One hundred and fifty years ago, one of the more popular and better-known military organizations, the 6th Arkansas Infantry Regiment, also known as The Capitol Guards, were bunkered down in Kentucky awaiting the impending winter season. As the Arkansas boys were making preparation for the cold season, a letter made its way back to Arkansas, a letter of heartfelt thanks to the ladies of Arkansas.
Since before the “rebellion” erupted, and before Arkansas troops crossed the Mississippi for the first time back in May 1861, the ladies of Arkansas worked tirelessly to provide the necessary supplies to their boys in gray. The outpouring of support from every corner of the state in supplying the Arkansas troops was evident. This column has outlined numerous such occurrences. This week’s installment is no exception, in an effort to show the reader the level of support Arkansas had for her soldiers.
Early in the War, Arkansas troops identified themselves more as Arkansawyers than Confederate. In a resolution drawn up by the officers of the 6th Arkansas Infantry and published in an 1861 newspaper, “…the untiring efforts of the ladies in behalf of the “Dallas Rifles,” prove that they like the mothers of the first revolution, are fired with a truly Spartan zeal, and that they kindle a like ardor in the breast of every soldier who wears a garment from the fair hands who plied the shuttle or the needle in its construction.”
A foreshadowing message is seen in the same letter of appreciation to the ladies of Arkansas in the following excerpt: “That the “Dallas Rifles” return their profound thanks to their friends, and the ladies especially, for their personal efforts in behalf of the company, that such citizens do as noble a part in their country’s defense as they who go to battle, and with such friends the soldier will not falter in the discharge of the most arduous duties, for he knows that there are those at home who not only watch with anxiety their condition but will also greet their return with the dawn of peace, ready to twine the laurel of honor upon the victor’s brow, for the Arkansas boys will return victors or return not at all.”
Many never returned, “at all”.