As the new year began one hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was gearing up for a long and hard year ahead. 1862 will see the most activity in Arkansas by Confederate forces organizing their forces. With Arkansas supplying thousands of troops to the war effort, more and more women and children find themselves at home alone at the mercy of the every-changing and volatile economical, political, and military situation.
As the effect of the Federal blockade on the Southern States perpetuates itself into a worsening condition, Arkansas was forced to inventory her natural resources in hopes that she could become more self-sufficient and found obtainable and valuable resources scattered across the state: lead mines, tobacco, cotton, wool manufactories, sulphur [sic] and sulphuric [sic]acid, salt, and many more. Arkansas was likewise rich in military resources:
“ They have a foundry at Camden which turns out cannon and sent a battery under command of Capt. Reed, to Oak Hills. We have two foundries in Little Rock, one of which furnished grape shot for the army. At Hopefield, opposite Memphis, the machine shop of the Memphis and Little Rock railroad has been turned into an armory and is altering and repairing guns etc…At the arsenal there is an armory under the control of the Confederacy, but the necessary machinery has not yet arrived. The Arkansas penitentiary has turned out gun carriages, caissons, wagons, boots, shoes, clothing and many other things needed for the army…
Arkansas infrastructure was steadily growing to meet the hasty demands of war. Roads were improved to allow armies land transportation, communication technology was improved and made available, and rail lines were steadily expanding: “We have omitted to mention that the railroad from Little Rock to White river is nearly completed and that two telegraph lines, one from Pine Bluff to Napoleon and another from Little Rock to Fort Smith, are rapidly approaching completion.”
1862 began as a year of hope. As soldiers marched off to the glorious charge of patriotic fervor, families at home were forced to take on greater roles. Arkansas was trying to prepare for the war, but she had no idea what challenges the new year would bring to her doorstep.