July 4, 2014, marks the 195th anniversary of the creation of the Arkansas Territory. Created from a portion of the Missouri Territory, the area was an organized incorporated territory until June 15, 1836, when what remained of the land was admitted into the Union as the state of Arkansas. Arkansas Post was the first territorial capital from 1819–1821. Arkansas Post has played an important part in the history of what is now Arkansas since the late 17th century. By 1821, Arkansas Post had served as the local governmental, military, and trade headquarters for the French, the Spanish, and the United States.
Arkansas Post was established in 1686 by French explorer Henri de Tonti. The site was the first European colony in the Mississippi River Valley. Arkansas Post is also the location of the only Revolutionary War skirmish to take place in what is now Arkansas. Due to the settlement’s proximity to the Arkansas River, Arkansas Post was a thriving river town by the early 1800s and was selected as the capital of the Arkansas Territory. War would again find its way to the Post. In January 1863, in an effort to stop Confederates disrupting Union shipping on the Mississippi River, the Union Army moved on Arkansas Post. After Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops overran the Confederate trenches, Arkansas Post was bombarded by Union ironclads.
The Arkansas Post National Memorial is located south of Gillett, and the park traces the history of Arkansas Post from its establishment in 1686. Inside the park, visitors take a self-guided tour of the area, including a layout of the town and an 1863 Civil War battlefield with remnants of Confederate trenches. Arkansas Post was also the location of the only Revolutionary War skirmish to take place in what is now Arkansas. Visit www.NPS.gov/arpo to learn more.