assistant and, eventually, chief operator.
On the evening of the completion of his line to Memphis
called on the writer of this history with the announcement that he was about to send his first dispatch, which it was his desire to have the writer formulate.
He was in earnest, and the initial message was framed and handed him, containing, among other things, a repetition of the rumor, then in circulation at Little Rock
, that Major Emory
had been ordered from Fort Gibson
, on the frontier, to reinforce Captain Totten
at the arsenal at Little Rock
This rumor, whether true or false, had been mentioned with gratification by divers friends of the Union
cause in the city, and as Fort Gibson
was only 80 miles west of Fort Smith
, and the river navigable, it was a piece of news worthy of a telegraphic message.
It was sent as an item of news solely, and without a thought that it would give rise to any practical results in the then uncertain and helpless condition of affairs.
The next morning found Montgomery
considerably worked up by news he had received of the effect of his dispatch at Helena
, to which place it had been forwarded from Memphis
His information was to the effect that it caused great excitement at Helena
The citizens had met in mass meeting, and tendered the governor 500 volunteers to take the arsenal and expel the Union
The adjutant-general made his appearance with the dispatch, from the hands of the governor.
It was signed by well-known, honored citizens.
The adjutant-general complained of the impropriety of a direct offer of volunteers to the governor of a State which had not seceded, and might not secede.
Only a few weeks before, South Carolina
, and in this same month, Mississippi
, had passed ordinances of secession; and Texas
, February 11th, submitted it to a vote of the people, to be taken on the 23d of that month.
had not yet voted to hold a convention.
The adjutant-general concluded that such a tender of troops