Arkansas in the Civil War: 1861

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One hundred and fifty-five years ago today On January 10, 1861, the Colonel of the 24th Arkansas Militia, Donelson McGregor send a communication to the Governor of Arkansas, Henry M. Rector, that an election was held in Company A in the 1st Battalion of the 24th Regiment and Lewis S. Reed was elected 2nd Lieutenant.

In “Diary of a State:1860”, there is a comprehensive list of Arkansas militia units. By the start of the Civil War, Jefferson County’s 24th Arkansas Militia would have seven units, or companies of men: The Jefferson Guards, Southern Guards, Pine Bluff Artillery, Bradley Guards, McCullock Guards, Arkansas Travelers, and the Hardee Guards. Most of the units in the original 24th Arkansas Militia would serve with units hailing largely from Phillips County, including the leadership under Colonel Patrick R. Cleburne from Helena, Arkansas.

Jefferson County’s 24th Militia’s sister unit from Phillips County was the 12th Militia Regiment, comprised of six companies of men, including Volunteer Company Cavalry, Phillips Guards, Yell Riflemen, LaGrange Cavalry, Tappan Guards, and the Helena Greys Artillery Company.

The volunteers in these units saw some of the hardest combat during the Civil War. A large percentage of these men became casualties during the first hour of the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.

The next “155 Years Ago” column will feature legislation enacted on January 15 to put the question of secession on the table as Arkansas bean a new year amid uncertainties and a brewing storm could be seen brewing on the horizon.

Arkansas in the Civil War: 1861 contains over 200 pages of primary source documents that, for the first time ever, tell the whole story of the Civil War in Arkansas from both sides using their own words. Some documents are in print for the very first time, including letters, official correspondence, historical accounts of battles, newspaper editorials, and much more. It took over a decade to compile the documents that help tell the story of Arkansas the first year of the Civil War.