One hundred and fifty years ago, while Arkansas was under orders to create new military units of freshly conscripted men from 18 to 35 years old, home guards were forming across the state of men above 35 years of age. All Arkansawyers were to pitch in and give to the state and to the Confederacy every effort to support the defenses of the state.
The Confederate army, headquartered in Little Rock, needed supplies for its thousands of men organizing for the defense of Arkansas, and this was no small task. To expedite food stuffs and other dry goods including medical supplies, the military began placing advertisements in Arkansas newspapers asking the citizens for help.
In the gathering of food for the army, an advertisement was placed in a June 1862 Arkansas newspaper: “One of the great necessities of the Army is the Pea or Bean. Owing to the neglect of planters during the past year there are but few in the country. Let every planter put in a large crop this year. The army will require thousands of bushels. The planter who cannot find any sale for his cotton, can find ready sale for Peas, and employment for his negroes in gathering them.”
This was good business for the local planters, as top dollar was paid for any beans and peas that were taken to Little Rock. The Chief Commissary of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi Major John C. Palmer stated that, “I wish now to purchase Five Thousand Bushels of Peas or Beans for which the highest market price will be paid, in cash, on delivery to me at Little Rock.”
Other goods requisitioned in a similar advertisement included medical supplies. Medical Director of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi placed an ad in a Little Rock paper noting that, “The surgeons of hospitals and regiments are in need of Old Linens and Cottons, Lint and Bandages, and must rely upon you alone to furnish them, there being no other means of procuring a sufficiency. The Bandages should be about five yards long, from two to three inches wide and firmly rolled.”
Arkansawyers have always rose to the challenge in supplying their soldiers since the start of the War in 1861, but how long could Arkansas produce food and other goods for the use of a growing army?