Yell County History
Yell County was created on December 5, 1840, from parts of Pope and Scott counties and was named for Archibald Yell, the second Governor of the State of Arkansas.
The county has dual seats, Danville and Dardanelle. The courthouse at Dardanelle is located on one of the earliest military roads in Arkansas, one named in honor of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy by an act of the General Assembly of 1925.
On the east lawn, the statue of a Confederate soldier with a boyish face stands as a memorial to Yell County Confederate veterans.
From the Arkansas Association of Counties
Civil War Medal of Honor
Sgt. William (Ellis*) Elise
From a memorial plaque on the Arkansas State Capitol Grounds to Arkansans who were recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – First Sergeant William Elise of Company K, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Elise earned the medal for his valor and bravery above and beyond the call of duty of January 14, 1865, at Dardanelle, Arkansas. He is the first Arkansan to earn the Army Medal of Honor.
Elise enlisted in the Union Army at Little Rock, Arkansas. He is representative of a large number of Arkansans (one Arkansan in five who fought in the war did so wearing the Union blue) who did not favor secession and the disruption of the United States.
In January of 1865, the Confederates sent a detachment of troops under Colonel William H. Brooks to harass Union steamboats traveling on the Arkansas River between Little Rock and Fort Smith. To stop the Confederate attack the Union commander at Lewisburg, Colonel Abraham H. Ryan, sent Major James D. Jenks with 276 men to occupy Dardanelle and contest control of the south bank of the Arkansas River with any Confederate forces he might find in the area.
At 10 a.m. on January 14, 1865, Brooks with 1,500 men attacked the Union forces entrenched on the outskirts of the town and a fierce four-hour battle was waged. In the end, Colonel Brooks was unable to overcome the Union defenders of the town and was forced to retreat.
It was during this battle that Elise held his position even after receiving three wounds and would not withdraw for medical attention until he received a fourth wound and was ordered to retire by his commanding officer.
*His name was listed as "William Ellis" on the Arkansas Medal of Honor Memorial on the State Capitol Grounds, but the U.S. Army History website lists his name as "William Elise". References - Old Statehouse Museum - "The Arkansas News"