One hundred and fifty years ago, the “irregular war” in Arkansas was the order of the day. As the Civil war dragged on, December of 1864 was unusually harsh for soldiers on both sides following three years of hard fighting, marching, and dealing with military life. This week in 1864, soldiers in the Confederate army had enough and were trying to surrender to the Union forces in Little Rock as morale had hit an all-time low in the Confederate army.
According to a dispatch sent by a Union officer, “One of Wall’s captains has sent in propositions to surrender and bring in as many of his men as he can influence, provided he be permitted to lay down his arms and remain at home or in our lines at Little Rock.” There was just one catch to the proposal. The dispatch continued, “I have sent him word that if permitted by general commanding district I would permit him to take the oath, go North to remain until the war is over.”
The reply to the proposal noted, “All deserters from the rebel army under the rank of colonel have to be examined by the provost-marshal of the post or division, &c., and after examination if it appears that they intend forever deserting the rebel cause they will be required to take the amnesty oath, after which they will be furnished with transportation north as far as Cairo, or, if they choose, may be employed in the quartermaster’s department. No deserters from the rebel army will be forced to serve in the Federal Army.”
Military actions that occurred in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish in Clarksville on December 10. For a complete list of over 700 military actions in Arkansas during the Civil War, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.