The Arkansas History Commission announces new Civil War documents recently given to the State Archives. Dr. David R. Burks of Tucson, Arizona, donated items belonging to his ancestor, James E. Sparks, Company H, 23rd Regiment, Arkansas Volunteers, including an 1863 letter written by Sparks to his wife while he was a prisoner-of-war in Louisiana, a tintype of Sparks in his Confederate uniform, and a surrender muster roll listing the soldiers in Sparks’ company who were taken prisoner, the vast majority of which were from Jonesboro and Harrisburg, Arkansas.
The Arkansas History Commission now has on its website “150 Years Ago Today: Arkansas in the Civil War,” which features one document for every day of the war years (January 1, 1861 through December 31, 1865). It is an excellent resource for researchers seeking first-hand accounts and original documents pertaining to the war and its impact on Arkansas.
The History Commission has actively sought materials related to the tumultuous war years since the creation of the agency in 1905 by the General Assembly. As a result of more than one hundred years of acquisition, the State Archives own the largest and most comprehensive holdings pertaining to Arkansas in the Civil War available anywhere.
The State’s most important documents from the war years—such as the original state constitutions of 1861, 1864, and 1868; Arkansas’s secession document; governors’ papers; diaries; letters; photographs; newspapers; currency; maps; and three-dimensional objects—are housed at the History Commission. These daily entries provide a look at the lives of Arkansas people during the most important event of the 19th century, and possibly the defining moment in the history of the United States.