|Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch, C.S.A.|
National Park Service
When the Southern states seceded in 1860-1861, few people believed that war - if it came - would last longer than one year. As a result, most of the initial regiments were formed for one year's service. As McCulloch returned to Arkansas in anticipation of renewed fighting, he realized that many of his men were approaching the end of their service.
As a result, on January 23, 1862 (150 years ago today), he issued a proclamation to the men in his ranks calling upon them to re-enlist. Keeping his experienced regiments in the field was vital to McCulloch and he made no bones about the need for his men to keep fighting:
Soldiers of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas!
Your country calls on you for further service. Will she call in vain? Will the gallant men who have braved death in all its forms, now shrink from peril? Never! Never will it be said of them, they deserted their country in the hour of danger! We must re-enlist, or all the blood spilt is as water poured upon the ground. Let it not be said, our brave comrades have fallen in vain. Let us try by our acts to immortalize their memories. Their spirits look down upon our deeds and demand of us, that their names be handed down to future generations as martyers in a glorious and successful cause. Our cause is just; it will succeed. Let those who doubt it go seek a home in the North. They are unfit to live among freemen. This war cannot last. Before two years will have passed we will be a free and happy people. Then, who will not be proud to say, I was a soldier in the army that won our Independence!
January 23d, 1862.
General McCulloch himself would soon become a martyer to his cause. He was killed at the Battle of Pea Ridge in early March.
I will continue posting on the 150th anniversary of the Pea Ridge Campaign over coming days and weeks, so be sure to check back often. You can also read more on the Battle of Pea Ridge at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.