One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas found herself in a precarious situation. After having spent a few weeks in heated debate at the secession convention in Little Rock, Arkansawyers decided by a narrow margin not to secede. States surrounding Arkansas had already left the United States, leaving Arkansas technically a border state.
Knowing that the state could secede in the future, as the citizens would vote on secession in August, Arkansas counties did not stop recruiting men to fill the ranks of their respective militia companies. As of this week one hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas boasted of 29 militia regiments, 13 of which mustered into service since the Little Rock Arsenal Crisis in early February, 1861, leaving only 8 militia regiments to muster between late March and June, 1861.
With the number of militia units steadily increasing following the secession convention, Arkansawyers busied themselves equipping the soldiers in their respective counties. Cadets in Jefferson County enrolled in the Pine Bluff Military Academy began drilling military maneuvers, ladies across the state were busy making flags for their local soldiers, and a multitude of newspaper ads catered to the needs of the numerous militia groups around the state.
Though Arkansas had not left the Union, the nation’s attention was focused on the goings-on in Charleston Harbor at Fort Sumter. Though South Carolina had seceded from the Union, Federal troops were still occupying the fort. Would Lincoln have his troops back down and return to the United States? Or would he poke the proverbial “bear” into forcing the newly-formed Confederacy in firing the first shot of a new war?