It was this week one hundred and fifty years ago that Brig. Gen. John McNeil drafted his General Orders Numbers 4 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Since the invasion of Northern forces in Arkansas, churches and school had been commandeered for use by the U.S. Army for housing soldiers, warehouses, and hospitals. General Orders Number 4 prohibited the use of “church edifice or other house of public worship, of any religious denomination or sect, within the limits of this District… for military purposes, or occupied as hospitals, except in cases of absolute necessity; nor shall school houses, academies, colleges, or any kind of institution for education, whether religious or secular, be intruded upon, or their grounds, groves, lawns or gardens molested; nor shall camps be established so near them as to create annoyance.”
The Federal Army was also prohibited in this document to desecrate “places of burial and the wanton defacing of tombs and grave stones, or the removal and destruction of those more ‘mute memorials’ that mark the residing place of the poor.” However, the only way one could go about getting their respective churches back, the pastor had to file “proof of future loyalty and good disposition toward the Government of the United States, before the nearest Provost Marshal, and given guarantees that neither open nor covert treason shall be taught within their [church] walls.”
Military actions in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish on November 19 at DeGreen’s Farm (near Lawrenceville) and a skirmish at Jacksonport on the 21st of November, 1863.