Butler Center for Arkansas Studies 100 Rock Street Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201 (501) 320-5700
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Milan W. Serl
"Residence and Adventures in the South, 1860-1862"
0.21 Linear feet
This small collection contains a transcription of a journal kept by Milan W. Serl during his residence in Arkansas.
This collection is arranged topically in one box.
Scope and Contents
This small collection contains a transcription of a journal kept by Milan W. Serl during his residence in Arkansas. The journal relates the experiences of a "Northern man" living in the South at the time of the Civil War and the period leading up to it. Serl records many details of everyday life, as well as observations of the political climate of the time and his experiences of the Civil War.
On September 8, 1860, having just graduated from college, Milan W. Serl left his home in Darien, Wisconsin, to go south. He was in search of employment either as a teacher or an accountant. Serl thought he could earn higher wages in the South and he was interested in learning more about the culture and institutions of the region. He went to St. Louis, where he boarded a riverboat and traveled down the Mississippi River. Serl eventually obtained a position as a teacher at Mason Hills in Chicot County. He left that position after one term, because the community was unable to pay him. He then took a job at a new school, appropriately named "Woodland School," in a forested area also in Chicot County. In 1862, all able-bodied men in Chicot County were being drafted into the Confederate Army. Serl refused to join the army and continued his teaching duties. At the end of April of that year, knowing that his life was in danger, Serl left Chicot County with a group of friends who were bound for Memphis to enlist in the rebel army. His plan was to escape once they arrived in Memphis. He was unable to escape, but worked in a Confederate Hospital for several weeks, which made him exempt from being conscripted into the army. While there he contracted a serious illness, which affected him for several weeks afterward. On June 6, 1862, Serl, along with thousands of Memphis residents, watched from the bluff above the Mississippi River as the Federal fleet engaged Confederate gunboats in battle. In his narrative Serl describes the battle, the Confederate surrender, and the raising of the Union flag over Memphis. After Memphis was taken by the Union Army, Serl obtained a pass to go up-river to Cairo, Illinois. From Cairo, he proceeded by train to Chicago, and then home to Wisconsin, arriving home very ill. In the United States Census for years 1870, 1880, and 1900, Milan W. Serl is listed in Lebanon, Laclede County, Missouri, with wife Nancy. By 1870 they had two daughters. His occupation is listed as "druggist." The last census in which he appears is 1910, and he is listed as a widower.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Chicot County (Ark.)
Memphis, Battle of, Memphis, Tenn., 1862.
Milan W. Serl
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
Non-circulating, in-house only.
"Residence and Adventures in the South, 1860 to 1862," MSS 07-31, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute