It as if I could hear the Yandle men saying those very words as they surely discussed their plans to join the Confederacy in early 1862. (Note: Yandle was also spelled Yandell) This well known phrase from the Three Musketeers novel, which was published 18 years earlier, embodied the courage and bond between men who were fighting for their beliefs.
In the scenic and rural setting of Waldron, a small town in Scott County Arkansas set near the bountiful and beautiful Poteau River is where this chapter of their journey begins. Waldron, situated on a transportation and military route from Fort Smith to Little Rock was inviting for immigrants in the 1850’s and 60’s. Rich in wildlife and fertile lands, the Yandell’s moved to the area in 1849 or 1850 after the passing the family patriarch William Yandell in Missouri in 1849. William’s sons gathered their mother, siblings and families and moved to Scott County to start anew.
The Census of 1850 reported Waldron with approximately 90 residents and by 1870 grew to over 120 residents. As the nation faced the conflict and divide of the Civil War, the residents of Scott County were facing the issue of choosing whether to remain as part of the Union or secede. While there were very few instances of slavery in Scott County, the people of the county, and state, sympathized with the other issues and concerns of other southern states. In May 1861 at the second convention held regarding the State’s position a resolution was passed on the 6th of May to secede. And with that the wheels of change were set in motion.
On February 22, 1862 David Lundford Yandell (40 yoa) , my paternal 3rd great grandfather, along with his brother Samuel (43 yoa), half-brothers James (32 yoa) and John (28 yoa), Samuel’s sons William A. (20 yoa) and Edmond (16 yoa) and David’s first cousin Wilson (20 yoa) united together and enlisted. Seven men, in one day, from one family were now Confederate soldiers in the Arkansas 19th Regiment, Company H under the command of Colonel C.L. Dawson.
David set off for battle leaving behind his wife and 9 children in the care of his eldest son Jesse W., a mere 18 years of age, to manage the family and the farm. Samuel left behind a wife and 4 children, the eldest, Andrew, just 15 years of age.
Less than two weeks later the Yandell’s would join their Confederate counterparts at the Battle of Pea Ridge. While the 19th was present at the Battle they did not engage. Their unit had been finalized just days earlier and their battle supplies lacking. Instead of a battle detail they were assigned to guard duties. Following the Union victory at Pea Ridge, the 19th remained behind and monitored the area and conducted training.
Two months and 23 days after enlisting, both David and Samuel were discharged from service on the 15th of May 1862. On the same date, their half-brother James was appointed to Sargent status.
James, John, William A., Edmond and Wilson’s next major assignment was at Fort Hindman, also known as Arkansas Post, a strategic outpost high upon a bluff overlooking the Arkansas river. It is said that from the Fort the Confederacy could see nearly a mile up and down the river, enabling protection of Little Rock from the advancing forces of the Union. The post also served as an important supply outpost for Confederate troops.
As history records on January 9, 1863 the imposing Fort was attacked by Union forces lead by General John A. McClernand without the permission of his commanding officer, General Ulysses S. Grant or President Lincoln. For 3 days the outnumbered Confederate soldiers fought gallantly to defend the Fort. On January 11, 1863 the Fort fell into Union control and with the fall James, John, William A., Edmond and Wilson became prisoners of war. For the Arkansas Confederacy the defeat marked the largest loss of forces west of the Mississippi before the close of the war in 1865.
The five Yandell’s were captured on January 11, 1863 along with over 4,000 of their brothers-in-arms and were sent to Camp Douglas, IL. The first Yandell to perish from this family was not on the battlefield, but rather as a prisoner of war. On March 20, 1863 James died from small pox.
On April 3, 1863, eighty two days after their imprisonment at Arkansas Post the remaining Yandell men, John, William A., Edmond and Wilson were released from Camp Douglas and delivered to City Point, Virginia on April 10, 1863.
Meanwhile back in Waldron, the elder Yandell’s, David and Samuel, were raising their crops and families while dodging Union bushwhackers. As oral family history* details when word came that Union bushwhackers were in the area David would retreat to the hills and hide in a cave. These bushwhackers were notorious for executing men they suspected loyal to the Confederacy and would not hesitate to murder them in cold blood in front of their wife and children. Sarah, David’s eldest daughter, would sneak him provisions until the bushwhackers had passed through the area. Life was anything but normal on the homestead.
Not long after arriving in Virginia, the Yandell’s were released and returned to the 19th, which was consolidated, to continue their “one for all, and all for one” allegiance for the Confederacy. However, on May 25th, 1863 another Yandell would fall. Once again not on a battlefield, but from a military hospital. John, 29 years old passes away from typhoid and pneumonia in Knoxville, Tennessee. Now there were 3.
Like the Three Musketeers, William A., Edmond and Wilson continued to serve. It is unknown when and how William A. died as records have not yet been discovered to complete his story. For Edmond and Wilson, they fought to the bitter end and the fall of their unit. It is estimated that approximately only five percent of the nearly twelve hundred men who served in the Arkansas 19th Regiment throughout the war were present at the end.
Edmond and Wilson’s names appear on the Roll of Prisoner of War exchanged by order of Major General W.T. Sherman at Rough and Ready, Georgia on September 19th & 22nd and noted as captured near Jonesboro, Georgia on September 1st 1864. Edmond and Wilson were held as prisoners until paroled by the Military Convention entered into on the 26th day of April 1865. The two men along with over thirty thousand Confederate soldiers imprisoned during the war stacked their rifles, rolled their colors and began the long journey home.
After the conclusion of the war Edmond married and raised his family in Arkansas until his passing in 1929. Wilson’s death occurred not long after the war, likely before 1870, as he does not appear in the Census. For elder Yandell’s, David lived until 1874 and Samuel’s exact death is unknown, leading to the conclusion he passed between 1870 and 1880.
While we can develop a glimpse into the lives of the Yandell men through records, documents and historical accounts as it unfolded during the war, it is difficult to say what that impact had on their mother, wives and children. What is known is that Polly Yandell (aka Mary Ann) saw 4 sons, 2 grandsons and a cousin by marriage take a pledge together, fight together, be imprisoned together, yet they never gave up. In the end Polly would lose 2 sons to disease during the war, not to the battlefield.
In conclusion, I have always enjoyed the Three Musketeers story. Their adventures, philosophy and that incredible enduring bond resonated in my heart. However now I will never think of the Three Musketeers story without thinking of the Seven Yandell’s. “One for all, and all for one!”
*Historical accounts as outlined in “The Early Yandell’s of North Carolina” by Velma Nancyann Yarbrough.
©2016 Sondra Bass Hawkins