Arkansas In The Civil WarOne hundred and fifty years ago, both the Confederate and federal armies in Arkansas were preparing for a long military standoff in the state. As Confederate Commander Thomas Hindman directs the daily operations of his worn soldiers, the Federal army in and around Helena fine tune their camps and find ways of occupying their time.

In his General Orders Number 37, Hindman appoints Captain J.W. Dunnington of the Confederate Navy as Colonel in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. In his orders, Hindman notes that, “Col. Dunnington will have full charge of the Ordinance Department and all its operations.” He continued, “Col. Dunnington will also have command and control of the river defenses of the District and will locate and construct them properly in the shortest time possible.”

Meanwhile, the Federal forces in Helena battled the elements, disease, and boredom. A federal soldier wrote in his diary on August 1, 1862 that he “rode to [Mississippi] river this morning to see a fleet of gunboats and transports that arrived down the rover last night. The bright sun affected my eyes very unfavorably. They remain so weak, I have no hopes of getting well now before good weather returns, the list of sick is daily increasing. The arms rust away badly and all leather is covered with mold unless constantly used.”

Only two days later he reported in his diary that he “Heard this morning a battalion of the 1st Wisc. Cav. being surprised and captured by a party of Texans 13 miles from the camp. We have 33 on the sick list.”

The Confederates were keeping the Federal forces in check at every opportunity while the 1862 Summer beat down on both armies alike. Following were military actions one hundred and fifty years ago this week in Arkansas:

8-2/3-1862: Skirmishes in Jonesboro
8-03-1862: Skirmishes, Jackson, Longuelle’s Ferry, Scatterville
8-04/17-1862: Expedition to Helena and Clarendon
9-05/08-1862: Expedition from Helena to mouth of White River