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 Research ACW US War Dept. Official Records HTML Ser. I, Vol. 1, Ch. VIII–Confederate Correspondence.


February 7-May 9, 1861.


U. S. SENATE, Washington, February 7, 1861.

His Excellency H. M. RECTOR, Little Rock, Ark.:

The motives which impelled capture of forts in other States do not exist in ours. It is all premature. We implore you prevent attack on arsenal if Totten resists.



WASHINGTON, February 7, 1861.


Southern States which captured forts were in the act of seceding, were threatened with troops, and their ports and commerce endangered. Not {p.682} so with us. If Totten resists, for God’s sake deliberate and go stop the assault.



WASHINGTON, February 7, 1861.

JOHN POPE, Esq., Little Rock, Ark.:

For God’s sake do not complicate matters by an attack. It will be premature and do incalculable injury. We cannot justify it. The reasons that existed elsewhere for seizure do not exist with us.



FEBRUARY 7, 1861.

Resolutions expressing the feelings and sentiments of the General Council of the Choctaw Nation in reference to the political disagreement existing between the Northern and Southern States of the American Union.

Resolved by the General Council of the Choctaw Nation assembled, That we view with deep regret and great solicitude the present unhappy political disagreement between the Northern and Southern States of the American Union, tending to a permanent dissolution of the Union and the disturbance of the various important relations existing with that Government by treaty stipulations and international laws, and portending much injury to the Choctaw government and people.

Resolved further, That we must express the earnest desire and ready hope entertained by the entire Choctaw people, that any and all political disturbances agitating and dividing the people of the various States may be honorably and speedily adjusted; and the example and blessing, and fostering care of their General Government, and the many and friendly social ties existing with their people, continue for the enlightenment in moral and good government and prosperity in the material concerns of life to our whole population.

Resolved further, That in the event a permanent dissolution of the American Union takes place, our many relations with the General Government must cease, and we shall be left to follow the natural affections, education, institutions, and interests of our people, which indissolubly bind us in every way to the destiny of our neighbors and brethren of the Southern States, upon whom we are confident we can rely for the preservation of our rights of life, liberty, and property, and the continuance of many acts of friendship, general counsel, and material support.

Resolved further, That we, desire to assure our immediate neighbors, the people of Arkansas and Texas, of our determination to observe the amicable relations in every way so long existing between us, and the firm reliance we have, amid any disturbances with other States, the rights and feelings so sacred to us will remain respected by them and be protected from the encroachments of others.

Resolved further, That his excellency the principal chief be requested to inclose, with an appropriate communication from himself, a copy of these resolutions to the governors of the Southern States, with the request that they be laid before the State convention of each State, as many as have assembled at the date of their reception, and that in such as have not they be published in the newspapers of the State.

Resolved, That these resolutions take effect and be in force from and after their passage.

Approved February 7, 1861.



WASHINGTON, February 8, 1861.

His Excellency Gov. HENRY M. RECTOR, Little Rock:

Don’t attack arsenal unless success is certain. Repulse would be disgraceful. Pledge might be required not to remove or injure arms and munitions without notice. Please telegraph us.



U. S. SENATE, February 9, 1861.

R. H. JOHNSON, Little Rock, Ark.:

Arsenal yours. Thank God! Hold it. My address mailed to-night. Publish it quick. Peace Congress no use; failure.




Hon. JOHN ROSS, Chief of Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, C. N.:

SIR: Colonel Gaines, aide-de-camp to his Excellency Governor Rector, will hand you this letter.

The object of Colonel Gaines’ visit to you is fully explained in the letter he bears to you from the governor.

I fully approve of the object the governor has in view, and would ask that you give the matter your favorable consideration.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ELIAS RECTOR, Superintendent Indian Affairs.



To His Excellency JOHN ROSS, Principal Chief Cherokee Nation:

SIR: It may now be regarded as almost certain that the States having slave property within their borders will, in consequence of repeated Northern aggressions, separate themselves and withdraw from the Federal Government.

South Carolina, Alabama, Florida:, Mississippi, Georgia., and Louisiana have already, by action of the people, assumed this attitude. Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland will probably pursue the same course by the 4th of March next. Your people, in their institutions, productions, latitude, and natural sympathies are allied to the common brotherhood of the slaveholding States. Our people and yours, are natural allies in war and friends in peace. Your country is salubrious and fertile, and possesses the highest capacity for future progress and development by the application of slave labor. Besides this, the contiguity of our territory with yours induces relations of so intimate a character as to preclude the idea of discordant or separate action.

It is well established that the Indian country west of Arkansas is looked to by the incoming administration of Mr. Lincoln as fruitful fields, {p.684} ripe for the harvest of abolitionism, freesoilers, and Northern mountebanks.

We hope to find in your people friends willing to co-operate with the South in defense of her institutions, her honor, and her firesides, and with whom the slaveholding States are willing to share a common future, and to afford protection commensurate with your exposed condition and your subsisting monetary interests with the General Government.

As a direct means of expressing to you these sentiments, I have dispatched my aide-de-camp, Lieut. Col. J. J. Gaines, to confer with you confidentially upon these subjects, and to report to me any expressions of kindness and confidence that you may see proper to communicate to the governor of Arkansas, who is your friend and the friend of your people.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY M. RECTOR, Governor of Arkansas.


SAINT JOSEPH, MO., April 15, 1861.

His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS, President of the Confederate Mates, Montgomery, Ala.:

SIR: Not knowing the name of your adjutant-general or any other proper person to make the inquiries of which I desire, I have taken the liberty of addressing you direct.

I am anxious to know whether the Confederate States desire volunteers from the border States, and if there is any regular arrangement for their reception, or whether it is necessary to have any authority from your Government before volunteers should be raised.

My object in asking is that, should Missouri refuse to join her Southern sisters, I desire and intend to move South, and I can, if acceptable, bring one, two, or three companies of as good and true men as the Southern sun ever shone on, if I can assure them that their officers will be confirmed and commissioned by your Government.

I would respectfully refer you to Hon. Luther Glen, commissioner from Georgia to Missouri, or Hon. – Russell, commissioner from. Mississippi to Missouri, or his Excellency C. F. Jackson, governor of Missouri.

Yours, respectfully,

M. JEFF. THOMPSON, Colonel, Inspector Fourth Military District Missouri Militia.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Montgomery, April 16, 1861.

Hon. T. C. HINDMAN, Helena, Ark.:

SIR: In reply to your inquiries in regard to the policy of this Government, on the subject of accepting military aid from Southern States which are not yet members of the Confederacy, and especially as to Arkansas, I beg leave to state that thus far this department has thought proper to decline for the present all tenders from those States, simply because the forces easily and rapidly raised in convenient proximity to the scenes of operation have been ample for all the needs of the country.

Since the forced surrender of Fort Sumter to the forces of the Confederate States, followed by a most warlike proclamation from the Executive {p.685} of the Washington Government, the probability that serious and perhaps long-continued hostilities will ensue is greatly increased.

If the war shall be commenced with the spirit which seems to animate our enemies, there is every reason to anticipate the operations of both the belligerents will be conducted on a much more imposing scale than this continent has ever witnessed; and I may add that the general opinion preponderates strongly in that direction.

While this Government has an unfaltering confidence in the means and resources, pecuniary, moral, and military, of the Confederate States, as they now exist, to defend themselves against all assaults and to repel all their enemies, it yet by no means undervalues the assistance which it is in the power of the border slave States to render; and of these latter there is no one to which the people of this Confederacy have, looked with more undoubting confidence for cordial sympathy and support than the State of Arkansas.

It is not possible yet to state absolutely that this Government will be in condition to need forces drawn from any State not in the Confederacy, but it is extremely probable that in the event, of war (now, in its widest sense, apparently inevitable), which shall continue through the approaching summer, a brigade organized in conformity to the act of Congress “to provide for the public defense,” will be gladly accepted at an early day in the next fall-say about the middle or last of August. Such a military organization, if required, as I think it will be, would be composed of course, as similar organizations will be, from the several Confederate States. It would be expected to elect its own officers, but would be subject to the control of such field officers as the President of the Confederate States might place over it.

All the signs of the times, as I view them, so conclusively favor the belief that war in its sternest phase is upon us, that I have not hesitated to intimate how strongly we rely on your State for active co-operation in what is, after all, a common defense. That she will prove true to herself, and so prove true to this Confederacy, I never for a moment have questioned.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Montgomery, April 17, 1861.

His Excellency Governor RECTOR, &C.:

SIR: War existing between this Government and that at Washington, forced by the perfidious conduct of the last, preparations are being made on both sides for the most active hostilities. Under these circumstances it is not improbable that forces will be sent from the North along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to burn our cities and devastate our country. It becomes, therefore, the imperative duty of this Government to guard against these possible results by every means in their power. The defenses of the Mississippi require the erection of at least four additional batteries at eligible point’s along the banks of that river. It is proposed to construct one of these batteries at or near Helena, in the State of Arkansas, and I trust your excellency will grant permission for the work to be done. I have the less hesitation in making this application to you, because I feel assured Arkansas will be identified with the States of this Confederacy, and that the danger which threatens is common to her as well as to ourselves. It cannot be that Mississippi, {p.686} Louisiana, and Texas can be assailed in their political and material rights and interests without Arkansas being sensibly affected.

I trust, therefore, that through due regard to the exigencies and necessities of the times, the comity existing between Arkansas and the States of the Confederate Government, as well as their joint welfare and future relations, your excellency will promptly accord to me the privilege of erecting, arming, and manning the battery to which I have referred at or near Helena. Events are hastening to a bloody issue, and there is no time to be lost in our movements.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration and respect, your obedient servant,



NASHVILLE, April 21, 1861.

General WALKER, Montgomery:

DEAR SIR: I arrived here to-day from the Arkansas River, and it is with pleasure that I report a complete revolution in public sentiment since I left. Tennessee is with the cotton States, and you may now consider the slave States a unit. “Armed neutrality” has no advocates, not even the authors of that card, which was conceived in error. The patriotism which would stand by unmoved and witness the murder of your neighbor’s wife and children, because of an imaginary line, is not the growth of Tennessee, nor of any State where the rays of a genial sun shine.

The legislature meets next Thursday, and the plan is to pass the ordinance of secession and let the people ratify it, arm the State, and stand ready to march South or North.

Arkansas will go out 6th of May before breakfast. The Indians come next. Companies are forming rapidly, and I expect both my sons to go whenever the insolent invader shall tread a hostile foot upon our soil. The slave States a unit are omnipotent in defense.

Arkansas and Tennessee are wild with indignation at the insolence and usurpation of the buffoon at Washington City. They are ready for the fight, every man, white and black. The blacks in Arkansas would be entirely reliable, if necessary, in defense. I know the fact is so. They are more obedient and loyal than ever before. When the fight is over, a separation of the free blacks from the slaves is the true plan to protect and guard the institution. It is one of the domestic relations that I have studied with much care.

I indorse without a proviso every act in the cotton States, done separately or together, by President, Congress, and Cabinet, and am ready to aid in all that may be necessary to accomplish what has been undertaken.

The stores for troops at Fort Smith were seized as they went up the Arkansas River and stored in Pine Bluff, one mile from my plantation. Flour and bacon chiefly.

I think Arkansas, Virginia, and Tennessee will be represented in your next Congress, called for the 29th instant.

I don’t think there is any danger of an overflow. The Mississippi is level full, but not against the levee above Napoleon. The Arkansas has a 10-foot bank, and falling, when I came out a few days ago. The prospect for a corn crop fine. I planted one hundred acres for your army. The cotton crop is just coming up and promises well.

With streamers gay push forward with sanguine cheer. The God of {p.687} Battles must and will be with you. Success to the arm which strikes for our rights.

Very truly, your friend,



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, Little Rock, Ark., April 22, 1861.

Hon. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War, Washington City:

In answer to your requisition for troops from Arkansas to subjugate the Southern States, I have to say that none will be furnished. The demand is only adding insult to injury. The people of this commonwealth are freemen, not slaves, and will defend to the last extremity their honor, lives, and property against Northern mendacity and usurpation.

H. M. RECTOR, Governor of Arkansas.


MONTGOMERY, April 22, 1861.

Gov. HENRY M. RECTOR, Little Rock, Ark.:

SIR: Tour patriotic response to the requisition of the President of the United States for troops to coerce the Confederate States justifies the belief that your people are prepared to unite with us in repelling the common enemy of the South. Virginia needs our aid. I therefore request you to furnish one regiment of infantry without delay, to rendezvous at Lynchburg, Va. It must consist of ten companies, of not less than sixty-four men each. The regiment will be entitled to one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, one major, one adjutant from the line of lieutenants, one sergeant-major from the enlisted men. Each company is entitled to one captain, one first lieutenant, two second lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, and two musicians. The officers, except the staff officers, are to be appointed in the manner prescribed by the law of your State. Staff officers are appointed by the President; the term of service not less than twelve months, unless sooner discharged. They will be mustered into the service at Lynchburg, but transportation and subsistence will be provided from the point of departure. They will furnish their own uniform, but will receive its value in commutation. You have arms and ammunition with which to supply them. Answer and say whether you will comply with this request, and, if so, when.



LITTLE ROCK, April 23, 1861.


You may be assured of the immediate action of Arkansas in joining the Southern Confederacy; but I have no power. I regret, to comply with your request. Our convention assembles on the 6th of May.

Then we can and will aid.

H. M. RECTOR, Governor Arkansas.



LITTLE ROCK, ARK., April 23, 1861.


Governor Rector, not being free as yet to send the regiment requested by the Secretary of War, has placed in the hands of the undersigned the dispatch. Will the President accept a regiment raised by the undersigned, complying in all other respects with the requisition of the Secretary? Further, the governor has agreed to arm and equip the regiment when rendezvoused at Little Rock Arsenal.

T. B. FLOURNOY, Colonel. JNO. B. THOMPSON, Lieutenant-Colonel. W. N. BROUGNAH. JAS. B. JOHNSON.


MONTGOMERY, ALA., April 23, 1861.

His Excellency C. F. JACKSON, Governor of Missouri:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge yours of the 17th instant, borne by Captains Green and Duke, and have most cordially welcomed the fraternal assurances it brings.*

A misplaced but generous confidence has, for years past, prevented the Southern States from making the preparation required by the present emergency, and our power to supply you with ordnance is far short of the will to serve you. After learning as well as I could from the gentlemen accredited to me what was most needful for the attack on the arsenal,

I have directed that Captains Green and Duke should be furnished with two 12-pounder howitzers and two 32-pounder guns, with the proper ammunition for each. These, from the commanding hills, will be effective, both against the garrison and to breach the inclosing walls of the place. I concur with you as to the great importance of capturing the arsenal and securing its supplies, rendered doubly important by the means taken to obstruct your commerce and render you unarmed victims of a hostile invasion.

We look anxiously and hopefully for the day when the star of Missouri shall be added to the constellation of the Confederate State’s of America.

With best wishes, I am, very respectfully, yours,


* Not found.


LITTLE, ROCK, ARK., April 24, 1861.


After the governor promised the arms, he was forced to send them to the frontier, to protect the State against invasion. There are now no arms but flint-locks. Can you furnish us arms? Answer quick. Companies are waiting your response.



LITTLE ROCK, ARK., April 25, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER:

You will have to arm us. There are only thirteen hundred and sixty-four percussion guns; balance flint-looks. The governor has employed {p.689} the percussion guns to protect the frontier, and declines now giving us any until the convention meets on the 6th May. A favorable answer desired. The men will rendezvous at once. We will inform you when ready to embark and the route.



MONTGOMERY, April 26, 1861.

Gov. C. F. JACKSON, Jefferson City, Mo.:

Can you arm and equip one regiment of infantry for service in Virginia, to rendezvous at Richmond I Transportation will be provided by this Government. The regiment to elect its own officers, and must enlist for not less than twelve months, unless sooner discharged.



WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Montgomery, April 29, 1861.

Col. M. J. THOMPSON, Saint Joseph, Mo.:

SIR: Your letter of the 15th of April, addressed to the President, has been referred to this Department, and I am instructed by the Secretary of War to say, in answer to your proposition, that the time is rapidly approaching, in his opinion, when, with the concurrence of the governor of Missouri, military assistance may be accepted from that State by the Confederate States. In view of this gratifying fact, those among you sympathizing with our cause would do well to organize military companies, battalions, and regiments, and hold them in readiness for action against our incendiary foe, equally hostile to the entire South.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



LITTLE ROCK, April 29, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER:

Your communication of the 17th instant is received. A battery on the Mississippi near Helena, or any other eligible point, is important as well to the Confederate States as to Arkansas, and meets my entire approval and consent.




His Excellency JEFF. DAVIS, Montgomery, Ala.:

SIR: Arkansas will certainly secede between the 6th and 8th instant, and join as soon as may be the Southern Confederacy. As commander of the First Brigade, First Division, of the Militia, I am authorized to tender you, without limit, the whole strength of the brigade, to be used or called into active service as you may deem proper. There are, as present constituted, eight regiments in the brigade, all officered and ready for action except in arms and munitions of war.

Please, communicate with me immediately.

Very respectfully,

BENJ. P. JETT, Brig. Gen., First Brig., First Div., Arkansas Militia.



EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Jefferson City, Mo., May 5, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery:

SIR: Yours of 26th ultimo via Louisville is received. I have no legal authority to furnish the men you desire. Missouri, you know, is yet under the tyranny of Lincoln’s Government, so far, at least, as forms go. We are woefully deficient here in arms, and cannot furnish them at present; but so far as men are concerned, we have plenty of them, ready, willing, and anxious to march at any moment to the defense of the South. Our legislature has just met, and I doubt not will give me all necessary authority over the matter. If you can arm the men they will go whenever wanted, and to any point where they may be most needed. I send this to Memphis by private hand, being afraid to trust our mails or telegraphs. Let me hear from you by the same means. Missouri can and will put one hundred thousand men in the field, if required. We are using every means to arm our people, and, until we are better prepared, must move cautiously. I write this in confidence.

With my prayers for your success, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. F. JACKSON, Governor of Missouri.


LITTLE ROCK, May 6, 1861.


Convention passed ordinance of secession at 4 p.m. by a unanimous vote.




His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS, President of the Confederate States, Montgomery, Ala.:

SIR: Your favor of the 25th ultimo has been received, and I am thankful for your courtesy. I hope, and have reasonable expectations now, that Missouri will soon wheel into line with her Southern sisters, in which case I and my men will be needed here at home. I believe that this portion of Missouri (north of the Missouri River) will be the principal battleground between the North and the South, as Saint Joseph, with its railroad connections, is the key to Kansas, New Mexico, Jefferson, [?] and Utah, and we have already been notified that the North has determined to hold this portion of the State, even though they lose all the rest of the slaveholding States, and they will either cover it over with dollars or blood, and the choice is for us to make. I have eight companies here in a camp of instruction, by order of our governor, and can assure you that they are all Blue Cockade boys, and if our leaders are disposed to sell this territory for money, our blood will remain at your service.

Yours, most respectfully,

M. JEFF. THOMPSON, Colonel, Inspector of Fourth Military District.





To-day we have information that Arkansas, in Convention, has seceded, by a vote 69 to 1. Tennessee has also seceded, and made large appropriations, and ordered an army of 50,000 men.

Arkansas has for several days past been in arms on this frontier for the protection [of] citizens, and the neighboring Indian nations whose interests are identical with her own.

I have news through my scouts that the U. S. troops have abandoned the forts in the Chickasaw country.

Under my orders from the commander-in-chief and governor of Arkansas, I feel authorized to extend to you such military aid as will be required in the present juncture of affairs to occupy and hold the forts.

I have appointed Col. A. H. Word, one of the State senators, and Captain Sparks, attached to this command, commissioners to treat and confer with you on this subject. These gentlemen are fully apprised of the nature of the powers intrusted to myself by the governor of this State, and are authorized to express to you my views of the subject under consideration. I ask, therefore, that you express to them your own wishes in the premises, and believe, my dear sir, that Arkansas cherishes the kindest regards for your people.

I have the honor to subscribe myself, with sentiments of regard, your excellency’s friend and servant,

B. BURROUGHS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.


Main TitleThe War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.
Corporate NameUnited States. War Department.
Published/Created[S.l.], L.McKee and C.G. Robertson, 1859.
ContentsSer. I. v. 1-53 [serial no. 1-111] Formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the southern states, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, order and returns relating specially thereto. 1880-1898. 111 v.--ser. II. v. 1-8 [serial no. 114-121] Correspondence, orders, reports and returns, Union and Confederate, relating to prisoners of war and to state or political prisoners. 1894 [i.e. 1898]-1899. 8 v.--ser. III. v. 1-5 [serial no. 122-126] Correspondence, orders, reports and returns of the Union authorities (embracing their correspondence with the Confederate officials) note relating specially to the subjects of the first and second series. It embraces the reports of the Secretary of War, of the general-in-chief and of the chiefs of the several staff corps and departments ... 1899-1900. 5 v.--ser. IV. v. 1-3 [serial no. 127-129] Correspondence, orders, reports and returns of the Confederate authorities, similar to that indicated for the Union officials, as of the third series, but including the correspondence between the Union and Confederate authorities given in that series. 1900. 3 v.--[serial no. 130] General index and additions and corrections. Mr. John S. Moodey, indexer. Preface [by Elihu Root, Secretary of War]. Explanations. Synopsis of the contents of volumes. Special index for the principal armies, army corps, military divisions and departments. General index. Additions and corrections [arranged consecutively by volumes]. 1901.