One hundred and fifty years ago, following the Confederate defeats at Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, Helena, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff, the inevitable readmission to the Union had pro-Southern citizens and soldiers in a quandry. As cities fell to Federal occupation, printing presses were commandeered and put to use by the U.S. army. Pro-Southern papers fell on hard times as printing supplies were nearly impossible to procure due to the blockade, but the Federal propaganda machine was just getting started good by early November, 1863.
“One such paper was the newly-established National Democrat. According to the October 20, 1863 edition, “The National Democrat wil be issued weekly from the original “True Democrat” office, and will be a permanent institution, defending the old landmarks of Democracy, and the perpetuity of the Federal Union. The office contains th emost superior and extensive Book and Job machinery west of the Mississippi River.”
Meanwhile, following the disastrous Confederate defeat in Pine Bluff, the Arkansas River valley remained in Federal control. To keep the Confederates in check, General Steele reported on October 28 that “All my available cavalry are now in pursuit of Marmaduke, who, it is supposed, is falling back toward Arkadelphia. Two brigades of infantry and two batteries are marching on that place direct from here, and are at Rockport to-night.”
During the next week, one hundred and fity years ago, there was a skirmish at Bate’s Township in Scott County on November 2nd and a Federal expedition from Batesville to Frog Bayou from November 7-13. Frog Bayou is located in Washington County 18 miles north of the Arkansas River.