- Arkansas in the American Civil War
The state of
Arkansaswas a part of the Confederate States of Americaduring the American Civil War, and provided a source of troops, supplies, and military and political leaders for the fledgling country.
Arkansas had become the 25th state of the
United States, on June 15, 1836, entering as a slave state. AntebellumArkansas was still a wilderness in most areas, rural and sparsely populated. As a result, it did not have early military significance when states began seceding from the Union.
During the secession crisis, but before Arkansas had seceded and before the onset of any fighting, the Federal Arsenal in
Little Rockbecame a potential flash point. The small Federal garrison was forced to evacuate after a demand by Arkansas Governor Rector that the arsenal be turned over to state authority.
At the beginning of 1861, the population of Arkansas, like several states of the Upper South, was not keen to secede on average, but they were also opposed to Federal coercion of seceded states. This was shown by the results of state convention referendum in February 1861. The referendum passed, but the majority of the delegates elected were conditional unionist in sympathy, rather than outright secessionst. This changed after the Confederacy attacked
Fort Sumterin South Carolina, and Abraham Lincolncalled for troops to put down the rebellion. The move toward open war shifted public opinion into the secessionist camp, and Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6 1861. Despite its relative lack of strategic importance, the state was the scene of numerous small-scale battles during the Civil War.
Arkansas Confederate/Union army contributions
Arkansas formed some 48 infantry regiments for the Confederate Army in addition to numerous
cavalryand artillery battery units to serve as part of the Confederate Army. The 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles, and the 1st, 4th, and 6th Arkansas Infantries would go on to see considerable action as a part of Major General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee. To include those stated above, all but one infantry regiment and all of the cavalry and artillery units served most of the war in what was known as the "western theater", where there were few battles that measured to the scale of the "eastern theater". That one infantry regiment, the 3rd Arkansas, served in the east for the duration of the war, where most of the major battles were fought, thus making it the states most celebrated Confederate military unit. Attached to General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, the 3rd Arkansas would take part in almost every major eastern battle, to include the Battle of Seven Pines, Seven Days Battle, Battle of Harpers Ferry, Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of the Wilderness, and the Appomattox Campaign. [http://www.morningsidebooks.com/cgi/bookshop/articles.cgi?cat=2&issue=14&article=5&userid=$id] [http://www.civilwarhome.com/robertsongettysburgor.htm]
Though it was with the Confederacy that Arkansas as a state sided, not all Arkansans supported the Confederate cause. Beginning after the fall of Little Rock to Union forces in 1863, Arkansans supporting the Union formed some eleven infantry regiments, four cavalry regiments, and two artillery batteries to serve in the Union Army. None of those saw any heavy combat actions, and few took part in any major battles. They served mostly as anti-
guerillaforces, patrolling areas that had heavy Confederate guerilla activity. [http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unartr.htm#4thcav] Another significant event brought on by the fall of Little Rock was the relocation of the state capital. Initially state government officials moved the capital offices to Hot Springs, but it remained there for only a short time, being moved deeper into Confederate occupied territory, in Washington, Arkansas, where it would remain for the rest of the war.
By the end of the war, many of the Arkansas regiments were serving with Bragg's Army of Tennessee, and most were with that Army when it surrendered on
April 26, 1865, in Greensboro, North Carolina. [http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/arhonor.html]
Noted Arkansas commanders and local campaigns
Arkansans of note during the Civil War include Confederate
Major General Patrick Cleburne. Considered by many to be one of the most brilliant Confederate division commanders of the war, Cleburne is often referred to as "The Stonewall of the West." Also of note is Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman, a former United States Representative, who commanded Confederate forces at the Battle of Cane Hilland Battle of Prairie Grove. Brigadier General Albert Rust, through his political influence, helped to form the 3rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment, and until his promotion to general commanded that regiment. He later commanded forces at the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Battle of Shiloh, ultimately serving under General Sterling Price. Colonel Van H. Manningtook over command of the 3rd Arkansas following Rust's promotion, and was commended for bravery in several engagements, most notably at the Devil's Denduring the Battle of Gettysburg.
Due to Arkansas having no real strategic inportance, short of being a gateway into Texas, few major battles were fought there. The
Camden Expedition( March 23ndash May 2, 1864) was the most important military campaign in Arkansas. Maj. Gen. Frederick Steeleand his Union troops stationed at Little Rock and Fort Smith were ordered to march to Shreveport, Louisiana. There, Steele was supposed to link up with a separate Federal amphibious expedition which was advancing up the Red River Valley. The combined Union force was then to strike into Texas. But the two pincers never converged, and Steele's columns suffered terrible losses in a series of battles with Confederates led by Maj. Gen. Sterling Price and Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.
Fort Smith Councilwas a series of important meetings held at Fort Smith in September 1865 that were organized by the United States governmentfor all Indian tribes east of the Rockies. The purpose was to discuss the future treaties and land allocations following the close of the Civil War. Under the Military Reconstruction Act, Congress readmitted Arkansas in June 1868.
Battles in Arkansas
Battle of Arkansas Post
Battle of Bayou Fourche Battle of Cane Hill Battle of Chalk Bluff Battle of Devil's Backbone Battle of Elkin's Ferry Battle of Helena
Battle of Hill's Plantation
Battle of Jenkins' Ferry Battle of Marks' Mills Battle of Old River Lake Battle of Pea Ridge Battle of Pine Bluff Battle of Poison Spring Battle of Prairie D'Ane Battle of Prairie Grove Battle of Saint Charles Battle of Whitney's Lane
Arkansas Civil War Confederate Units
List of Arkansas Union Civil War Units
* [http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ARmap.htm National Park Service map of Civil War sites in Arkansas]
* [http://www.lincolnandthecivilwar.com/Activities/Arkansas/Arkansas.asp Arkansas in the Civil War]
* [http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/3rd-his.html 3rd Arkansas]
* [http://members.cox.net/preston1863/history.html History of the 3rd Arkansas]
* [http://www.morningsidebooks.com/cgi/bookshop/articles.cgi?cat=2&issue=14&article=5&userid=$id "For Ninety Nine Years or the War" The Story of the 3rd Arkansas at Gettysburg]
* [http://www.civilwarhome.com/robertsongettysburgor.htm Brig. Gen. J.B. Robertson, after action report, Devil's Den]
* [http://www.civilwararchive.com/unionar.htm Arkansas Union Army contributions]
* [http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/ Arkansas Confederate Army contributions]
* [http://www.evendon.net/PGHLookups/ARVol1868M.htm Musters]
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