Vol. IV, No. 4, Spring 1991 / Vol. V, No. 1, Summer 1991

Company H, 3rd Arkansas Infantry

Half-plate tintype of Company H, 3rd Arkansas (State) Infantry, at Arkadelphia, Arkansas when they mustered into service in June of 1861.

On August 10, these men would meet the Federals along the banks of Wilson's Creek, where one-fifth (113) of the regiment would be killed, wounded, or missing on "Bloody Hill" within a matter of thirty minutes. After Wilson's Creek the unit was disbanded and its members integrated into other Confederate units.

The uniforms the men are wearing appear new, probably made by mothers, wives, or sweethearts--thus accounting for the wide range of clothing styles. Though they differ in detail, many wear the popular "battle shirts" with the pockets outlined (e.g. the third man from the right in the front row with snare drum).

The man second from the right is wearing light colored pants probably of denim material. The officer second from the left wears a civilian frock coat. Such a mixture of military and civilian attire was common early in the war, especially west of the Mississippi. As the conflict wore on the troops would wear a more common uniform but still varying from state to state and even among regiments in the same state.

Many of the men wear a canvas rucksack or pack, the ties of which around chest and waist can be clearly seen. They were probably of local make since they seldom appear in other photographs of the period.

Note the bass drum and two snare drums, as well as the fife player. This combination became common later in the war. Early in the war regimental bands existed, but seldom in companies.

On the frontier--and early in the war--men were required to provide their own weapons, a circumstance that would account for the wide range of weapons and accouterments seen here. The two officers on either side of the front row have swords in their hands. Second row third from the right is a soldier wearing period sunglasses. Cartridge boxes, canteens, haversacks, tin cups and powder horns can be seen hanging about the soldiers. Most brandish bowie knives of varying lengths. Several carry shotguns, including the man with the sunglasses. Some have thin-appearing Kentucky-style hunting rifles while others have military muskets. All wear the typical western-style slouch hat in varying Shapes.

The flag towards the rear is a variation of the first national Confederate flag: two red and one central white stripe with 9 stars in a blue field. Fringe had been sown around the border. This flag was probably made by some of the ladies of the town or county.

Several curious civilian townspeople have stepped from the sidelines into the picture. They, together with a brave company about to march off to war, remain for us, frozen in time.

Photo and text, courtesy Dr. Thomas P. Sweeney

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