One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was in full swing making preparations for the imminent invasion from the North. While militia companies were being organized throughout the state, the national scene was looking quite grim, as the hope for peace between the North and South had diminished.
This week one hundred and fifty years ago, the South was making it apparent that Lincoln was not the great man that he has been made out to be today, as the Mississippi port city of Vicksburg was reported to have hanged “Ole Abe…in effigy the other night.” Lincoln made no secret about the fact that he would not officially recognize the newly-formed Confederate States of America as its own country separate from the United States.
As men were gathering into militia and Confederate service in Arkansas, the 1st Arkansas Infantry, arrived in Richmond, VA on June 1 and soon found themselves camped along the banks of Aquia Creek. It was here, at Camp Jackson, where the 1st Arkansas first heard the roar of Federal artillery as three U.S. naval vessels bombarded the Confederate batteries in the vicinity of the Arkansas troops along Aquia Creek.
Under the command of Theophilus Holmes, the 1st Arkansas Infantry drilled eight hours per day and complained of an extraordinary death rate due to illnesses. Within the first month of service, the 1st Arkansas Infantry saw over fifty of their own men die in camp from measles and diarrhea; they had not even seen combat yet, but that would change very soon.