Battle Of Palarm Painting

This painting known as “The Hallie Flight” or “The Battle of Palarm” depicts the Battle of Palarm, a skirmish of the Brooks-Baxter War which took place on May 8, 1874. The painting, by James M. Fortenbury (b. 1847), is on loan from the Arkansas History Commission Portrait Gallery.


The Battle of Palarm was a skirmish of the Brooks-Baxter War in 1874. The war was the result of the disputed gubernatorial election of 1872, in which Elisha Baxter (1827-1899) defeated Joseph Brooks (1821-1877). The dispute over who won the election was settled by President U.S. Grant in favor of Baxter.

 

The painting depicts the Baxter steamboat "Hallie," which was captured by the Brooks forces on the Arkansas River near the mouth of Palarm Creek. Shortly after this battle, President U.S. Grant settled the dispute in favor of Baxter.

 

This small naval battle erupted on the Palarm Creek near Natural Steps, where Brooks's men attacked a flatboat known as the "Hallie", which was thought to be bringing supplies. The shooting lasted around ten to fifteen minutes before the pilot hoisted a white flag signaling a surrender. One stray bullet pierced the vessel's supply pipe located between the boiler and engine, cutting off its power.  The boat then drifted down river, out of gun range, and lodged on the Southern (Western) shore. The casualties included the boat's captain, a pilot, and one rifleman; the second pilot along with three or four riflemen were wounded.

 

The incident, followed by the new Arkansas Constitution of 1874, brought a practical end to Republican rule in the state and thus ended the era of Reconstruction in Arkansas.