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Contact(s):Stephan McAteer

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Real (Artillery) Piece of Arkansas History Returns

LITTLE ROCK, ARK., June 26, 2008 - The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History will display a rare piece of Civil War-era artillery beginning Thursday, July 3, in time for the Independence Day weekend, and coinciding with the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Helena. Recently donated by a relative, an oil portrait of Lt. William Rector will also make its debut. A son of Arkansas Gov. Henry Rector, William was killed July 4, 1863, at Helena.

A pair of Alger Cadet Guns was produced in 1851 for the Arkansas Military Institute by Cyrus Alger & Co. of Boston, Mass. The un-wheeled tube of one gun from that set will be displayed in Arkansas for the first time, and is on loan to the museum from the Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia.

The “6-pounder” artillery piece, so-called for the weight of the projectile it fired, was intended only for use in the instruction of cadets at the Arkansas Military Institute at Tulip (Dallas County). “When war came, the cadets formed an infantry company,” says Stephan McAteer, the museum’s executive director. “Because of equipment shortages in the Confederate army, the cadet guns were commandeered, and the former students took them into battle. This gun left the state in 1861 and only came home last year when our staff went to Virginia to oversee its return.”

The cadets, commanded by their superintendent George D. Alexander, served as Company I of the Third Arkansas Infantry Regiment. Nicknamed “The Tulip Rifles,” they participated in the battles at Harper’s Ferry, Chickamauga and Gettysburg. Of the 150 men who served in the unit, only 13 survived to the end of the war. The Arkansas Military Institute never reopened, and the once-prosperous community of Tulip withered.

Of the 10 light artillery guns Alger’s foundry produced from 1848 to 1852, four were sent to the Virginia Military Institute, a pair to the Arkansas Military Institute and four more to the Georgia Military Institute. Only seven survive.

Located at 503 E. 9th Street in downtown Little Rock’s historic MacArthur Park, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History was created to preserve and interpret the state's military heritage from its territorial period to the present. The museum preserves the contributions of Arkansas men and women who have served both in peacetime and in war.

For more information call 501-376-4602 or visit the museum website at <>. The museum is a program of Little Rock Parks and Recreation.


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