Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 29, 1861 (Saturday): McCulloch Builds An Army of the West

Brigadier-General Ben McCulloch

                                                HEADQUARTERS MCCULLOCH’S BRIGADE.
                                                                        Fort Smith, Ark. June 29, 1861.
Hon. L. P. Walker, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
    SIR:  I have the honor to state to you that I will leave here to-morrow morning with the regiments of Arkansas and Louisiana volunteers to march to Maysville, on the northwestern frontier of Arkansas.  General Pearce is already there with 900 men.  Missouri has been crushed, and all of her forces are falling back from the Federal troops in the State.  I have authentic information that a force of nearly 3,000 Federal troops are now in Springfield, Mo., and that General Lyon, with 9,000 men, will soon be with them.  From reliable information is the intention to enter this State and the Indian Territory.  Under these circumstances I have deemed it necessary to issue a proclamation, calling all the men of Western Arkansas to arms for the emergency, and to rally upon Fayetteville, twenty miles from Maysville.  I hope soon to have such a force at my disposal on the northern frontier to drive this force back; at all events to keep them from entering the State.  The Texas regiment has orders to join me as soon as possible.  It has not yet reported here.  My embarrassment here has been very great.  Sent here without a force, without transportation, and without arms, I have found myself very much crippled; but by taking the necessary responsibility I have organized a train, the necessary staff department, called for an additional force, and am determined to march against this force to hold it in check, and, if an opportunity occurs, to strike them a blow in Missouri.  I hope that I will be sustained in all the steps that I have deemed it necessary to take.  
    We are much in need of arms and ammunition.  Is it not possible to send me a supply?
    From the last accounts such of the State troops of Missouri as are still under the command of the governor and General Rains are falling back form the Federal forces toward the southwestern corner of the State.  I have sent reliable men to them, with advice to fall back and form a junction with me.
   I have the honor to be, sir,
                                                                                    BEN MCCOLLOCH,
                                                                        Brigadier-General, Commanding.

McCulloch was creating an Army (the Army of the West) from scratch forces from Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, the measure of his success being the increased size of his force at Wilson’s Creek in August.  A neighbor of Davy Crockett, he fought in the Texas Revolution and in Mexico, served in the Texas Rangers, and as a U.S. Marshall.  Early in the war he quarreled with Sterling Price of Missouri, but was by all accounts quiet and well respected in Texas.

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