One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas was one step closer to being readmitted back into the Union. This week’s primary source document includes an eye witness’ account of a new provisional governor being sworn in. Benjamin Pearson, a soldier in the 36th Iowa Infantry Regiment related that “I went to the Senate Chamber of the State house [and] witnessed the proceedings of the reorganization of the State of Arkansas [and] the inauguration of Judge Isaac Murphy as Governor of the State, he was a member of the Convention that met in the same house [and] the only man that voted to the last against secession at the time the state was voted out of the union against the will of the people…”
Such is the Yankee propaganda that Arkansawyers were exposed to one hundred and fifty years ago. While facts show that following Lincoln’s call for troops to “put down the rebellion” in the south on April 15, 1861, Arkansas left the Union with a majority vote and with the will of the people of this state. Known as a hero to Northerners, Murphy was seen as a traitor to those against the Black republican rule the Lincoln administration has come to symbolize.
Another problem facing the state one hundred and fifty years ago includes the increase in crime. Prior to the Civil War, one of the priorities of the militia included crime control. While militiamen were now firmly in the hands of the Confederate Army, many towns were left bereft of any law enforcement. According to the Washington Telegraph, “Our town is infested with burglars, thieves and robbers. During the past week two stores have been entered and robbed in the night time. Last night one of our citizens lost a pocket book from his bed room where he was sleeping. There is only one remedy. Let every one be prepared and vigilant, and shoot down the first man caught in the act of committing a felony against his house or property.”
Following is a list of military actions within the borders of Arkansas one hundred and fifty years ago: a skirmish at Clear Green on the 22nd; skirmishes at Rolling Prairie, Sycamore Creek, Burrowsville, and Crooked Creek on the 23rd; skirmishes at Sycamore, Baker’s Spring, and Caddo Gap on the 24th; Skirmishes at Sulphur Springs and the Little Missouri River on the 25th; and a skirmish at Caddo Gap on the 26th of January.