One hundred and fifty years ago, the State of Arkansas was still in a mode of gathering supplies for the fledgling Confederate Army. Arkansas troops were woefully ill-equipped. The Southern troops did not have the luxury of a well-supplied Quartermaster depot; for the most part, the clothing of the early Arkansas Confederate soldier was manufactured by hand by the ladies of the state. As an July, 1861 newspaper related, “It has been wisely suggested by a contemporary that the patriotic women of the country should knit socks for the volunteers.”
Supplies were being gathered across Arkansas in July, 1861 as hostilities between the North and South were growing at an alarming rate. Among the badly-needed supplies for Arkansas’ fighting men, blankets were among the most needed, as “There will be, if the war continues, a scarcity of blankets, woolen cloth, flannel, etc.”
During war, Americans have always had to sacrifice their comforts for the greater good of the Country; the South was no exception as citizens were urged to spare any blankets from their homes for the soldiers embarking on their trek to the bivouac and battlefield.
Raw materials were also in demand and were becoming more and more difficult to obtain due to dwindling supplies and the Federal blockade strangling the commerce in the Southern states: “There are a great many sheep in almost every county in the State. Every pound of wool should be saved, spinning wheels and looms brought into use and the wool made into yarn and cloth. We will need every yard that can be woven.”
Meanwhile, the Confederate and Yankee Armies clashed at Manassas, Virginia near Bull Run creek on July 21, 1861. As the Confederates flanked the Northern aggressors, the Yanks fled in chaos back to Washington, D.C., only thirty miles distant. With spectators lining the battlefield with the expectation that Bull Run would be the first and last battle of the War, the day’s battle was won by the hard-fighting men of the South. The War would last longer than one day, it seemed.
Arkansas troops under the command of General Holmes were held in reserve during the day’s fight, taking enemy artillery bursts overhead. Though there were no Arkansas casualties during the first major engagement, it would be a sight that they would never forget. The American Civil War was now in full swing.