Arkansas In The Civil WarAs the Civil War was winding down one hundred and fifty years ago, refugees from every corner of the state were on the brink of starvation. As supply routes faded away and food sources dried up across the state, the Union army and refugees behind Union lines in the Ozarks had another plan. According to a dispatch sent by Colonel M. La Rue Harrison to Brigadier-General Sanborn, “There are in the counties of Benton, Washington, and Madison sixteen fresh colonies as agricultural settlements, twelve of which are well organized.”

The colonies that appeared in North West Arkansas, “number an aggregate of about 1,200 men, mostly armed.” The dispatch noted, “The colonies all build fortifications [and] not less than 15,000 acres will be cultivated this summer by them.”

In the relative safety in the established colonies in the Ozarks, “The colonies on Pea Ridge number 108 men… They tell me they have 4,000 acres under fence, and will cut 800 acres of wheat in July.” With a more dependable food source, the refugees, “are in better spirits than ever before since the war began. We truly have cause to rejoice.”