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Summary of Events by State

Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee

Arkansas

Old State House (22KB)Arkansans initially resisted the call for secession, but after President Lincoln called for Old State House volunteers following the attack on Fort Sumter, delegates meeting at the Old State House in Little Rock voted to leave the Union.

Thousands of Arkansans answered the call to arms, and many were on the field of battle when Confederate General Earl Van Dorn's army clashed with General Samuel Curtis and his Union troops at Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas in March 1862. The Battle of Prairie Grove (now preserved as a state park) in December effectively closed northwest Arkansas as a major Confederate invasion route into Missouri.

When visiting Little Rock, be sure to catch the Old State House, where Arkansas voted to leave the Union; the Arkansas Decorative Museum, former home of Confederate General Albert Pike; and the Museum of Science and History, located in the old U.S. Arsenal, seized by Arkansas units in 1861. Those who paid the ultimate price can be remembered by visits to Little Rock's Mount Holly Cemetery and Little Rock National Cemetery, as well as Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery at nearby Cabot.

The Vicksburg campaign branched into Arkansas twice during 1863 resulting in Confederate defeats at Arkansas Post and at Helena. The year 1863 continued to be a hard one for Confederate Arkansas as General Frederick Steele's army reclaimed Little Rock for the Union, once more taking possession of the U.S. Arsenal. The defeated Confederates moved their seat of government to Washington in southwest Arkansas, where it remained for the duration of the war. The Union also took possession of Fort Smith, giving Federal forces effective control of the entire length of the Arkansas River. The town of Fort Smith retains the ambience of an earlier era.

If 1863 was the Union's year, 1864 belonged to the Confederacy. Steele left Little Rock in March to join General Nathaniel Banks' Union troops on the Red River in Louisiana, but following fighting at Prairie DeAnne (near present-day Prescott) moved instead to Camden. Pea Ridge National Military Park (20KB)Bruising defeats at Poison Spring and Marks' Mills forced the starving Federals to retreat toward Little Rock, a task at which they barely succeeded after fighting off pursuing Confederates at Jenkin's Ferry.

Northern Arkansas features such nationally significant sites as Pea Ridge National Military Park and Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, where the fate of Missouri was decided. Cane Hill in northwest Arkansas contains several antebellum resources and was the starting point for a running battle that covered twelve mountainous miles. Fayetteville is home to the Headquarters House, home to a Unionist judge and focal point of an 1863 battle, and a picturesque Confederate cemetery. Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park(31KB)The Buffalo National River was the scene of constant partisan warfare, as well as some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States.

As you follow the Thousand-Mile Front through Arkansas, you can experience the state's rich Civil War history at Pea Ridge National Military Park and Arkansas Post National Memorial plus an array of Red River campaign sites at state parks such as Marks' Mill, Jenkin's Ferry, and Poison Spring. The past comes to life at Old Washington, Confederate capital of Arkansas, a nineteenth-century village with town tours, living history events, and the Old Washington Museum experience which includes the gun, blacksmith, and print museums.

Illinois

Liberty (18KB)Although no major conflicts were fought on its soil, Illinois contributed mightily to a nation divided. It funneled more troops than any other state into distant southern, eastern, and western battlefields. Cairo, the state's southernmost city, was especially significant as a staging area for manpower and materials flowing into the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys.

Leadership was Illinois' major contribution. Chief among those meriting special distinction were abolitionist journalist Elijah Lovejoy, Generals Ulysses S. Grant, and John A. Logan. Most noteworthy was President Abraham Lincoln.

Along the trail, visit Springfield and see the Old State House where Lincoln's "House Divided" speech was delivered; his law office; the only home he ever owned; the family church pew; the depot where he departed to lead a troubled nation; and the tomb where his remains rest.

Lincoln Home (21KB)Associated sites of interest in the central and south central portion of the state are the Lincoln Trail Memorial in Lawrenceville; Lincoln's log cabin site in Charleston; Vandalia's Old Statehouse; and the courthouse of Lincoln (formerly Postville), Mt. Pulaski, and Metamora. Also, plan a stop at the David Davis mansion in Bloomington.

Along the Mississippi River, you'll want to review the Lovejoy and Confederate monuments and the ruins of the horrendous Confederate prison in Alton. Farther south are the General John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro and the Thebes Courthouse in Ulin. Also see the site of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Jonesboro and the Civil War Memorial in Vienna.

As the great rivers narrow toward their meeting point in Cairo, walk among the fallen at Mound City National Cemetery. Then, see Cairo's historic district where soldiers and materials were assembled, waiting their ultimate assignments. On Washington Avenue, Safford Library houses a treasure of Civil War documents. The Customs House museum houses the desk of General Grant among its memorabilia. Finally, watch the rivers meet at Fort Defiance Park.

Illinois gave its most courageous sons and daughters to this war that split the nation. It cordially invites you to re-walk their paths.

Kentucky

Jefferson Davis (15KB)The Bluegrass State claims as native sons and daughters many of the leading figures of the Civil War era such as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. There is much to learn about the Lincolns and their native state Kentucky. Near Hodgenville, visit the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site and Lincoln Museum. Other Lincoln sites in Kentucky are the Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek; Washington County Courthouse; Lincoln Homestead State Park and adjacent Mordecai Lincoln House; and the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington. There Abraham Lincoln (14KB)is an impressive bronze statue of Lincoln in the State Capitol, as well as one of his adversary, Jefferson Davis, who was also born in Kentucky at Fairview, now a state historic site.

Kentucky was a state of divided loyalties and families torn apart. The state provided 90,000 troops to the Union and 35,000 to the Confederacy.

Nowhere was this division more evident than in the "First Family." Several members of Mary Todd Lincoln's family fought for the South.

(kyhome.gif) Federal Hill

Another family similarly divided was that of U.S. Senator John Crittenden whose two sons were generals on opposite sides. Some historians even say that the ensuing family feuds, such as the Hatfields and the McCoys, carried on the war in Kentucky long after its official end.

Antebellum life is also depicted at Riverside, the Farnsley-Moreman Landing, Bardstown's Federal Hill (better known as the legendary "My Old Kentucky Home"), and Waveland in Lexington. Also in Lexington is Ashland, the home of Henry Clay, another of Kentucky's influential sons who helped forge the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 that delayed the Civil War.

Louisiana

Butler's Proclamation (21KB)The gentlewomen of New Orleans reacted violently to the military occupation of their city by Union troops. Many of them displayed their defiance by wearing emblems on their clothing showing support for the Confederacy. Some verbally abused and hurled objects at Union soldiers. Finally, when the contents of a chamber pot were dumped from a balcony and onto the head of Admiral Farragut, Union General Ben Butler issued "Order Number 28," which promised to treat the women "as a woman of the town plying her avocation."

The order greatly insulted the citizens of New Orleans, and, in fact, drew a world wide reaction—mostly condemning Butler's bold action. But, after the order was issued, most of the insults and displays of hatred and contempt were halted.

Tezcuco-African American Museum (20KB)Once the largest and wealthiest city in the Confederacy, New Orleans offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the paths of Union and Confederate soldiers, and the citizens of yesteryear. A short distance south of New Orleans, visitors can see Fort Jackson, a restored brick fort with earthworks still visible today. Several other Civil War sites in New Orleans are open to the public such as the United States Customs House, Butler's first headquarters; the Old U.S. Mint and the Cabildo, part of the Louisiana State Museum, and many homes in and around the French Quarter.

Confederate Memorial Hall houses one of the largest collections of Confederate artifacts. Another significant New Orleans site is Metairie Cemetery, the final resting place for three Confederate generals—P.G.T. Beauregard, Richard Taylor, and John Bell Hood. Christ Church Cathedral on tree-shaded St. Charles Avenue holds the remains of General Leonidas Polk, commonly referred to as "the Fighting Bishop."

Outside of New Orleans, Louisiana has more than 100 Civil War-related sites, ranging from the Red River campaign throughout south central Louisiana to Grant's March in the northeastern corner of the state, to numerous skirmishes and raids across the state, to antebellum homes, museums, and trails of historic markers.

The Cabildo (16KB)One of the more significant Civil War sites in Louisiana is Port Hudson, which surrendered on July 9, 1863, severing the last link between the eastern part of the Confederacy and the Trans-Mississippi. From May 23 to July 9, 1863, Confederate soldiers held off a Union force twice its strength during the longest siege in American military history.

The Battle of Port Hudson was one of the first battles in which freed blacks serving as soldiers engaged in combat on the side of the Union. During the Civil War, more than 24,000 blacks from Louisiana joined the Union army, the largest black contingent from any state. The 1st Regiment Louisiana Native Guard, organized in September 1862, was the first black regiment in the U. S. Army. Louisiana's black soldiers distinguished themselves in several battles, particularly at Port Hudson and Milliken's Bend. Seven Medals of Honor were awarded to white and black Louisianians who fought for the Union.

Mississippi

Mississippi played a leading role in the war, both politically and militarily. Jefferson Davis, a wealthy planter and resident of Warren County, was elected President of the Confederate States of America.

Vicksburg National Cemetary (23KB)The Magnolia State offered her bravest and most noble sons to the cause of the Confederacy and boasted of some of the war's most capable, colorful, and controversial military leaders including Earl Van Dorn, L.Q.C. Lamar, Benjamin Humphreys, William Barksdale, Carnot Posey, and Richard Griffith. Soldiers from Mississippi served in the major armies of the Confederacy and shed their blood on fields of battle in the significant theaters of operations.

Some of the most bitterly contested actions of the war occurred in Mississippi. The Magnolia State experienced 772 military events. Nowhere else was the devastation better illustrated than in Vicksburg. Thousands of townspeople were forced to shelter themselves in caves dug deep into the hillsides to escape the constant bombardment of Union cannon and heavy mortars during the 47-day-long siege of the Confederate fortress on the Mississippi River. Faced with shortages of food and water, the citizens of Vicksburg scoured the market places where skinned rats were offered for sale at exorbitant prices. Commodities of every kind were scarce and the Daily Citizen, Vicksburg's leading newspaper, appeared printed on the back of wallpaper.

U.S.S. Cairo, sank near Vicksburg December 12, 1862 (20KB)One of the wealthiest and more prosperous states prior to the war, Mississippi was laid to waste by the contending armies and ever since has been among the poorer states in the nation. Despite the tragedy of conflict, the Civil War is a major chapter in the state's history and Mississippi has moved to preserve its battlefields and associated historic sites for the benefit of all Americans. From the magnificent monuments at Vicksburg National Military Park to the splendor of Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis's home on the Gulf Coast, Mississippi offers visitors an outstanding array of Civil War sites. Most of Natchez's opulent mansions survived the war intact, rendering the city a time capsule of antebellum memories. Many of the palatial homes are open to tours year ‘round, or during the annual spring and fall pilgrimages.

Ruins of Windsor Plantation near Bruinsburg, Mississippi (23KB)"Must see" sites in Port Gibson include the Battle of Port Gibson, Grand Gulf Military Park, and the ruins of Windsor, the largest antebellum mansion ever built in Mississippi.

The Old State Capitol building (now the State Historical Museum), City Hall and Gardens, the Governor's Mansion, and other buildings survived the torching of Jackson. It was in Jackson that Union General Sherman is said to have uttered his famous words, "War is hell." "We have made good progress today in the work of destruction," Sherman told Grant, "Jackson will no longer be a point of danger. The land is devastated..."

Missouri

In 1820 Missouri gained national attention as the focus of the Missouri Compromise. It was the northernmost slave state in the Mississippi River valley, and when its neighbor Kansas wanted to Wilson Creek (20KB)enter the Union in 1854 as a free state, trouble erupted along the border.

As Missourians tried to influence internal politics in Kansas, random violence became commonplace. Missouri guerrillas and Kansas jayhawkers raided and killed at will. The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 would legitimize the killing that had plagued Missouri for years. Union General Nathaniel Lyon, an ardent abolitionist, commanded all Union troops in the state. Former governor Sterling "Pap" Price became the commander of the pro-secession Missouri State Guard. The two sides met at Wilson's Creek in August of 1861. Lyon boldly attacked the Missouri State Guard that had been joined by a larger Confederate force, and even though he lost the battle and his life, he succeeded in keeping the state under Union control.

Jesse James (16KB)Although Missouri remained under Union control for the rest of the war, it provided troops to both sides, pitting neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, and father against son. Guerilla warfare reigned over the state for the remainder of the war during which time William Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson, and Frank and Jesse James began their infamous careers. A unified Confederate force was not seen in Missouri again until late 1864 when Sterling Price failed in a desperate attempt to regain control of the state.

Legend has it that every general on both sides of the Civil War served at Jefferson Barracks at one time. Among those who did are Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman. During the war, Jefferson Barracks had one of the largest Federal hospitals in the country with over 3,000 beds, accommodating patients from battles as far away as Vicksburg. The Jefferson Barracks Historical Park exhibits photos, medical equipment, uniforms and weapons housed in buildings that were used during the Civil War. Among the Civil War veterans buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery are 1,140 Confederates.

Tennessee

Shiloh National Military Park (19KB)At first reluctant to secede, Tennessee became one of the bloodiest killing grounds of the Civil War. Proud of their identity as volunteers who had fought for the United States in every American war, many Tennesseans did not desire to leave the Union. Divided into three distinct geographic regions by the Tennessee River, the citizens of the volunteer state were not united on the issues of slavery, secession, or civil war. Following the surrender of Ft. Sumter and President Lincoln's call for troops, Tennesseans endorsed secession.

The second most populous state in the South, Tennessee was the geographical heart of the Confederacy, and held immense strategic military importance. Located in the state was a large percentage of the South's iron works, munitions factories, gunpowder mills, and copper mines, making the region the largest concentrated area for the production of war materials in the Confederacy. Tennessee provided more mules and horses, corn, and wheat, than any other Confederate state east of the Mississippi. Through Tennessee ran the South's main east-west rail lines, the western Confederacy's major north-south lines, and the key rail links between Virginia, the South Atlantic, and the West. Passing through or bordering on Tennessee, three important western rivers, the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland, were available to traffic commerce, war materials, and armed forces. Linked by this network of rivers and railroads, the communities of Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga served as important centers of manufacturing, communications, and trade within the region.

Tennessee State Capitol (16KB)If not effectively defended, the three western rivers and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad provided avenues of military invasion of the deep South for the combined forces of the Union army and navy.

As both sides grappled to control the Confederate heartland, each was attracted by Tennessee's valuable transportation corridors and strategic location. Over 1,460 military actions occurred within the state during four long years of war, a number second only to Virginia. The last Confederate state to secede, Tennessee became the first Southern state to be readmitted to the Union after the war.

Follow the path of invading armies to the bloody battlefields at Fort Donelson National Battlefield and Shiloh National Military Park; or ride with Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest on his cavalry raids in West Tennessee; and walk the corridors of the capitol where the Ordinance of Secession was passed.

The Thousand-Mile Front
Thousand-Mile Front - Introduction
Historical Overview
Summary of Events by State
Sites to Visit
Key Map
Offices of Tourism in each state
About “The Thousand-Mile Front”

 

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Last Updated: March 14, 2001