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08.01.04 Smith, Charles Henry (penname Bill Arp), Bill Arp’s Peace Papers: Columns on War and Reconstruction, 1861-1873, published in 1873. [Click on Number to Read Review]

Notes Concerning the Author

Charles Henry Smith (1826 – 1903) was a writer from Georgia who used the penname “Bill Arp” for nearly 40 years.  He had a national reputation as a homespun humorist during his lifetime, and at least three communities are named for him (Arp, Ga.; Bill Arp, Ga.; Arp, Texas).  He was born and raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia but did not graduate.  Then he moved to Rome, Georgia.  During the War Between The States, Smith served in the 8th Georgia Volunteer Infantry and was a major on the staff of several Confederate generals.  

Following the war, he edited Georgia newspapers in Rome, Cartersville and Atlanta, often writing “letters to the editor” of the Atlanta Constitution as Bill Arp, typically in ”Cracker dialect” talking about all manner of things.  For a time he was a Georgia state senator.

He published five books: Bill Arp’s Letters (1870) reprinted as Bill Arp’s Peace Papers (2009), Bill Arp’s Scrap Book (1884), The Farm and Fireside (1891), History of Georgia (1895), From the Uncivil War to Date (1903). He was a successful lecturer as well.


Charles Henry Smith was a story teller popular North and South before and after the War Between the States.  He often wrote about his Georgia farm and life upon it.

Bill Arp’s Peace Papers (1873) is a collection of his writings during the War Between the States and Political Reconstruction in Georgia.  It is comprised of 269 pages.  Writing in country dialect, Charles Henry Smith used humor to make his case for the causes he espoused.  An example is an article purporting to be a letter to President Lincoln following his call for troops to subjugate Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri and to conquer the seceded States.  This “letter” said:

MR. LINKHORN – SUR:  These are to inform you that we are all well, and hope these lines find you in statue ko.  We received your proklamation, and as you have put us on very short notis, a few of us boys have conkluded to write you, and ax for a little more time.  The fact is, we are most obleeged to have a few more days, for the way things are happening, it is utterly onpossible for us to disperse in twenty days . . .  I tried my darndest yesterday to disperse and retire, but it was a no go.

Availability of this Book

The original 1873 cloth-bound book is not readily accessible.  The 2009 paperback edition published by the University of South Carolina is recommended.