One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansawyers of all types supported their army. Among the least known supporters of the Confederacy was the role played by the colored Confederates. Throughout the War Between the States, African Americans played a significant role on both sides of the conflict.
This week one hundred and fifty years ago, an advertisement for a military benefit was seen in an Arkansas newspaper: “Persons of color will give a ball at the Theatre Hall on Tuesday evening next, for the benefit of the sick and disabled soldiers of Arkansas in Memphis. The managers most respectfully solicit the company of Abraham Lincoln and his Cabinet, and hope that President Davis will grant them a passport.”
Even in the field of battle, the Arkansas Negro found himself fully engaged in fighting the Federals. In an early account of the Battle of Belmont, a Memphis newspaper relates the following acts of heroism by an Arkansawyers servant during the heat of battle:
“In the recent battle of Belmont, lieutenant Shelton, of the 13th Arkansas regiment, had his servant Jack in the fight. Both Jack and his master were wounded, but not till they had made most heroic efforts to drive back the insolent invaders. Finally, after Jack had fired at the enemy twenty-seven times, he fell seriously wounded in the arm. Jacks’ son was upon the field, and loaded the rifle for his father, who shot at the enemy three times after he was upon the ground. Jack’s son hid behind a tree, and when the enemy retreated, they took him to Cairo and refused to let him return. Jack was taken from the field in great pain, and brought to the Overton Hospital, where he bore his sufferings with great fortitude till death relieved him of his pains yesterday. His example may throw a flood of light upon the fancied philanthropy of abolitionism. Jack was a brave and obedient servant, and deserves all praise for his heroic conduct upon the bloody field of Belmont.”