The Arkansas in the Civil War Message Board

Re: 34th AR Infantry Uniforms & Equipment

This is probably the post you're looking for, which came from some event guidelines for the Confederate Guard at Prairie Grove in 2000...

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"First let me discuss the impression for Prairie Grove. The unit history has some great information including clothing rolls for the company. With the Regiment at 400 men and assuming equally-sized companies, that means approximately 40-man companies. So with the returns for Co. F, less than half were issued Government clothes. It is also interesting to note the proportion of caps to hats as well as the proportion of coats to jackets. “Coats” is often interpreted to mean frock coats. Refer to the Arkansas State Frock coats (www.geocities.com/capitalguards/LRfrock.html) in the last issue.

On the subject of leather gear the records give less information. So we are asking for either early war leather gear – white buff or English leather gear. The same applies for arms. Enfields were issued. It is not clear if enough were supplied for every man in the regiment. So bring either an Enfield or a prewar musket. Camping will be campaign, though you might bring some canvas to keep in the car if things turn bad.

This event will be an collaboration between the Confederate Guard and some independent authentics. We all are interested in presenting a more accurate portrayal of a documented Arkansas unit at Prairie Grove. Many of these same folks were in Burbridge’s battalion at Wilson’s Creek with us this past summer.

34th Arkansas Infantry

Company F was recruited primarily in Benton County by Capt. Cyrus Leonidas Pickens. There may have been some volunteers and conscripts from Washington County and various other places. Pickens had lead an emergency home guard unit at Elkhorn Tavern. This company was reported to have fired into the rear of the 3rd Louisiana Infantry at this battle. Pickens’ emergency company served as a unit of McRae’s 21st Ark, Infantry and disbanded after the battle.

In the interim after the battle at Elkhorn, Northwest Arkansas was ravaged by the Federal invaders until Curtis moved his army southeast to Batesville in May 1862. Van Dorn’s army had been sent east of the Mississippi to reinforce the Army of Mississippi and were never to return as a recognizable unit. The people of Arkansas, realizing their defenseless position petitioned the Confederate government for help and asked that Major General Thomas Carmichael Hindman be sent to them to organize a defense of the state. Hindman was the sort of person who could glorify such a mission. He had been elected to represent the district of which Benton County was a part, in the US Congress, but the war prevented him from taking his seat in 1861. In short he was a known and popular man, and might be described as a Jeb Stuart type.

Hindman began organizing regiments in the western part of the state, in the summer of 1862. Company F was organized with the regiment at Mt Comfort in Washington County, about 4 miles west of Fayetteville. With the threat of conscription men volunteered quickly and camps of instruction were established. Several of the companies of the 34th were organized at Camp Cunningham near Mount Comfort 3 miles west of Fayetteville. In the 34th the companies A, B, C, H and K came from Washington County; Company F came from Benton County; and companies D, E and G came from Crawford and Franklin counties. Also Company H commanded by Capt. Wallace was composed of conscripts. At this time company officers were requisitioning weapons from the civilian population and many recruits brought their own weapons from home. At least one other regiment was organized in the area – the 22nd Arkansas. They were also poorly armed and equipped. Hindman ordered the mounted troops to operate in southwest Missouri to give the infantry time to organize and train. The regiment was officially mustered at Prairie Grove by General Hindman on September 1, 1862. It would also be referred to as the 2nd Arkansas Infantry as it was the second full regiment recruited within Hindman’s army.

Sometime in early September 1862 the 34th and 22nd Arkansas moved to Elm Springs. Elm Springs, 12 miles northwest of Fayetteville, was a training camp designed for 5,000. Here the regiment continued to drill and as one soldier put it “ Some of the boys will remember the fun we had there from supper till tattoo.” At Elm Springs the 34th was ordered to turn over their weapons to the ordnance department. This was hard on some of the men as they had very fine shotguns and rifles brought from home. Some men hid their weapons in the surrounding countryside. In this unarmed state the regiments drilled. Supplies and clothing dribbled through and the men began to rely less and less on home made knapsacks and haversacks. In mid September the unit was ordered to Elkhorn. Upon arriving their weapons were turned over to a Missouri unit. Soon they retraced their path back to Elm Springs. At this time the Federals advanced toward the southwestern part of Missouri. General Holmes summoned General Hindman to Little Rock. When news of the Federal advance reached the 34th the enthusiasm that earlier existed evaporated. Federal cavalry was reported to be marching with all speed to capture the three unarmed regiments. Under orders from General Rains the regiments marched south heading to Judge Walker’s farm in southern Washington County. The march was hampered by torrential rains and took two days to cover 15 miles. Captain Fontaine Richard Earle of Company B said “ it seemed as if the heavens had been overcrowded with water and that the flood-gates had been opened for relief.” Another wrote of the march “It commenced raining as we were leaving Fayetteville and until after daylight the next morning. It poured in almost ceaseless torrents. What was worse than all, we were not ordered to unload the wagons that night. Consequently we were without anything to shelter us or anything to eat until daylight.” The home and outbuildings were quickly filled but the balance of the regiment remained exposed to the elements burning much of the Judge’s rail fence. The judge’s son, Capt J. Wythe Walker remained with his company though within a short walk of his home. The next day, upon seeing his fence destroyed the judge remarked to the troops that he wasn’t discouraged as he had plenty of Negroes to split new rails. During the retreat there were many desertions, with the worst loss in the conscript company. Over twenty-five men deserted this company on the retreat.

The regiment moved to Spadra Bluff on the Arkansas river near Van Buren, occupying winter quarters that had been built by a Texas cavalry unit the previous winter. They remained here for almost a month and continued their training. Here weapons were supplied – Enfield rifles. At least one soldier received a knapsack of “British Manufacture” here. The unit also probably had what were probably softpacks. Hindman visited the regiment here and noticed that they had over the proper number of mules and wagons and he reduced the transportation by half. This was not a happy occurrence for the 34th.

On November 15,1862 Hindman moved the Arkansas infantry to Massard Prairie, 3 ½ miles south east of Fort Smith to drill and organize the divisions. At the very last of November the cavalry was sent north toward Washington County. Here clothing reached the men and the following are some clothing returns for some of the companies.

Co. F Capt. C. L. Pickens
11-14-62: 15 shirts, 2 jackets, 9 coats, 21 caps, 0 hats
12-1-62: 12 shirts, 0 jackets, 3 coats, 7 caps, 0 hats
12-2-62: 9 shirts, 0 jackets, 2 coats, 0 caps, 9 hats

Total for Co: 36 shirts, 2 jackets, 14 coats, 28 caps, 9 hats

Co. G, Capt Woolsey
9-2-62: 6 coats
11-14-62: 9 shirts, 2 jackets, 17 coats, 21 caps, 0 hats
Total: 9 shirts, 2 jackets, 23 coats, 21 caps, 0 hats

Co I Capt. A.V. Edmonson
12-1-62: 12 shirts, 0 jackets, 4 coats, 7 caps, 0 hats
12-2-62: 24 shirts, 0 jackets, 1 coat, 0 caps, 15 hats
Total: 36 shirts, 0 jackets, 5 coats, 7 caps, 15 hats

Co. K Capt. J. Pettigrew
11-14-62 15 shirts, 2 jackets, 15 coats, 21 caps, 0 hats
12-1-62: 16 shirts, 0 jackets, 2 coats, 8 caps, 0 hats
12-2-62: 20 shirts, 0 jackets, 0 coats, 6 hats
Total: 51 shirts, 2 jackets, 17 coats, 29 caps, 6 hats

Total for all the regiment: 288 shirts, 29 jackets, 105 coats, 174 caps, 61 hats.

Note that the regiment had approx. 400 men in the battle of Prairie Grove.

Early in December the infantry followed heading north. The 34th crossed the Arkansas river on December 2. On December 4 the column reached Oliver’s Store on Lee creek in the Boston Mountains. There the infantry formed a hollow square for religious services conducted by Chaplain Sam Buchanan. The Chaplain of the 34th Peter Moses was also on hand and battleflags were presented to the regiments of the division. On the 6th the infantry had arrived at Morrow’s and controlled all the approaches to Cane Hill from the south and east. Hindman then learned of the approach of General Herron, who had two divisions just north of Fayetteville. Hindman planned to get behind the Federal division of General Blunt and prevent General Herron’s division from combining with Gen. Blunt. The 34th was awakened at 2:00 AM and had a cold breakfast and was on the march by 4:00 AM. The 34th was in the lead as this was familiar ground. They advanced to a position 50 yards from the Borden Orchard. Hindman’s army formed on ridge overlooking Crawford Prairie. The position was very good and there the army waited for Herron to advance. Brook’s regiment was posted behind an artillery battery. Company K was posted as skirmishers in from of Blocher’s Battery. It would be hours before the battle. Around 2pm the artillery duel started. The pickets of the regiment returned to the line. Blocher’s Battery became a lightening rod for Federal artillery and later infantry. During the artillery barrage Lt. M.C. “Tell” Duke, the adjutant attempted to raise the spirits of the men by telling a story about the battle of Waterloo. The 20th Wisconsin advanced to take the battery and when their right flank was 50 yards away from the Brook’s position the 34th rose with a shout and fired into them. The regiment was ordered forward along with Major Chew’s Sharpshooter battalion and Hawthorne’s regiment. The regiment slammed into the flank of the 20th Wisconsin, drove them back and retook the battery. As the Confederate counterattack came off the ridge and onto the prairie they came under heavy fire and retreated to their position in the ravine. As the Confederates were reorganizing another Federal attack was launched. This time the 37th Illinois advanced to the summit. Again the rebel brigade rose out of the scrub and fired a point blank volley and charged. The two forces locked in hand to hand fighting. Again the Confederates followed the retreating Federals and ran into heavy fire. As the 34th resumed their position on the summit, the tempo of the battle slowed and shifted to another part of the battlefield. The regiment moved about 150 yards to a position where they rested until after sunset. They stayed in position until nearly midnight when the order to retreat came. During the march over the Boston Mountains many of the men deserted to their homes.

One participant (Sam Pittman, Co. K) wrote:

"We knew now that the battle was on and we knew very near where it would be. Right in the midst of our homes, within hearing of our loved ones. It would be impossible for me to describe their feelings at this point. Any judge of human nature could have seen that these men were going to fight, although few of them were ever on a battlefield. But the springy step, the compressed lips, and the steady expression of the eyes proved that they were determined to do their best.

Opposite the old church, strewn in the road and on the sides were lying the bodies of those killed in the cavalry fight a few minutes before. With a yell and at the double quick we sprang over them and passed up the road. All morning that infernal old knapsack had been beating a tattoo on my poor back and under any other circumstances would have brought froth yells of pain at every step. A little farther on we met old man Linden in a dog trot. Swinging his hat and shouting at us to “Go in, Boys, that’s the way I done in the Black Hawk War.” He turned and trotted along by my side for a little while and proposed to take my knapsack and take care of it but I told him we were going right on to Springfield, Mo. And that from that point we would invade the North and as it would likely be cold up there, I would need my clothes, and if he took them, perhaps I might not find him again. I also knew the old man could not carry that pack fifty yards in a day and I clung to it with a desperation worthy of a better object.

At the brow of the hills, west of old man Roger’s place, came the short quick command “By file right, March”, and we were in the woods, halted, fronted, and marched to a ravine east of the Borden Orchard. Here we were halted and ordered to “Lie down”. Just in our front was a rebel battery and pretty soon we saw a line of blue coats making for it. They shot down the horses and came on with a cheer. And now came the parting with the old knapsack and all my soldier equipage.

I think the first shot that was fired after we rose up, cut the strap that bound the knapsack to my right shoulder, and it swung around and slipped to the ground. I had no time to think of it, but when I remember the torture it had been and the loss of all my worldly goods, camp treasure, etc. I bitterly lamented the fate that caused me to lug it all over that weary trip and then turn it over to the enemy.

I am not going to follow the battle of that day. Some other time, perhaps, should we meet on a similar occasion, I may give some of its incidents. The scars of war are healed, my back is well, peace reigns over this beautiful valley, and forever may it continue."

34th Arkansas Infantry

Colonel William H. Brooks
Lt. Col Thomas Gunter
Major James Woolsey
Surgeon W Welch
Asst. Surgeon J. M. Lacy
Adjt. M. C. “Tell” Duke
Sgt. Major Robert Nettles
Chaplain Peter Moses
Quartermaster James Pratt
A Lovelace Forage Master

Co. A Capt. J. Wythe Walker
Co. B Capt. Fontaine R. Earle
Co. C Capt. Samuel Smithson
Co. D Capt. William Owsley
Co. E Capt. James E. Wright
Co. F Capt. Cyrus L. Pickens Benton County
Co. G Capt. James Hensley
Co. H Capt. Wallace
Co. I Capt. A. V. Edmonson
Co. K Capt. J. R. Pettigrew

Organized and brigaded near Van Buren, Ark. In early December 1862 thus:

Army of Trans-Mississippi – Lt. General Theophilus Holmes
First Corps – Major General Thomas Carmichael Hindman
First Division – Cavalry Brig. General John Selden Roane
2nd Division – Brig. General Frances A. Shoup
6th Arkansas – Col. A.T. Hawthorne
22nd Arkansas – Col. J. King
34th Arkansas – Col. W. H. Brooks

It might be noted that the regiments were more often referred to by their Colonel’s surname. The 22nd Arkansas was sometimes numbered 35th, the 29th numbered the 37th , the 34th numbered the 2nd and to make matters worse they were referred to by both numbers and Colonel’s surname simultaneously. Hawthorns 6th Arkansas has no relation at all to the 6th Arkansas of the Army of Tennessee and should not be so confused.

Many of the troops had prior military experience in the Arkansas State Troops, having fought at Wilson’s Creek. Co. F may have been partially involved in the battle at Elkhorn as Emergency Company I of McRae’s 21st Arkansas Infantry. The emergency company was lead by Captain Pickens. Those who were at Wilson’s Creek likely served in the 3rd Arkansas State Troops under Colonel J.R. Gratiot."

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34th AR Infantry Uniforms & Equipment
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