On September 30, 1861 Governor of Arkansas Henry M. Rector wrote a dispatch to the new Secretary of War for the Confederacy. Instead of adding a narrative or interpretation to what Rector had to say on this date in 1861, the whole of the letter is presented to our readers for two reasons: first of all we do not want to misinterpret what is written and secondly, it is important for our readers to read this interesting primary source:
Little Rock, September 30, 1861.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR of the Confederate States:
SIR: In accordance with suggestions contained in a communication addressed to me by your predecessor, bearing date the 5th instant, I issued a proclamation calling for five regiments of men designed for General McCulloch’s command, and so informed the general, a copy of the letter addressed to him being inclosed to your Department.
On the 10th instant a proclamation was also issued by General McCulloch calling for 15,000 men from the State of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas-a printed copy herewith transmitted*-the 5,000 from Louisiana to be rendezvoused at the capital of this government, whether organized or to be assembled here as a mass of individuals I have not been apprised. The authorities of Arkansas were neither consulted as to the property of making this call nor advised in any manner that such was the purpose of the general.
To all demands made upon me by the Confederate Government I have therefore and shall continued to comply with as a constitutional duty, besides the personal gratification it affords of being able to minister something to the great cause in which we are all engaged. To the gallantry and patriotism of General McCulloch none can accord higher admiration than myself; nevertheless, I esteem it to be my duty, as the executive of this State, irrespective of considerations personal to myself, to express my disapproval of the attitude assigned the authorities of this government and that assumed for Confederate officers in the proclamation alluded to. May idea of the rights relatively belonging to the States and to the Confederate Government is that those pertaining to the former were by no means abridged by the withdrawal from the old Confederacy an a union with the new Government, but that all theretofore claimed upon the most liberal construction were conceded, both upon policy and principle.
The history of the United States, I believe, furnishes no precedent for the raising of men by proclamation emanating from generals commanding nor from the President. If such had been law or precedent, the intervention of State authority would doubtless have been dispensed with by Mr. Lincoln in his demand for troops from Arkansas. Such, fortunately, was not the practice or the law; and with all deference I submit that no example by authority ought to mar the next sheet of Confederate history.
I am aware that, by an act of the Provisional Congress, approved 28th February last, the President is authorized to receive into the service of the Government such forces then in the service of the States as might be tendered, “or who may volunteer by consent of their State,” meaning its authorities; but I am unadvised if legislation has trenched so far upon State prerogative as to authorize the calling of troops by any but State authority, and shall, if such is the law, reluctantly yield my assent to so serious an innovation upon State rights.
But, apart from policy and law, the practice is attended with discordant effort, confusion, contrariety of opinion, unsatisfactory results, and great waste and improvidence in expending the resources of the country. For instance, if the men called for by General McCulloch are raised by him, those assembled by my proclamation, after great expense to the State and sacrifice to the citizen, will be useless, and have to be disbanded. Again, if General McCulloch may issue proclamation, so may one or a dozen other officers do likewise, destroying all harmony of action, and putting aside State authority entirely. Again, an economy of men henceforth will be as important as that of money. Illy-advised calls, appealing strenuously to the people of particular sections of this State which have sent but few men to the field; others, by applying constant stimulants, have already turned out an overdue proportion. Of these facts Confederate generals can know nothing, whilst the right and knowledge for discrimination rest exclusively with the authorities of the States, and cannot be so well lodged anywhere else.
On a former occasion, July —, General McCulloch issued a proclamation calling for the entire military force of the State, evidently with the most laudable purposes, which met with approval from the necessity of the case, not deeming it probable that an isolated act would ripen into settled practice. I though it unnecessary to call attention to it at Richmond, unless supervenient facts determined that that call was assumed to have been made by an exercise of rightful authority, which now seems to be apparent. There are other persons and officers of the confederate Government of lesser rank then General McCulloch who, claiming to act by direction of your Government, are issuing addresses and proclamations, calling for troops from Arkansas, all which perplex and distract the minds and loyal purposes of the people, and are highly detrimental to the public service and offensive to the rights and dignity of this Government. In view of al which, I beg leave most sincerely and respectfully to request that henceforward all demands which it may be though proper to make upon this State for troops for Confederate service may be addressed to the proper authorities thereof, land that the military officers placed upon our frontiers be advised of the propriety in future of addressing themselves to such authorities in the procurement of troops needed for the Confederate Army.
H. M. RECTOR,
Governor of Arkansas.
On September 30, 1862 Confederate General T.H. Holmes drafted Special Order Number 42, which consisted of six sections. The order is presented unedited:
I. Special Orders, No. 39, from these headquarters, is hereby suspended so far as the same relates to relieving Major-General Hindman from command of the District of Arkansas, and Brigadier-General Roane of the command of the troops at Pine Bluff, including Garland’s brigade.
II. Brigadier-General Roane will immediately proceed with his command toward Clarendon, and take post on the highlands near that place.
III. Brigadier-General McCulloch, with his entire infantry force, Haldeman’s and Edgar’s batteries, and the cavalry of his division, will move immediately to Devall’s Bluff, take post near that place, and report by telegraph to Major-General Hindman for further instructions.
IV. Brigadier-General Nelson, with his entire infantry force and Daniel’s battery, will proceed immediately to Clarendon, and report to Brigadier-General Roane.
V. Colonel McRae, with his entire infantry force and Woodruff’s battery, will proceed immediately to Des Are, and take post near that place. He will assume command of Pratt’s battery, and report to Major-General Hindman for further instructions.
VI. Colonel Parsons’ cavalry brigade is placed under the orders of Brigadier-General McCulloch.
Military actions in this “Today in Arkansas During the Civil War” column can be traced better using the Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas. You can trace the same roads they walked in many cases in this atlas. You can find obscure references to communities mentioned in Civil War records that can be located in this atlas. Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas is the perfect companion book for this “Today in History” series.
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