The 3rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment (May, 1861 – April 12, 1865) was a Confederate Army regiment during the American Civil War, and the most celebrated unit from that state. Formed and initially commanded by Colonel Albert Rust, and later falling under the command of Colonel Van H. Manning, the regiment was part of the Army of Northern Virginia serving under General Robert E. Lee. The regiment served for the duration of the war, from the late months of 1861 through to the Surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865. They were the only Arkansas regiment to serve the entire war in the east, where most of the major battles were fought. They were also the only Arkansas regiment to initially sign up for the duration of the war, with all other regiments from that state signing on for a one year enlistment.
From its induction into the Confederate Army, the 3rd Arkansas would go on to become one of the most distinguished and well respected Confederate regiments of the war. However, prior to their first battle actions, the first impressions of them by their fellow Confederates were, by written accounts since, not good to say the least. In several accounts, relayed by author and historian Mauriel P. Joslyn, the regiment was first seen as a poorly dressed and poorly equipped lot of ignorant country boys. Once proven in combat, however, those opinions of them would change dramatically.
The regiment was ordered to the mountains of West Virginia, where it performed arduous and discouraging service in the campaign on the Gauley and Cheat rivers. This was followed by hard marching under Stonewall Jackson (whom Col Rust later described as "an impracticable old schoolmaster who said grace before he ate and prayed before going to bed") in the Valley Campaign. The regiment was engaged in the battles of Greenbrier and Allegheny. Under General Jackson at Winchester, in January, 1862, the 3rd Arkansas marched to Bath and Romney, returned to Winchester, and was ordered thence to Fredericksburg and assigned to the brigade of Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes. Colonel Rust was promoted to brigadier general about this time, and was transferred to a command in the western armies. Van Manning was promoted to the colonel of the regiment succeeding Col. Rust.
Colonel Van H. Manning, Commander, 3rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment
The 3rd Arkansas was engaged in the battles of White Oak Swamp, June 3, 1862, in J.G. Walker's brigade, on July 1, 1862 participated in the battle of Malvern Hill.
In July, 1862, the ranks of the 3rd Arkansas was augmented by the addition of nearly 140 soldiers from the 2nd Arkansas Infantry Battalion. The Second Arkansas Battalion had been organized in October, 1861, from three companies of volunteers from El Dorado, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff. In June, 1862, the 2nd Arkansas Battalion was decimated while leading an assault on the Federal position at Beaver Dam Creek, and its commander, Major William Naylor Bronaugh, mortally wounded. The War Department disbanded the battalion and transferred its survivors to the 3rd Arkansas.
On September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, Companies A and L of the 3rd Arkansas were decimated. On September 25 the few survivors of Company L were transferred into Company A and Company L ceased to exist. Thus the regiment was reduced to ten companies, the normal complement for an infantry regiment. Col. Manning was seriously wounded during the battle.
In November, 1862, the 3rd Arkansas was assigned to the famous Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederate War Department had determined that the troops would benefit from being brigaded with regiments from their home States. At this time, the standard brigade organization consisted of four regiments. There were three Texas regiments in the Army—the 1st, 4th and 5th—and only one Arkansas regiment. It was therefore decided to group these four western regiments together. The Third Arkansas remained an integral part of Hood’s Texas Brigade until the end of the war. The first engagement that the unit participated in as part of the Texas Brigade was the Battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862. The regiment was not engaged at Chancellorsville, being detached with the rest of Longstreet's Corps at Suffolk.
The 3rd Arkansas acquired a reputation as tenacious fighters, often finding themselves in the thickest fighting on the battlefield, such as their presence at the "sunken road" during the Battle of Antietam. Their most famous action was while serving as a part of the Texas Brigade during the Battle of Gettysburg, at the Devil's Den, where they took heavy casualties while serving under General John Bell Hood. Its place in the front of Hood's assault meant it was one of the first units, if not the first, to be heavily engaged during the second day of the battle. The regiment was commended for gallantry in that action, while under the direct command of Brigadier General Jerome B. Robertson, fighting in and in the vicinity of the "Devil's Den".
The regiment was transferred with Longstreet's Corps to Tennessee in September, 1863 in time to fight at the Battle of Chickamauga (where Major Reedy was mortally wounded). The unit went of to participate in the battles of Chattanooga, Wauhatchie, and in the siege of Knoxville, Tennessee, returning to the Army of Northern Virginia in the spring of 1864.
The regiment suffered heavy casualties later in the Battle of the Wilderness, during which they lost many of their commanding officers in addition to heavy losses in their ranks. In that battle they lost Colonel Van Manning and Lt. Col. Robert Samuel Taylor, both of whom were badly wounded and captured, in addition to Major William K. Wilkins who was killed in action.
The regiment continue the fight at Spotsylvania, and on to Cold Harbor. The regiment was at Deep Run on August 6, 1864; at Petersburg during the siege by Grant, at High Bridge and Farmville during the closing day of the war in 1865.
By the end of the war, the Texas Brigade as a whole, which included the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas, and the 3rd Arkansas, had only 617 men remaining out of a total of 5,353. The 3rd Arkansas Infantry is entitled to the following campaign participation credit:
Operations on Cheat Mountain, West Virginia, September 11–17, 1861.
Skirmish, Elkwater, West Virginia, September 11, 1861.
Skirmish, Point Mountain Turnpike, West Virginia, September 11–12, 1861.
Skirmish, Petersburg, West Virginia, September 12, 1861.
Engagement, Greenbrier River, Cheat Mountain, West Virginia, October 3–4, 1861.
Operations in the Valley District and against Romney, West Virginia, November 26, 1861 to February 21, 1862.
Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Virginia, May 31 to June 1, 1862.
Skirmish, Gill’s Bluff, Virginia (Company F), June 20, 1862.
Seven Days Battles, Virginia, June 25 to July 1, 1862.
Engagement, Turkey Bridge (Malvern Cliff), Virginia, June 30, 1862.
Campaign in Northern Virginia (Second Bull Run Campaign), August 16 to September 2, 1862.
Maryland Campaign, September 3–19, 1862.
Siege, Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, September 13, 1862.
Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland, September 16–17, 1862.
Action, Bolivar Heights, West Virginia, September 19, 1862.
Operations in Loudoun, Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties, Virginia, October 26 to November 10, 1862.
Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 12–15, 1862.
Siege, Suffolk, Virginia, April 11 to May 4, 1863.
Skirmish, Somerton Road, Virginia, April 15, 1863.
Skirmish, Somerton Road, Virginia, April 20, 1863.
Action, Edenton Road, Suffolk, Virginia, April 24, 1863.
Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 to August 1, 1863.
Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1–3, 1863.
Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, September 19–21, 1863.
Siege, Chattanooga, Tennessee, September 24 to November 1, 1863.
Campaign, Knoxville, Tennessee, November 4 to December 23, 1863.
Siege, Knoxville, Tennessee, November 17 to December 4, 1863.
Assault, Forts Saunders and Loudoun, Knoxville, Tennessee, November 29, 1863.
Operations about Dandridge, Tennessee, January 16 to January 17, 1864.
Operations about Dandridge, Tennessee, January 26–28, 1864.
Wilderness Campaign, May 4 to June 12, 1864.
Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, May 5–7, 1864.
Battles of Spotsylvania Court House, Laurel Hill, Ny River and Fredericksburg Road, Virginia, May 8–21, 1864.
Assault of the Salient, Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, May 12, 1864.
Operations on the line of the North Anna River, Virginia, May 22–26, 1864.
Operations on the line of the Pamunkey River, Virginia, May 26–28, 1864.
Operations on the line of the Totopotomoy River, Virginia, May 28–31, 1864.
Battles about Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1–12, 1864.
Assault, Petersburg, Virginia, June 15, 1864.
Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, June 16, 1864 to April 2, 1865.
Assault, Petersburg, Virginia, June 18, 1864.
Engagements at Deep Bottom (Darbytown), Strawberry Plains and New Market Road, Virginia, June 27–29, 1864.
Engagements at Deep Bottom, New Market Road and Darbytown Road, Virginia, August 13–20, 1864.
Engagement, Fair Oaks and Darbytown Road, Virginia, October 27–28, 1864.
Appomattox Campaign, March 28 to April 9, 1865.
Assault and capture, Petersburg Lines, Virginia, April 2, 1865.
Surrender, Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865.
When General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, only 144 men of the 3rd Arkansas remained out of the 1,353 mustered into it from the start of the war.