St. Charles is located approximately 115 miles southeast of Little Rock and 110 miles southwest of West Memphis. Located along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, St. Charles is situated along the banks of the White River. A petition was filed for incorporation of the town in 1879. But one of the town's most significant events took place in 1862. On June 17, 1862, Confederate sharpshooters positioned along the banks of the White attacked four Union gunboats. Using guns from several Confederate warships, the marksmen began firing on the ships as they closed in on the town. One of the shots hit the steam drum of the USS Mound City, killing over 100 of the soldiers onboard. It would become known as “the deadliest shot of the Civil War.” A monument to those who perished was later placed downtown. The monument, which honors both Union and Confederates, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the only one known of its kind.
St. Charles is also located along the water route of the Trail of Tears, the route used to relocate five southeastern Indian tribes to what is now Oklahoma. The Trail of Tears, along with other historically significant routes, are now part of the Arkansas Heritage Trails System. The town is also home to the St. Charles Museum, which offers visitors a history of the town including Civil War artifacts and diorama, and the White River National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. The refuge, which runs along the White River for approximately 90 miles and is one of the largest hardwood bottomland preserves in the United States, is a delight for outdoor enthusiasts.