Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10, 1862 - The Trans-Mississippi District is formed

Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, C.S.A.
It was 150 years ago today (January 10, 1862), that the Confederate government in Richmond issued an order that would directly impact the history of the Civil War in Arkansas for the duration of the conflict.
Special Orders No. 8 included Arkansas in a new military district that bore the name "Trans-Mississippi." Its size would be expanded to become a full department over the years that followed and the Trans-Mississippi would come to refer to all military actions west of the Mississippi River.

The following is from orders issued by Jno. Withers, the Assistant Adjutant-General in Richmond:

XIX. That part of the State of Louisiana north of the Red River, the Indian Territory west of Arkansas, and the States of Arkansas and Missouri, excepting therefrom the tract of country east of the Saint Francis, bordering on the Mississippi River, from the mouth of the Saint Francis to Scott County, Missouri (which tract will remain in the distric tof Major-General Polk), is constituted the Trans-Mississippi District of Department No. 2, and Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn is assigned to the command of the same. He will immediately repair to Bowling Green, Ky., and report for duty to General A.S. Johnston, commanding Department No. 2. - Jno. Withers, January 10, 1862.

Pea Ridge National Military Park
In addition, this was the order that placed General Earl Van Dorn on a path that would end with his bloody defeat at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, three months later. Van Dorn, as history would soon prove, had great capability as a cavalry officer, but lacked the logistical experience and ability necessary to serve as the commanding officer of an independent officer. In January of 1862, however, he was still rising in favor in the eyes of President Jefferson Davis and other leaders in Richmond.

You can read more about the Battle of Pea Ridge by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.

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