The Civil War Letters
of brothers William H. H. and John S. Shibley
written to their
Originally Compiled and Edited
RUIE ANN SMITH PARK
Van Buren, Arkansas
LETTERS 1 THROUGH 15 LETTERS 16 THROUGH 36 LETTERS 37 THROUGH 46
This is how the Civil War ended for the Shibley brothers. The 22nd Regiment, of which Company G was a unit, was at Marshall, Texas, at the time of Lee’s surrender. Capt. Robert Miles was absent on leave, so 1st Lieutenant W. H. H. Shibley was in command of the Company. The troops stationed at Marshall were expected to surrender at Shreveport, La. Officers of the 22nd Regiment and another Northwest Arkansas regiment, the 34th Arkansas, commanded by Col. W. H. Brooks of Fayetteville, held a consultation, as most of the men lived in the same general part of the state. The 22nd’s men were mostly from Crawford County–from Van Buren and the numerous other villages, as well as a goodly number from the valleys and ridges of the Boston range of the Ozarks to the north. The men of the 34th Arkansas were from across the Boston range but distinctly of the Arkansas Ozarks–they were from Prairie Grove, Cane Hill, Fayetteville, farms on Cove Creek, Richland, from near Rhea’s Mill and other environs. The 35th’s men and the 22nd’s men had gotten pretty well acquainted, for their paths had been crossing often. The 34th had drilled, before the battle of Prairie Grove in December, 1862, down along the Arkansas River near Van Buren.
To go to Shreveport would require many miles of unnecessary travel, as they would have to go down the Red River to the Mississippi, up that river to the mouth of the Arkansas, and up that river to Little Rock. If the water was low, they would have to march overland to Van Buren.
When the proposition was made to the commanding officer that these two regiments be allowed to go to the Post at Fort Smith to surrender, he readily agreed, as that would relieve him of two regiments. The regiments left Marshall together and marched as a little army. The roads were rough and it took between 16 and 18 days to make the trip. Strict discipline was observed and nothing was molested enroute, this speaking well of the men and their officers.
When the two regiments were within a short distance of Fort Smith, they halted and pitched camp. They put out guards, as they felt that although they were at home, yet they were in the country of the enemy, and they wished to be prepared for any emergency. Several of the officers went into Fort Smith with a flag of truce, not knowing whether the commanding officer at the Post knew they were to report to him. Company G was represented by its First Lieutenant, W. H. H. Shibley. When all necessary arrangements for their surrender had been made, those with the flag of truce returned to camp and made their report. The regiments then broke camp and marched into Fort Smith, with their bands playing “Dixie” and their flags flying.
The men marched up, stacked their guns, and stepped back. Lieutenant Shibley was one of those selected to go to the headquarters of General Bussey, at what is now known as the “Old Commissary Building” at Fort Smith. They were received kindly. Lieutenant Shibley told the General that his men lived just across the Arkansas River in Crawford County, several of them in Van Buren, and that he would like to have a day’s rations and ferriage for the men, as they had no money with which to pay their passage across on the ferry.
Soon the men were drawn up in line in front of their guns, each one being searched for ammunition. The swords of the officers were taken but the sidearms buckled around their waists on the outside of their uniforms were allowed to be kept by the men. The soldiers were then paroled and told to return later and take the oath of allegiance.
W. H. H. Shibley brought Company G home, across the river, to Van Buren and took them to the Commissary department located at the foot of Main Street. Each man received one day’s rations. Those living in town were asked to give their portions over to those living out in the county so they would have sufficient to last until they reached their own firesides. Some dwelt on Lee’s Creek, some down at Dyer, some on Big Mulberry, some at Cedarville, some out in the Stevenson settlement, some at Figure Five, and others out in other neighborhoods.
The soldiers were not taken up Main Street, as the feeling at Van Buren was not as friendly as had been that at Fort Smith. Rather, they were taken up Webster Street, the one just south of Main, to a vacant lot at Webster and South Sixth streets. The Company was disbanded. The soldiers went home.
Years later, the Shibley brothers and A. J. Lockhart wrote down the names, from memory, of 138 of the original Company G of 150 boys. Many muster rolls had been lost and the years had a way of dimming their recollection, but here are the ones they remembered:
Abbott, --- Bushong, Alex Davis, E. P.
Alvison, William Bushong, Will Dyer, Steven
Alvison, Joe Campbell, Tom Dugan, David
Bates, Peter Carson, Kitt Edwards, James
Bailey, Doc Chambers, Hall Estes, John
Bailey, Quint Chilton, A. Fullerton, obert
Baxter, James M. Clark, G. K. Gee, James
Baxter, F. Clegg, Joe Glass, Henry
Baxter, Poley Coleman, Jack Glass, John
Barker, James Coleman, Louis Harrison, John
Benoit, Ernest Coleman, Will Hartgraves, ohn
Benton, Jim Collins, Ben Hawkins, J. D.
Best, --- Couts, Will Heard, John
Bostick, Alfred Covey, John Hill, James
Brodie, John Curry, Lige Hiner, Isaac
Brodie, J. S. Day, David Hines, Jack
Brodie, D. W. Daniels, John Hinkle, James
Burrow, John Davis, John Hinkle, John
Hodges, John McGee, Thomas Simon, Martin
Houck, Joseph McIntyre, --- Smith, Alvis
Howell, A. B. Meggins, W. E. Smith, Americus
Irvin, --- Merrill, W. T. Smith, Rem
Jackson, B. Miles, Robert Spivey, U.
Jackson, F. Moore, D. W. Spoon, Abe
Jackson, John Moss, Joe Stevenson, Cam
Jackson, Tom Moss, Sam Stevenson, R. W.
Jackson, Will Mullen, George Talley, Barton
Jones, James Mullen, John Thomas, Whit
King, James P. Murton, Edward Turner, Thornton
Kinton, Wash Neal, F. M. Turman, Carroll
Kuykendall, --- Norwood, George Vines, Jim
Lacy, Alex H. Palmore, S. Vinsant, I. B.
Langford, Lewis Peveyhouse, Jasper Wallace, John
Lige, --- Pounds, Isaac Warden, Marion
Lockhart, A. J. Pounds, Newman Wells, Jake
Luntsford, --- Proffet, James Wells, Tom
Lynch, Pat Pugh, Wm. West, John
Maples, Joe Rucker, Nute West, Marion
Matlock, David Sagely, Joe West, M. T
Matlock, John Salyons, Arch White, Hadly
Manis, James Savage, Joe Whitehead, James
Martin, Dick Shibley, John S. Whitely, ---
McCafferty, Mike Shibley, W. H. H. Williams. ---
McCurdy, John Shields, John Winkler, Henry
McGee, Ben Shields, Will Woods, Jim
In August, 1866, William Henry Harrison Shibley and his mother drove back to their former home at Shibley’s Point, Missouri, and he was married to his childhood sweetheart, Esther Cook, on the 16th of that month. The bride’s father, Rev. Thomas Bishop Cook, performed the marriage ceremony. The bride and bridegroom and his mother came back to the log cabin home in Arkansas, returning in a surrey drawn by two mules which W. H. H. had rented. Years later, he told his children and grandchildren how, on long weary nights during the Civil War, he received comfort from looking at the stars, a particularly bright one which he had named “Esther.”
After living a year with the Shibley family, W. H. H. and his wife moved to Van Buren, where they rented a small log house that stood on the northeast corner of what is now South Sixth and Webster streets. Here their oldest son Harry was born.
John Samuel Shibley took up the study of medicine. He had been handy at waiting on the sick and wounded in the war. He was graduated with high honors from medical college at Nashville, Tennessee, and returned to Arkansas to practice. At Roseville, located on the south bank of the Arkansas River below Fort Smith (the town has now almost disappeared) and at Ozark, he followed his profession and also taught in those towns. At Roseville, a baby was born to him and his first wife, and here both his wife and baby died. It is believed they are buried at Roseville.
Dr. J. S. Shibley moved to Paris, Arkansas, and became one of the leading physicians of the state. He was known and loved by all for many miles around. He was particularly known for his high Christian character, his many charitable acts, and his help in building the Christian Church at Paris. He became known as the leading authority on tuberculosis in Arkansas, and at the completion of the Arkansas Tuberculosis Sanitorium at Booneville, which he had worked hard to establish, he was appointed by Governor George Donaghey as its first superintendent. This was in the summer of 1910.
As mentioned in several of these letters, the brothers had written other letters during the period covered herein. It is not known whether the missing letters were lost in transit and never received, or simply lost over the ensuing years.
Although this is the last letter in the collection, there surely were more letters written to “Dear Parents” during the twenty-two months that followed before Lieutenant W. H. H. Shibley surrendered Company G at Fort Smith on June 9, 1865, three years after the brothers enlisted in the Confederate Army in June of 1862. A thoughtful reader can only regret the loss of the Shibley brothers’ accounts and commentaries of their trials and battles during the last twenty-two months of their service and of the events leading to the surrender of the army of the Confederate States of America, and the end of the Civil War.
It is with deep appreciation to others, such as Harry Shibley, Sr. and Ruie Ann Smith Park, as well as the Washington County Historical Society, that these letters were published and therefore became available to me. My interest in reprinting them is not purely historical, because the “Dear Parents” of these brave and loyal soldier boys were my great-grandparents, and I am extremely proud to have come from such sturdy stock.
Copyright is totally owned by Dell L. Nelson and reproduction by any means must have permission of
Dell L. Nelson
Fort Smith, Arkansas
If you have any questions or comments or if
you would like to have more information about the Civil War and
Pension Records of the men who served in these Companies, contact Jeri Helms Fultz or Bryan Howerton
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