DOCUMENTS RELATING TO THE ARKANSAS PEACE
SOCIETY OF 1861EDITED BY TED. R. WORLEY
* * * COLONEL SAM LESLIE’S REPORT TO GOVERNOR RECTOR
H. M. Rector Gov. State of Arkansas & President Military Board
On the 20th of November I received information
that there were about 100 persons in Locust Grove Township, Searcy County,
arresting men confining them for some purpose of which I was not informed.
Immediately on the receipt of the information I sent Adjt. Major Jesse
Cypert, the Lieut. Colonel and Major both being absent fro the county.
As soon as he arrived we set out for Locust Grove Township about 20 miles
distant. Late at night we arrived at Henry Bradshaw’s, where we found about
fifty persons, citizens of Locust Grove and Big Flat townships, and some
from Izard County. They had learned there was a secret organization of
citizens in the country, hostile to the government of the Confederate States,
and they had turned out voluntarily and without legal authority, and were
making arrests of those supposed to be members of the organization. The
first man they arrested disclosed the whole secret. There was a sworn bond
with signs and pass words, which caused me to believe there was or would
be a premeditated attempt at insurrection. The excitement was high. At
the urgent request of the loyal citizens, and in accordance with my own
judgment, I ordered out on the 22nd
November, Companies A and E under the command respectively of Lieut. A. R. Sisk and Capt. John R. Redwine, and directed them to march to Burrowsville as soon as possible and arrest all persons engaged in this secret organization. On the same day I ordered Joseph Stephenson to act as commissary to furnish the troops with provisions. On the 23rd and 24th of November, Lieut Sisk, who I had breveted to a captain in The absence of Capt Alexander of Company A, and Capt Redwine were engaged in making arrests. A great many voluntarily surrendered themselves, confessing their guilt.
On the 25th I ordered the line of march to
be taken up for Burrowsville where we arrived on the 26th with thirty prisoners
in charge. On the 26th I ordered into service Company C of the militia
under the command
of Capt. Samule R. Redwine, Company F under command of Capt. Johnson, Company D under Capt. M. M. Terry and Company G under Capt. Wm. S. Goodnight, all of which arrived at Burrowsville the same day, excepting Capt. Goodnight’s which reported itself ready for duty on the day following.
On the 26th November I sent a despatch to you
by R. N. Melton and R. D. C. Griffin, informing you of the situation of
affairs and my reasons for calling the militia into service. On the 28th
of November, I mustered
into service the six companies I had ordered out, by swearing each officer and private according to the usual forms. During this time I had out scouting parties arresting all persons I could find in the county belonging to this oath bound organization. On the 1st day of December my messengers, Melton and Griffin, returned to Burrowsville bringing me instructions from the Executive of the State, which I have endeavored faithfully to carry out. The excitement among the people continued to increase, many rumors were in circulation, one of which was to the effect that a large body of men were assembled in the western part of the county, determined on resisting arrest. Thinking such might be the case I immediately ordered Capt. Wm. Wyatts Company into service, and it reported ready for duty on 4th, and was mustered in on the 5th of December.
By this time the number of out prisoners had increased to seventy-two the Court House was full and I was determined to send them to Little Rock in accordance with the instructions I had received.
On the 9th of December the prisoners were started
for Little Rock, under the command of Brevet Lieut. Col Alex Ham, Maj John
Bradshaw and Adjt. Major Jesse Cypert, with instructions to Col. Ham and
a list of the
names of prisoners, now amounting to 78 in number, and also a communication sealed and directed to the Executive of the State, all of which I suppose is now on file in your office. Brevet Lieut. Col. Ham instead of returning and reporting to me a Burrowsville, as he should have done, returned home and dismissed his troops on furlough, some to meet again at Burrowsville on the 23rd and some on the 24th of December. Had it not been for Maj. Bradshaw, bearer of your despatch of 19th December, I should have had no official information of the prisoners even reaching Little Rock. Col. Ham made no report to me whatever, notwithstanding he was the officer in command. The time for which he was appointed has expired.
Capt. John R. H. Scott, commanding Squadron
and Culadon, Carroll County, arrived at Burrowsville on the 20th day of
December for the purpose of taking up winter quarters at my request. I
am under many obligations to Capt. Scott for the valuable aid he rendered
in arresting the persons engaged in the conspiracy. On the 20th Decr. I
discharged all the militia I had ordered into \service deeming their services
no longer necessary. Diligent search has been made for several days, without
effect, for those who escaped to the woods. At the time of disbanding I
gave orders to the captains of the companies to arrest in their townships
any and all persons who were still at large known to belong to the secret
order known by the name of peace or Self-protection arty.
Since disbanding of the militia, learning that Capt. J. J. Dawson was receiving volunteers for the war, several have come forward and volunteered, and seemed glad of the opportunity.
I cannot close this report without mentioning
in terms of highest praise the conduct of both officers and men under my
command. When called upon they responded immediately and left their homes
on the same day of
receiving the order, bringing with them such camp equipage as they had. There was no possible chance of receiving any other in the country, excepting a few cooking vessels and water buckets purchased at Messrs
Thomas and McCann, which are now in the hands of the Quarter Master for the use of the State.
I am greatly indebted to Maj. Bradshaw, Adjt. Maj. Jesse Cypert and all my staff officers for their valuable services. All the officers conducted themselves much better than would have been expected, considering their inexperience. Capt. John R. Homer Scott is now in this county with his command for the purpose of remaining until spring. He will, as he has done, use his exertions to bring to justice all those engaged in this secret peace party. I used my utmost endeavors with Capt. Scott to get him here, thinking it best under the circumstances.
After the militia was discharged I learned
that some of the citizens in Big Flat Township were distressing some of
the families of the prisoners for debt by taking their property. I ordered
Capt. Sisk to have the
property returned which he promptly beyed, and thus settled that matter. The order, together with Capt. Sisk’s account for services, is herewith enclosed.
Also enclosed will be found an account for repairing the Court House at Burrowsville of damage done by the prisoners while here in custody. I think it is reasonable that the State should pay the account.
In regard to this secret organization, which
I trust has forever been broken up, I perhaps should add that, while I
have no doubt the leader intended treachery to the Confederate government,
I also believe many
good men, innocent of any such guilty intentions, were seduced into it by alluring names and is representations. Many men regarded heretofore as worthy citizens, as well as many known to be the worst, were found to be members of the organization. I have endeavored to give you a correct account of my stewardship while engaged in suppressing this conspiracy, and brining the guilty to justice. I have simply done what I considered to be my duty, and if in the conscientious discharge of it, I have committed an error or incurred the enmity of any one, I am content to take the legitimate consequence. Respectfully your Obt. Serxt Sam Leslie, Col. 45th Regiment Arks. Militia [ Note: The signature only is
in the hand of Sam Leslie] * * *
COLONEL J. J. KEMP TO GOVERNOR RECTOR
To his Excellency Henry M. Rector
Sir the law provides chapter 113 Section 49 that it is made my duty as
Col of Izard County to transmit to the Governor a Statement of My
proceedings Setting forth my reason for Exercising such Authority my
Reason for Calling out the Militia of Sylamore Township to repeal an
Insurrection caused by Union man or men that is in a secret organization
that was threatening out peace and happiness as Citizens I organized the
Militia of Sylamore Township on the 21st day of December 18861 and was
swore in and have been ingaged in repeling Said Insurrection Ever since
and the most of the citizens of the said Township have Been ingaged for
40 or 50 days The Citizens of Sylamore Township are the men that
arrested those men that went to Pocahontas. Remain yours, J. J. Kemp Col
* * * A VERSION OF THE OATH OF THE PEACE ORGANIZATION SOCIETY
We the undersined subscribers agree to for our selves into an
association called an known by the name of the peace orgenzation cociaty
Self preservation being an undisputable natturale [right] and the rite
of communities to combine together for the mutuel protection of our
selves famiels and property This the following resolutions by which we
Expect to be governed in all out proceeding resolved that each member
before Entering into this society shall take ane oath as follows to wit
I do solemnly sware before the allmytty God and the witness that I will
will and truley keepe all the cecrets of this society that wil ever hold
and allays conceel never reveale any thing in connection there with that
I will on the shortest notice go to the assistance of any brother at the
parel of my life so heple me God and as it is a mater of life and deth
with us how [who] shall betrae to out enemes the existence of this
cociety he shall forfet his life and it shall be the duty of each of the
cociety having receved knowledg of eny such trater forth with to inform
the brethering each of whose dutey it shall be to pursue such Trators
and take his life at the parel of ther one. Admiting The manner of
receiving members shall be in stict according with the and foregoing
preemble and resolutions by such members as may be colected by the
* * * A VERSION OF THE OATH OF THE PEACE ORGANIZATION SOCIETY
I do Solemnly Swear before amlity god and these Witnesses that I will
and truly keep all the secrets of this Society that I will ever hole and
all ways conceal and never Reveal anything in connexion therewith and
that I will on the Shortest notice go to the assistance of any Brother
at the peril of my life so help me god second as it is a matter of life
and death with is who shall betray to our Enemies the Existence of this
Society he shall forfeit his life and it shall be the duty this society
having Received knowledge of such a traitor to inform the Brethren Each
of whose duty it shall be to procure such Traitor and take his life at
the peril of his own. [Endorsed: Jahawkers Oath 1st Febry 1862 Military
* * * TESTIMONY OF PERSONS ARRESTED AS MEMBERS OF THE PEACE SOCIETY
S. P. Pearce Examined. Says he was born and raised in County in Middle
Tennessee; that he has been living in Arkansas years, that he joined
what was called home guard, that there was an instrument of writing read
to him; not like the oath (now read to him) that he did not know it all
miliated against the government or would not have joined it that he was
always a good southern man was willing to take the oath of allegiance.
John Gilbreth Examined. Says he was presented with what was called an
oath, which was read to him, that it contained nothing about killing
enemies or those who beray them, that it was presented to him by John
Smith, that he is a good southern man willing to fight for his country.
R. C. Holley Examined. Born in Mississippi Says he joined the society,
that he was not informed that the society was as now represented; that
the oath was not as read (now) that when the state seceded he was
willing to go and fight for her; never heard anything of Lincoln’s army
in connection with the society.
F. H. Hensley. Born in Tennessee, been living in Arkansas 25 years. Good
J. F. Broyles. Born in East Tennessee, been in Ark. years, took an oath,
not like the one presented him; “am not a Lincoln man nor never was,”
voted for Secession; Society was to protect from Robbers and Runaway
negroes as he understood.
W. J. Packet. Born in Arkansas, took an oath had some things like the
oath (now read) it was a peace society; for home protection; when I
joined nothing said about Lincoln; Ribbons for each to know the house of
a brother, always willing to volunteer & fight for my country.
Logan Sutton. Oath read over to me understood it to be a peace
organization didn’t know anything about Lincoln’s army or yellow ribbon
until taken prisoner was told it was a good thing. G. V.
J. B. Parsley, 22 old. Born in Wayne County Tennn. Been Arks 13 years. I
joined the society because other and good citizens had joined and told
it was a good thing; was always for the South, and willing to fight for
my country; Stobaugh first named it to me, and then Crip Denton; G. V.
John Harness (48) Did not take the oath as here described; Abner Smith
read part the oath to me; Born and raised in Middle Tennessee; living in
Ark 17 years I was never in any secret meetings (B)
Henry Cook (36). Born in Wayne Co Tenn been in Ark 2 years. I took the
oath at Ananias Stobaughs the oath was for home protection; against
Robbers of other states; never understood the Ribbon to be a sign to
Lincoln’s army, have been a secessionist since the Union was divided
always been willing to fight for the South. G V
Ananias Stobaugh Examined A man by name Moody organized this society in
our neighborhood He was told it was from Head Quarters, but didnt know
from what Head Quarters I had belonged to the society a week when I was
arrested. It was to be a peace organization to protect homes and
property never knew that it was intended to operate against South if had
would never joined it; should have gone to war but for being nearly
blind; I furnished 2 guns.
Edmond Stobaugh. Born & raised in Arkansas. I knew nothing about this
society until about Monday before I was arrested. It was called peace
organization; A Stobaugh and initiated me. I thought it was like Home
Guard. The Ribbon was a sign if any of us went out to fight to ensure
our protection; I would be willing to volunteer in my own county,
somewhat rather not before I see my family.
J. B. Null. Born south line Missouri lived in Ark 2 years; the oath was
read to me; I don’t know much about the society it was called peace
organization society I am willing to fight for my country always been.
Wm Haines. Born in Tenn. in Ark 2 years I was induced to go into this
society as it was said to be a good thing; a peace organization it was
called I volunteered this summer but did not get off. I like Jeff Davis
Government best. I am willing to join the army if I could go to see my
wife; I am a secesh always have been since the state seceded.
G. W. Smith. Born in Tenn. 11 years in Ark I join society in County it
was called peace organization, to protect homes and property; I did not
understand what the ribbon was for; we were all for the Union as long as
there was any chance, but when we saw there was no chance we then
turned; I was told nothing about his being against South I am willing to
join the army and fight for my country. I am not willing to volunteer
here but would be in my Cty. Sam Curl. Born in Miss. in Ark 8 years last
ten lived in Ark. then moved to Tenn then Back to Ark. Mr. Gilbreath
read oath to me; I told them I wished to have nothing more to do with
it; they said it was a peace society; they told me it would not be
against my volunteering; I am willing to volunteer, have done so twice.
J.C. Ridings. Born Tenn West; in Ark 1 year. I got into society at
home Ab Smith and Said it was a peace organization, protect our families
when we were from home; the question was asked if it would prevent
volunteering and fighting for the South, was assured it was for southern
interest. I am willing to volunteer and fight for the South; was a
Union man until I heard there was no Union.
Alex Holly. Born Tenn, raised Mississippi; lived in Ark 3 years. Smith
got me in the business. He said it was a good thing, a southern
movement; said if we went off as volunteers, hang out Ribbon, would be a
sign for our protection; I know nothing of meetings; I am willing to
vol. and fight for the South.
Wm Gadberry. Favorable. Raised in 10 years in Ark. S. P. Pearce
represented this society to me asked me what Const. I liked the old or
new; I told him new nothing of Const.; that I was a southern man. He
said he was. He then said he wanted to ask me question and to answer on
oath. I told him I would; then the oath was read to me very
indistinctly; there was nothing in it ill that I heard; told him I would
think about it. Price said I had joined because I told him I would
answer his question on oath; I told him I lived in the South; my all was
in the South and if the South falls I fall with it; George Brown sent my
son word not to volunteer that there was 300 men willing to help keep
him from it.
John Smith. Moody informed me of this thing: Said it was home
protection a peace organization; said there was no northern trick in it;
I told him I lived here and my all was here and I would stand by it;
that had I been a northern man would left when Pres. Davis proclamation
came out; under the circumstances I sanctioned it never swor held up my
hand nor nothing; Ribbon was for a sign when the enemy come, to rise in
arms against them; I am a friend to my country. Born in North Carolina,
came from there to this state; the more I thought of it the less I liked
it; I never learned the signs.
A. A. Parsley. I joined this society for home protection; lived 14
years in Ark. I am a southern man Born and Raised South; I am willing
to join army in my County. My family in a bad fix; not willing to
W. F. Barnes. All I understood about this matter is that we to protect
our homes property and family; Mr. Presley read me the oath, but did not
understand it. He is deaf.
S. W. Watson. Moody and Bradshaw said they had a peace organization;
and read down to where it said this is the whole sole cause; and said
there was signs to give when the enemy comes; I didn’t vote in the
election because there was no cession candidate to vote for. Mr. Pierce
M . . . . . . . . . . ., & myself was all but voted for Patterson.
J. W. Curl. Had the thing explained by a Mr. and Gilbreath, told them I
did not like it. W. V.
A. Holly. I joined this society as a southern movement, as home guard
protection. I am willing to volunteer, have always been.
From Arkansas Historical Quarterly XVii (Spring 1958), 82-111
Commentary by Steve Bemrich The “Peace Society”
appear more than anything else to be a cross between a militia and a lodge.
The sheer numbers of people who were arrested in addition to the number
to have been members indicates that it wasn’t really much of a “secret” society. Just a quick look at the partial census data I have showed quite of few of Joshua’s neighbors and possibly relations were in the “club”, or at least suspected. In the list below are some of the names that struck me familiar in the tale as it unwound. The person who put this together did err in Peter Reeves birthdate, showing him born the same year as Joshua. . Samuel Grinder Robert Grinder: Joshua and Peter both had married Grinders. In-Laws? D. C. Baker A number Reeves sisters were married to Bakers, some of whom were deep in Searcy Co. area. In
law?, Nephew? Carlton Keeling J oshua Reeves son in law (m. Manervy) was a Keeling. John McEntire Just up the road from Joshua and Peter was a John McIntyre who looks like a good match. James Latterel Appears on 60 census almost next door to Joshua (alternate name spelling) John Harness Harness family married in to Reeves in the next generation or two. David Barnett Flurry Grinder’s husband? Note that Col Sam Leslie’s early letters are atrocities to the english language, but his final report is well written. The note attached to it indicated only the signature on the last in in his handwriting... at least he found a good secretary.
Approximate Chronology of Events: Initial Arrests 20-24 November 1861
Sylamore “Volunteers” agree to enlist 28 Nov 1861
Departure for Little Rock from Col. Leslie in Burrowsville (78 men) from
Camp Culloden, Carroll Co. Arks. Group included Joshua Reeves, Grinders
(see Featherston order).
9 Dec 1861
About 10 Dec 1861
Trials, Hearings in Little Rock Late Dec 1861 - At least 1 Feb 1862
1. Samuled Leslie was born in Kentucky, October 25, 1809, son of John
and Jane Leslie. He came to Searcy Co. in 1838, settling at the mouth
of Wiley’s Cove, where the town of Leslie, named for Samuel Leslie’s
son, is now located.
2. Izard County
3. Sixteen of the subscribers’ names were found on a muster of Co. H,
8th Regt. Ark. Inf., C.S.A.
4. John Christy was born in North Carolina in 1807, migrated to Searcy
Co., Ark., not later than 1838, and built a house of cedar logs on
Buffalo River just below the mouth of Richland Creek. John C. Christy,
son of John, was born in Tennessee in 1833. Another son of John, James
F. Homer Christy, was born in Arkansas in 1838. He served on both sides
during the war, first in Co. K, 18th Regt Ark. Inf., and then in Co. H,
1st Regt. Ark. Cavalry, U.S.A.
5. P. M. Hensley was born in Tennessee in 1835. He served in Co. K,
18th Regt Ark. Inf. C.S.A.
6. Gilmore Smith was born in Tennessee in 1811 and migrated to Arkansas
in 1850. In 1860 he was a resident of Richland Twp., Searcy Co.
7. D. C. Baker served in Co. K, 18th Regt Ark. Inf. C.S.A.
8. George Long, a Missionary Baptist preacher, was born in Tennessee in
1829, and in 1860 was a resident of Crooked Creek Twp., Carroll Co.
Solomon Branum, a United Missionary Baptist preacher and blacksmith, was
born in Tennessee in 1816 and in 1860 was residing in Whiteville Twp.,
Marion Co. Joshua Reeves, a United Missionary preacher, was born in
Tennessee in 1820 and in 1860 was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.
David Curry was born in Tennessee in 1825 and in 1860 was living in
Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. John Latterel (also spelled Luttrell), born
in Tennessee in 1826, served in both the Confederate and Federal army.
Samel Thompson, son of James T. Thompson, was born in Missouri in 1827
and in 1850 was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. He served in Co. K,
18 Ark Inf, C.S.A. Patrick L. Downey, born in Kentucky in 1804, was in
1850 a resident of Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. James E. Curry, born in
Tennessee in 1822, was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.
Charles W. Price, son of Willam Price, was born in Tennessee in 1840 and
in 1860 was a resident of Searcy Co. He served in Co. K., 18th Ark Inf,
C.S.A. William Brown, born in Tennessee in 1832, was living in Searcy
Co. in 1861.
9. George Hooten was born in Tennessee in 1823. Mike Tinkle, born in
Tennessee in 1826 was a resident of Searcy Co. in 1860. William Dugger,
born in Tennessee in 1819, was in 1860 a resident of Union Twp., Marion
Co. Luther Phillips , born in Tennessee in 1834, was a member of Co. K,
1st Regt., Ark Cavalry, U.S.A., and was killed in action at Yokum Creek,
Ark., November 15, 1862. Thomas Dugger, born in Tennessee in 1841, was
a resident of Marion Co. in 1861. William C. Singleterry, a physician,
was born in North Carolina in 1829 and in 1861 was residing in Marion
Co. John M. Carrithers, a Southern Methodist preacher, was born in
Alabama in 1829, and was in 1860 a resident of Carroll Co.
10. Carroll Kilburn, born in Tennessee in 1816, was in 1860 a resident
of Richland Twp. Searcy Co. He served in Co. K, 18th Regt, Ark Inf,
C.S.A. Eli Osborn, born in Alabama in 1830, was living in Carroll Co.
in 1860. He served in Co. H, 14th Ark Inf, C.S.A. George M. Hays,
Carroll Co., was a member of Co. H, 14th Ark Inf, C.S.A. John W.
Kirkham, born in Georgia in 1828, and a resident of Carroll Co. in 1861,
served in Co. H, 1th Ark Inf, C.S.A. He died April 16, 1862. John
McIntyre, born in North Carolina, lived in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in
1860. John C. Mc Nair, born in Tennessee in 1823, was in 1869 residing
in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.
11. The present town of Marshall, Searcy Co.
12. Peter Tyler was born in Missouri in 1834 and in 1860 was living in
Cove Twp., Searcy Co.
13. D. Jamison, born in Missouri in 1824, was residing in Calf Creek
Twp., Searcy Co.
14. Isaiah Ezell, born in Tennessee in 1816, was living in Tomahawk
Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.
15. Peter Reeves, born in Tennessee in 1820, was living in Tomahawk
Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.
16. David Barnett, born in Tennessee in 1830, was in 1860 living in
Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.
17. Alexander and Thomas Younger were both born in North Carolina,
Alexander in 1829 and Thomas in 1800. In 1860, they were both residents
of Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.
18. John Brown, born in Georgia in 1817, was in 1860 a resident of
Union Twp., Fulton Co.
19. Robert Tinkle, born in Tennessee in 1834, was in 1860 a resident of
Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.
20. A. J. Love, born in Missouri in 1830, was a resident of in Tomahawk
Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.
21. Spencer Adams and his son Joseph in 1860 were residents of Tomahawk
Twp., Searcy Co. They were both born in Kentucky.
22. Lindsay Price, born in Tennessee in 1835, lived in Tomahawk Twp.,
Searcy Co. in 1860.
23. Lindsay Bishop, born in Tennessee in 1833, was a resident of
Carrollton Twp., Carroll Co in 1860.
24. John Ezell, son of Isaiah Ezell, was born in Arkansas in 1841.
Documents relating to the Arkansas Peace Society of 1861.
Back to Part one of the Peace Society
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