The Civil War Hub of ArkansasOn September 4, 1861 Confederate Secretary of War L.P. Walker wrote from Richmond, Virginia to General Benjamin McCulloch in Little Rock that, ”I have telegraphed to Governor Rector to send you all the troops at his disposal and to let you have the arms taken off by the troops mustered out of service; and you are authorized to increase your force to such extent and in such manner as you deem proper.”

To Walker’s dispatch, Governor Rector, “Such, I regret, seems to be the case.” Rector continued his reply, “From intelligence received to-day from Fort Smith this has been induced by the advice of General N. B. Pearce, whose conduct deserves the severest reprehension.” Rector was very angry with Pearce. “I understand he is an applicant for promotion by Confederate appointment, against which I protest solemnly, until his conduct can be investigated by the authorities here.”

Rector drafted another document on September 4, 1861 to L.P. Walker. IN the second document Rector tells Secretary Walker that, “In view of the extensive preparations [afoot] by the Lincoln Government, I conceive it important that the 3,000 men called for from Arkansas by your requisition of June 24 should be raised and prepared for service with as little delay as possible.”

Rector noted that a third of Arkansas men were “already under arms” and that, “recruiting officers are being sent through the State from the respective divisions of the Army, together with the objections generally urgent against enlisting for the war, I am confident that several months will elapse before the number called for will be obtained under the present plan.”

Rector continued with his dispatch to Walker, “I am in receipt of letter daily from parties who signify a willingness to accept the service, but there are difficulties in the way.” He explains, “First, it is impossible to get up a full company in any one county or locality, the men being only procurable in squads of five, ten, or twenty.” Even if enough men were found to muster a full company, Rector early on realizes the obvious, “After being thus obtained they require subsistence, with authority given to mustering officers to swear them in and control them until the whole can be got together.” Even if proper subsistence were obtained for the purpose of feeding new recruits, “after the company is organized, perhaps remote from the camp of instruction, transportation is necessary to covey them to the proper point.”

Because of the extent of the necessary logistics it took to raise an army from scratch, Rector and the Confederate authorities in Richmond were only too aware of the proverbial speed bumps along the way. Rector related, “All these obstacles are retarding progress in furnishing the men you desire, and I am anxious to have them obtained, if possible, that Arkansas may respond promptly to the call made upon her.” He assured Secretary Walker, “We have the men, if they can be aggregated.”

Rector had other questions aside from the logistics in raising an army and feeding it. He wanted to know if General Burgevin should be sent to Richmond to, “ask your attention to the subject at once, hoping that you will either consent to send recruiting officers with proper instructions, or that gentlemen be named in the State authorized to get up the regiments on their own account, with the promise of a command in the organization when complete [and] If the latter plan is adapted, and I am inclined to think it the best, I know of no man in Arkansas whose qualifications would commend him so highly as colonel of one of the regiments as the gentleman who presents this communication.”

Rector then wrote of Burgevin’s qualifications. He reported, “The general, until recently, has been actively engaged in State service as adjutant-general, and I hazard nothing in saying he has peculiar adaptation and qualifications for the position to which I recommend him.” The accommodation continued, “Besides this, in connection with my own efforts, he rendered valuable service to the Southern cause while Arkansas was wavering in the balance between the old and new Governments.”

“Without the general’s labors and perils, coupled with my own, the forts and arsenal in Arkansas would now, in all probability, be garrisoned, like those of Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland, with Northern soldiery.” After referring to the respective arsenal crises in the South in January of 1861, Rector continued, “To his efforts the Southern cause is much indebted for the stand Arkansas finally assumed beside her Southern sister States.”

“Manfully facing the political storm that raged over the country, he imperiled his [Burgevin] life, property, and reputation in the support of Southern independence [and] I think such men deserve service at the hands of the Confederate Government, when their qualifications justify the bestowal of such confidence.”

After the glowing and polished report on Burgevin’s character in a distich to Secretary L.P. Walker, the General himself found an opportunity to draft a letter to Walker noting that, “It was my intention to have left this evening for Richmond, but the distressing intelligence of the entire disbandment of our troops on the Western frontier by General Pearce, and the dangerous predicament in which General McCulloch is place by that most unprecedented act, have induced me to forego my intended visit.”

Because of recent problems in west Arkansas, Burgevin was all too aware to the seriousness of the situation the Confederate army faced in Arkansas. Following the great battle in Springfield at Wilson’s Creek in August 1861,”McCulloch was at the head of a victorious army, in which the State was well represented.” General Burgevin continued, “The intelligence of last night has changed the whole aspect of things-the Arkansas troops disbanded, McCulloch in retreat from Springfield, and our wounded at that place left to the tender care of a merciless foe. Who knows what may next occur?”

Addressing the seriousness the Confederates were facing in Arkansas, Burgevin was also aware that, “Arkansas may at any moment need her sons to defend her from the insults of the enemy.”

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Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

Civil War Arkansas: A Military Atlas

On September 4, 1864, there was an attack on two steamers on the White River. On September 6, 1864 Brigadier General Christopher C. Andrews wrote that the Celeste and the Commercial arrived at DeValls Bluff. Andrews reported, “On the afternoon of the 4th the boats were fired into at Gregory’s Landing.” The report continued, “Colonel Graves and eight men were wounded, one killed, one since died [and] Graves is rather severely wounded in the leg.”

Andrews then reported that the steamers went to Augusta on the following day (September 5) and found no enemy, “and has not been for a month.” Intelligence reports noted that Colonel Dobbin was last reported east of the Cache River and General J.O. Shelby was “in neighborhood of Jacksonport.”

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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.

If you know of any other military actions or other things that happened that we did not post on a certain day, send us an email to info@arkansastoothpick.com.