One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas troops could not rely, with any certainty whatever, on a state sponsored supply depot for equipping military units. This issue has been the subject of numerous columns in the past, but this week’s adds a whole new dimension to the demographical support for the Confederate troops in South Arkansas.
Company D of the 18th Arkansas Volunteer Infantry organized in Pine Bluff in early March, 1862. The unit’s command structure read like a who’s who of the community; its ranks consisted of businessmen, politicians, farmers, and the like. The community all pitched in to supply this new military unit.
Commanding officer of the 18th Arkansas Infantry Co. D noted in the Arkansas True Democrat on March 20, 1862 in a letter to Rev. Mr. Welch, “Permit me to tender the thanks of my company for your prompt action in supplying them with the requisite number of blankets, and express our high appreciation of these patriotic ladies and citizens of Little Rock, so ready and willing to sacrifice their own comfort to promote that of the volunteer.”
Two weeks prior to the official organizing of this unit, the community was holding fund raisers to supply their soldiers. According to the February 19, 1862 issue of the Washington Telegraph, “The negroes of Pine Bluff, Ark., have contributed $747.90, the proceeds of a ball, to a military company of that town.” That military company noted in the article refers to the 18th Arkansas Infantry Company D, also known as “The Pine Bluff Rebels”.
While the soldier was weary in camp and the battlefield, citizens back home were likewise as weary and worn from having to take on extra chores, extra responsibilities, extra suffering. The War in Arkansas was beginning to make its mark on all Arkansawyers one hundred and fifty years ago.