward Palmer under direction of Cyrus Thomas for the Smithsonian Institution.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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