Company G - Jackson Guard. The 1st Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment was organized in May 1861 at Little Rock, Arkansas. Company G mainly consisted of men from Jackson County, Northeast Arkansas hence the name ‘Jackson Guard'. The 1st Arkansas was one of three Arkansas Regiments that saw service with the Army of Northern Virginia, being mustered into Confederate service on May 27th 1861, at Lynchburg, Virginia. They were not actively engaged in the fighting at Manassas, although the brigade they were with did come under fire whilst shifting positions in the afternoon of the battle. On September 13th 1861, the 1st Arkansas was transferred to Colonel J G Walker's Brigade along with the 2nd Tennessee and the 12th North Carolina Regiments. Moving with it to Evansport, near Quantico, Virginia on the Potomac River during the Confederate withdrawal from Manassas. Whilst there, the men of the lst Arkansas made an abortive attempt to capture a Federal gunboat. In February the entire regiment re-enlisted for the duration of the war. As a result they were furloughed home and ordered to reform at Memphis, Tennessee on March 15th 1862.
After their arrival at Memphis, they were sent by rail to Corinth, Mississippi and absorbed into the Army of the Mississippi under General Albert Sidney Johnston. Their first major engagement being Shiloh, Tennessee. It was here at the Hornet’s Nest that the 1st Arkansas suffered appalling losses - 39 killed, 122 wounded, 8 missing and 5 captured. After the battle the Confederate forces withdrew to Corinth to lick their wounds. Union General Pope advanced on the town of Farmington, three miles east of Corinth and the 1st Arkansas were with the force that General Beauregard sent to confront Pope’s army. Although the Confederates gained the advantage over the Federals the end result of the operation was a failure because Confederate General Van Dorn’s forces had been late in arriving and so the Union forces escaped.
On the night of May 29th-30th, Corinth was evacuated, and the army retreated south to Tupelo, Mississippi. Following this withdrawal General Beauregard fell ill and was replaced by General Braxton Bragg as army commander. Bragg set about reorganizing and training the army and thus the Army of Tennessee was born.
The 1st Arkansas remained with the Army of Tennessee for the duration of the war and took part in all the major engagements that this ill-fated army was involved with. Just before the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 30th December 1862, the 1st Arkansas were transferred to Major-General Patrick Cleburne’s Division (L. Polks Brigade), Hardee’s Corps.
During the Atlanta Campaign both the Union and Confederate Armies were continually engaged for three months. Skirmishing daily the 1st Arkansas suffered heavily, and as a result they were consolidated with the 15th Arkansas.Private William F Bevans, of Company G, 1st Arkansas wrote in his diary regards some of the vicious fighting around the fortifications of Atlanta - “On July 22nd, we marched 10 miles to the right of Atlanta. Hardee had attacked the enemy rear and there had been a terrible struggle, which lasted for hours.
Towards evening we heard the Yankee bands playing and the soldiers shooting and cheering and we knew they had won. While Johnston was in command he had preserved his army and inflicted upon the enemy a loss almost equal to our strength when we began the campaign. Our loss had been about 9,000, which had been filled by the return of the wounded and furloughed men. so that General Hood received an army fully as strong as it was at Dalton. We were as ready to fight as ever; although certainly disappointed at the loss of Johnston. We felt no other general could do what he had done.
Yet this great military genius was thrown out on the eve of his final and greatest assault on Sherman, an assault which would have saved Atlanta to the Confederacy. Hoods and Davis’ tactics prevailed after that, and the splendid, unconquered army was swept off the earth into the grave. Hood questioned the morale of his army, but as for that our poor little Company G went into line at Atlanta under Hood as true as it ever had under Johnston. We fought for the cause, not the General. Jim Hensley, a hog who had been wounded severely at Ringgold, returned to the company on the day of the battle. His physician had not reported him fit for duty but had given him merely a pass to his command. Hensley came to me saying - “Here my old friend, is a silver watch I wish to give to you, for I shall be killed today I told him he had not been reported for duty; that he was still far from well and begged him not to go into battle, especially as he had a presentment that he should be killed.
He turned his soulful eyes upon me. “Well, do you think I am afraid because I know l am to be killed?” Putting his hand on his breast he continued, “I have no fear of death. I am a Christian and I know I shall he safe in heaven.” With tears we parted. He joined his brave comrades - Jim Murphy, John Baird and George Thomas - on the left of Company G after the line was in motion. They were moving against strong entrenchments heavily defended by abatis. These four boys saw they could crawl under the abatis without being seen and get close to the breastworks. After they started the command was given to oblique to the left, but in the roar of the musketry the boys failed to hear it and went on alone.
There were about a hundred Yankees on the breastworks watching our line, which was advancing upon their rear. The four boys crawled close in prepared and opened up. At the first fire down came four Yankees. They were taken by surprise, not knowing there were any men at their front. The boys kept at their game until the Yankees ran. Then they went forward to take possession of the works. There they found themselves a lone and 200 of the enemy entrenched behind a second line. It was death anyway, so they ran forward firing on the troops with terrible accuracy. One man had a head on Thomas when Murphy shot the fellow.
One lunged for Murphy when Thomas bayoneted him. So they had it - hand to hand. Poor Hensley was killed, Murphy terribly wounded. Baird wounded, but Thomas would not surrender. He bayoneted them until they took his gun. Then he kicked and bit until they finally killed him there. Four men had killed 25 Yankees, but only one of the four lived to tell the tale. To question the morale of such men is farcical.
The battle on our left raged all day and we were defeated. Our Colonel lost his foot. One third of our regiment was gone. Great numbers were killed and wounded, but the troops were as loyal and fought as bravely as any army on earth.
This was Hood’s Second defeat. In two battles he had lost 10,000 men, more than we had lost in the whole campaign, in 74 days ‘ battles and skirmishes. It would not take long with such tactics to wipe out the Rebel army.
In early 1865 in an attempt to slow Sherman’s march through the Carolinas. Units of the army were transferred eastwards to reform again under General Joseph Johnston. The lst/15th Arkansas was a part of the 1st Consolidated Arkansas Infantry Regiment, which consisted of the 1st/2nd/5th/6th/7th/8th/13th/15th/19th/24th and the 3rd Confederate Infantry Regiments. This unit took part in the actions at Averysborough. North Carolina on March 16th, and the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 19th-21st. Finally surrendering with the Army on April 26th, 1865 at Durhan Station. North Carolina.