Heroes and villains | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Heroes and villains

Posted By on Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 7:36 AM

Ah, yes, it's that time again. The fergit-hell crowd is ready for a double-barreled memorial to the traitorous Arkansan hanged for spying on Union forces in Little Rock back in the day. A loving advance article appeared today in the Lost Cause's newspaper of record. More coverage is surely to come in the days ahead.

There'll be no trooping to cemeteries or memorial services for William J. Franks, though he's more deserving than the criminal "boy martyr," David O. Dodd. Franks entered the Navy at DeValls Bluff in 1864, on the side of the Union. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for bringing a howitzer to defend Yazoo City, Miss. Despite fierce rebel attacks, he and his crew were never driven from the cannon.

Check out a few more men with Arkansas ties who don't receive the turncoat's annual canonization. And read on for a yet another Arkansan more deserving than the little spy.

FROM A YELL COUNTY HISTORY WEBSITE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – First Sergeant William Elise of Company K, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Elise earned the medal for his valor and bravery above and beyond the call of duty of January 14, 1865, at Dardanelle, Arkansas. He is the first Arkansan to earn the Army Medal of Honor.

Elise enlisted in the Union Army at Little Rock, Arkansas. He is representative of the large number of Arkansans (one Arkansan in five who fought in the war did so wearing the Union blue) who did not favor secession and the disruption of the United States.

In January of 1865 the Confederates sent a detachment of troops under Colonel William H. Brooks to harass Union steamboats traveling on the Arkansas River between Little Rock and Fort Smith. To stop the Confederate attack the Union commander at Lewisburg, Colonel Abraham H. Ryan, sent Major James D. Jenks with 276 men to occupy Dardanelle and contest control of the south bank of the Arkansas River with any Confederate forces he might find in the area.

At 10 a.m. on January 14, 1865, Brooks with 1,500 men attacked the Union forces entrenched on the outskirts of the town and a fierce four-hour battle was waged. In the end Colonel Brooks was unable to overcome the Union defenders of the town and was forced to retreat.

It was during this battle that Elise held his position even after receiving three wounds and would not withdraw for medical attention until he received a fourth wound and was ordered to retire by his commanding officer.

*His name was listed as "William Ellis" on the Arkansas Medal of Honor Memorial on the State Capitol Grounds, but the U.S. Army History website lists his name as "William Elise".

 


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