Following the first major clash between Confederate and Federal forces at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansawyers were worried about the future of their state, their country, their economy, and their personal safety. 1862 was not shaping up to be a good year for Arkansas, and the worst was yet to come.
Past columns have identified the significance of the Federal blockade enforced by Lincoln since 1861, and those same columns have likewise pointed out that one of the hardest hit businesses was the newspaper industry, whose reliance on a steady supply of paper found itself steadily scaling back the contents of each weekly issue. The True Democrat noted this week in 1862 in a column titled simply “Hard Times” that, “We had half made up our mind to issue but a half sheet until some chance offered to keep up a supply of paper, but as the legislature is here and important events hourly expected in the west, we feel it to be a duty to issue a full sheet for two or three more issues at least.”
A stigma was attached to those men who would not join the ranks of the Confederate Army in Arkansas. To ensure that young able-bodied men did their duty and joined the military, the ladies of Little Rock placed an interesting column in the True Democrat under the heading of “The Broom Stick Brigade”: “The ladies of Little Rock are about organizing a brigade of feminine warriors, for home defence [sic], and for the protection of certain young gentlemen, who are afflicted with timid nerves, and who have an aversion to the smell of gunpowder. The ladies have prepared a circular which will be sent soon to the poor wretches who are suffering unspeakable torments at the idea of being drafted.”
Following the Battle of Pea Ridge, wounded soldiers began making their way to makeshift hospitals across Arkansas as the Confederate Army inches its way in an easterly direction, leaving Arkansas bereft of defense against the Federal Army now firmly in place in North West Arkansas.