Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The British Connection: The Secret Son of Brig. Gen. Daniel Harris Reynolds

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The British Connection: The Secret Son of Brig. Gen. Daniel Harris Reynolds

Article excerpt

Daniel Hharris RreynoldDs is well known to historians of Arkansas for his distinguished service in the Confederate Army and for the lively and illuminating diary that he kept throughout the Civil War.1 Born near Centerburg in Hilliar Township, Knox County, Ohio, on December 14, 1832, he was the fourth of the ten children of Amos Reynolds (1801-1850) and Sophia Houck (1808-1849), farmers.2 After the deaths of his parents, he studied at the recently founded Ohio Wesleyan University from 1850 to 1854 and became a freemason in 1853. From Delaware, Ohio, he moved to Iowa in 1854, then to Somerville, Tennessee, three years later to study law. After qualifying as an attorney at law, he established his own practice in Lake Village, Chicot County, Arkansas, taking up residence there on June 15, 1858.3 The settlement, which was to be his home for the rest of his life, was small but had gained significance in 1857, when it became the county seat. The main attraction of the area for new settlers was the prosperity created by its cotton plantations. The population increased from 5115 in 1850 to 9234 in 1860, when the county produced more cotton than any other in Arkansas. Of the 1860 population, 7512 were slaves.4

Reynolds prospered professionally and began to invest in property- but he did not buy slaves. The 1860 census shows him resident on June 1 in Parker House (Hotel) in Old River Township, along with four other lawyers and a dozen or so others of various trades and professions. His real estate was valued at $8500, his personal estate at $500.5

At the same time, he was becoming prominent on the local political front as a vigorous proponent of the secession of the southern states. The only surviving antebellum issue of the Chicot Press, dated January 17, 1861, includes his announcement of his candidacy for election as delegate to the proposed secession convention in Little Rock and of arrangements for him to address meetings at nine locations in Chicot County before the balloting on January 28. The same issue contains appeals for support of the Chicot Rangers, a body of cavalry that he recruited, which was to become Company A of the First Arkansas Mounted Rifles in the Confederate Army.6

Reynolds was not elected delegate to the secession convention, but during the war he gained great prestige, showing much political astuteness as well as fine military judgment and leadership. After the battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, his unit fought in the Western Theater as part of the Army of Tennessee. Starting as a captain, he achieved the rank of colonel in November 1863 and brigadier general in March 1864. His active service ceased on March 19, 1865, shortly before the end of the war, when, during the battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, a cannonball killed the horse on which he was mounted and destroyed his leftleg, which had to be amputated above the knee. He endured the whole ordeal with great stoicism. On June 2, he ordered a wooden leg from a doctor in Baltimore. On June 15, he was back home and wrote the final words in his diary:

The war is over and we failed. I have many things to regret and many things to be proud of, but of none am I prouder than that of having commanded "Reynolds's Arkansas Brigade" and nothing do I regret so much as the loss of our cause. We lost many noble men, but those who did their duty like men will ever be held in grateful remembrance by their relatives and friends, and by the friends of constitutional liberty everywhere. Peace to their ashes.7

On August 21, 1865, Reynolds wrote to President Andrew Johnson, making a special application for the benefits of the amnesty proclamation of May 28, 1865-an amnesty from which he, as a senior Confederate officer, was excluded. Having received no reply, he wrote again on January 15, 1866.8 Again, no reply was received, and it was not until November 13, 1866 that he was granted a full presidential pardon.9 In August 1866, the citizens of Chicot, Ashley, and Drew Counties elected him to the Arkansas state senate, but he only served for a matter of months before the legislature was disbanded by Reconstruction authorities. …

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