One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansas reports that the people of the state voted for a new and more Union-ized constitution. A report drafted to Abraham Lincoln noted that, “Aggregate of votes cast in Arkansas at last election, 12,426; only 222 against the new constitution.” General Fredrick Steele continued, “I hope the delegation to Congress will be received. There is no doubt of their loyalty, and they all sympathize with the present Administration.”
Steele, however, had other concerns. He related that there was, “but a small portion of the State now occupied by rebel troops, i.e., a line from Camden to Red River, and they can be expelled when the roads become practicable if a small addition be made to my present force.” Throughout the remainder of the Civil War in Arkansas, this line of Confederate strength Steele refers to remained in Confederate hands.
Also one hundred and fifty years ago, news was reaching Arkansas of the disaster at Franklin, Tenn. As Arkansas troops were placed on the front lines to attack the Union trenches, the state was among the highest casualty reports of those troops engaged. Among the fallen was Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne, whose body was originally buried in Columbia, Tenn. at St. John’s Episcopal Church cemetery. Cleburne’s body did not return to Helena until after the Civil War in 1871.
Military actions that took place in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish near Cypress Creek and an expedition down the Arkansas River to Pine Bluff on December 1; a skirmish in Perry County on the 3rd; skirmishes at Lewisburg on the 5th and 6th; and a skirmish at Des Arc on December 6. For a complete list of military actions that occurred in Arkansas during the Civil War, go to www.Arkansastoothpick.com.