The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, VOl. XVII, Spring > 1958, No. 1, page 82.

In the mountain counties of North Arkansas in the fall of 1861 secret organizations were formed for self-protection and apparently to resist Confederate authority. Total membership in the organizations was estimated at 1700 and was concentrated in Searcy, Marion, Carroll, Izard, Fulton, and Van Buren Counties. In these counties, and perhaps in several others, the local units of the Arkansas Peace Society were quickly suppressed by extra-legal citizens' committees acting with the county militia units and with justice of the peace courts. Many of the arrested members were forced into Confederate service either by local citizens' committees or by the state military board at Little Rock. Some were tried for treason in Confederate circuit court and acquitted. Many of those forced into Confederate service deserted and joined the Federal army.

Only a part of the records relating to the Peace Society survived, but they are sufficient to show the scope and the nature of the organization. Surviving documents contain the names of 240 members and suspected members. Of these 181 were located in the United States census manuscript schedules, 1860. An analysis of that record revealed that of the 181, 115 were born in Tennessee, 13 in North Carolina, and 11 in Arkansas. The leadership of the movement was also predominantly Southern-born. Six preachers among the leaders seemed to have been especially influential. The brotherhood was indigenous, composed of mountaineers who had no intention of going to war on either side and who wanted to be left alone. There could of course be no neutrality, and the members were forced to take sides.

The documents here reproduced are located in the Kie Oldham Collection, at the Arkansas History Commission.

SAM LESLIE TO GOVERNOR H. M. RECTOR Wiley's Cove, Arks Oct 21 1861 H. M. Rector Gov of Ark

Dear sir

Your Letter of the 16th Inst is now before me and contents notised. You say it has been reported to the Military Board there are One Hundred Good fighting men in Cove Township, Searcy Co that has not nor will not volunteer thir servicis In behalf of the South. What would prompt aney one to attempt to cast such a stigma upon the people of this Township I am not able to comprehend, ware your informant a citizen of Searcy Co I might have some Ida of the cause, this Township (Cove) has not turned out as many volunteers as she might have don, this county has about 300 men in service of the Confederate States though we are only represented by two companies the rest of our men Joined compained in the adjoining counties and those counties is receiving the credit. Cove Township has about 60 able bodied men subject to military duty all told only five out of that number single men and Eight volunteers which will leave 52 now subject to duty the Great bulk of our men now in service has been furnished by three Townships, there is other Townships in the County that has done but little better than Cove, and they pass unnoticed. I will say to you that the citizens of Cove Township is as Law abiding a people as lives and the records of out corts will bear me out in the assursion, wehich may account in some degree for their not being more ready to volunteer there is other causes, so many Misourians running off and leaving the state, has had its influence I know this county has had a bad name at a distance we have been called Black Republicans and Abolitionists &c but we have never had aney of thos characters amongst us. It is true that the citizens of this county war union men as long as there was aney hope of the Union and perhaps a little longer, but all Ida of the Union as it onst was is banished the time has passsed for the North and South to live to gether in pease and harmoney and we must be loyal to the government we live under this is the fealings of the people of this Co so fare as I have any knolledg and when you hear men call the pople of Searcy Co. by hard names rest assured they are willfully lying or uninformed with the character of out people. I write you this letter Gov. in order to plase the Good people of Searcy Co. write before you I feel it is a duty I owe to them to do so.

I hope Cove Township will yet give a Good account of hir self that you may have no reason to complain. Respectfully your friend Sam Leslie1

P.S. You will please comission Saml Boyd as 2 Lieut Cove Township Searcy Co 45 Reg Ark Militia Cap S. L. Redwines Co. S.L. * * * GOVERNOR H. M. RECTOR TO SAM LESLIE Executive Office, Little Rock Nov 28th 1861 Sam Leslie Col Commandant 45th Regt A.M. Sir

Your letter of the 26 Inst has just reached me by couriers Melton and Griffin. I regret extremely that any of our citizens should prove disloyal to their government. But if they so conduct themselves the power of those in authority must be exercised to preserve peace, and enforce obedience to the Constitution and the Laws.

The people of the State Arkansas through their representatives in Convention have taken the State out of the Old Union and attached it to the Confederacy. And although there may be a minority against this action, yet ours is a government where a majority rules and the minority must submit.

I and my officers in the State are sworn to support and enforce the laws as they are and individuals, one or many, rebelling against those laws, must be looked after and if for the safety of the country, it becomes necessary to arrest and imprison them or to execute them for treason, that must and will be done promptly and certainly, if it is necessary to call out every man in the State to accomplish it.

Still, I deeply regret the necessity, but will not be deterred from doing my whole duty let the blow fall where it may. You will therefore proceed to arrest all men in your county who profess friendship for the Lincoln government or who harbor or support others arousing hostility to the Confederate States or the State of Arkansas. And when so arrested you will march them to this place, where they will be dealt with, as enemies of their country whose peace and safety is being endangered by their disloyal and treasonable acts.

To enable you to enforce this order you will call out such of the Militia and may be necessary and you will be careful also to afford protection to the loyal citizens and their property in your county, as occurring events may seem to require your interposition for their security.

Confiding in your intelligence and devotion to your state, and to the Confederacy of which you are a citizen, I entertain no opinion other than that you will do your whole duty, as a man and an officer. Respectfully H. M. Rector Gov and Commander in Chief, A. M.

* * * IZARD COUNTY COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION TO GOVERNOR RECTOR To His Excellency H. M. Rector Govr. and Prest. Military Board of the State of Arkansas.

This introduces to your favorable consideration and notice Mr. W. B. F. treat the bearer hereof to your Excellency, who will more fully explain to your Excellency the circumstances connected herewith.

Some ten days ago it became a matter of publicity in this county2 that a secret conspiracy against the laws and liberties of the people of this state was on foot extending from Fulton county this State quite through this and perhaps Searcy and Van Buren Counties.

Immediately the citizens of this county were in arms to quell the same. Scouting parties were sent out in every direction in search of those suspected of having connections with the organization; and a committee of investigation was elected to enquire into the existence, objects, and purposes of the aforesaid secret conspiracy which committee is composed of the undersigned, who have proceeded to examine and have examined all the persons apprehended and brought before us all of whose names are hereto attached.

And after a full and fair investigation of the matter with all the lights before us, we find that the persons above named together with others we have not found, had formed themselves into a secret organization having a constitution and by laws and secret signs a copy of which constitution is herewith submitted to your excellency and marked A. and we considered that the organization is a secret thing dangerous in its operations and subversive of the rights and liberties of the people of this State, and of the Confederate States; and if not treason itself, at least treasonable, and being acquainted with most if not all of the persons examined, and many of them being young, mere boys, who were doubtless led ignorantly into the society, that is led into it not being informed of its objects and purposes, and feeling willing in our minds that they should wipe out the foul stain, by enlisting in the service of the Confederate States for and during the war, we accordingly gave them an opportunity of so enlisting, whereupon the whole of them, that is to say forty seven the same whose names are hereunto attached immediately enrolled their names as volunteers in the Confederate Service for and during the war. This we think is a matter of lenity toward them and that they may possibly do good service to our country. They leave here as soon as transportation can be had, for Genl Borland's headquarters at Pocahontas Ark. Should it appear to your Excellency that we have not taken the proper steps in this matter we have reserved the right of your Excellency to do with them as you may deem proper, and have so informed Genl Borland with regard thereto.

For further particulars relative to this unfortunate matter, thus happily terminated, we refer you to our messenger who will bear you this.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

Sylamore Ark Nov 28 1861

W. B. F. Treat, Chairman Daniel Jeffery Wm. C. Dixon Simon E. Rosson Jesse Hinkle A. W. Harris R. B. Dicksen Moses Bishop G. W. Gray Henry Cole T. W. Edmundson A. P. Mix Secy



We the undersigned subscribers agree to form ourselves into an association call and known by the name and style of the Mill Creek peace organization society. Self preservation being an undisputed natural right, and the right of communities to combine together for the mutual protection of themselves their families and their property being well established. This being the sole purpose for which we met for this purpose alone we do adopt the following resolutions by which we expect to be governed in all our proceedings Resolved 1st. That each member before entering into this society shall take an oath as follows I do solemnly swear in the presence of Almighty God and these witnesses that I will well and truly keep all the secrets of this society that I will ever hail always conceal and never reveal anything. I will on the shortest notice go to the assistance of any other brother So help me God.

2nd As it is a matter of life or death with us any member of this society who shall betray to our enemies the existence of this society he shall forfeit his life and it shall be the duty of each member of this society having received knowledge of such betrayal to forthwith inform the brethren each of whose duty it shall be to follow such traitor and take his life at the price of their own. The manner of admitting members shall be in strict accordance with the foregoing preamble and resolutions and by such members as the society may select. A true copy from the original furnished by a member of the society. * * *



The undersigned subscribers3 hereby tender their services as volunteers for and during the ware between the Confederate States and the United States under the immediate command of Major Thos W Edmundson and Capt Neely C. McGuyre to come under all the rules and regulations of the Regular Army Subject to all transfers regularly made, either by said Edmundson and McGuyer or any other Confederate officer

Thos Becket Saml Peyton Jordan Becket James P Toney Thos R Becket Jesse Williams H. J. Pritchard Wesley Williams Jas M Pritchard Allen Willams Jas T. Hilton W. J. McGinnis Brice Prator John McGinnes Wm V Hilton Elijah McGinnis Jno H. Pritchard John Bohannon Wm R. Stevens E. B. Rambolt Wiley J. Brewer Wm Shelton Jeremiah Clemens Wm Woodall John Prater James Ray Bucy Young Elijah Haney James Wooten Elijah Becket Calvin Bryant L. D. Wooten Sen. Wm Wooten Burwell Haney Davis Prater M. K. Woodward Larkin Carr Jno M Elliot Jas B Scott W A C Ferrill Isaac Long John Ferrill Wm W. Daniel S.A. Campbell Basel Prator John Bryant Jno W. Kerly

* * * RECOMMENDATION FOR RELEASE OF WITNESSES AGAINST PEACE SOCIETY Head Quarters Battalion Arkansas Cavalry Vounteers Camp Culloden, Carroll Co. Arks Decr. 6th, 1861

To the Governor, Military Board and Judicial Tribunals of the State of Arkansas Whereas this day John Christy4 and his two sons Joseph C. Christy and J.F.H. Christy and P. M. Hensly,5 Gilmore Smith6 and D. C. Baker7 Citizens of Searcy County Arkansas voluntarily came and appeared before Honbles Kelly Featherstone and William Owens associate justices sitting as a court of Enquiry and Investigation into certain secret treasonable and Insurrectionary movements believed to exist and formed into societies under various appellations held together by oaths, Signs, Tokens and pass words and made known to said court the existence of a society represented to them as a Peace Society organizations being a good thing and for the protection of their homes property and family against Robbers and thieves and that it was a neighborhood society and that the best men and oldest citizens of the County were members of it and by which representation they were induced to go into the same and took the oath as members and whereas from their testimony given before this court and to which your attention is particularly invited to, we are fully satisfied that these men were gulled and deceived into the same by false representations.

We would most respectfully Petition the Executive of the State for their release from confinement and that they may be used if necessary in behalf of the State as to what they know, that we believe them to be honest Respectable and unsuspecting men who have without design or intention of wrong to the State or Confederate States been induced by intriguing and designing men to become members of a society which they now believe had an evil design in it though so far as they were capable of judging at the time they were not capable of discovering although the said John Christy, Joseph C. Christy, J. F. H. Christy, and Gilmore Smith said from their evidence which was taken separate and apart from each other and voluntarily given that they did not like the secret signs & tokens and while the oath was being given them and objected to that part at the time and that we are satisfied from the matter in which they came before the court and testified that they were anxious to ferret out all the wrong & evil if there was one in it.


We the undersigned cheerfully join in the recommendation for release of the parties above named and all others testifying voluntarily & making confessions as done by these parties and upon pledges of Fidelity and Support to the State of Arkansas and the Confederate States of America.


Israel Burns H. Hendrix James C. Jameson S. W. Ruff J. A. Hicks Wm Wyatt C. C. Robertson H. M. Truett L. L Hendrix H. F. W. Robertson L.D. Kilborn John Sullivant Wm. P. Kilburn T. G. Hendrix Thomas Parker W. F. Miles Jacob Cummins Americus Robertson James Hambleton Joseph Stephenson A. J. Cole Nathan Slay G. L. Hendrix John M. Hensley P. A. Hendrix John Jamason L. G. Slay James D. Robertson G. K. L. Rea J. H. Hendrix

* * *

COMMITMENT OF PRISONERS IN CARROLL COUNTY JUSTICE OF PEACE COURT Head Quarters Battalion Arkansas Cavalry Volunteers Camp Culloden Carroll County, Arks Dec 9, 1861

Now on this day it is ordered by Honbles Kelly Featherston and William Owens associate justices of this county of Carroll Arkansas, siting as a Court of Enquiry & Investigation into a certain secret Treasonable and Insurrectionary Society said to exist in this and the adjoining counties of the State of Arkansas and which society is said to be held together by secret oaths signed and pass words with the penalty of Death attached if revealed

That the following named persons be committed for further trial and that Capt Jno R. H. Scott commanding Battalion Arks Cavalry Volunteers C.S.A be requested to convey them or have them conveyed under guard to Little Rock Arkansas and surrendered there to the Governor of the State of Arkansas Namely George Long, Solomon Branum, Joshua Reeves, David Curry, James Latterel, Samuel Thompson, Patrick L. Downey, James Thompson, James E. Curry, Charles W. Price, William Brown8, George Hooten, Mike Tinkle, William Dugger, Luther Phillips, Thomas Dugger, William M. Will, James Hollis, Jasper Dugger, Mayfield Addison, William C. Singletary, and John M. Carithers.9

And it is further ordered by the court that the following named persons enter in Bond the sum of Five Hundred dollars each for their appearance forthwith before the Governor of the State of Arkansas to testify in regard to certain matters voluntarily acknowledged before this court and not depart the order or decree of the Governor without leave therefrom, To Wit:

John Christy, Joseph Christy, J. F. H. Christy, P. M. Hensley, Gilmore Smith, Carroll Kilburn, E. L. Osborn, Carlton Keeling, George M. Hays, J. W. Kirkham, John McEntire, and John C. McNair.10

Which is accordingly here done in open court, on this 9th day of Decr 1861.

William Owens, J.P. Kelly Featherston J.P * * *

Head Quarters Burrowsville, 11Ark. Dec 9th, [1861] To His Excellency H. M. Rector Gov. of Ark.

Dear Sir: I have this day ordered the prisoners under my care at this place to take up the line of march to Little Rock under a guard of one hundred Soldiers commanded by Lt. Brevet Lieut Col A. Ham, Maj John Bradshaw, and Agt Mager Jesse Cypert. I have no testimony only the testimony of the prisoners in their own confessions. You will call on Brev. Lieut. Col. Ham, Maj Bra[d]shaw, and Adj Maj Cypert, they can point out to you such other testimony as would become necessary, the most of the prisoners came in and surrendered, acknowledging their guilt and willing to Bide by the Law of their country, there is several men implicated in this seacret order skulking about in the woods and have not been arrested. I will do all I can to have then taken and brought to Justice. It seems as if the Whole Countrey have become ingaged in this matter to some Extent, and but for the timely discovery of it there is no telling what the can cequence would have been. Men who was considered to be amongest our best citizes has acknowledged them selves to be members of this secret order, said by some to be a home guard, by others home protection. I called on Capt Scott commanding Squadron at Camp Colodn Carroll Co. Capt Scott informs me that he would give me the aid ast fer and sent a portion of his command into this and Last Week arrested several men and carrying them to his head quarters and has them in his care and informed me that he would convey them to Little Rock. So soon as I think it safe to do so I will disband the men that I ordered into service. I have been sick for the las twelve [days] not able to attend to any kind of business and am just now able to sit up and write consequently I am not prepared any report at this time. Any instructions that you think [i] should have you will please Informe by Brevet Lieut Col Ham. I also send you a list of the names of the persons I have retained three prisoners here that could [not] travle on account of their health So soon as [I can] I will send them to Little Rock unless you see proper to order some other disposition made of them. Respectfully your Obt serv Sam Leslie Col Commanding 45th Reg Arkansas Militia


Head Qrs Battalion Arks Cav Volunteers Camp Culloden Carroll Co. Arkansas Decr. 18th, 1861 The State of Arkansas Vs (Knowledge of and identity with Secret Treasonable and Insurrectionary Society Peter Tyler and Isaiah Ezell

Before the Honble Kelly Featherston Justice of the Peace within and for the County of Carroll State of Arkansas

Personally came and appeared Peter A. Tyler12 party in the above action said to have a knowledge of and perhaps Identity with a certain secret society hold together by certain oaths signs Tokens pass word &c & the revelation of which subjected its members to the punishment of death and upon his own voluntary request makes the following acknowledgments in relations to the matter and things wherof he has knowledge.

I am a member of a certain secret society represented to me by Long and D. Jamison13 who initiated me into the society in company with Samuel Grinder and Josiah Lane all taking the oath & receiving the signs tokens and pass words from Jamison at one & the same time about three weeks ago more or less as a "home protection" society and that there was no harm in it but to protect our selves out families & property and that it came from the North and that it was all over the South. I told him I was no northern man what I have is here and he said it was for home protection & after he administered the oath to me & grinder & lane he then gave me and them the signs tokens and pass words, which as well as I remember are as follows. The first sign was placing the three fingers of the left hand angling across the nose the answer was carelessly feeling under the chin with one of the hands. The next sign was to place one finger in the shirt collar I believe left hand and the answer was to put the right hand on the left breast. The next was to raise the hat with one hand and place it back on the head the answer was turn the back to the person moving the hat.

A token was in meeting after night on speaking if anyone was with him you said "It was a very dark night" and the answer would be "Not so dark as it will be i the morning." Once sign was to hang up in the front door of the house a piece of red ribbon, calico, or flannel. Another token was when they were separate to get together was to Hoot like and Owl, and the answer was to howl like a wolf I think. I heard somewhere after the noise commenced about it that it came from Washington City but Jamison did not tell me if I recollect right he said to me it was for protection when invaded by robbers, I gave the paper or obligation to David Curry & told him to take care of it for it might be of an advantage to them. I & Sam Grinder & Jo Lane were all sworn in by Jamison at the same time, and after that I rode around among the boys & swore in the following persons as members to wit Isaiah Ezell,14 David Curry, Peter Reeves,15 Joshua Reeves, Robert Grinder, David Barnett, 16 John McEntire, Thomas Younger, Alexander Younger,17 George Hooten, John Brown,18 Robert Tinkle, 19 Mike Tinkle, James Thompson, Thomas Thompson, Samuel Thompson, J. C. Mc Nair, Claiborn Maness, James Curry, Patrick L. Downly, A. J. Love,20 Green Adams, Spencer Adams, Joseph Adams, 21 William Brown, Robert Grinder, Charles Price, Lindsay Price,22 Lindsay Bishop,23John Ezell,24 Daniel Parks, & Austin Pierce I think is the name, then maybe some more but I do not now recollect them if there are. I told Jamison I was not no northern man all I had was here. I told him I did not like the oath he said there was nothing wrong about it & he did not want any thing said about it, wanted it secret not to tell any body of it although it was all over the South or something to this amount. All those named above & my self and Grinder & Lane all held up our right hands when the obligations recd by us and given to them by me, all of which I am ready [to] and here verify. P. A. Tyler

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 18th day of Decr. 1861 Kelly Featherston J P

It is ordered here by this court that the said P. A. Tyler above named be committed for further trail and that he be conveyed to the city of Little Rock and surrendered to the Governor of the State of Arkansas and that he be placed in the hands of Captn Jno R. H. Scott commanding Squadron Arks Cavalry Volunteers C. S. A. with a request that he send him under guard to the City of Little Rock with such number of means he may deem sufficient to prevent his escape from custody in accordance with this order. Given under my hand and seal this 18th day of December 1861 Kelly Featherston, J. P. * * *

TESTIMONY OF ISAIAH EZELL ON THE PEACE SOCIETY Arks Cav Vol Camp Culoden Carroll Co Arks Decr. 18 1861 State of Arks Vs (Knowledge of and identity with Secret Treasonable and Insurrectionary Society Peter Tyler and Isaiah Ezell

Before the Honble Kelly Featherston J. P. of Carroll Co. Arkansas Personally came & appeared Isaiah Ezell one of the parties above and on oath sayeth. That he belongs to a home guard or Home protection Society of a Secret nature held together by certain oaths Signs tokens & pass words the revelation of which was punishable by death that he was initiated into the same by Peter Tyler, of Tomahawk Township Searcy County Arkansas he presented me with a paper purporting to be an obligation to which I was sworn but to which I did not affix my name. I saw no other one taken into the society nor never initiated any one into it, myself, except seeing John Ezell initiated at another time by Peter Tyler. I do not know the wording of the oath. One of the signs given was to place one of the hands about the nose the answer was perhaps rubing the hand under the chin. There was a sign to be put up somewhere about the house a piece of Ribbon or calico dont recollect the color. I dont know the meaning of this sign. There was something about an owl but I don't recollect what or how it was represented to me to be for the protection of our homes and families against robbers &c and if it was for any other purpose I was deceived in it. his Isaiah X Ezell mark Sworn and subscribed to before me this 18th day of Decr. 1861 Kelly Featherston J P

COLONEL WILLIAM C. MITCHELL TO GOVERNOR RECTOR Camp Madison, Ark. Decr. 23 1861 Hon. H. M. Rector Governor of the State of Arkansas Sir Three men enlisted by the name of George M. Hays Eli L. Osborn and John W. Kirkham from the countys of Marion and Carroll and from what I understand they are bound over to appear at Little Rock on a charge of Treason to the Confederate States. They belong to Captain R. E. Trimble Company in this Regt if you wish them conveyed to Little Rock a requisition for them you can make they are in safe hands and will be safely kept, subject to your demand.

I am Yours Respectfully

Wm C Mitchell

Col. 14 Regt Arks Vol


Prisoner William H. Yeary. Virginia Western 20 years in State. Knows nothing about the Secret organization only from hearsay. Never took the oath. Never was a member. Did not know anything about it until they were arresting persons for belonging to secret society. (Would not fight enemy unless came into State or Ark.)

David Franks Witness Fulton Co (good citizen)

M. Kisinger Witness Fulton Co (good citizen)

Wiley King Witness Fulton Co (good citizen)

James H. Ball. Prisoner, born in Virginia aged 49 years Farmer by occupation, 20 years in this State. Never belonged to secret society. Knows nothing about it, only from hearsay never said I would not fight for the South Brother-in-law to Mr. W. H. Yeary married his sister Never heard of a secret organization until parties were arrested.

B. H. Brown Witness Fulton Co

L. D. Bryant Witness Fulton Co Shff Co.

Shadrich H. Wren born in Wane Co Kentucky 38 years of age Farmer occupation living in this state 31 years. Prisoner Do not know of or what he was arrested Partially a member of a secret organization but not a full member. Took a portion of the oath secretly object of society was to oppose lawless companies one Co. in Missouri and one in Arkansas. This institution was to be a peace society, unconnected with Lincoln's army Ware, representative from Fulton County, initiated me Did not know anything about yellow rag until some time after I had joined. Ware said that the object was to oppose anything like mob law. Was opposed to fight in Missouri until the State seceded but would fight when she had seceded. Never have done or said anything that would give aid and comfort to Lincoln's government Carried a Constitution to a party of men, and read it to them or several of them. Had no authority to initiate. I am a citizen of the Southern Government, and owe allegiance to that government. Never tried to discourage men from volunteering but have assisted others by giving means and persuading them to volunteer. Would prefer standing my trial before Court, than volunteering because by volunteering I would not be relieved of the charge against me

H. W. Davis. Prisoner. Born in middle Tenn aged 46 years occupation farmer, lived in this State years. Isaac Adams Known H. W. Davis 12 months good character considered true to the South. H. W. Davis discharged. Sworn to bear allegiance to State of Arks & Confederate Confederate States, and a certificate of good citizenship. Baptist Preacher.

Vinsom M. Woodrum. Prisoner. Born in Tennessee, aged 50 years. James H. McBee. Prisoner. Born in aged 28 years son of Alexander McBee, arrested in Howell County Missouri was with my father and others. I never heard anything about the secret society until very lately I was going with my father. The man we had with us as a prisoner in Missouri was named Strother, he lived in Howell Co Missouri I would have volunteered and went to Pocahontas if I had been permitted.

Milfor W. Ball. Prisoner. 24 years old Born in N. C. Bunkum Co. Fulton County is my home. Gehuger Ball is my father. Going out to get labor when arrested. Never understood that we were to join the northern army. I am a Southern man in sentiment I never was a member of the secret society never heard of it until I was taken prisoner Would prefer going to war if could be with my brothers.

William Shirley. Prisoner. Independence County Polk Bayou. 35 years old, arrested in Independence Co. near my house. and sent me to Fulton County to stand my trial I am not certain when I joined secret organization but suppose it was six or seven weeks ago object to keep mob down. Nunnelly says had two companies to compel persons to go into service Have not taken sides with either party. Come from Henderson Co 17 mile from Lexington Tennessee. Would prefer standing a trial to going into Service Johnson Clark & other two Clarks W. W. Lewis of Batesville. Register Post Master at Batesville.

James A. Baker. Prisoner Born in aged years lived in this State Bad character. Belonged to a secret organization Dr. Nunnely raised a Co and went to Missouri and hung two men Was going to mob and overrun Citizens in Fulton and Searcy Counties joined society for protecting citizens against mobs. Its objectives as I understand was opposed to Lincoln's army, and only for home protection. Never undermined Southern Confederacy but contended for it all the time I understand that there were several persons in camps who belonged to the secret society but do not know who they are, nor who I heard mention it.

Joshua Richardson. Prisoner. Born in Massachusetts aged 61 years, occupation Methodist Minister and farmer 18 years in this State. Character Bad Never belonged to the secret order, never met at my house. Met to protect out lives and property from lawless mobs Met a half a mile from my house.

James C. Richardson. Prisoner. Born in aged 23 years, occupation a years in this State. Character bad as a boy can be. Son of Joshua Richardson. Was a member of secret organization, sworn in at my father's house. Father was not present The object of the society was for keeping down mobs, and protecting out property from being destroyed Bad health or he would have volunteered.

Gehuger Ball. Prisoner. Born aged 48 years lives in edge of Missouri. Don't belong to the secret order Don't know anything about it, except H. W. Davis presented a paper or constitution Runing from a Mob who were pursuing me when I was arrested There was a young man with us who was a Southern man.

William Strother Howell County Missouri. Witness. Proposition made to me to join a Gurella Party for the purpose of Robing and Stealing from secessionists I refused to join it I left where I lived because my life was in danger and thought that I would go to a more peaceable country. I owe allegiance to the Southern Confederacy.

Alexander McBee. Prisoner, Born in aged 58 years. Nunnellys Company arrested me. I left him first to get out of the way I was taken in Co with G. Ball There was a young man in out Co. who was carried with us until we got him so far that he could not go back and have us arrested Had got 20 or 25 miles up into Missouri I did not fairly join the secret society. Would not take the oath. Object as stated by James Baker was to prevent the mob destroy life and property I only took the oath as far as not divulging the secret My interests is in the South. If I were able I should volunteer. I give my boys permission to join any army they choose. Character of the old man very bad.


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 obeyed, 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 misrepresentations. 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] * * *


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 comdg


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 cociety. * * * 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 Board].


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 volunteer.

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 volunteer.

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

1 Samuled Leslie was born in Ky, Oct 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 N.C. 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 Tenn in 1833. Another son of John, James F. Homer Christy, was born in Ark. 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 Tenn in 1835. He served in Co. K, 18th Regt Ark. Inf. C.S.A.

6 Gilmore Smith was born in Tenn in 1811 and migrated to Ark 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 Tenn. 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 Tenn. in 1816 and in 1860 was residing in Whiteville Twp., Marion Co. Joshua Reeves, a United Missionary preacher, was born in Tenn. in 1820 and in 1860 was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. David Curry was born in Tenn. in 1825 and in 1860 was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. John Latterel (also spelled Luttrell), born in Tenn in 1826, served in both the Confederate and Federal army. Samel Thompson, son of James T. Thompson, was born in Mo. 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 Ky. in 1804, was in 1850 a resident of Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. James E. Curry, botn in Tenn. in 1822, was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860. Charles W. Price, son of Willam Price, was born in Tenn in 1840 and in 1860 was a resident of Searcy Co. He served in Co. K., 18th Ark Inf, CSA. William Brown, born in Tenn. in 1832, was living in Searcy Co. in 1861.

9 George Hooten was born in Tenn in 1823. Mike Tinkle, born in Tenn. in 1826 was a resident of Searcy Co. in 1860. William Dugger, born in Tenn. in 1819, was in 1860 a resident of UNion Twp., Marion Co. Luther Phillips , born in Tenn in 1834, was a member of Co. K, 1st Regt., Ark Cavalry, U.S.A. and was killed in action at Yokum Creek, Ark Nov 15, 1862. Thomas Dugger, born in Tenn. in 1841 was a resident of Marion CO. in 1861. William C. Singleterry, a physician, was born in N.C. in 1829 and in 1861 was residing in Marion Co. John M. Carrithers, a Southern Methodist preacher, was born in Ala. in 1829, and was in 1860 a resident of Carroll Co. 10Carroll Kilburn, born inTenn. in 1816, was in 1860 a resident of Richland Twp. Search Co. He served in Co. K, 18th Regt, Ark Inf, C.S.A. Eli Osborn, born in Ala in 1830, was living in Carroll Co. in 1860. He served in Co. H, 1th 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 Ga. 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 N.C., lived in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860. John C. Mc Nair, born in Tenn in 1823, was in 1869 residing in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.

11The present town of Marshall, Searcy Co.

12Peter Tyler was born in Mo. in 1834 and in 1860 was living in Cove Twp., Searcy Co.

13 D. Jamison, born in Mo. in 1824, was residing in Calf Creek Twp., Searcy Co.

14 Isaiah Ezell, born in Tenn. in 1816, was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.

15 Peter Reeves, born in Tenn. in 1820, was living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.

16 David Barnett, born in Tenn. in 1830, was in 1860 living in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co..

17 Alexander and Thomas Younger were both born in N. C., Alexander in 1829 and Thomas in 1800. In 1860, they were both residents of Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.

18 John Brown, born in Ga. in 1817, was in 1860 a resident of Union Twp., Fulton Co.

19 Robert Tinkle, born in Tenn. in 1834, was in 1860 a resident of Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co.

20 A. J. Love, born in Mo. in 1830, was a resident of in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860.

21 Spencer Adams and his soon Joseph in 1860 were residents of Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. They were both born in Ky.

22 Lindsay Price, born in Tenn. in 1835, lived in Tomahawk Twp., Searcy Co. in 1860. 23Lindsay Bishop, born in Tenn. in 1833, was a resident of Carrollton Twp., Carroll Co in 1860.

24 John Ezell, son of Isaiah Ezell, was born in Ark. in 1841

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 estimated 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. making them 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 Joshua 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: The Harness family married in to Reeves in the next generation or two.

David Barnett Flurry Grinder's husband, came to Arkansas with the Reeves train.

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

Depature 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