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With Fire and Sword

Thomas A. DeBlack

Published Date: March 1, 2003

Available in


Arkansas, 1861-1874
256 pages
6" x 9"

About this book

When Arkansas seceded from the Union in 1861, it was a thriving state. But the Civil War and Reconstruction left it reeling, impoverished, and so deeply divided that it never regained the level of prosperity it had previously enjoyed. Although most of the major battles of the war occurred elsewhere, Arkansas was critical to the Confederate war effort in the vast Trans-Mississippi region, and Arkansas soldiers served—some for the Union and more for the Confederacy—in every major theater of the war. And the war within the state was devastating. Union troops occupied various areas, citizens suffered greatly from the war’s economic disruption, and guerilla conflict and factional tensions left a bitter legacy. Reconstruction was in many ways a continuation of the war as the prewar elite fought to regain economic and political power.


In this, the fourth volume in the Histories of Arkansas series, Thomas DeBlack not only describes the major players and events in this dramatic and painful story, but also explores the experiences of ordinary people. Although the historical evidence is complex—and much of the secondary literature is extraordinarily partisan—DeBlack offers a balanced, vivid overview of the state’s most tumultuous period.

About the author

Thomas A. DeBlack is an associate professor of history at Arkansas Tech University. He is co-author of Arkansas: A Narrative History and the co-editor of The Southern Elite and Social Change: Essays in Honor of Willard B. Gatewood.


“DeBlack offers the first serious synthesis and overview of a field that has seen significant innovative and revisionist work over the last two decades. He has produced a book that will prove fascinating both to historians and to general readers.”

—Carl Moneyhon, author of The Impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on Arkansas: Persistence in the Midst of Ruin


“A readable, engaging survey of this critical period in our state’s history.”

—Elliott West, Arkansas Histories series editor and author of The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the Rush to Colorado


Histories of Arkansas


The Histories of Arkansas Series aims to give readers a comprehensive, enlightening, and entertaining survey of the state’s history ably written by our leading scholars. With Fire and Sword: Arkansas, 1861–1874, begins where S. Charles Bolton left off in Arkansas, 1800–1860: Remote and Restless, his portrait of Arkansas as a territory and youthful state. DeBlack carries the story to the point where Carl H. Moneyhon picked it up in the first volume published in the series, Arkansas and the New South, 1874–1929. Ben Johnson’s recent Arkansas in Modern America, 1930–1999 then takes us from the Great Depression to the near present. This fine quartet of books now follows the history of this remarkable state from its entry into the nation until today. With skill and insight matching that of his three compatriots,Thomas DeBlack fills in Arkansas’s years of fire and sword and thus completes a portrait of two centuries of this fascinating, varied, often troubled, but always surprising part of the American mosaic.


—Elliott West in the preface to With Fire and Sword

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