So I just stumbled onto this, and greatly enjoyed it :) I know the general basics of the Civil War as covered in US history college course, i.e. not much.
So I hadn’t heard of this, but enjoyed the little vignette and will drink a toast to Commander Daniel P. Upham and his Arkansas State Militia that fought down the Klan in Post Civil War Arkansas.
At the end of the Civil War, Upham traveled to Cotton Ridge, Arkansas to seek his fortune. He purchased and opening a cotton plantation in Augusta, which quickly thrived. His success, however, fueled resentment by the ex-Confederate populace, who considered him a Northern carpetbagger thriving off the South’s defeat and impoverishment. As Upham’s wealth grew, he became a leading Radical Republican. In 1867 he was elected to a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives based on the votes of freedmen and white Unionists.
He became one of Republican Governor Powell Clayton’s most powerful allies. Together, Upham and Clayton pushed to ratify the 14th Amendment during the 1868 elections. The Arkansas Ku Klux Klan gave a violent response, killing 12 people in 3 months, including free blacks, Republicans, and a Freedmen’s Bureau agent. The amendment was ratified, but the violence prompted Governor Clayton to form state and local militias to combat the insurgents.
Governor Clayton appointed Upham as the commander of the local Woodruff County militia, which quickly made him a marked man. On October 2, 1868, after numerous threats and reported Klan surveillance of his home, Upham and Woodruff County registrar F.A. McLure were ambushed and injured by insurgents under the command of former Confederate Colonel A.C. Pickett.
In early November 1868, Governor Clayton cancelled all elections and declared martial law, splitting the state into four military districts. Upham was put in charge of the Northeastern district, located within the Arkansas Delta. Its large African-American population was the target of frequent Klan attacks and intimidation. Upham gave his men a very free hand in subduing the Klan, and the militia’s bloody and brutal tactics killed many Klansmen.
We will wail Hell out of the last one of them. Never allow one of them to return and live here. There is no other way. Nothing but good, healthy, square, honest killing would ever do them any good.
— D.P. Upham
Enraged by his tactics, a force of about 30 Klansmen rode to Upham’s hometown of Augusta and attempted to take over the town. On their way, they pillaged several plantations, including Upham’s. They mercilessly beat the black workers, killing one of them. Upham and 100 militiamen arrived in time to prevent the Klan from taking the town. However, after learning that 300-400 Klan reinforcements were on their way, Upham tore through Augusta, beating and arresting suspected members. Four suspects died; they were reported killed while attempting to escape, but may have been summarily executed by Upham’s forces. In response, 500 Klansmen under Colonel Pickett rode to Upham’s plantation, intending to burn it to the ground. Upham was ready and waiting there with hundreds of well-trained, well-equipped militiamen. A fierce battle erupted on Upham’s property, which ended in a crushing and demoralizing defeat for the Klan. After several more skirmishes, Upham was credited with suppressing the Klan throughout the entire state of Arkansas.