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Arkansas in the American Civil War

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Dec 11, 2021
article - Arkansas in the American Civil War

During the American Civil War, Arkansas was a Confederate state, though it had initially voted to remain in the Union. Following the capture of Fort Sumter in April 1861, Abraham Lincoln called for troops from every Union state to put down the rebellion, and Arkansas and several other states seceded. For the rest of the civil war, Arkansas played a major role in controlling the Mississippi River, a major waterway.

State of the Confederate States of America
This article is about the Confederatestate of Arkansas that existed from 1861 to 1865. For the ship, see CSS Arkansas. For other uses, see Arkansas (disambiguation).

Arkansas

Flag of the Confederate
States (May 18, 1861)
[lower-alpha 1]

Seal (1861 design)


Map of the Confederate States

Capital 1861–1863  Little Rock
1863–1865  Washington
Largest city Little Rock
Admitted to the Confederacy May 18, 1861 (9th)
Population
  • 435,450 total
  •   324,335 free
  •   111,115 slave
Forces supplied
Major garrisons/armories Fort Smith
Little Rock Arsenal
Governor 1861–1862  Henry M. Rector
1862  Thomas Fletcher (acting)
1862–1865  Harris Flanagin 
Senators
Representatives List
Restored to the Union June 22, 1868
Part of a series on the
History of Arkansas
 Arkansas portal
Confederate States
in the
American Civil War

Dual governments
Territory
Allied tribes in
Indian Territory

Arkansas raised 48 infantry regiments, 20 artillery batteries, and over 20 cavalry regiments for the Confederacy, mostly serving in the Western Theater, though the Third Arkansas served with distinction in the Army of Northern Virginia. Major-General Patrick Cleburne was the state’s most notable military leader. The state also supplied four infantry regiments, four cavalry regiments and one artillery battery of white troops for the Union and six infantry regiments and one artillery battery of “U.S. Colored Troops.”

Numerous skirmishes as well as several significant battles were fought in Arkansas, including the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern in March 1862, a decisive one for the Trans-Mississippi Theater which ensured Union control of northern Arkansas. The state capitol at Little Rock was captured in 1863. By the end of the war, programs such as the draft, high taxes, and martial law had led to a decline in enthusiasm for the Confederate cause. Arkansas was officially readmitted to the Union in 1868.

. . . Arkansas in the American Civil War . . .

Arkansas was a member of the Confederacy during the war, and provided troops, supplies, and military and political leaders. Arkansas became the 25th state of the United States on June 15, 1836, entering as a slave state. Some of antebellum Arkansas was still a wilderness in most areas, rural and sparsely populated. Slavery had existed in the area since French/Spanish colonial times, but had been limited in scale until after statehood. Plantation style agriculture had taken hold in the areas of the state that had easy access to water transportation for moving cash crops, like cotton, to market. Counties bordering the Mississippi, Arkansas, White, Saline, and Ouachita rivers had the highest slave populations. Slavery existed but on a much smaller scale in the mountainous northwest and north central parts of the state. The 1850s had seen rapid economic growth in the state.

News of John Brown’s Raid in Virginia in 1859 had spurred a renewed interest in the state’s militia system which had been virtually dormant since the end of the War with Mexico. Like most of the United States, Arkansas had an organized militia system before the Civil War. State law required military service of most male inhabitants of a certain age. By August 1860 the state’s militia consisted of 62 regiments divided into eight brigades, which comprised an eastern division and a western division. New regiments were added as the militia organization developed. Additionally, many counties and cities raised uniformed volunteer companies, which drilled more often and were better equipped than the un-uniformed militia. These volunteer companies were instrumental in the seizure of federal installations at Little Rock and Fort Smith, beginning in February 1861 before Arkansas actually seceded.

During the Presidential Election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln was not even on the ballot in Arkansas. The state voted for Southern Democratic Party candidate John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky.[3]

. . . Arkansas in the American Civil War . . .

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. . . Arkansas in the American Civil War . . .