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Clarksville Civil War Roundtable’s next meeting is November 20th, 2013

 

The 116th meeting.

Clarksville Civil War RoundtableClarksville, TN – The next meeting of the Clarksville (TN) Civil War Roundtable will be on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 at the Bone & Joint Center, 980 Professional Park Drive, right across the street from Gateway Hospital. This is just off Dunlop Lane and Holiday Drive and only a few minutes east of Governor’s Square mall.

The meeting begins at 7:00pm and is always open to the public. Members please bring a friend or two – new recruits are always welcomed.

Topic: “The Arkansas Post Campaign”

Battle of Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman

Battle of Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman

The confluence region of the Arkansas, White and Mississippi rivers was a wealth of historic importance and activity long before the American Civil War had begun to rumble across the southeastern Arkansas landscape.

Established in 1686, this “Poste de Arkansea,” the earliest European settlement of the lower Mississippi Valley, was key to the southern French and Spanish region militarily, politically, and economically.

The remote outpost and surrounding community was a participant in European and American expansion, the last engagement of the American Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, the establishment of the Arkansas Territory, the rise of the era when “cotton was king,” and, lastly, an 1863 battle between Union and Confederate forces that fully destroyed any semblance of the community. 151 years later, this remains an engagement of questionable importance and purpose.

In late 1862 and early 1863 the impressively constructed Fort Hindman served as a base of leadership and supply for Confederate disruption of Union shipping on the lower Mississippi River. Though largely as much because of ego and politics over military necessity, Union Major General John McClernand under took a campaign to mitigate the threat of further rebel disruption.

While in the end a Union victory, the intense two-day combined land and naval engagement came at a high cost in casualties for the invading army. The intended capture of the southern fortress indeed mitigated the threat of future Confederate interference upon the Mighty Mississippi, questions and accusations quickly emerged from all directions.

Was the Battle of Arkansas Post/Fort Hindman a vital and strategic Union victory and Confederate loss that impacted the war on a wider spectrum; an engagement that served more as a “morale boost” for the then demoralized Union force; or, simply a “wild goose chase” on the part of McClernand and his cooperating Union Navy?

In the years following the engagement, veterans of both armies, military leadership and, later, historians continued to dispute the resulting importance of the battle. More than a century and a half later, though largely unfamiliar to all but the most astute Civil War aficionados, the importance of events at Poste de Arkansea often remains one more of varying personal opinion, and likely will for generations to come.

Our speaker is Brian McCutchen, superintendent of Fort Donelson National Battlefield in Dover, TN. McCutchen began his National Park Service career in 1992 at Shiloh National Military Park. During his seven years at Shiloh, McCutchen served as the park’s cultural resources ranger.

In 1999, McCutchen accepted a position at Arkansas Post National Memorial to serve in the capacity of park historian and lead ranger where he documented and mapped the site from 1686 to the present day; placing special focus upon the “lost” landscape of both the American Revolutionary War engagement of 1783 and the Civil War battle of Fort Hindman of 1863. In 2001, McCutchen moved to the Midwest Regional Office in Omaha to accept a position as a regional historian.

In 2007 McCutchen became superintendent of the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, near Stanton, ND. In 2010, McCutchen was invited to return to the national park “cannon ball circuit,” to serve as superintendent of the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, the site of the 1779 revolutionary war battle of Fort Sackville, a legendary victory by Colonel George Rogers Clark.

A native of southeast Missouri, McCutchen earned both his bachelor of science in historic preservation in 1992 and his master’s degree in history-historic preservation in 1995 from Southeast Missouri State University. He conducted graduate research on Civil War monuments, their history, and preservation and has led workshops on monument and cemetery conversation.

He has written several articles, journal pieces, book reviews, and is co-author of the book Shiloh National Military Park; part of the Arcadia Publishing “Images of America” series. McCutchen is married to Sharon (Cummings), a native of Savannah, Tennessee. They have a 9-year-old son, Noah.


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