One hundred and fifty years ago, as hundreds of Arkansas men make their way into the ranks of the Confederate Army, the ladies of Little Rock make preparations for the impending military campaigns in which the men would soon find themselves. Akin to the wonders women performed during World War II in manning the home front, 1861 women of Arkansas likewise rose to the challenge in ways never before seen in America.
According to an 1861 Arkansas newspaper, the ladies of Little Rock, within the span of about six weeks, had been performing “ an extraordinary amount of patriotic labor.” By mid-June, they had hand-sewn nearly three thousand uniforms, fifteen hundred haversacks, about five thousand shirts, and they had covered over twelve hundred canteens for the citizen soldiers of Arkansas.
As noted in the Weekly Arkansas Gazette on June 15, 1861 regarding the ladies’ extraordinary feat of clothing an army, their “patriotic ardor which urged them to these duties been at all lessened by the arduous services which they have so cheerfully and so faithfully rendered their country, in this the day of her trial. They are willing to labor on and to the end with a high and holy purpose.”
Throughout American history, the many wars that have been fought and won since the American Revolution have been subsidized by the hard work of women. Perhaps the Confederacy did not have a “Rosie The Riveter”, but the exertion of patriotism found in the needle and thread proved no less significant.