Tag Archives: Brooks-Baxter War

Little Rock Look Back: Brooks-Baxter War Starts

Brooks BaxterOn April 15, 1874, Joseph Brooks, accompanied by armed men, including the Pulaski County Sheriff, went into the office of Governor Elisha Baxter demanding he vacate the office.  Alone, save a young son, Governor Baxter departed the Arkansas State Capitol (now the Old State House), and met up with a group of supporters to plan their response.

Thus, the Brooks-Baxter War in Arkansas had begun.

Brooks had faced off against Baxter in the 1872 gubernatorial election.  Both were Republicans, but represented different factions of the party.  Brooks led the Brindletails, which were more aligned with efforts to gradually re-enfranchise former Confederates as well as have a smaller government with limited gubernatorial powers.  Baxter led the Minstrels.  This group was focused on retaining power and control of state government by limiting re-enfranchisement of former Confederates.

Many historians believe that Brooks may have actually won the election, but Baxter’s faction’s control of the state machinery resulted in him being declared the winner.  Brooks’ appeal to the Arkansas General Assembly was unsuccessful.  He took it to the state courts, which was likewise going nowhere.  EXCEPT….

Baxter had changed course on his views toward Democrats and members of his own party. This resulted in him losing support of many Republicans.  He also fought with fellow Republicans regarding a railroad issue.  This led to a meeting of many leading Republicans including Arkansas’ two US Senators.  Not long after that, Pulaski County Circuit Judge John Whytock heard Brooks’ case.  On April 15, 1874, Judge Whytock ruled in favor of Brooks.

Following his ouster from the governor’s office, Baxter telegraphed President Grant, asking for assistance.  In the meantime, both sides recruited supporters.  Baxter and 200 men set up headquarters in the Anthony House, which was near the State Capitol.  Brooks and his supporters used furniture to barricade the capitol building.  Robert Catterson, a former Little Rock mayor, set up artillery pieces on the capitol lawn to defend Brooks.

For the next month, there would be many rumors and skirmishes.  Little Rock, like the rest of the state, was divided. And the conflict was just beginning.

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Brown Bag at Old State House today at noon – COURAGE, PROMINENCE, THEN OBSCURITY: THE LIFE OF EDWARD ALLEN FULTON

OSH Brown BagToday (March 10) at noon, Blake Wintory presents the Old State House’s March Brown Bag program on the life of Edward Allen Fulton.
Fulton was an African American leader, politician and newspaper editor in Arkansas during Reconstruction and subsequent years. Born a slave in Kentucky in 1833, Fulton spent his youth as a slave in Missouri before escaping and joining the abolitionist movement in Chicago. During the Civil War he worked as a recruiter for U.S. Colored Troops and arrived in post-war Arkansas in 1866.

In 1870 Drew County elected him to the Arkansas General Assembly as a Republican. Fulton sided with Joseph Brooks’ “Brindletail” or Reform Republicans and often clashed with the Regular Republicans, including Governor Powell Clayton. Throughout his career he championed the rights of African Americans and even led several Drew County families to western Iowa at the height of the Exoduster migration. Despite a colorful life that included an assassination attempt, Fulton died in relative obscurity in St. Louis in 1906.

Blake Wintory received his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2005. He is the on-site director at the 1859 Lakeport Plantation, an Arkansas State University Heritage Site in Chicot County. He serves on the board of Preserve Arkansas and the Friends of the Arkansas History Commission. In 2015 he published his first book, Images of Chicot County, and has published articles on Arkansas history in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the Arkansas Review, and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

Little Rock Look Back: Robert Catterson–Doctor, Soldier, LR Mayor

R_F_Catterson_BGen_ACWOn this date in 1835, future Little Rock Mayor Robert Francis Catterson was born in Indiana, the son of Irish immigrants.  He studied medicine in Ohio and established a medical practice in Indiana upon completion of his studies.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in the Union Army.  Throughout the war, he was promoted and was eventually mustered out as a brigadier general in 1866.  During his service, he participated in the siege of Vicksburg, the Battle of Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Following his departure from the military, Catterson decided not to return to medical practice.  He moved to Arkansas and worked for a brief time in the cotton commodities field.  He later returned to military service commanding a militia fighting the Ku Klux Klan.  Catterson was appointed US Marshal and would also command the Brooks troops during the Brooks-Baxter War in Little Rock.

In November 1871, he was elected Mayor of Little Rock. His election ended a tumultuous two-year period where the Little Rock City Council tried unsuccessfully to remove Mayor A. K. Hartman.  Mayor Catterson served a relatively quiet two year term in office until November 1873.

Following the completion of his term, Mayor Catterson moved to Minnesota. He later moved to Texas where he died on March 30, 1914 at the age of 79.  He is buried in the San Antonio National Cemetery.

Little Rock Look Back: Gen. R. F. Catterson MD, Little Rock’s 30th Mayor

R_F_Catterson_BGen_ACWOn this date in 1835, future Little Rock Mayor Robert Francis Catterson was born in Indiana, the son of Irish immigrants.  He studied medicine in Ohio and established a medical practice in Indiana upon completion of his studies.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in the Union Army.  Throughout the war, he was promoted and was eventually mustered out as a brigadier general in 1866.  During his service, he participated in the siege of Vicksburg, the Battle of Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Following his departure from the military, Catterson decided not to return to medical practice.  He moved to Arkansas and worked for a brief time in the cotton commodities field.  He later returned to military service commanding a militia fighting the Ku Klux Klan.  Catterson was appointed US Marshal and would also command the Brooks troops during the Brooks-Baxter War in Little Rock.

In November 1871, he was elected Mayor of Little Rock. His election ended a tumultuous two-year period where the Little Rock City Council tried unsuccessfully to remove Mayor A. K. Hartman.  Mayor Catterson served a relatively quiet two year term in office until November 1873.

Following the completion of his term, Mayor Catterson moved to Minnesota. He later moved to Texas where he died on March 30, 1914 at the age of 79.  He is buried in the San Antonio National Cemetery.

Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Robert Francis Catterson

R_F_Catterson_BGen_ACWOn this date in 1835, future Little Rock Mayor Robert Francis Catterson was born in Indiana, the son of Irish immigrants.  He studied medicine in Ohio and established a medical practice in Indiana upon completion of his studies.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in the Union Army.  Throughout the war, he was promoted and was eventually mustered out as a brigadier general in 1866.  During his service, he participated in the siege of Vicksburg, the Battle of Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Following his departure from the military, Catterson decided not to return to medical practice.  He moved to Arkansas and worked for a brief time in the cotton commodities field.  He later returned to military service commanding a militia fighting the Ku Klux Klan.  Catterson was appointed US Marshal and would also command the Brooks troops during the Brooks-Baxter War in Little Rock.

In November 1871, he was elected Mayor of Little Rock. His election ended a tumultuous two-year period where the Little Rock City Council tried unsuccessfully to remove Mayor A. K. Hartman.  Mayor Catterson served a relatively quiet two year term in office until November 1873.

Following the completion of his term, Mayor Catterson moved to Minnesota. He later moved to Texas where he died on March 30, 1914 at the age of 79.  He is buried in the San Antonio National Cemetery.