Photographer's Note

This sculpture is situated in the diminutive Cisterna Park, located at the corner of 10th Street and Garrison Avenue. It was dedicated on April 30, 2016. His nephew was apparently on hand to witness the dedication. It was created by Little Rock artist Kevin Kresse. The project was spearheaded by a retired Ranger, Joe Armstrong, who founded the General Darby Legacy Project, and was responsible for raising funds for the memorial.

William Orlando Darby was born in Fort Smith in 1911. He graduated from Fort Smith High School in 1929, then went on to West Point military academy in New York. After graduation, he was assigned to the First Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery of the First Cavalry at Fort Bliss, TX (which was my father's unit, actually!). He was later selected to train an elite combat special forces unit, now known as Darby's Rangers, activated on July 9, 1942. This unit served in North Africa and Europe during WWII. Darby was killed in action on April 30, 1945, at Torbolee, Italy, at the age of 34, so, unfortunately, he never saw his hometown again, at least life. He was interred in a military cemetery outside of Cisterna, Italy, but was re-interred at Fort Smith National Cemetery in 1949. Over the course of his career, he was awarded an astonishing three Purple Hearts, a decoration for having been wounded in combat, as well as the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit.

Numerous buildings and monuments bear his name, including Darby Junior High School in Fort Smith, Gen. William O. Darby camp in Italy, and many additional army training fields. A film was made about his exploits in 1958. Fort Smith and the town of Cisterna, Italy are "sister" cities, in memory of Darby and the Rangers. General George S. Patton reportedly described Darby as "the bravest man I ever knew." His home is located in the Belle Grove Historic District, adjacent to the Baer house, the home of another famous Fort Smith resident.

About Fort Smith:

This moderately-sized town in America's heartland was founded as a western frontier military post in 1817, and, believe it or not, really WAS located on the frontier of the "wild west" for many years, as Indian Territory lay directly to the west just across the Arkansas River! The settlement was reportedly founded as a military installation to keep the peace between the Osage and emigrating Cherokee, who were being relocated to the neighboring Indian Territory (now comprised of the state of Oklahoma) from the east coast. Land speculator John Rogers later purchased the land and promoted the growth of a new civilian town, but the US government later re-established a military presence at Fort Smith during the Mexican War. Fort Smith is named for General Thomas Adams Smith (1781-1844) who commanded the US Army Rifle Regiment in 1817. It was headquartered near St. Louis, but General Smith had instructed topographical engineer Stephen H. Long to find a site where a fort could be founded on the banks of the Arkansas River. Interestingly, Smith himself never visited the town or the forts that bore his name. Sebastian County was formed in 1851 when it split from Crawford County. The army finally vacated the town in 1863, and federal troops followed shortly in 1871.

Some famous figures associated with it include Judge Isaac Parker and William Henry Harrison Clayton, who was appointed US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by Ulysses S. Grant. Due to a lamentable lack of law enforcement, the town had at one point become "a haven for runaway slaves, orphans, Southern Unionists" and later brothels, saloons and outlaws who ventured into town from an even more lawless area across the river. Isaac Parker served as US District Judge from 1875-1896 and was the strong arm that was needed to keep things running smoothly. He was nicknamed the Hanging Judge because he reportedly hanged 8 people for murder his first term. Over the course of his career, he sentenced 160 people to death and executed 79 of them on the nearby gallows, which can still be seen today. The courthouse is now a National Historic Site where reportedly "more men were put to death by the US Government... than in any other place in American history."

Despite its rather lawless past and colorful history, Fort Smith underwent something of an economic boom during World War I when the Fort Chaffee Military Reservation was established on the east side of the city. It's now Arkansas's second largest city with about 84,000 inhabitants. The population has increased over the past few years, partly because of the founding of the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith (previously WestArk community college), designated as such officially in 2002. The city has a total area of 53 square miles. The town has been struck by three major tornadoes (1898, 1927 and 1996), the last of which caused great damage to the old downtown area, but much of it has since been restored.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1188] (2104)
  • Genre: Persone
  • Medium: Colore
  • Date Taken: 2019-05-16
  • Versione Foto: Versione Originale
  • Date Submitted: 2020-05-31 20:05
Viewed: 0
Points: 4
  • None
Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1188] (2104)
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