One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was busily making preparations for war. She had left the Union only a few days ago as the second secession convention met in Little Rock, but contrary to popular belief, the vote of secession was not the only issue on the table at the convention. There were still very important issues to discuss: who will lead the Arkansas troops? And what other changes need to be made following Arkansas’ removal from the nation she had be a part of for twenty-five years?
Following the official vote of secession on May 6, 1861, Arkansawyers faces a number of questions that needed a quick and efficient answer. One of the decisions made by the convention was to establish a military board in which, according to Arkansas historian Michael Dougan, was chaired by Governor Henry M. Rector, B.C. Totten, and C.C. Danely. The convention had decided to turn troops over to the Confederate States of America, “and no troops would be called into service unless the state was invaded.”
Only two days following Arkansas’ secession, she sent out several companies from the First Arkansas Infantry Regiment of Volunteers to Virginia from Little Rock where they would join the Confederate Army amassing in numbers near Lynchburg. It would be this regiment of Arkansas Volunteers that would take part in the first major battle of the Civil War near the Manassas railroad junction in Virginia.
Meanwhile, back in Little Rock, the ladies in Central Arkansas were busying themselves in making preparations for the soldiers eager to volunteer for Confederate service, as noted in a May 9, 1861 Little Rock newspaper: “The ladies of Little Rock have been busy the past week making uniforms and equipping the volunteers. Like the heroines of the Revolution they are infused with a generous ardor for the cause of truth and freedom, and their God speed! to the gallant fellows who are leaving their homes, their mothers, their sweethearts will go with them like the protecting wing of a good angel, and linger with them in the severest trials of war. All honor to the fair women of Arkansas, and success to the brave fellows who are to represent us on the pages of history.”
Within only a few days of Arkansas casting her lot with the Confederacy, the militia and Confederate troops were enjoying the full support of their fellow Arkansawyers, who were only too eager to show their loyalty to their sons mustering into military regiments.