One hundred and fifty years ago, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his forces at Appomattox, Virginia to General U.S. Grant. Following the historical surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, a series of military maneuvers in Arkansas became the focus of the Confederate army left in Arkansas. Though Lee surrendered his army, those Reb forces in this state were in constant motion.
According to a dispatch to Major-General Halleck in Washington, D.C., Major-General Pope wrote, “General Reynolds’ cavalry is nearly all dismounted, General Canby having taken all the horses from Arkansas.” The dispatch continued, “Whilst Reynolds might defend the posts he occupies, he has no force sufficient to oppose Kirby Smith’s advance, nor is there any force elsewhere in this command for the purpose.”
Regarding Lee’s surrender, Pope wrote, “It is not known what effect Lee’s surrender may have on this movement, but your immediate attention is invited to this dispatch: The Montgomery papers say a gentleman just from Richmond, and a Member of Congress, informs us that General Lee has ordered Kirby Smith to move with his whole army into Missouri.” Union spies concluded, “…that Kirby Smith is preparing to make the movement at the earliest possible moment. ”