One hundred and fifty years ago, the Confederate and Federal armies were in a constant state of motion on account of available forage and many other factors. In a letter written on November 11, 1862 shows the Confederate Army in motion amidst an array of intangibles causing logistical problems in supplying the Rebel army in NW Arkansas.
In the letter, John B. Lockman writes to Thomas C. Hindman that, “Col. Brooks’ command left here this morning for Van Buren. My report was ready to forward last night by telegraph. The operation could not forward it on account of some deficiency in the line.” Telegraphs stopped working for several reasons- the most obvious was enemy molestation, but many other factors brought down lines and/or caused technical difficulties such as depleted chemicals in the archaic batteries that powered them.
Among the many issues facing Confederates in NW Arkansas was the ever-growing problem in supplying the troops with ammunition in case of a large-scale battle. Hindsight shows the two armies amassing for the Battle of Prairie Grove and Cane Hill. One of the biggest problems the Confederate Army faces during this campaign was the logistics of supplying a depleted army. The letter continued, “[I] am looking for an other train of ordinance stores. Contents not known.”
Transportation issues plagued the Confederate Army as well. As he related in his letter to Hindman, “Transportation can not be had at this place not even a guard to protect my stores. Everything is head over heels…Four trains of ordinance and clothing left this evening for Ft. Smith.”
With a fickle communication system and a transportation logistical nightmare plaguing the Confederate Army in NW Arkansas, less than a month away will signal one of the hardest fought battles west of the Mississippi River.