This week 150 years ago, the militia in Central Arkansas was in full swing. Taking a few ideas from neighboring Memphis, Tennessee, a contest of sorts was made known in an October, 1860 Arkansas newspaper outlining that a “premium” would be given to the best militia group in the area of drill and ceremony.

Prior to 1837, there was a prominent landmark near where the Little Rock Arsenal sits: Jockey Club & race track. It appears that instead of this land, the drill and ceremony will be held at the newly-built St. John’s College, where the militia will continue to drill up until the secession of Arkansas in 1861.

[LITTLE ROCK] OLD-LINE DEMOCRAT, October 11, 1860, p. 2, c. 4
Deferentially we would suggest to the Pulaski Agricultural and Mechanical Association, proposing to hold a Fair, (near the old Race-tract, instead at the College Grounds) on the eighth and ninth of next month, the propriety of awarding a premium to the best drilled military company, and to this end a Military Committee be appointed to choose grounds and the order of a military display. We observe that this is a part of the programme of the Shelby county (Memphis) Tenn. Agricultural Society.