Brigadier General Benjamin P. Jett, Sr., commander 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Arkansas State Militia, writes to describe the necessity of calling out the militia during the Pea Ridge Campaign.
Washington Telegraph (Washington, Arkansas),12 Mar 1862, Wed, Page 2
Little Rock, March 5, 1862
Editor Telegraph: The excitement that existed in our community, and the general interest manifested by our citizens, previous to my leaving home on the 2d inst., as to the militia movements, induced me immediately on m arrival here to try and ascertain what would be required by the powers that be from the 1st brigade. The western brigade, under Gen. Burrow, is at this time in service, and with the Confederate army at Boston Mountain. The 2d brigade, embracing this portion of country, is in camp awaiting orders. But the aspect of affairs in the North-west have assumed a much more favorable appearance- the immediate danger that so greatly threatened us but a short time since has passed --- the invading enemy showing more disposition to retire than to advance further at this time. The 1st brigade will scarcely, therefore, be immediately called out, either for active service or cam duty; but from the disposition manifested by the Governor and Military Board, I am assured that invasion will be repelled, and if necessary all the force and poser of the State will be used. How long our present security may exist, no one can say—none seem to have confidence in its duration. Every part of our Norther line is now threatened—the enemy are there at every point, and my move upon us at any moment. Our army force for so extended a line is small, and our security will depend much upon the militia. To be watchful, vigilant and prepared is therefore our highest duty—not to be neglected on any account. Come what will. Eost what it may, this dastardly foe must be repulsed and slaughtered or driven from our State. Arkansas is free, and her soil must not be polluted by the tread of hired mercenaries, seeking to subvert her institutions and subjugate her children. The companies now being organized must be completed and that at once--- they must get ready and move forward without delay, that the requisition of Gen. Van Dorn be filled by volunteers, not DRAFTED MEN. This I would urge upon our people by every consideration, and I do trust that they will respond. Solders the country must and will have, quietly if we can, forcibly if we must. Let no personal preference, private interest, nor position seeking ambition, clog our patriotism or mar the good work, but every one, with his shoulder to the wheel, exert his utmost strength to relieve his countries perilous condition. The country wants men—fighting me—the men want officers to guide and direct their efforts aright. The law provides that the men shall be able bodied capable of bearing arms: let them provide that their officers be equally effective in temperament, capacity and military skill. These things being done, the dreadful necessity of call the militia from their homes, at this all important season when so much depends upon their labor and exertions there will be avoided; but neglect it, and woe and misery will as assuredly follow as day will follow night. The requisition of Gen. Van Dorn being filled, the remainder of our militia forces should be vigilant and actively preparing for every emergency. Regiments, battalions and companies officered with our best men, active and intelligent, who know their duty and will perform it. All arms and implements of warfare should be put in the best possible order and kept for instant service. Vigilance is the prices of liberty, and if we would be free--- if we would continue these political blessings bequeathed to us by our revolutionary fathers, let us be up and doing, discharging our every duty with faithfulness and alacrity. War news will be meagre hereafter, owing to restrictions upon it publication.
With respect, truly
BENJ, P JETT Sr.