It would seem that the 2nd Arkansas Battalion may well have been acting as a Sharpshooters battalion. As I understand the functions of such a battalion one of it duties would have been to act as a Skirmish line.
Acting as skirmishers may well explain the 2nd Arkansas Batt. reportedly reaching the banks of Beaver Dam Creek. The high percentage of casualities among the units members would suggest that they were in close contact with the Union forces on the other side of the creek.
Given the nature and rough charactor to the Arkansas troops they may well have seemed to have been the ideal troops for such hazzardous duty. They would have been far more at home and adapt with fighting tree to tree, than marching in doudle ranks.
Also remembering that Major Wm. N. Bronaugh was appearently a well respected officer in the Richmond social circles given that he was a graduate from the University of Virginia. Such a specialized command may have been seen as a springboard for higher command for Major Bronaugh. Remember the Maryland Zouaves were also attached to Bronaugh command.
And lastly The 2nd Arkansas being such a specialized unit may well have been the reason for Gen. Lee's special order disbanding the unit and transferring them to the 3rd Arkansas.
The statement in Pender's report that with the death of Major Bronaugh the 2nd Arkansas was no longer an effective military Unit, may have been connected to the above comment about the command of the 2nd Arkansas batt. being a springboard for Bronaugh. With Maj. Bronaugh death then there was no longer a need for the 2nd Arkansas to be used for that purpose and too small to be used for any other purpose.
This may well have been exactly what was happening that Bronaugh was in fact commanding a special services battalion to win his spurs and the reason why the 2nd advanced as far as they did, why Lee issued such an unusual order mentioning every mans name (almost as if according them a special honor being mentioned in orders for every commander to read).
We also have the mention of the 2nd Arkansas batt. gallent actions at Fair Oaks/Seven Pines in the Richmond newspaper. Where they appearently had done the same thing being in the forefront of that battle.
These events certainly are not what you would expect for such a small battalion with less than 150 men.
The combining of the 2nd Arkansas battalion with the 3rd Arkansas may have been the natural thing to do. But given the reputation of the 3rd Arkansas at that time, we much examine the possibility that Lee and the Confederate High Command may well have been infusing these proven fighting Arkansas Boys with a Unit that had not really proven themselves to be of the same metal as the 2nd Arkansas batt.
The only reason that I can see that the 2nd Arkansas battalion wasn't combined with the 3rd Ark. once the 1st Arkansas left to go back to Tennessee, was to keep an independant command for Bronaugh. I believe that Bronaugh was a "Player" in Virginia and that there was more afoot here than we imagine.
And yes I believe that there are indications the 2nd Arkansas battalion was probably used as a sharpshooters or special services battalion.