Tuesday, September 01, 2015

TOP STORY >> Marker honors Civil War duel

A marker commemorating the Marmaduke-Walker Civil War duel was recently placed at Reed’s Bridge Battlefield in Jacksonville.

Although the duel was fought at the Godfrey LeFevre plantation in North Little Rock, not being supported in the 1863 battle that took place at Reed’s Bridge was the last straw for Confederate Gen. John Sappington Marmaduke, according to community outreach director Mark Christ of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

Marmaduke also felt he didn’t receive support from his commanding officer, Gen. Lucius Marshall (Marsh) Walker, during battles at Helena and Brownsville earlier that year, Christ said.

According to an Encyclopedia of Arkansas article on the duel, Walker didn’t implement the planned operations and left Marmaduke and his troop unprotected.

After the Reed’s Bridge battle, Marmaduke asked to be removed from under Walker’s command, Christ said.

The article states Marmaduke attempted to meet with Walker to discuss battle strategy but that Walker wouldn’t leave his post.

Marmaduke threatened to retire from the military if he were not granted the requested transfer, it continues.

The transfer was approved, but the feud didn’t end because Marmaduke responded by letter to rumors that Walker had questioned his courage.

Christ said the staff working for both generals instigated the back-and-forth that ensued.

The article states that Walker’s friend and letter carrier, Col. Robert H. Crockett, challenged Marmaduke to the duel without consulting Walker.

Marmaduke’s friend and letter carrier was Capt. John C. Moore.

He and Crockett arranged terms of the duel and scheduled it without the generals present, the Encyclopedia of Arkansas article claims.

The marker reads that the generals met at dawn Sept. 6, 1863, armed with Navy Colts.

Both fired and missed, and then Marmaduke fatally wounded Walker.

Walker died the next day, after forgiving the other general for shooting him, the marker states.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas article, a third general ordered the two men to stay at their posts in order to stop the duel, but Walker didn’t receive the order and Marmaduke ignored it.

The third general arrested Marmaduke after it because of an 1820 Arkansas law prohibiting duels. But he was released to keep the troops from becoming hostile or resentful, the article claims. Marmaduke was later appointed to major general and was elected as governor of Missouri in 1884. He died three years later.

According to the encyclopedia of Arkansas article, Marmaduke was from Missouri and a former governor’s son.

Walker was from Kentucky, and President James K. Polk was his uncle.

Both men graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Walker was transferred to Arkansas, where Marmaduke was stationed, after having trouble with his superiors.

The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission paid half the purchase price for the marker. It cost $2,040, Christ said.

He added that Dennis and Marsha Ward donated the rest.

The Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society, the Arkansas Humanities Council’s Department of Arkansas Heritage and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program also sponsored the marker.