Category: civil war

Lakeport Legacies · Ironclads, Cotton & Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta · Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives & History)

Ironclads, Cotton & Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta

presented by

Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives & History) 

Thursday, July 27

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

“Seizure and Handling of Cotton in the Southwest.” Harper’s Weekly (May 2, 1863), documented the confiscation of cotton hidden at American Bend near the Worthington Plantation by Union troops. According to the paper, “three thousand bales” were “pledged to the British Government at seven cents per pound.”

Many Civil War historians have treated the Mississippi Delta region as a sideshow to more significant campaigns in the east. However, the Delta’s plantations supplied Union forces, witnessed some of the first ironclad battles of the Civil War, and the emancipation of thousands of slaves. Historian Jim Woodrick will explore how the Delta was vital to Confederate interests and was the target of repeated Union attempts to utilize the region’s waterways as an avenue of invasion.

Jim Woodrick, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, serves as Director of the Historic Preservation Division at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where he worked for a number of years as the Civil War Sites Historian. In that capacity, he managed the Mississippi Civil War Trails program, participated in a number of battlefield and campaign studies with the National Park Service, and worked closely with the Civil War Trust and the American Battlefield Protection Program to identify Civil War battlefield properties in Mississippi for acquisition and preservation. He is a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson and the author of The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi, published by The History Press (2016).

Signed copies of Woodrick’s book, The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi, will be available for purchase — $24.00 (includes tax, cash or check only, please). 

Register for this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 ·

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653

Ditch Bayou Battlefield in Chicot County part of Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s New Cell-Phone Tour

The Ditch Bayou Battlefield, the last major battle fought in Arkansas, is part of Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s Cell-Phone Tours of Historic Sites in Arkansas.  The Battle, fought on June 6, 1864, was part of a Federal effort to drive Confederate forces way from the Mississippi River and cease attacks on Union shipping.  The outnumbered Confederate forces lost only 4 men before running low on supplies and withdrawing.  Federal forces lost 132 men.   The audio for all the sites is also available online for streaming or downloading.  Page for all audio tours

LITTLE ROCK–The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program now offers free cell-phone tours of historic sites around the state, AHPP Director Frances McSwain announced today.
“These cell-phone tours will allow visitors to get in-depth information on historic properties at the touch of a button,” McSwain said. “We currently have 15 cell-phone tours recorded and will add more in the coming months.”
The cell-phone tours can be accessed by calling (501) 203-3015 or by visiting Current tours include Boyle Park (Stop 21), First Lutheran Church (Stop 41), Robert E. Lee School (Stop 51), Little Rock City Hall (Stop 61) and the Fourche Bayou Battlefield (Stop 11) in Little Rock; Crestview Park (Stop 31) and the Park Hill Fire Station and Water Company (Stop 71) in North Little Rock; Cane Hill Battlefield (Stop 10) in Washington County; Elkins’ Ferry (Stop 12) and Prairie D’Ane (Stop 13) Battlefields in Nevada County; Poison Spring Battlefield (Stop 14) in Ouachita County; Fort Southerland (Stop 18) in Camden; Marks’ Mills Battlefield (Stop 15) in Cleveland County; Jenkins’ Ferry Battlefield (Stop 16)  in Grant County, and Ditch Bayou Battlefield (Stop 17) in Chicot County.
The Ditch Bayou Battlefield markers (A)are approximately 5.5 miles from the Lakeport Plantation (B).

The AHPP is the Department of Arkansas Heritage agency responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources.

The Lakeport Plantation house is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site.   Built for Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson in 1859, the Greek Revival home is one of Arkansas’ premiere historic structures and is now the only remaining antebellum plantation home in Arkansas on the Mississippi River.  The Johnson family retained ownership of the house until 1927, when the Chicot County plantation was purchased by Sam Epstein.  The house was added to the National Register in 1974 and was gifted to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the Sam Epstein Angel Family.  Following a massive restoration effort, the home opened to the public on September 28, 2007.

Read more about the Battle on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas or in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly:

  • Shea, William L. “Battle at Ditch Bayou.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 39 (Autumn 1980): 195–207.

Civil War Event at Lake Chicot Sate Park Ends with Tour of Lakeport — June 4th

Civil War Event, Saturday, June 4th 2011
8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Civil War Writings – Visitor Center
            The letters, reports, and diaries of the Civil War show us the personal story of what these men went through during our country’s tragic split.  Join the Park Interpreter, as we examine these writings and discover what they tell us about the Civil War. Visitors will also have a chance to write using the same tools the soldiers used 150 years ago.
10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The Life of Civil War Soldiers
            Join the Park Interpreter as he conducts a living history programs that represent what life was like for both the Union and Confederate soldiers in Arkansas.  There will be reproduction equipment and uniforms so don’t miss your chance to see history come alive. If you have any questions about life as a Civil War solider this is your chance to ask.
1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. The Battle of Ditch Bayou 
            Join the Park Interpreter as we take an in-depth look into the battle fought on the other side of the lake. Firsthand reports from soldiers and civilians will show us what really happen here on June 6th 1864.
2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p. m. The Battle of Arkansas Post
            Join us for a look into the Union assault on Fort Hindman that took place on January 9-11, 1863. Joe Herron, Park Ranger for Arkansas Post National Memorial will be giving us a presentation on what occurred during this battle and the effect it had on the surrounding area.

3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Lakeport Plantation and the Civil War
Join us as we travel to the other side of Lake Chicot to visit the historic Lakeport Plantation. Dr. Blake Wintory, Assistant Director of Lakeport Plantation, will provided visitors with a guided tour of Lakeport Plantation. During his tour he will discuss the effect the Civil War had on Lakeport Plantation. Maps from Lake Chicot State Park to Lakeport Plantation will be handed out at the end of “The Battle of Arkansas Post” presentation. 

Summer Teacher Workshops at ASU Heritage Sites

The Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University will be hosting a series of teacher workshops this summer.  Each workshop will provide six hours of inservice credit. All workshop themes and activities fit into the Arkansas Social Studies Curriculum Frameworks. These workshops are designed to feature the multi-topic and interdisciplinary educational opportunities available through three great and unique Arkansas Delta sites.  
June 14, 2011:  Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, “World War II in the Delta.”                                                          
This workshop will focus on the POW camps that were located in the Arkansas Delta, as well as the impact the war had on agricultural production in the state.

 June 16, 2011:  Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum & Education Center, “The Hemingway Connection.”                                
This workshop will focus on Ernest Hemingway’s connection to the Pfeiffer Family of Piggott and his contribution to Arkansas’s literary legacy.     Canceled

June 22, 2011: Lakeport Plantation, “The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War in Arkansas.”                                                  
Lakeport is one of 23 official stamping sites for the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport Program. This workshop will focus on Lakeport’s and the surrounding area’s connection to the Civil War.

June 28, 2011: Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, “‘Roll the Union On’: The Music That Inspired a Movement.”            
This workshop will focus on the protest songs written by John Handcox and how music was used to mobilize a labor movement of the mid-twentieth century. 

Please feel free to forward this announcement onto anyone who would be interested in attending these workshops.  For those who are interested in registering for a workshop(s), registration is available through the Arkansas Heritage Sites on either the home page or the education page (the registration tool is located in the left hand side link menu):
Interested folks can contact Rachel Miller directly: 

Lakeport Plantation Joins Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport Program

For Immediate Release


The Lakeport Plantation and Lake Chicot State Park are two of 23 stamping sites for the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport Program.  According to a press release from the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission:  Travelers in Arkansas can visit sites around the state to learn about Arkansas’s Civil War history while earning prizes through the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport Program, Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Chairman Tom Dupree announced today.
“The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission welcomes everyone to visit the state’s many Civil War sites by participating in the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passport Program,” Dupree said. “Visitors can get their passports stamped at 23 different places around Arkansas and can visit other Civil War-related properties while they are in the area. Once all 23 stamps are acquired, visitors can send in the back cover of their passport to receive an official Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial coin or patch.”
Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Passports can be acquired at any of Arkansas’s Welcome Centers, at the participating stamping sites, by writing Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, 1500 Tower Building, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, AR 72201, or by e-mailing
Other Stamping Sites in Southeast Arkansas include: Arkansas Post National Memorial (Gillette vic, Arkansas County), St. Charles Museum (St. Charles, Arkansas County), the Delta Cultural Center (Helena-West Helena, Phillips County), and the Phillips County Museum (Helena-West Helena, Phillips County).  Associated Sites in Southeast Arkansas include: Ditch Bayou Battlefield (Lake Village vic. Chicot County), Helena Confederate Cemetery (Phillips County), and the Drew County Historical Museum (Monticello, Drew County).   For more information on the Passport Program and a full list of stamping sites and associated sites visit
The Lakeport Plantation house is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site.  Built for Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson in 1859, the Greek Revival home is one of Arkansas’ premiere historic structures and is now the only remaining antebellum plantation home in Arkansas on the Mississippi River.  The Johnson family retained ownership of the house until 1927, when the Chicot County plantation was purchased by Sam Epstein.  The house was added to the National Register in 1974 and was gifted to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the Sam Epstein Angel Family.  Following a massive restoration effort, the home opened to the public on September 28, 2007.

Miss Nancy Sherrard: Lakeport Tutor

Image Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, U. Grant Miller Library, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA

One of the few glimpses of life at Lakeport during the antebellum period comes from the “autobiography” of Nancy Sherrard, the private tutor for the Johnson’s children between the summer of 1860 and the spring of 1861. Sherrard, a native of the prosperous Ohio River town of Steubenville, Ohio, wrote a short autobiography around 1890 as she was nearing the end of her teaching career.1 In reference to Lakeport, she tells a few details about the Johnson family and slavery not recorded elsewhere. However, most importantly, it reveals the strain of a Northern woman living and working in the Deep South as the country descended into civil war.

Published in 1890 as part of The Sherrard Family of Steubenville, written by Nancy’s father, Robert Andrew Sherrard, and edited by her brother Thomas Johnson Sherrard. The book is long been known to historians, but can now be read more widely through Google Books and the Internet Archive.

Nancy Sherrard graduated from the Steubenville Female Seminary in 1851. In the summer of 1860, following a number of teaching engagements at schools in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, she was recommended to “Mr. Lycurgus Johnson, a wealthy planter of Lake Port, Arkansas, who wished a private instructor for his children.” Accompanying the 30 year old Miss Sherrard was Miss Martha Torrance of New Alexandria, Pennsylvania. Miss Torrance taught two children at the home of Verlinda Johnson, Lycurgus’ mother, who lived about a mile away, while Miss Sherrard taught three girls and one boy in the Lakeport home.2

At the Lakeport Plantation, Miss Sherrard reported, “there were one hundred and fifty slaves” raising “twelve hundred acres of cotton and three hundred acres of corn.” Inside the home, Sherrard noted: “in the family of Mr. Johnson there were seven or eight house-servants,” including “a well-trained dining-room servant” purchased the year before with his wife and child for $3,000.3

As the summer of 1860 turned to fall, the U.S. presidential election became the flashpoint for tension between the Republican North and the Democratic South. In November 1860, antislavery Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was elected president infuriating the Democratic slave South. From December 1860 to February 1861, led by South Carolina, seven southern states left the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee would remain in the Union for now.

Miss Sherrard’s political upbringing could not have been more different from the Johnsons. Her family was made up of die-hard Northern Republicans, while the Johnsons’ were Southern Democrats with deep political roots in Virginia, Kentucky, and now Arkansas.4 The country’s political differences and those between her and her employer led Miss Sherrard to think of leaving Lakeport. She wrote to her father on Saturday, February 16, 1861, stating, “I am meditating seriously on going home, for I do not feel satisfied to say here in the present state of the country. I do not know yet how soon, but indeed I begin to feel uncomfortable.” Miss Sherrard wrote, “People down here are strong disuionists, and blame everybody else differing from them even in slight matters.” She then described a dinner conversation in which Mr. Johnson said to her “Miss Sherrard, there are a great many good people in the South.” To which she curtly replied, “Yes…and it is a pity that they let the rascals lead them.” Later, she worried, “Now, I suppose the next thing they will think I am an Abolitionist…I suppose Mr. Johnson will think I went beyond my sphere, which is to teach his children, and not to talk politics with him, which is undoubtedly true. I wish I was at home, where I could talk without people getting angry about what I say.”5

Following Lincoln’s election, the country’s unfolding drama focused on Fort Sumter at the bay entrance to Charleston, South Carolina. Federal troops, holed up inside Fort Sumter since December 26, were attacked by Confederate forces on April 12 as the Federal troops awaited new supplies. The Civil War had begun and Confederate forces won their first battle on April 14, when the Federal troops at Fort Sumter surrendered.6

After the fall of Fort Sumter, Nancy Sherrard left Lakeport on a “Southern boat.” It stopped in Memphis after hearing Federal troops were at Cairo, Illinois. She continued her journey on the Queen of the West, a “Northern boat” bound for Cincinnati. At Randolph, Tennessee, the “Northern boat” was fired upon by “rebels.” Finally, at Cairo, Illinois, she saw the United States flag for the first time on the trip. On Tuesday, April 30, 1861, she arrived back in Steubenville, Ohio. Six days later, on May 6, Arkansas delegates to the special convention voted to secede from the Union.7

In 1874 Miss Nancy Sherrard, after a few years of teaching in Kentucky Indiana, and New York, was elected as Principal at Washington Female Seminary in Washington, Pennsylvania. She stayed in that position until in 1897. A notice of her retirement stated, Miss Sherrard “kept the school in the front rank of schools of its kind, as well as making it a financial success.”8 In 1890, Miss Sherrard reflected on her time at Lakeport and wrote, “I have always been glad that I saw the South in the days of slavery, and also had the opportunity of seeing the inside workings of Secession during that winter.”9 She died in April 1914.10

1. On Steubenville, see “Steubenville, Ohio”, Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005,

2. Nancy Sherrard quoted in Robert Andrew Sherrard, The Sherrard Family of Steubenville, Thomas Johnson Sherrard, ed. (James. B. Rodgers Printing Co: Philadelphia, 1890), 287. Martha likely taught 15 year old Robert Adams and 13 year old Linnie Adams; Robert and Linnie were the offspring of Nancy Johnson Adams, Lycurgus’ sister. Nancy likely taught Mary, Linnie, Theodore, and Annie, ages 11, 9, 7, and 5 respectively. See U.S. Census, Manuscript Returns. 1860. Schedule of Population, Louisiana Township, Chicot County, Arkansas; Crop creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio.

4. Her father, Robert Sr., a native of Ireland, was described as a “lifelong Whig and a Republican from the day of the organization of that party.” He “voted for Abraham Lincoln and warmly endorsed his policy” and “[w]hen the War of the Rebellion broke out” he “remained a strong supporter of the Union.” Her brother, Robert Jr., served in the Ohio State Senate in 1861 as a Republican and in his 1895 obituary, he was described as a “staunch Republican, loyal to the party at every crisis.” See Thomas Johnson Sherrard in The Sherrard Family of Steubenville, 302. On Robert Sr.’s Irish nativity, see “’Death Loves a Shining Mark.’ Hon. Robert Sherrard, Jr., Passes Peacefully away this Morning,” Steubenville Daily Herald, November 15, 1895. The most prominent politician in the Johnson family was Lycurgus’ uncle, Richard Mentor Johnson, who served as Vice President from 1837-1841 under President Martin Van Buren. Three of Richard Johnson’s brothers served in the U.S. House of Representatives and another, Benjamin Johnson, became a territorial and then federal district judge in Arkansas. See DeBlack, “’A Model Man of Chicot County’: Lycurgus Johnson and Social Change,” in The Southern Elite and Social Change: Essays in Honor of Willard B. Gatewood Jr. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2002), 16-17, 19.