While the men of Arkansas were away fighting for the Confederacy, the women and children they left behind experienced their own version of the Civil War. Their stories were collected for the book Confederate Women of Arkansas in the Civil War: Memorial Reminiscences by Michael B. Dougan (1993, first published in 1907).

Union troops were in Arkansas throughout the war. In the colorful words of Mrs. M.C. Hines of Camden, "...this Southland was filled with guerrillas, jayhawkers, carpetbaggers and blood-sucking vampires." Their foraging was described by Mrs. Cora Williamson Rodgers: "The officers were usually well behaved, though the privates were thieving, impudent and often tyrannical, plundering and pillaging everything that could be found." With virtually all of the men and grown boys off fighting, women had to rely on pluck and grit to provide for their families. The experience of Mollie D. Martin of Little Rock is typical: "...she (her mother) sought refuge in an old place she had ten miles southwest of Little Rock. Here she and her four children toiled as they never had before, plowing, hoeing, harvesting, cooking, washing, spinning, weaving, and often after they had succeeded in raising a little crop, the enemy came and took it all."

But sometimes the Confederate women outwitted the "feds," finding creative ways to hide or defend their valuables. Maj. W.F. Forbes of Brinkley describes the bravery of his cousin, Miss Linnie Hutchinson: "One day a company of fifty entered the yard and began shooting every chicken in sight. Standing upon the cabin porch and raising her gun, she declared that she would shoot the man that fired the next shot at her chickens. They vacated the yard without further ado."

And that story of Scarlett O’Hara making a dress out of the curtains? She wasn’t the only one. According to Mrs. J.C. Poindexter of Imboden, "The ladies often took down the damask and other curtains and made dresses of them." Whatever it took to survive, these women found a way.

Kathy F.
Midwest Genealogy Center