Friday, September 3, 2010

Famous File: General William Yarnell Slack

Located at The Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, AR
Brig. Genl. W.Y. Slack
Son of
John & Polly Caldwell Slack
of Boone Co. Mo
Born August 1, 1816
In Mason Co. Ky

Graduate of Missouri State University
Capt. in the Mexican War
???? home of Chillicothe Mo
Fell at the Battle of Pea Ridge
 Mar 7, 1862 while acting as brigadier
of Missouri Confederate Soldier

Died Mar 21, 1862

(The center inscription between the dates is my best guess at what it says.)
Died from wounds suffered at the battle of Elkhorn
William Yarnell Slack
Brig Gen 2 Brig Mo State Gd
Confederate State Army
Aug 1, 1816 - Mar 20, 1862


The following information is from http://www.arkansasgravestones.org/view.php?id=24817 :
William Yarnell Slack was born in Mason County, Kentucky to John and Mary Jane Caldwell Slack. He was 3 years old when his parents moved the family to Boone County, Missouri. As a young man, he returned to Kentucky to obtain his law degree and passed the bar in 1837. Returning to Missouri, he was elected to the Missouri General Assembly from Livingstone County. He married Mary Emily Woodward, built a home, and began to raise a family. William was against the war with Mexico, however, when the war came he supported his country and helped to organize a company from the Livingstone volunteers, who elected him Captain. They were attached to the regiment of Colonel Sterling Price. After serving 14 months, he returned to Missouri and continued his law and political career. May of 1861 was the turning point in his life, as well as other Missourians. The Missouri State Militia, about 700 men, had assembled for a six- day training camp in St. Louis. A federal force of about 7000 disarmed the militia. This set off the fierce struggle in the state for the duration of the war, those for secession and those against it. When the attack on Camp Jackson occurred many of those who had opposed secession were turned into staunch supporters of state rights, including Slack and Sterling Price. A bill was passed in 15 minutes to raise the State Guard. The governor disbanded the state militia and sanctioned the Missouri State Guard, and appointed a Brigadier General from each state district. Slack was appointed from the 5th district, and he raised a command that became the 4th Missouri Division. William and his ragged men with no uniforms, took part in the Battle of Carthage. Among his command was, Frank James, Cole Younger and William Quantrill. At the battle of Wilson Creek, William was wounded and received a commendation for “gallant conduct” from General Price. He was incapacitated for two months, and then traveled by ambulance with his doctor and his wife, headed for the battle where he took command again of his division. William was named commander of the 2nd Brigade of Missouri, which would be his last command. Under him were the troops he had lead at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Col. Bevier’s and Col Rosser’s infantry battalions, Col McCulloch’s cavalry battalion, and two squads of artillery under Colonels Lucas and Landis. On March 7, 1862, he was advancing with the infantry of his brigade to the top of Trott’s Hill, now called Sugar Loaf Mountain, when they were fired upon by hidden Federal Forces. Riding among his men to re-deploy to a protective manner, he was again shot just inches from the first wound in his groin. The Federal troops were routed, but William was taken from the field. He died a few days later on March 21, 1862, and was buried on March 27, 1862 in the Roller Cemetery near Gateway, Arkansas, 8 miles from the field of his last battle. His superiors in Richmond, Virginia not knowing that he had died in battle, promoted William to the rank of Brigadier General on April 17, 1862. Of the eight militia brigadiers appointed by Governor Jackson of Missouri only two were destined to win a C.S.A. general’s rank, the other being Mosby Monroe Parson. Of the 5000 Southern men who left Missouri in 1861, only a few returned. The others, along with William Slack, gave their lives for the principals and Liberty of State Rights. Now they rest under the soil of the Southern States they once called their “Country”. On May 27, 1880, his body was removed from the Roller Cemetery and reinterred at the Confederate Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas
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The following information is from  History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, page 1172:

"Early in the desperate battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern, Ark., March 7, 1862, Gen. Slack was mortally wounded, at the head of his brigade, and while placing it in position. The ball which struck him entered an inch above the old wound received at Wilson's Creek - in the right hip, ranging downward, producing paralysis of the urinary organs, which resulted in inflammation and gangrene. He was caught by his aide-de-camp, Col. Scott, when about to fall from his horse, and with the assistance of others carefully conveyed in an ambulance to a house in Sugar Hollow, where his wound was skillfully dressed by the brigade surgeon, Dr. Peter Austin. The next day when the Confederates retreated, he was conveyed to Andrew Roller's, east of the battle ground; accompanied by Maj. Cravens, Dr. Keith and Sergt. Street. Here he remained until the 16th, when, afraid of capture, he was removed seven miles further away from the field, to Moore's Mills, where he rapidly grew worse, and at 3 a.m., Thursday, March 20th, he breathed his last. The next morning he was buried eight miles east of the battlefield."
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The following is from Reminiscences of the bench and bar of Missouri By William Van Ness Bay.

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