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Old 12 May 06, 12:16
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General Marmaduke honored during Civil War re-enactment

A small cross made of sticks, a humble bouquet of flowers, the sword of a fallen soldier and the Confederate flag were part of a ceremony memorializing Major General John Sappington Marmaduke last Sunday afternoon at Chalk Bluff.

The memorial to Marmaduke, the namesake of the town in Greene County that is in the process of cleaning up from the tornadoes that hit on April 2, was a fitting one.

Marmaduke was born on March 14, 1833, near Arrow Rock, Mo. His father, Meredith Miles Marmaduke, served as governor of Missouri in 1844. It is interesting to note the elder Marmaduke was pro-Union during the Civil War.

According to the memorial service program, Meredith Miles Marmaduke typified the Virginia aristocrats who settled in Missouri’s “Little Dixie” during the early 1800’s and established most of the political and cultural institutions in the state. He married the daughter of Dr. John Sappington of Arrow Rock. Dr. Sappington was famous for his use of quinine to treat malarial fevers.

John Sappington Marmaduke was a bit of a renaissance man. He graduated from West Point in 1857, served as a Missouri Railroad Commissioner and was the governor of Missouri from 1885-1887.

Marmaduke assumed command of Arkansas General Thomas Hindman’s cavalry and led several successful cavalry raids into Missouri. While he was at his camp, he learned that Col. William Quantrill’s Raiders, a small group of soldiers who harassed Union soldiers and sympathizers along the Kansas-Missouri border, were in the area. A skirmish resulted in the death of 30 of Quantrill’s men. They are buried just east of Rector.

Marmaduke was highly commended for his actions at the Battles of Shiloh and Prairie Grove. Other locations he saw action included Chalk Bluff, Helena, Poison Springs and Price’s Raid into Missouri among many other battles. During Price’s final raid through Missouri in the fall of 1864, he was captured at Mine Creek during the retreat from the Battle of Westport.

Marmaduke fought in the last duel in Arkansas against General L.M. Walker. The duel resulted in Walker’s death.

Marmaduke died on Dec. 28, 1887, while he was still serving as the governor of Missouri.

The welcome at the service was presented by W. Danny Honnoll, Commander of Shaver Camp number 1655 Sons of the Confederate Veterans (SCV) out of Jonesboro. The invocation was presented by Murray Therrell, chaplain of Shaver Camp. Captain John Malloy of the 7th Arkansas Infantry presented greetings on behalf of the Arkansas re-enactors. M. Ray Jones III, 2nd Lt. Commander with the MOSB Cleburne Society of Arkansas, presented greetings on behalf of the Military Stars and Bars and Charles Durnette, Commander of the Arkansas Division SCV, presented greetings on behalf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Arkansas Division. Words of Remembrance were presented by Ed Dudley, 1st Commander of Shaver Camp number 1655.

The memorial service was presided over by Honnoll. Bobbie Barnett, portraying Marmaduke’s mother, presented the laying of the rose. Re-enactors from Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee presented the Three Volley Gun Salute, which was followed by the playing of Amazing Grace, Taps and Dixie. Lt. James Langley and Adj. M. Ray Jones composed the honor guard. The flag was folded with care and presented to Barnett as is tradition upon a soldier’s death.

As the service drew to a close, Honnoll asked the crowd who they represent. He said people owe it to their ancestors to know who they are and where they came from. He then proceeded to ask several of the re-enactors who they represented and many quickly stated the names of their ancestors who fought in the Civil War.

Honnoll then asked Clay County Judge Gary Howell to come forward. The re-enactors made him and Honorary Colonel in the Confederate Army and presented him with $160 in counterfeit Confederate money. The re-enactors also bestowed the honorary title on Clay County Sheriff Ronnie Cole.

Following Honnoll’s parting words and thanks, the benediction was presented by Therrell.

Approximately 15 minutes later, the 143rd anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Chalk Bluff commenced.

The event kicked off with the blasts of three cannons. Following the battle, some of the Confederate troops accused some of the Union soldiers of “stealing Aunt Bessie’s chickens”. Following a trial, three Union soldiers were found guilty and forced to face the firing squad.

The real Battle of Chalk Bluff took place on May 1 and 2, 1863. While Marmaduke commanded the Confederate cavalry in the battle, Brigadier General William Vandever commanded the Union’s 2nd Division, Army of the Frontier.

Vandever and his troops pursued Marmaduke to the point where he and his cavalry planned to cross the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluff. As his troops were trying to cross the river, Marmaduke set up a rear guard in an effort to protect them. During the battle, the rear guard sustained heavy casualties, but managed to hold off Vandever and his men until a construction crew could finish building a bridge so Marmaduke and his remaining men could cross the river. However, due to the heavy number of casualties, Marmaduke was forced to end the expedition.

According to a Wikipedia entry, 23 of Vandever’s troops were killed in the battle, 44 were wounded and 53 were captured.

Among Marmaduke’s Calvary Division, 30 were killed in the battle, 60 were wounded and 120 were missing.

Deo Vindice
Si vis pacem, para bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war.)
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