One hundred and fifty years ago, the American Civil War made its way to Arkansas’ doorstep. As noted in the last column, the first shots in anger were fired within the borders of the State: the first shots were fired on February 16 1862 at Sugar Creek while the first battle raged the following day at Dunigan’s Farm- both of which were fought in extreme North Arkansas. As U.S. General Curtis chased Confederate General Price in a Southerly direction, a dispatch is sent from the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi Headquarters District, Department Number 2, then-stationed at Jacksonport, Arkansas.
The proclamation notes that citizen soldiers are to rendezvous at either Little Rock, Jacksonport, or Pocahontas, depending on where that particular solder hails. It continued that, “The enemy has invaded your state- his army powerful, disciplined, flushed with success, and he comes with hatred in his heart. He seeks to subjugate your soil- to desolate y our homes and to wrest from you and degrade all you hold dearest in life.”
To be sure of the young men of Arkansas heed his warning and proposal, Van Dorn attached a stigma to any able-bodied man who refused to service his state in the time of her need: “You must arm, organize, and rush to meet him. All who claim manhood should now attack this insolent invader, or forever renounce the respect of men and the love of women.”
A set of Special Orders were dispatched by General Earl Van Dorn: “All armed companies that have been mustered into service will repair at once to Jacksonport. The enemy is now threatening Pocahontas- then march without delay. Let each company take with them two wagons and provisions sufficient to subsist them to Jacksonport.”
One hundred and fifty years ago, the State mobilized to meet the advance of the invading army from the North. Arkansas was now under attack for exercising her Constitutional right of secession and the United States, as seen through the eyes of the 1862 Arkansawyer, was attacking her citizens without provocation.