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Colonel John Griffith

17th Arkansas Infantry Regiment

Colonel John Griffith was born August 1, 1831 in South Carolina and is the oldest of four brothers who served in the Confederate Army. John Griffith first enlisted in the 3rd Arkansas (Gratiot's) State Infantry with the rank of Captain and commanded Company E in the battle of Wilson's Creek. His younger brother also served in Company E at the time and was wounded in the battle.

Late in 1861 he became Lt. Colonel of the 17th Arkansas (Rector's) Infantry Regiment until elected Colonel of the regiment in the spring of 1862. In 1863 his regiment was consolidated and became the 11th and 17th Consolidated (Griffith's) Arkansas Infantry.

Colonel Griffith saw action at Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge); Iuka; Corinth; Port Hudson; Clinton, Mississippi; Bogue Chitto Creek, Mississippi; and Franklin, Mississippi. On April 22, 1864 he orchestrated the capture of the Federal tinclad U.S.S. Petrel on the Yazoo River.

In April 1865 Colonel Griffith's command was ordered to join with the command of General N.B. Forrest but were unable to do so and were surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama by General Taylor on May 4, 1865 ending a distinguished military career. The Colonel was paroled at Jackson, Mississippi on May 13, 1865.

Family history indicates that Colonel Griffith arrived at home to find his family dispersed and his home in ruins. Former slaves informed him that his family had "gone to Texas". Colonel Griffith managed to locate his family in Sevier (now Little River) County. Colonel Griffith became involved in resisting the Federal Militia during Reconstruction. In 1868 martial law was declared in Southwest Arkansas and the Colonel's younger brother was killed by Freedmen's Bureau agents in Texas. Colonel Griffith and his family left Arkansas, apparently in search of some measure of obscurity and sanctuary.

He settled in Taylor and Kimble counties in Texas and was instrumental in organizing the government of those counties. On March 7, 1889 Colonel Griffith was shot and killed by Joab and Mack Brown under unclear circumstances. He is buried with his wife in Copperas Cemetery.

On April 24, 1966 the State of Texas dedicated a monument to Colonel Griffith at the Junction Courthouse in Kimble County.

Our appreciation goes to the family of Colonel Griffith for providing this information.

Copyright 1998, Arkansas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, all rights reserved