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The 136th anniversary of an historic Civil War engagement
on the White River was part of a special celebration
on Saturday, June 24, 2000 at Clarendon.


A plaque was placed at Clarendon City Hall commmemorating the capture and sinking of the Union's gunboat, the Queen City, by Confederate troops, under command of Gen. Joe Shelby at about 4:00 a.m. on June 24, 1864. Gen. Shelby led about 1,000 Confederate cavalry troops into the Clarendon area from their former encampment on the White River, about 7 miles below Augusta.

According to a letter Gen. Shelby wrote to his superior following the battle, the Queen City was stationed at Clarendon, "guarding the river from that point up to DeValls Bluff". Shelby had his troops dismount and moved them to a position on the river bank about 200 yards from the gunboat, equipped with four pieces of artillery. About 4:00 a.m. Shelby gave the command to open fire. After 20 minutes of bombardment, the Queen City's commander, Master Mate Hickey, surrendered. Hickey and those of his 65-man crew who were unable to escape, were captured.

The boat's steam engines were disabled in the attack. The Confederate soldiers towed the boat to shore and removed two of the nine artillery pieces, as well as all of the ship's small arms and stores. Explosives were placed aboard the Queen City and she was pushed out into the river's current. Two explosions sank the vessel in the river's slow current about a mile below the city in an area known as Buzzard's Roost. Shattered remains of the Union gunboat remain there today.

Don Crain of Little Rock portrayed General Shelby sitting atop his trusty horse, Dixie Belle.


Reggie Talley, Cooperative Extension Service agent for Monroe County, worked on these commemoration events for quite some time. Reggie is an avidlly interested in Civil War history and frequently participates in Civil War re-enactments. He anticipates this commemoration will become an annual event.

A parade kicked off the day's activities at 10:30 a.m., and proceeded to City Hall for the plaque dedication ceremony. Other parade participants were re-enactors of the 37th Illinois Infantry, the Confederate Honor Guard, the Navy Honor Guard, and several companies of the Arkansas Infantry.

The crowd was treated to music by a Civil War era string band set up in the Gazebo across from City Hall.

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