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For the past couple of years I have been doing research on Unionism in North Central and North West Arkansas, or as we Arkies call it Hill Country.  Most of this part of Arkansas was settled by folks with ancestors from the western valleys along the Appalachian Mountains.  Most were English or Scotch Irish, otherwise Celts, not Anglo-Saxons from southern England who moved into Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas -- whose offspring were the slave-owning plantation farmers which settled the Mississippi River Delta region of Arkansas. 

Until Fort Sumter,  Arkansas was evenly  divided.  At the Arkansas Secession Convention, the first vote to secede failed.  Finally, the secessionists  won, and most of the Unionists returned home, but quietly went to work setting up the Arkansas Peace Society -- a secret organization which by some accounts had as many as 2,000 members spread out over about 10 north Arkansas counties.  The time would be in the Fall of 1861.  The objective was to set up a militia organization that swore allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, but would only fight to protect family, property and community. In other words, these men wanted to establish their own "Switzerland."

When Arkansas Confederate Governor Rector learned of what was happening, he called out the militia and had as many men as could be caught rounded up and brought to Little Rock. Of those rounded up 77 were arrested in Searcy County.  They were put in chains and marched over 100 miles, taking 6 days, to arrive at the Arkansas State House where Gov. Rector greeted them.  This was early December. He accused them of committing treason against the Confederate State of Arkansas.  He said they could either join a Confederate Regiment or await trial for treason and if found guilty would hang.  

Most of the men chose to join and became two companies (K & I) of the 18th Arkansas (Marmaduke) Infantry.  At Shiloh, these men were in the center of the Confederate line and spent most of the first day at the Hornet's Nest.  Their captain was instructed not to trust their willingness to fight.  He was told to shoot them if they started running toward the federal line, shoot them if they failed to fight, or shoot them if they retreated.

I am trying to identify those who were wounded or killed, and those who survived.  Any assistance would be appreciated. If you know of any interesting anecdotes involving the Hornet's Nest I would appreciate those also. 

(By the way, I attended and graduated from Jackson (TN) High School and Union University, and as a young man spent many Saturdays or Sundays riding a bicycle around the Shiloh Battlefield.  At the time, I learned about the Hornet's Nest did not have any idea I had an ancestor from Arkansas fighting right there. Also, I have read many of the books written about the battle my favorite being Larry J. Daniel's book.)

JB

 

 

  

 

 

 

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