One hundred and fifty years ago, as 1861 drew to a close, Arkansawyers realized that they were in this War for the long haul. Having made the fateful decision to withdraw from the Union, Arkansas was feeling the pinch of war time economic troubles. Still, this early in the War, the people in the state gave their unwavering support to an ideology that will, by the end of four more years of conflict, leave Arkansas in ruins.
Of the several ways and means Arkansawyers showed their support of the Confederate cause, one includes a gathering of resources and organizing a military force of volunteers. By the close of 1861, there were several regiments actively engaged in Confederate military service from Arkansas to hundred of miles away in Kentucky and Virginia.
Since the Little Rock Arsenal offered up for sale at a local auction a multitude of military surplus in 1860, including hundreds and muskets, saddles, and countless other military items, local Little Rock merchant John Collins became actively engaged in taking an interest in buying up some of the weaponry and other supplies. He is seen often placing advertisements between 1860 and 1862 issues of the Arkansas Gazette, including the following:
“Volunteers, Attention! The undersigned being desirous and particularly requested by m any of his friends, to form and equip a Volunteer Company of active and effective men, to repel the insolent invaders from our State, he will equip, free of cost, any and all members of the company who may enroll for that object. The arms required will be principally steel, and those in the shape of an ordinary Irish Pike.”
To end the first year of the 150th commemoration of the War Between the States, a very appropriate article was located in the January 2, 1862 edition of the Arkansas True Democrat newspaper. What started as a journalist’s nightmare turns out to be the most appropriate and surprisingly most effecting and realistic review of the first year of the War:
“’The Close of the Year.—The old year—time—decay—rapid changes—retrospect—solemn thoughts—departed friends—gallant dead—vain regrets—cherished memories. War—prospects last spring and now—contrasts—the old union—Ilium fuil—the future—independence, our own stout hearts and strong arms—liberty or death—freedom or annihilation—rich and powerful republic—career of unexampled prosperity and priceless heritage of liberty bequeathed to our descendants.’
We had intended to follow the immemorial custom of editors and write an article on the above theme, but the imp of the office called for copy and announced that the paper would go to press before we could do more than write down the skeleton of the article. As mothers, in Christmas times, to call forth the taste and sewing abilities of their daughters, give them an undressed doll, which they may dress to their tastes, so we present our readers with our skeleton article, to fill up to please themselves.”