One hundred and fifty years ago, the minutia of the Confederate experience in Arkansas during the War Between the States begins its long and arduous journey through the annals of history. Union General Sam Curtis had been steadily advancing through Arkansas following the White River; the back door to Little Rock was wide open as Confederate forces scrambled to prevent a full Federal occupation of the state capital. In May 1862, Helena native Confederate General Thomas Carmichael Hindman took command of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, headquartered in Little Rock and he wasted no time in carrying out the organization of a whole new army. On May 31 he issued his first order: General Order Number 1.
General Order Number 1 defined the Trans-Mississippi as “the states of Missouri, Arkansas, the Indian Territory, and that part of Louisiana lying north of the Red River”. The job of organizing an army from scratch in an area so vast was daunting and seemingly impossible. General Orders Number 1 was the first of many official documents that outline the official military goings on in Arkansas, including the men Hindman chose as his staff, whose names read like a who’s who of 1862 Arkansas, including Major Robert. C. Newton as his Chief-of-Staff.
It was now official. The Confederacy was now comprised of three distinct Armies: The Army of Northern Virginia, the Army of Tennessee, and the Army of the Trans- Mississippi. It was the latter that had its eye on Union General Sam Curtis as he inched his way steadily in the direction of Helena. As Hindman built up troops in Central Arkansas and began providing a defense of the state, companies, regiments, and battalions were forming across Arkansas.