Arkansas In The Civil WarOne hundred and fifty years ago, the commanding officer in Pine Bluff was very concerned about the fate of refugees in the area. Forced from their homes due to one reason or another, civilians bore the brunt of the suffering and dismay, especially toward the end of the war. With two armies having ravished the countryside of practically all food supplies, civilians were at the mercy of untold intangibles.

In response to his inquiring if anything could be done for the refugees, Powell Clayton received a response from Major-General J.J. Reynolds noting, “Their destitute condition demands that they be subsisted until they are able to raise crops… The officer detailed is authorized to have and use public means of transportation for their benefit; is also charged with procuring seeds, plowing their grounds, constructing cabins, &c.” Reynolds continued, “It is suggested that an abandoned plantation in the vicinity of your post should be appropriated for their use, and all who are unable to provide for themselves be required to remove to it. This removes them from contact with the troops, and is for this reason a precaution against demoralization.”

Pine Bluff was just one among several sites refugees sought protection from roaming bands of bushwhackers and from starvation.