One hundred and fifty years ago, the only newspaper in Arkansas that printed throughout the war was in jeopardy. As Union forces inched toward Washington, Arkansas during the Red River Campaign in April of 1864, the Washington Telegraph was temporarily suspended. According to the Washington Telegraph, the newspaper was back in business following General Steele’s skedaddle back to Little Rock, leaving the Confederate capitol of Arkansas in a state of relative safety. “We would not have been so cautious of it as mere property, but partial friends have flattered us into the belief that our paper is useful to the country, and its loss could not be replaced.
Things were not going well for the invading blue coats in May 1864. Another newspaper article recounts the general malaise and disturbing reality of the Union army in Little Rock. Isaac Murphy, Governor of Arkansas in 1864 wrote to Lincoln, “Little Rock is threatened; unless help comes, all will be lost. We want energetic men, earnest patriots to guide, and more soldiers. We need protection now, or will be lost.”
Military actions that took place in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include skirmishes on the 13th at Cypress Creek and Spavinaw; operations against J.O. Shelby north of the Arkansas River from May 13-31; skirmishes in Dardanelle May 15-17; affair near Searcy and Clarksville on the 18th; a skirmish in Fayetteville and Norristown on the 19th.