The other 14th Arkansas Regiment—McCarver’s—might best be described as “the regiment that barely was,” since it existed only briefly as a full regiment.
This regiment was organized on October 22, 1861, at Pocahontas, Arkansas, with nine companies (a tenth company was added in December) from Izard, Lawrence, and Randolph counties. Camped in the same area were the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Arkansas Regiments, so Col. Solon Borland, commanding Post of Pocahontas, mustered Col. James H. McCarver’s new regiment into service as the 9th Arkansas; seems logical, except for the fact that a 9th Arkansas Regiment had already been authorized by the State Military Board—mustered into service at Pine Bluff on July 25, 1861, Col. John M. Bradley commanding. When Colonel Borland sent the muster-in rolls to the C.S. War Department, he was informed that McCarver’s regiment would instead be designated as the 14th Arkansas Regiment. He was also informed, by the way, that his own regiment—1st Arkansas Mounted Volunteers—had been redesignated: I am directed by the Secretary of War to inform you that your regiment is known to the Department as the Third Arkansas Cavalry instead of the First. Borland's reaction was probably, "Well, thanks for letting a guy know."
I don’t know why the War Department assigned this designation to McCarver’s regiment. I have found correspondence between Governor Rector and Secretary of War Walker, in which Mitchell’s regiment is clearly identified as the 14th Arkansas. In a letter dated August 22, 1861, Governor Rector wrote: The Fourteenth Regiment of Arkansas is at Yellville….. We understand that General Hardee does not wish to receive it. So the War Department was clearly informed of the existence of a 14th Arkansas Regiment; yet they went ahead and assigned that designation to McCarver’s regiment four months later.
There was another problem associated with the designation of McCarver’s regiment. Four of his companies were placed under command of Brig. Gen. William J. Hardee, designated as the 9th Battalion Arkansas Infantry, and sent off to Kentucky. Poor old McCarver hasn’t even gotten up to the batter’s box yet, and he only has half a regiment. The War Department notified Borland that unless the 14th Arkansas got its requisite ten companies, it would henceforth be known as the 8th Battalion Arkansas Infantry (though that designation was later given to Lieut. Col. Batt L. Jones’ battalion). As with most of the other active units in Arkansas, McCarver’s regiment was ordered to Corinth, Mississippi, in April 1862. My research breaks down between January and April 1862, and when McCarver’s outfit shows up again, in a return of troops in the Army of the West, dated at Corinth, Miss., May 4, 1862, it is reported as the 18th Battalion Arkansas Infantry, with 198 of 275 men present for duty. I have no idea how that designation came about. On the same return is listed Lemoyne’s 17th Battalion Arkansas Infantry, with 387 of 627 men present for duty. This is the outfit catalogued by the War Department as the 17th (Lemoyne’s) Arkansas Regiment. Anyway, on May 15, 1862, McCarver’s and Lemoyne’s 14th and 17th Arkansas Regiments, or 17th and 18th Arkansas Battalions, or whatever, were consolidated to form the 21st (Cravens’) Arkansas Regiment. As previously discussed in my post on the 15th (Northwest) Arkansas Regiment, the 21st Arkansas had already been assigned to McRae’s regiment. Maybe to avoid confusion between two 21st Arkansas Regiments, McRae’s was later redesignated as the 15th Arkansas Regiment (making a total of three 15th Arkansas Regiments)—confusion solved.
As the 21st Arkansas Regiment, under Col. Jordan E. Cravens, this outfit fought at Corinth, Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Champion’s Hill, the Big Black River bridge, and finally ended up at Vickburg, where it was surrendered with the rest of the garrison on July 4, 1863. After being exchanged back in Arkansas, it was finally lumped into the 1st Consolidated Arkansas Regiment.
Since I’ve mentioned the 17th Arkansas in this post, I guess next up should come a discussion of the two 17th Arkansas Regiments. Ain't this fun? New post to follow.