About Nicholas Bartlett Pearce
Nicholas Bartlett Pearce (commonly known as N. Bart Pearce) (July 20, 1828 – March 8, 1894) was a brigadier general in the Arkansas state militia during the American Civil War. He led a brigade of infantry in one of the war's earliest battles in the Trans-Mississippi Theater before serving as a commissary office in the Confederate States Army for the rest of the war.
Early life and career
Pearce was born in Caldwell County, Kentucky, to Allen and Mary (Polly) Morse Pearce. He studied at Cumberland College in Kentucky before appointment to the United States Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1850, twenty-sixth in a class of forty-four. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 7th U.S. Infantry and stationed in Arkansas and the Indian Territory for most of his United States Army career. In 1858 he resigned to join his father-in-law's mercantile in Osage Mills, Arkansas.
Civil War service
Despite Pearce's vocal opposition to secession, in May 1861 the Arkansas Secession Convention appointed Pearce as a brigadier general and assigned him command of the state militia's 1st (Western) Division. He took command of Fort Smith in June after the Confederate recommissioned the abandoned U.S. Army post. Later that summer, his brigade joined Ben McCulloch's Confederates and Sterling Price's Missouri State Guard to defeat Union Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon's army at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in southwestern Missouri.
Pearce's brief and controversial command ended shortly after the battle when in August, Arkansas authorities attempted to transfer his brigade to Confederate service. Pearce resisted and furloughed his men to their homes, leading to the disbandment of the brigade and the end of his combat command.
From December 13, 1861, to the end of the war, Pearce served as a major in the Confederate Commissary Department in Arkansas, the Indian Territory, and Texas. On June 21, 1865, he was paroled in Houston, Texas. He then went to Washington, D.C. and secured a pardon from President Andrew Johnson.
Pearce returned to Osage Mills in 1867 to rebuild his home, mill, and store. In 1872 he left to teach mathematics at the University of Arkansas, resigning this position in 1874 and returning to Osage Mills. From 1870 to 1884 he was employed by a Kansas City wholesale house. Later he moved to Texas for his wife's health and worked as a land examiner.
N. Bart Pearce died in Dallas, Texas, on March 8, 1894, at the home of his daughter-in-law. He is buried in Whitesboro, Texas.