A Continuous Story Of Wrongs And Outrages: The First Arkansas Union Cavalry

Date of Graduation

Spring 2004


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

William Piston


This thesis is a social and military history of the First Arkansas Union Cavalry. Composed largely of refugees from northwest Arkansas, the regiment was organized at Springfield in the summer of 1862. Ordered to its native state, the regiment fought a bitter guerrilla war while occasionally combating regular Confederate forces. This study closely examines soldier motivation, family relations, and discipline problems while proving a general history of the First Arkansas. Possessing a strong commitment to America's Revolutionary heritage, Arkansas Unionists were often targets of Confederate hostility during the sectional crisis and many of these men enlisted to exact revenge for the suffering they and their families endured. Many brothers served together in the regiment and the presence of relatives helped these men adapt to military life. However, family was also a negative influence on the regiment. Many soldiers left their companies without permission to check on their families. This and the other discipline problems plagued the First Arkansas throughout its history and sometimes adversely affected its performance in the field. Eager for revenge, the First Arkansas fought guerrillas ruthlessly. By the end of the war, however, the regiment effectively used pacifying techniques aimed at winning over a hostile population. Despite serous discipline problems and chronic equipment shortages, the men of the First Arkansas Union Calvary fought bravely and deserve a place in the literature of Civil War soldiers.


Civil War, Arkansas, Unionism, regimental histories, family

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© Michael L. Price