Joint Committee on Reconstruction
Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Henry
Depopulation of Arkansas

WASHINGTON, March 6, 1866.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Henry sworn and examined.
By Mr. BOUTWELL: (Mr. GEORGE S. BOUTWELL, (of Massachusetts,) House of Representatives.)

Question. What is your age, residence, and occupation?
Answer. I am thirty-four years of age; I was formerly a physician, but am now a merchant by occupation; I am residing in Arkansas, myself, but my family are at present living near Cincinnati.

Question. Have you been in the service of the government since Lee's surrender; and if so, where?
Answer. I have been in service in the department of Arkansas until the 19th of October, 1865, headquarters at Little Rock, as chief quartermaster of the 7th army corps, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.


Question. When was the last election in Arkansas?
Answer. In October, 1865.

Question. For the election of what officers was it held?
Answer. For the election of members of Congress, and, I think, to fill a few vacancies in county offices; but the election was principally for members of Congress, as Governor Murphy had failed to call an election in the spring.

Question. How did the aggregate vote at that election compare with the number of white persons in the State, males, over twenty-one years of age?
Answer. The vote was a small one. I left Little Rock a few days prior to the election, but the canvass was nearly completed before I left. After I returned to Little Rock, in December, I understood that the vote was light, and I was satisfied that it would be.

Question. To what was that due?
Answer. To the fact that the Union party had very little confidence that the members would be admitted into Congress; Mr. Johnson and other members elect had been here for two sessions without being admitted, and the Union people felt somewhat discouraged at the prospect. Those men, it is true, had received their mileage, but had not been admitted to their seats. In the city of Little Rock alone there could have been polled 500 or 600 more votes for the Union candidate if it had been deemed necessary.

Question. When was the last election for governor and members of the legislature?
Answer. March 14, 1864.

Question. Is there another election to be held during the present month?
Answer. No; there is an election to be held, I think, in August for members of the lower house of the legislature, who are elected for two years only.

Question. Do you know what was the aggregate vote at the election in 1864?
Answer. It was between 12,000 and 12,500.

Question. What proportion was that of the voting population of the State at that time?
Answer. At the presidential election in 1860 the vote was 54,000 and some hundreds. That election probably brought out all the vote in Arkansas, as there was a great deal of bitterness in the canvass between the Douglas, the Bell-Evertt, and Breckinridge men. At the election in March, 1864, for governor, State officers, and members of the legislature, we estimated that the Union candidates received a majority of the actual voters then present in the State of Arkansas.

Question. How do you account for the loss which that indicated?
Answer. By emigration to the north, both forced and voluntary, of the Union element, and by the absence in the State of Texas and other States south of persons in the rebel military and civil service. We estimated that there could not have been half the voting population in Arkansas at that time that there was in 1860.

Question. Has there been an increase of the voting population since 1864; and if so, to what extent, and from what sources?
Answer. There has been quite a large increase by the return of men of both parties - those who were originally Union men, and those who were originally rebels. The dispersing of the rebel army has thrown several thousands of men back into the State And there has been comparatively quite a large northern immigration into Arkansas since hostilities ceased.

Question. What do you estimate the voting population of Arkansas to be at this time?
Answer. When I was in Arkansas, in January last, Governor Murphy, Secretary White, Judge Caldwell, United States judge, and myself, spent a great deal of time together in cavassing these matters, and the general opinion appeared to be that we ought to have about 40,000 voters in the State. It is impossible to tell exactly, without a census. Some portions of the State have lost very heavily, and the population has not been replaced. A great many men have been killed on both sides in Arkansas during the war. General Bishop, the present adjutant general of the State, and Governor Murphy assured me that the record showed that nearly 17,000 Arkansians had been in the federal service. In addition to the soldiers in the Arkansas regiments, several thousand volunteered in the Missouri, Kansas, and other regiments that were in Arkansas prior to the formation of the Arkansas regiments.

Question. Do you know how many went into the rebel service?
Answer. The number of rebel Arkansas regiments was some forty-odd; I do not remember whether it was 43, 45, or 47. I know we captured a Colonel Baker, of the 40th regiment, at the battle of Marais du Cygnes. They numbered up to and over forty regiments from the commencement of the war until the close, but a portion of them were one-year men.

Question. Of how many men did the rebel regiments consist?
Answer. It was intended that they should consist of a thousand men each, but I undersand that they were never very full; they were usually small regiments. I know that when we met them in battle we usually had as many men in a regiment as they had in a brigade. They accounted for that by saying that their men deserted. We received thousands of men in our regiments who were deserters from the rebel Arkansas regiments.

Question. What number of Arkansas men do you think actually went into the rebel service during the war?
Answer. It is impossible for me to state, except in the way of an opinion.

Question. Well, give your opinion.
Answer. I have an idea that there must have been - conscripts and volunteers - in the neighborhood of 30,000 men from the State of Arkansas in the rebel service, as Hindman made a very rigid conscription; but I have no positive evidence to that effect.

Question. Did any colored men from Arkansas go into the Union service?
Answer. Yes, sir; six regiments, I think.

Question. Regiments of a thousand men each?
Answer. They numbered a thousand each, originally, but they were reduced by disease and losses in some few engagements. The negro regiments that we had in service in our corps who did the most fighting were the 1st and 2d Kansas colored regiments. We had them on the Red river expedition when we undertook to effect a junction with General Banks. They acted with great gallantry at the battles of Pison Springs and Jenkin's Ferry.

Question. Has the colored population of Arkansas been materially diminished during the war?
Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. To what extent, do you suppose?
Answer. Governor Murphy thinks that there are not more than one-half the colored men in the State now that there was before the war. I am unable to tell how that is, for I have no knowledge of the number of colored population there before the war, except from the last census, which shows that there were about 112,000 negroes in Arkansas in 1860. My judgement is that there cannot be more than half that number in the State at the present time.

Question. How do you account for the loss?
Answer. A great many have been lost by disease; a great many have gone off into Kansas and Missouri; a great many went to Memphis; they are scattered all along the Upper Mississippi river. A great many left the State as the servants of officers, and got off in that way.


Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1866, Georgia - Alabama - Mississippi - Arkansas, pages 124-126.