Ill-Fated Napoleon, Arkansas

Holy shit. So here is how Napoleon, Arkansas was lost. Napoleon stood at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Arkansas rivers. Before the Mississippi reached the Arkansas, it took a drunken turn toward Beulah, Mississippi, and spooned the fat curve of its belly along her main street. Where the river’s belly swung back west to meet up with the Arkansas is where Napoleon sat.

There was a war. And the Confederates sat out in the Beulah bend, just east of Napoleon, firing their artillery at the union forces on the north side of the bend, waiting for them to skirt past Beulah, and then firing the same guns at them again on the south side. In March of 1863, Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge of the Union Army had his men dig a channel in the soft earth, using the force of the river to aid in its creation. The Mississippi’s beer belly became Lake Beulah and the river, when it was done stretching to its full size in the new channel, ran right up to the front steps of Napoleon and a flood in 1874 wiped Napoleon off the maps.

I’m honestly surprised no mischief makers have tried this just north of Tiptonville, though I suppose these days that would get you sent to prison for a good long time.

But still, the amount of rerouting of the river done by folks who aren’t the Corps is a real eye-opener to me.