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The Southern States of America
Chapter III - Arkansas from 1861 - 1909

The Outbreak of the War—Arming For the Struggle.

Following the Ordinance of Secession was a period of the utmost excitement. Companies, regiments, batteries, brigades, troops of every organization were formed with the utmost rapidity, and arming themselves as best they could hurried to the front to take part in military operations. Those regiments which were the first to organize went to Virginia, and were there enlisted directly into the Confederate service. The First Arkansas Infantry, James F. Fagan, colonel, went to Lynchburg, and were shortly sent to Acquia Creek on the Potomac River, establishing a blockade of Washington City against approaches by way of the river. The Third Arkansas Infantry went to Montgomery, Alabama, and thence to Virginia. As the regiments enlisted there was much of an effort to get the earliest numbers, so there arose a duplication of numbers as between First infantry and First cavalry, First in state troops and First in Confederate service, that resulted in much confusion afterwards, and necessitated renumbering some of the regiments.

The convention took measures to call out troops in state service for her defense, and for that purpose created a Military Board composed, at first, of the governor, Henry M. Rector, Benjamin C. Totten and Christopher C. Danley, to arm and equip troops. The Board issued a proclamation that sounded like a trumpet call. It was headed: "To arms; to arms; the enemy is invading our northern border," and called for 10,000 volunteers in addition to those that were already in the field. These troops, with many others, were speedily raised and took part in the struggle. In short, it may be said that out of a voting population of 61,198 in the race between Rector and Johnson in 1860, fully five-sixths of the number, or 50,000 men, entered the Confederate service during the progress of the conflict.

Other regiments, as they formed, were sent into the northern part of Arkansas, and from there were sent to Island No. 10 and Fort Donelson, where they took part in the battles at that place; others were moved northward into Missouri under Gen. Ben McCullough, where they took part in that first bloody battle of the west, called by the Federals the Battle of Wilson's Creek, and by the Confederates the Battle of Oak Hills.

To get arms, to get ammunition, to get clothing, were subjects of prime difficulty with the troops as they were organized. Companies and regiments were formed with the men carrying shotguns and squirrel-rifles. Some companies went to the front with no arms at all, and others armed only with knives. What ammunition was to be had came from blockade runners, but as the war progressed, ammunition of inferior quality was supplied through home manufacture. Cannon for artillery use was scarcely to be had, until foundries could be brought into operation to cast rude specimens. For clothing the homes of the people were denuded of blankets, curtains, and even carpets for bedding, and of every species of wearing material that could be converted into clothing, or woven for it. And for hospital supplies women met in groups, in halls and churches and private homes, to scrape lint and make bandages, that were all too soon to be called into use. It was thus unprepared, and meagerly and insufficiently furnished, that the Confederate troops of that time entered into that momentous struggle.

Progress of the War.

The first burst of excitement that brought home to us a realization of the stupendous nature of the war into which the nation had been plunged was the Battle of Oak Hill, near Springfield, Missouri, which was fought largely by Arkansas troops, State Commanding Gen. N. B. Pearce taking part under Confederate Commander Gen. Ben McCullough; for out of the ten regiments engaged on the Confederate side, five of them, together with Woodruff's Battery of Artillery, were from Arkansas. This battle took place Aug. 10, 1861, when the intense excitement of the news of the Battle of Manassas of July 21 had but just swept over the state, and brought with it the knowledge that the awful conflict had begun. But this was nearer home to us, and our own men were numerously engaged in it and many had been killed, so that the import of it was more direct than the other. In this desperate engagement, which resulted in the defeat of the Federal army under Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, Churchill's regiment of cavalry, and Mcintosh's, DeRosey Carrol's and Dockery's regiments of Arkansas troops sustained the brunt of the engagement, while Woodruff's Battery, in a prolonged artillery duel with Totten's Battery, was the centre of the fight, and contributed in no small degree to the ensuing victory. All of these commands lost heavily in the engagement, and we had now begun to realize the terrible nature of war.

Many of the Confederate regiments on enlisting did so for one year, and now that the time of enlistment began to expire, there was a general re-enlistment and reassignment of commands, and this time it was "for three years, or during the war," as the phrase usually went.

The early part of 1862 witnessed a severe battle at Pea Ridge, in the northern part of Arkansas, fought March 7, between a force of about 15,000 Confederate troops under Gen. Earl Van Dorn, and about 20,000 Federal troops under Gen. S. E. Curtis. The result of the battle was indecisive. The Confederates held their ground well and drove the Federal troops back at every point, but their movements were disconcerted by the loss of two of their best generals, James Mcintosh and Ben McCullough, both of whom were killed in the action. The Confederates remained in possession of the field, but next day retreated southward. Curtis moved southeastward to Helena, where he took a position and fortified the place. Shortly after this the Confederate troops under Van Dorn were moved east of the Mississippi River to the Confederate service there, so that there were no Confederate troops in Arkansas at all for a time.

The Trans-Mississippi Department.

At this juncture the Confederate governmental authorities at Richmond organized the three states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas into a depart^ ment to itself, called the Trans-Mississippi Department. Its General Commander was E. Kirby Smith, with headquarters at Shreveport, the command of the state of Arkansas being vested in Gen. Thomas C. Hindman, of Helena. Hindman took command in the spring or early summer of 1862, and proceeded to organize an army. This was done with effectiveness, so that he was enabled to hold the Federal troops in check from any considerable operations in the state. The northern portion of the state, however, was the scene of a number of skirmishes, advances and reconnaissances, but without any considerable engagement until December 7, when Hindman attacked Generals Herron and Blount near Prairie Grove in Washington county, where a sanguinary battle was fought, resulting in the complete repulse of the Federal forces. Herron retreated northward, and after remaining on the ground for a time following the engagement, Hindman also withdrew. Subsequent to this engagement Hindman was transferred to service east of the Mississippi, and the command of the army in Arkansas was devolved upon Gen. Theophilas H. Holmes.

Along with matters of a military nature, there is also to be mentioned one of a civil proceeding, in a change in the governorship. It was discovered that by a complication in the laws from the adoption of a new constitution, the term of Governor Rector had come to an end. In a special election to fill the vacancy, Harris Flanagin, of Arkadelphia, who was commanding a Confederate regiment in the field, was elected and served to the end of the war.

Hardships in Domestic Life.

By the end of the year 1862 the rigors of war had made themselves felt in domestic life with pitiless severity. All such articles as tea, coffee, spices and the like had become exhausted, and for their use inefficient substitutes were resorted to. For coffee, the substitute was parched rye, parched sweet potatoes, or parched peanuts. These made decoctions that could scarcely be called acceptable. Black pepper was not to be had, and only the red peppers of the garden were made use of where admissible. Sugar was scarce, owing to so many of the sugar plantations of Louisiana being uncultivated, or being in possession of Federals, but to supplement its absence, farmers resorted largely to the growing of Chinese sugar cane, from which sorghum was made. Salt was plentiful, as the Lake Bistineau region of Louisiana was close at hand and wagon teams brought in all that was needed. All kinds of poultry was scarce. If meal or flour could be had, with potatoes, it was as much of a repast as usually could anywhere be found. All cattle, sheep and the like were rarely to be found, and if anyone had a milch cow it was regarded as a veritable fortune. Hats, shoes and clothing of all kinds were extremely difficult to obtain. Cloth, of both cotton and woolen, was supplied to a considerable extent by the women weaving with old-time looms, and the knitting of socks and comforters went on at an extensive rate. All medicines were by this time consumed, and as substitutes for the usual remedies, roots and herbs were made use of. For quinine in malarial disorders, the root of a wayside herb called Vervinex was used, or the balls of the button-willow of the swamps. For oils for medical use, that extracted from the Palma Christi beans, crushed out by rude presses like cider-mills, was used. And there was no direction but felt the pinch of want and the insufficiency of immediate appliances.

In addition to this the money of the Confederacy had steadily declined in its purchasing power, so that it took many dollars of it to equal a dollar of gold, or other value. A pair of boots, of the poorest of home-made leather, sold for $80; a pair of shoes, $35; a sheep, $50; a turkey, $20. If fish could be had from the streams, or game from the woods, it seemed like a veritable feast.

And thus with the pinch of misery at home, and the heartache at every fireside, and with armies contending in the field, it was a time to make the stoutest heart heavy.

The Disasters of 1863.

The year 1863 culminated in a series of disasters for the Confederate arms. It opened darkly in Arkansas by the assault and capture of Arkansas Post, in January, in a combined army and navy movement against it, by a large force under command of General McClernand, supported by the navy under Admiral Porter. The Post was defended by Gen. T. J. Churchill, with a force of about 3,000 Confederates. After a gallant defense of the place for three days, in which a number of desperate assaults were successfully repulsed, the garrison surrendered and were made prisoners January 11.

July 4 marked the period of the greatest disasters of the year for the Confederate side, for at that date occurred the Battle of Gettysburg, with the defeat of Lee, the fall of Vicksburg to the victorious Grant, and lastly a crushing defeat sustained by the Confederates under Holmes at Helena. The place was strongly fortified. The Confederates made a gallant attack and captured portions of the breastworks, but were subsequently driven out with great loss and compelled to retreat across the country. Holmes was shortly afterwards relieved of his command, and was succeeded by Gen. Sterling Price, of Missouri.

Following this defeat General Steele, who was now in command of the Federal troops, set out from Helena with a force of some 20,000 men for the capture of Little Rock. He pushed through the country to White River, meeting but little opposition, until he reached Little Rock, only being engaged in skirmishes and minor engagements. In this way he easily reached within striking distance of the capital.

The Confederate camp had been established mainly on the north bank of the Arkansas River at Little Rock, where a strong line of breastworks had been erected to defend the city from an approach from that direction, but no defenses had been erected upon the south side of the river, on which the city lies. Steele, by the simplest strategy, rendered the fortifications useless by crossing a squadron of cavalry under General Davidson to the south bank to advance upon the city by this direction, wholly undefended as it was. This necessitated the hasty withdrawal of the Confederate troops to the south bank of the river, to oppose the advancing columns in that direction, leaving their formidable breastworks untenanted and undefended. Seeing this, Steele advanced along the north bank, passed over the undefended breastworks, and planting batteries opposite the town began a bombardment of it, as it lay entirely at his mercy. In the meantime the Confederates, hastily moved to the south side, had successfully checked the advance of Davidson from that direction. But Price realized that the situation had become one where it was necessary to fight with an enemy in both front and rear, or else to retreat, so he chose the latter course and evacuated the place, which thereafter remained in Federal control to the close of the war. The date of these movements was Sept. 10, 1863. Price, retreating southward, pitched his camp on the Ouachita River, where he remained the winter, and there were but few other military operations in Arkansas for the remainder of the year.

Campaigning in 1864.

General Steele remained at Little Rock during the winter of 1863, strongly fortifying the place, as there were rumors that attempts would be made by the Confederates to repossess it. In the spring of 1864 he set out with his army to follow Price, but he met with a considerable check at Mark's Mills and Poison Spring, and at Jenkins' Ferry in the Saline River bottom his army was so badly worsted that he made a hasty retreat back to Little Rock. It was for a time a question whether he would ever be able to extricate his force from their perilous position, as the Confederate forces under Fagan were hurrying to Little Rock to intercept him, but Steele, traveling on the shorter line, made good his escape, and returned to the capital thoroughly discomfited.

Matters remained in this condition until September, when Price started from his camp in southern Arkansas on a raid into Missouri. He marched his army as far north as Kansas, fighting many battles, the principal of which was at Pilot Knob, in Missouri, where his forces were repulsed with great loss. The general result of the expedition was fruitless, and after having gone as far north as the Marais des Cygnes, in Kansas, where they met with a considerable reverse, the army turned back and returned to Arkansas.

This was the end of military operations in Arkansas, for the great war, having been fought out to the bitter end, was drawing to a close. Sherman had marched through Georgia like a sword piercing the very vitals of the Confederacy. In Virginia the two Titans, Grant and Lee, had struggled until the latter fell, and the curtain was rung down upon the ghastly conflict of four years' duration by the sheathing of his sword at Appomattox, and the Confederacy was no more.

Thus the most stupendous war of modern times had come to its termination. The South, exhausted in her momentous struggle against overwhelming odds in men and material, laid down her arms and turned to the gentler pursuits of peace. From the havoc of the times she heroically took up the task of rebuilding her broken fortunes, and repairing the sad ravages of a desolating war.

"When the last echo of hostile cannon died away over her blasted fields, and left Silence brooding in the midst of Desolation, she did not sit down in idle grief, like Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted because they were not, but like David, when his son was dead, she restrained her unavailing tears and reentered nobly upon her duties.''

Resumption of Civil Concerns.

With the fall of Little Rock in September, 1863, the Confederate power had entirely disappeared from the northern half of the state, or all north of the Arkansas River, and was concentrated in the southern portion, or below the river. Harris Flan-agin was the Confederate governor, the state capital having, by his proclamation, been established at Washington, in Hempstead county, at which point also the Confederate Supreme Court sat.

In January, 1864, a convention was held in Little Rock, attended by delegates from twenty-three out of fifty-five counties of the state which were in Federal occupancy, at which a constitution was drafted to be submitted to a vote of the people therein, and at the same time officers for state and county government and for members of Congress were to be voted for. The election, held during three days of March, 1864, was under military auspices. The vote cast was in the aggregate less than 12,500, being in the proportions of 12,177 for and 266 against the adoption of the instrument. The vote, of course, represented only a very small fragment of the people of Arkansas, more than two-thirds of whom were still in arms against the United States, but it was proclaimed as sufficiently establishing a state government, which was declared to be in effect from that time. In the election of officers held at the same time, Isaac Murphy, of Madison county, who had been the only delegate in the Secession Convention who had cast his vote against withdrawing from the Union, was chosen as governor, and was inaugurated as such in April following, and with him a full complement of officers for a state government were inducted into office.

In the year 1864, also, the Federal court was reestablished at Little Rock through the appointment, by President Lincoln, of Henry C. Caldwell, of Ot-tumwa, Iowa, as United States district judge for the eastern district of Arkansas, with Charles P. Redmond, of Dubuque, Iowa, as district attorney; Robert J. T. White, of Virginia, clerk, and W. 0. Stoddard, of Missouri, marshal.

Thus the machinery of state and Federal government was set in operation over one-half of the state, and when the collapse of the Confederacy occurred in the following year, their jurisdiction embraced all.

The former members of the Confederacy now had a new and serious situation to face, in addition to their poverty in a monetary sense. This was through the action of the authorities in power instituting proceedings to confiscate the property of prominent property owners who had taken part in the war on that side, providing that lawyers should not practice in courts until they had taken what was called the "test oath," which was to the effect that they had not aided or abetted the Confederacy, nor been engaged in disloyalty to the Federal government; and lastly, by causing many persons to be indicted and arrested on the charge of treason.

Under the first-named of these proceedings the dockets of the courts were loaded with confiscation cases. The property of many citizens was sold under condemnation proceedings, and the owners dispossessed in favor of purchasers, who were usually mere adventurers.

In the matter of the "test oath" for lawyers, its operation was a practical exclusion of the entire fraternity of the state, for all had been unanimous in their support of the Confederacy. The validity of this requirement was tested by Augustus H. Garland, afterwards governor, senator and attorney-general of the United States, in a case entitled "Ex parte Garland,'' in the Supreme Court of the United States. In a masterly argument there, Garland established his fame as a great lawyer and succeeded in overturning the test oath requirement, thus setting the matter at rest for the whole country.

Proceedings against citizens on the charge of treason were more numerous still. At the session of the Federal grand jury of April, 1865, indictments for treason were returned against 243 prominent persons, who had been active in the cause of the Confederacy. Most of these cases were disposed of by the parties obtaining and pleading a pardon from the President, under the amnesty policy which was being pursued in the administration of national affairs. Other cases not disposed of in this way were never brought to trial. In general, it may be said that no man was punished by trial through court of law for his participation in the war on the Confederate side. In all the body of the law no statute could be found to incriminate any man for having obeyed the commands of the law-making power of his state; so closely were the rights of the state interwoven with the fabric of the general government in the governmental plan devised by the fathers of the Republic, and so complex and paramount was the duty owed by the citizen to his state, as compared with the duty he owed to the Federal organization in the nation's texture and plan.

Reconstruction and National Affairs.

If the people of Arkansas had been permitted to work out their own destiny under the beginning which had been made, the course of subsequent events would have been far less distressing. But the turn of affairs at the national capital bore heavily and ruinously upon the destinies of Arkansas. From having been bitter and vindictive towards the people of the South, President Andrew Johnson, successor to the lamented Lincoln, had now become conciliatory, and had issued proclamations of pardon and amnesty to very nearly all who had cast their fortunes with the Confederacy, and providing for the return of the seceding states to the Union on the simplest and easiest conditions. His policy in this respect was not satisfactory to the extremists of his party, who raised the cry that "the fruits of the war were being lost,'' and that "treason must be made odious." This finally led to a rupture with the President and an attempted impeachment of him, and resulted in the passage by Congress of a drastic act entitled "An act for the more efficient government of the Rebel States,'' reciting that no legal state government existed in said states, nor was there adequate protection for life and property therein.

As far as Arkansas was concerned this statement was wholly false, for a state government inaugurated by their own party had been in operation for four years. Everything was peaceable, and was beginning to show recovery from the devastating effects of four years of warfare. The laws were administered, progress was in vogue, and the entire governmental machinery was moving along smoothly, with a Republican governor at the helm and many of the same party holding office under him.

Under this Act the states of the South were divided into five Military Districts, each district to be governed by a military appointee. Arkansas and Mississippi were joined as the fourth district, under Gen. E. 0. C. Ord, Arkansas being made a sub-district under Gen. Alvan C. Gillem. The substitution of the military power for the civil resulted in the ouster from office of those holding through regular elections, held in pursuance of the provisions of the constitution in force under which the Murphy government existed, and the substitution of selected favorites as appointees, according as caprice or favor dictated. It was the overturning of the entire civil list and the supplanting it by military appointees, selected with little regard for either fitness or qualification.

It is now known that the sentiment of the dominant party of the time was not united on the propriety of these proceedings, but that the coolest and wisest of them denounced the provisions of the act as sheer political madness. But the sedate counsels of the minority could not prevail against the white heat of passion which was in the air, and the thirst for revenge swept the majority into measures as reprehensible as this one was.

Of course neither Arkansas nor any of the Southern states had any voice in the enactment of this law, as none of them had been accorded admission to Congress, although three full years had elapsed since the entire cessation of hostilities. They simply lay prostrate and supine, awaiting the stroke of the headsman's axe, without a voice to raise a cry of protest in their behalf.

In his dilemma President Johnson took the opinion of Attorney-General Stansberry as to the validity of the Reconstruction Act, and the opinion being in the main against its validity, the opinion was issued to department commanders for their guidance.

The act provided for registration of voters as a prerequisite for voting, but gave the registration boards the privilege of striking from the list any names that they saw fit, and for no other cause than as their own will and pleasure dictated. Under these features many citizens applying to register were rejected because they had participated in the "rebellion." Others applying were received, but their names were afterwards secretly stricken off, and their applications to vote were refused because the name did not appear on the list. Many declined to attempt to register, holding the entire proceedings null and void, in the line of Attorney-General Stansberry's opinion. In this way, the election for delegates to a constitutional convention and for state officers at the same time was no better than a farce. Nearly 20,000 registered votes were not cast because the law, as originally enacted, required a majority of all the registered voters, hence, not to vote was equivalent to voting in the negative; but within three days of the election an amendatory act was passed in Congress, making the result of the election to be governed by the vote of a majority of the votes cast, and not by a majority of those registered. The approval of this act making it a law was telegraphed the day before election to all Republican sources, but the Democratic vote was kept in ignorance of it, so that by this trick the strength of their registered vote was thrown away. The polls, which were opened and kept under military auspices, were held open for five days, March 13 to 18, 1868, and where a definite number of votes was lacking to make majorities in one county they were freely supplied in the count of some other county. More votes were cast in some counties than there were registered votes in the county, voters voted in one county being registered in another, one ballot box would be substituted for another, and so on. But notwithstanding these glaring conditions, which were fully shown and unavailingly contested, the new constitution, filled with disfranchising features for as much as half of the entire Democratic vote of the state, if not more, was declared carried, and with it a new set of state officers, headed by Gen. Powell Clayton, who had been a Federal cavalry officer of Kansas troops, as governor, and with him a full complement of state and county officers who were new and strange to the people. This election was the first at which the negro vote was cast in Arkansas.

Martial Law and Republican Control.

The inauguration of Governor Clayton and those with him gave the entire control of affairs into Re-publican hands, with fully 30,000 Democrats disfranchised and denied any voice in governmental affairs. Republican control introduced an element which was alien and strange to Arkansas. They were in the main an element attracted by the opportunities of the times, imbued with the idea of gathering in all that could be had, and wholly unscrupulous as to methods of doing so; or as the unconcealed phrase of the times expressed it, intending "to squeeze Arkansas as dry as a sucked orange." Their local designation was that of "Carpet-baggers," as, having no interest in Arkansas or local habitation therein, they came with no other possessions than what they could bring with them in a carpet-bag grip-sack. It goes without saying that they were generally of an adventurous class, or, as a prominent politician expressed it, "had no interest in the state or the people beyond the office they held, and expected to depart as soon as it ran out, after having made out of it all that was possible by fair means or foul."

With this condition existing, political supremacy opened the way for a series of bond issues for funding purposes, for alleged railroad and levee aid, which was reckless in extent, and so scandalous in nature as to receive the merited rebuke of Congress, through a report on the subject made by an investigating committee sent by that body for the purpose of examining and reporting as to the legality of the government established under the constitution of 1874. All the bond issues of the past, including the disputed Holford Bonds, were gathered into a Funding Act and reissued; railroads were granted aid bonds for roads that were never built, and for issues far in excess of that allowed by law. Issues of bonds were made where rails had been laid in one direction, and a second issue where the same rails had, after being taken up, been laid in another direction. Levee aid was issued to railroads for embankments near streams, to which roads railroad aid had been given for the same embankments; county bonds were issued for the building of court houses and jails that were never built, and so on. In these and similar ingenious ways a bonded indebtedness of near $10,000,000 was fastened on the state, of which probably not a tithe was for actual public improvement, and proportionate indebtedness upon many of the counties thereof, under the burden of which both state and counties struggled for years, and which the counties generally paid, or are even now still paying; but the state, by means of an amendment to the constitution, known as the Fishback Amendment, refused to pay the disputed Holfords and the railroad aid and levee bonds to the extent of near $9,000,000, as having been fraudulent in their issue and in their application. The railroad aid and levee bonds had previously been declared illegal and void by the Supreme Court of the state because the act under which they were issued had never been passed by the legislature, and the Holfords had been declared by the state, before the war, to have been illegally put forth by the bank holding them, and to have been fraudulently converted by their holders.

To add to the discomforts of the times, Republican control brought with it negro ascendancy, described in semi-humorous publications as "the bottom rail on top," and "black heels on white necks," and the like; sayings that were far too true to be relished. The negro vote formed the bulk of electoral strength, and through this means the appearance of the negro as a public official was as frequent as it was exasperating. There were negro legislators for the making of laws, negro sheriffs, negro clerks, negro constables, negro justices of the peace, with the ballot, for which they were wholly unprepared, thrust into their hands, too ignorant to use it intelligently, or in any way except as dictated by their radical white bosses; ignorant and insolent, overbearing and insulting, lording it over the whites, while the best and highest of the Southern people stood disfranchised, denied and deprived of the privileges accorded to the lowest and most degraded of the blacks, making a situation trying, indeed, and hard to be borne.

Nor was it long until, with a devilish ingenuity, the burdens on the already heavily laden Southern people were made all the greater by augmented taxes through the medium of higher rates and increased assessments. The Southern whites were the landed property owners. Hence, any burden of taxes inaugurated rested not upon the shoulders of the newcomers, but upon a people already impoverished by the results of the war, just as to-day, the burden of the tax for the education of the negro rests not upon him, but upon the white Southern property owner. And not only were assessments on real estate doubled and thribbled, but the same was done with the rate of taxation until, between the two, the amount of the tax was so enormously increased that it was no longer taxation, but downright confiscation itself; so that lands and homes were lost without number, while the proceeds wrung from the distressed and overburdened people were squandered among government favorites and through extravagant appropriations. And this on top of another unbearable burden in the shape of a direct tax, levied and collected in the states of the South by authority of Congress herself; a tax so manifestly oppressive and unjust that forty years later a returning sense of fairness caused Congress to refund to those States, to be distributed to whom it belonged, the amounts that had been wrung from them. Restitution made; after those from whom the tax had been extorted and who had felt the burden the keenest, had so long ago fallen into that sleep undisturbed by tax-gatherers, that in many instances even their most remote heirs could not be found.

Registration and Martial Law.

It was reserved for Republican control in Arkansas to resort to a more high-handed measure in the matter of registration than had been anywhere conceived of. The peculiar structure of the prevailing laws made registration a prerequisite for voting, and, as we have seen, gave the registration boards full power to strike off in secret any names they pleased; but not content with this despotic and unlimited resource, when the Presidential election of 1868 was approaching, Governor Clayton, by proclamation, declared invalid and set aside at one fell swoop the registration in twelve Democratic counties, with a registered vote of 13,750, and in which majorities of 2,865 had been cast against the constitution of 1868, and only a majority of forty-three for it in one of the counties, and no vote was cast in, or received from, those counties. There is but small cause for wonder under such tactics the vote of the state should be given to the Republican candidate.

Following this unprecedented move, Governor Clayton, although it was a time of profound peace and the laws were being executed without hindrance, declared martial law to exist in the fourteen counties of Ashley, Bradley, Columbia, Lafayette, Mississippi, Woodruff, Craighead, Greene, Sevier, Little River, Fulton, Drew, Conway and Crittenden. The entire state was divided into four Military Districts, under commanders specially selected for carrying out the governor's proclamations. Bodies of militia, composed of the most reckless and desperate personnel, were sent into those counties, with orders to forage off the county, but to pay for what they took "on proof of loyalty." To the inhabitants of those counties it was a veritable reign of terror, as it was made the occasion of widespread killing and plundering of the people. Much that was taken was never paid for, houses were burned, many citizens were killed and other crimes committed, with the civil law suspended and martial courts substituted in their stead. Altogether it was the very darkest period of the state's history, and is remembered with terror by any who knew of its incidents.

As a sequel to this horrible condition of affairs an act of the legislature was passed by Republican representatives, absolving all persons who had served in the state militia from accountability for any act done while in such service. This was tantamount to acquitting, in advance of legal proceedings, any person who, while so engaged, had committed any crime, however great, and whatsoever its nature might be. Certainly criminality must be wholesale when it calls for wholesale defense!

The existence of martial law in these instances was pronounced by the Federal Military Commander of the District to be entirely unnecessary, and to possess no justification for its existence. It was nothing other than overawing the people with the heavy hand of military power, and with all the horrible aspects of a condition worse than war.

The Brooks-Baxter War.

Every political party having undisputed sway is liable, in time, to fall apart from internal dissensions, and that is what befell the Republican control in Arkansas of the period of reconstruction. In time there grew to be a division styling themselves Reform Republicans, disagreeing with the methods of the leaders. Their chief exponent was Joseph Brooks, a man of strong personality, fearless in courage, powerful in debate, with a voice and physical strength unwearying in duration. From his disagreements with the Clayton faction he had become the head of a considerable following of his own party, and, in his candidacy for the office of governor, by his promises of reform in existing political conditions, had drawn to his support much of the Democratic strength, which turned to him as their hope of securing justice and fair dealing. His opponent was Elisha Baxter, of Batesville, for long time a resident of Arkansas, who was put forward as the candidate of the regular, or radical wing of the Republican party. In his canvass Baxter likewise promised reforms, particularly in restoring the ballot to disfranchised Democrats, and principles of the kind were inserted as pledges in his platform. In the contest that followed the Democratic vote was generally given to Brooks, and the Republican vote to Baxter. When the count was made Baxter was declared elected, and was inaugurated as governor before the legislature, which tribunal was, by law, the sole and only tribunal made competent to determine the subject. Brooks made a contest before this body, and elsewhere, but unavailingly. Finally he brought a suit in the Pulaski circuit court, claiming the office. Baxter, in his administration as far as conducted, had shown a disposition to be fair to all and to carry out the pledges of his candidacy, and had resolutely refused to do the bidding of his radical backers in the issue of more railroad bonds, in consequence of which they forsook him and took up the cause of Brooks, seeing which the Democratic feeling rallied to Baxter, whom it had previously opposed. While matters were in this condition things were brought to a crisis by Whytock, judge of the Pulaski circuit court, upon a trifling plea in the case requiring further pleading, rendering a full decision declaring Brooks the rightful governor and entitled to the office. At once Brooks proceeded to the state house with a handful of his followers, and entering Baxter's rooms forcibly ejected him therefrom, took the oath of office and issued a proclamation styling himself governor of Arkansas.

His supporters seized all the arms in the state armory, and prepared to maintain themselves by force. Baxter withdrew first to St. John's College in the outskirts of the city, but next day established himself at the Anthony House, within two blocks of the Brooks forces, and issued a proclamation calling out the military forces of the state. Answering his call a vast uprising of the people flocked to him from all parts of the state and were speedily enrolled as state militia, under command of Generals Robert C. Newton and T. J. Churchill. The thirty days in which this embroglio lasted was filled with conflicts in which many persons lost their lives, both participants and bystanders. It was a time of terror at the capital, where no man's life was safe, and where bystanders and spectators were killed as frequently as participants. Finally Baxter called a session of the legislature, which, upon assembling, recognized him as the lawful governor, and upon this being laid before President Grant, he issued a proclamation recognizing Baxter as the legitimate governor and calling upon the Brooks forces to disperse.

Thus came to an end this flurry of strife, but its results were far-reaching. The legislature called a convention to frame a new constitution to be submitted to the vote of the people, and upon its submission, wearied of the strife and maladministration which had prevailed for the past six years, the popular vote for its adoption was a majority of nearly 54,000. Augustus H. Garland was elected governor under it by a vote of 76,453, and the other officers with him by about the same. Baxter was tendered the Democratic nomination for governor at this election, as they looked upon him as the Moses who had led them through the wilderness of their past sorrows and perplexities, but he declined, and Garland was nominated in his stead. As a recognition of the great service he had rendered his people, the legislature put upon record a concurrent resolution declaring that Governor Baxter was entitled to the eternal gratitude of the people of the state, for his resolute and manly course.

And thus the people of Arkansas, after weary years of contention and strife, at last came unto their own. It was, it is true, to find the state bankrupted in finances and heavily in debt, with not sufficient money in the treasury "to buy enough wood to make a fire in the governor's office," as Garland humorously expressed it, but it was liberty for the people, and in this rejoicing they addressed themselves with vigor to the task of working out their own destiny under the new conditions.

State Governments Under Democratic Control.

The constitution of 1874 had hardly been proclaimed as in effect, and Governor Garland had hardly begun his administration before the Republican managers made an ineffectual attempt to seize the reins of government. Their programme was to regard the constitution as a nullity and to declare that Baxter, having abdicated the office of governor, it descended to Volney V. Smith, the lieutenant-governor under the former constitution. Accordingly, as soon as Garland was inducted into office, Smith issued a proclamation declaring himself the successor of Baxter, and as such the rightful governor of Arkansas. The proclamation, however, produced nothing but a momentary sensation. Governor Garland at once ordered the arrest of Smith as an insurgent. Smith was never, in point of fact, arrested, but being appointed by President Grant to office in the Island of St. Thomas, repaired thither for a time, but returned to Arkansas and became clerk of Lafayette county.

But a farther effort still was made to reverse the verdict of 1874, and that was taken at the national capital. President Grant sent a special message to Congress relative to the Arkansas case, giving his opinion that all the testimony showed that "in 1874 the constitution of the state was by violence, intimidation and revolutionary proceedings overthrown, and a new constitution adopted, and a new state government established," and asking Congress to take action on the matter "to relieve him from acting on questions which should be decided by the legislative branch of the government." Upon this.

Governor Garland himself invited an investigation on the part of Congress into the legality of the state government of Arkansas, and a committee for the purpose was appointed, with Hon. Luke P. Poland, of Vermont, as chairman. The committee visited Little Rock to take testimony, and personally inspected the condition of affairs. Becoming satisfied as to its legality in all respects, they returned to Washington and reported the result of their investigations.

The committee made a report to Congress setting out their conclusions strongly, which was adopted as satisfactory, and proved to be a conclusion of the whole matter. The Garland government was not further molested by attempts to uproot it, and from that time the state government under the constitution of 1874 has stood upon a solid and enduring foundation, "broad-based upon the people's will," and undisturbed by further attempts to unsettle them.

After the perturbed condition of affairs which had previously existed, public matters settled down to a condition of calmness and peace, the beneficial effects of which were seen in a revival of business, in immigration and in progress in public enterprises. In the state administration succeeding that of Garland, there is little needing to be chronicled in an individual way. One after another they went by, with the state witnessing a steady growth in population, in resources and material. At times flitting disturbances arose, but in the main there was growth and peace. Only to the administration of Gov. Dan W. Jones did there come the particular excitement of the outbreak of the "War with Spain, and to his active efforts is due much of the credit that the Arkansas troops were put into the field speedily and efficiently. These regiments were held in reserve camps at Chickamauga and other points in the United States, and were not sent into active service in Cuba, though they showed themselves efficient.

A Retrospect of General Advance.

In the sketch of the thirty-four years that have elapsed since Arkansas passed back into Democratic control, the state has experienced her noblest progress. The laws have been conscientiously and prudently administered, wise and competent governors have been at the helm in conducting public affairs, and able and skilful assistants have upheld their hands therein. Her finances have been economically and prudently managed, old encumbrances have been wiped out and reduced, burdens of debt in both county and state have been paid off and discharged, until only the merest fragment of any public debt remains, and with abundance of resources wherewith to discharge it. Great railroads thrusting through her midst have built up towns and cities alike. Capital flowing into her borders has set in operation mills and machinery, workshop and factory. Her mines and minerals have been developed to become a centre of attraction to the whole world. Her stone quarries have been uncovered to bring forth building material which is sought for from far and near. Her forests are drawn upon to supply the depletion elsewhere. Her fruits and products overtop the best of the earth's gleanings when brought into competitive exhibition, and the quality and bounty of her harvests elicit unbounded praise. Population has increased from less than half a million to be a million and a half, and the public revenues, gathered through moderate taxation, have been largely augmented by vast increase of values in property and possessions. The public school system has been developed to be the peer of any in the South, and the cause of education has been put upon a high and advanced plane—a source of pride and satisfaction.

Public buildings have arisen for her state institutions, for churches, schools and colleges, that vie with the best in any section, and at her capital there stands, nearing completion, for the housing of her departments and her state officials, a structure comparing well with those of a similar nature anywhere. Her capital city itself has taken rank as one of the fairest and finest cities in the entire Southwest, and others of her cities have grown to splendid proportions and with corresponding attractiveness.

And certainly the eminence of sons of hers has given her a world-wide prestige. Augustus H. Garland, governor and senator, stood at the head of the law department of the United States as attorney-general; U. M. Rose, great in his fame as a lawyer, president of the American Bar Association, served as a representative of the United States in the Peace Congress at the Hague; James K. Jones acted as chairman and the executive manager of the Democratic party in presidential elections in two campaigns, and Albert Pike, by the greatness of his literary achievements earned a fame as wide as the world. From what has come this advance, the fruits of which we, of the present hour, enjoy?

It is because, rejoicing in the existence of a beneficent government, economically administered, the people at large have put forth their efforts for self-advancement, while, attracted by her advantages of soil and climate, and by her varied products and their abundant yield, many have cast their lot in among us, imbued with the same desire to push onward to a higher rank, and bring out in their fullest strength her manifold possibilities. In this march of progress the patriotic spirit of the people has at all times been in unison. When the conflict with Spain was imminent and the tocsin pealed the dreadful note that spoke the rising war, at the call of the President of the United States the troops asked of Arkansas were speedily raised and equipped, and with alacrity took the field in the Nation's defense. If doubt existed in the minds of any that the men of the state would rally to the Nation's call, that doubt was forever set at rest by the manner in which her sons, and especially those who had worn the gray, enlisted under the flag of our reunited country.


What, then, may we claim for Arkansas has contributed to the building of the Nation in this central fragment of her history which has been under consideration? In brief: brave men who fought her battles when the Nation was involved, gallant commanders who won imperishable renown, statesmen who graced the halls of legislation, diplomats who widened the borders of our public domain, orators of eloquence "to melt the waxen of men," writers who have enriched the pages of literature with their gems. This she shows for her sons, while she herself, through this particular portion of her existence, pushed on the car of progress unto an enviable plane of advancement.

May she, beginning with a zealous few, Rise in importance; 'till her influence through All spheres of heightened thought and sense be found; Her seeds of Wisdom fall in favored ground; The light she backward flingeth serve to stead The feet that grope in darkness as they tread; And growing strong and stronger, may she stand A lofty beacon, seen through all the land; 'Till last she shines in Fame's high-towering crest, Like that large star that glitters in the West. Bibliography.—For details and minor particulars see Hempstead's History of Arkansas.

Fay Hempstead,
Author of Hempstead's History of Arkansas.

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