- In the mountain counties of North Arkansas in the fall of 1861 secret organizations were formed for self-protection and apparently to resist Confederate authority. Total membership in the organizations was estimated at 1700 and was concentrated in Searcy, Marion, Carroll, Izard, Fulton, and Van Buren Counties. In these counties, and perhaps in several others, the local units of the Arkansas Peace Society were quickly suppressed by extra-legal citizens' committees acting with the county militia units and with justice of the peace courts. Many of the arrested members were forced into Confederate service either by local citizens' committees or by the state military board at Little Rock. Some were tried for treason in Confederate circuit court and acquitted. Many of those forced into Confederate service deserted and joined the Federal army.
- Only a part of the records relating to the Peace Society survived, but they are sufficient to show the scope and the nature of the organization. Surviving documents contain the names of 240 members and suspected members. Of these 181 were located in the United States census manuscript schedules, 1860. An analysis of that record revealed that of the 181, 115 were born in Tennessee, 13 in North Carolina, and 11 in Arkansas. The leadership of the movement was also predominantly Southern-born. Six preachers among the leaders seemed to have been especially influential. The brotherhood was indigenous, composed of mountaineers who had no intention of going to war on either side and who wanted to be left alone. There could of course be no neutrality, and the members were forced to take sides.
Brothers, Peter, Asa, and Rev Joshua Reeves were among members of the Secret Peace Society in Searcy County, AR.
Rounded up by the Searcy County militia in November 1861, eighty-seven members of the Secret Peace Society were marched in chains to Little Rock where, given a choice of serving in the Confederate Army or hanging, most chose to serve. Among those on the forced march was Joshua Reeves. Like most, he served in the 18th Arkansas Infantry. According to his Confederate civil war records, he was captured on July 9, 1863 at Port Hudson LA and released three days later. The file contains no further entries. It is perhaps fitting, if not prophetic, that Joshua named a daughter born in 1859 “Union.”
Peter, Asa, and Joshua Reeves, with their father Peter Reeves Sr and other family members, migrated to Searcy County Arkansas from Wayne County Tennessee. They arrived in Arkansas in time to appear in the 1840 federal census in Searcy County. By 1860, all three brothers were living in Tomahawk Township, in Searcy County.
Peter died in 1865, but Joshua and Asa survived the war by many years.
Read more about the Peace Society here:
Enclyclopedia of Arkansas
Couchgenweb Part I
Couchgenweb Part II
Arkansas civil war sequicentennial