Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Unionist Arkansawyers

First, I want to call attention to the fact that I did not entitle this post "Unionist Arkansans." I hate that term. When I hear it, I always think the speaker must be from Kansas or someone who is trying to put on airs. People from Arkansas, at least not if they are old-time hillbillies, don't call themselves Arkansans.
Anyway, now to the real topic of this post. As a Missouri native and a somewhat serious student of the Civil War, I always think of my home state as a place that witnessed a particularly bitter form of guerrilla warfare and a place where the civilians suffered more than their share of depredations. There was, of course, a good reason for this. Missouri stayed in the Union, but its people were bitterly divided in their political sentiments. As a slave-holding border state, Missouri had many Southern sympahtizers, despite its inclusion in the Union.
I sometimes tend to forget that Arkansas to our south was just as bitterly divided, at least in the northern counties. Even though Arkansas seceded from the Union, many of the hillfolk in the northern counties were Union sympathizers, and they were treated just as badly as their counterparts in Missouri by the roving bands of guerrillas and quasi-Southern soldiers that infested both states. After describing the deplorable situation that Union citizens in southwest Missouri faced in the summer of 1862, a correspondent of the New York Times, writing from Springfield, turned his attention to Missouri's neighbor to the south. The condition in northwestern Arkansas, he said, "is still worse. In Carroll, Washington and other Counties, there are hundreds of Union men; but they are at extreme peril of property and life. The rebel Conscription act, and roving bands of plunderers, have compelled many of them to leave their homes, to find their way within our lines as best they might."

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