One hundred and fifty years ago, the war was winding down in Arkansas and the threat of Federal actions against the Confederate army was decreasing. In a dispatch sent by the overall Confederate commander in Arkansas, E. Kirby Smith wrote to Arkansas Governor Harris Flanagin, “No more egregious folly could be committed by the enemy.”
In the dispatch, Smith notes, “The garrisons on the upper Arkansas have been reduced, and troops from the enemy’s command in that district have been sent down the Mississippi to New Orleans. The concentration of a force near the mouth of the Arkansas and at Vicksburg, with information received, indicate that the enemy intend operating on the only good and feasible line open to them from the District of Arkansas by a march through Monticello and a combined movement to occupy Monroe, La., and the lower Ouachita.”
While U.S. Grant was occupied in ending the war by amassing Federal troops in Louisiana, Smith advised Governor Flanagin, “The enemy have concentrated a force of some 25,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry at Morganza, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Information induces me to believe that an expedition is now projected against Mobile, but that in the spring the whole force will be thrown against this department.”
With the Mississippi River closed to Confederate service following the surrender at Vicksburg in July 1863, the Reb army needed another supply route for ammunition, clothes for the soldiers, and other supplies. Smith noted in the dispatch, “Large amounts of clothing have already been distributed, and trains are bringing supplies from Mexico as rapidly as the great distance to be traversed will allow.”
Military actions that took place in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include an expedition on the Arkansas River on the 8th and 9th; a scout was sent from Helena to Madison from the 8th-13th; and a scout sent from Pine Bluff to Devall’s Bluff from February 9-19. For a complete list of military actions that took place in Arkansas during the Civil War, go to www.arkansastoothpick.com.