Union forces first entered Arkansas in March 1862 in the Northwest corner where the battle of Pea Ridge was fought. The Union forces withdrew with no territory occupied. Begining in June, 1862, Federal forces advance down the White River valley, occupying Batesville and then moving to occupy Helena on the Mississippi River in July, 1862. Over the next 3 years, the area north of the Arkansas River was occupied and reoccupied as both sides moved back and forth. At the same time, all the west bank of the Mississippi was progessively occupied during 1862 and 1863. However, despite forays by the Union, the Confederacy held the Southwest 1/3 of the State until the end of the war.
During the first months of occupation, all mail from occupied Arkansas, whether sent to and from soldiers, Military Units, Government Officials, or civilians, was first transported to Memphis, Tennessee. There the mail received the Memphis Town Mark and Date. Mail moving to the North was routed through Cairo, Illinois, and was often backstamped there.
Near the end of 1863, with most of the state occupied, the Military Postal System reverted to letters being canceled in the Main Occupied towns, generally with a Double Circle CDS and the date displayed as e.g. MAY/22/64. Fort Smith was unusual in using a straight-line Town Name similar to others used in the occupied Confederacy.
Arkansas was first occupied by solders who could march from their unit muster ponts all the way to Arkansas, or for whom railraod transportation was available. Hence, many Soldier's Letters are addressed to homes in Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. Often, one can determine if the letter, addressed to e.g. and Iowa Regiment with no other address, was addressed to Arkansas, by reading the extensive histories of the units written by officers who particpated in the war, or by historical societies.
The attached pages are divided as follows. These pages exist as sub-pages of this one on the menu, or you can clidk on the links below to go to the appropriate page.
1) Letters mailed in the Military Mail system, transported to Memphis from Arkansas or directed via Cairo, Ill and Memphis into Arkansas
2) Letters from the Main Arkansas Towns after their Post Offices were restored to the Union Postal System, generally using the typical occupation Double Circle.
3) Uses of the Fort Smith Straight-Line Town mark.