Half the Yankees in the West [were coming].
I expected Mary would be a widow before I got 10 rods [55 yards].
John Matson, corporal, 120th Ohio Infantry
Every soldier had his own reason to be here. Many
Confederates here were outraged that Federal soldiers
had invaded Southern states. None wanted distant
Washington politicians to change Southern customs, laws,
or property rights-including slave property. For others,
gaining independence from the United States was worth
risking their lives.
Disease and bad food killed more than bullets. Soldiers
lacked enough guns and tools. One officer mourned, "My
poor men, many of them are barefooted...many with no
coats." Despite overwhelming odds, a Union soldier
observed, "These men were overpowered, not conquered."
Many Union soldiers fought to keep the states united.
Some wanted to end slavery. Others signed up for the cash
recruitment bonus. Some Federal soldiers saw this as
their patriotic duty.
Their mission here was brutal. Both the raw recruits and
General Sherman's seasoned soldiers "marched all that
night through woods and swamps." One Iowan noted, "At
halt, they would drop down on the cold, wet ground
and almost instantly were asleep." Though better
equipped, Union troops suffered many more casualties at
Arkansas Post than the Confederate defenders.