Francis Stroud was born in Franklin, Tennessee in 1845; he was the youngest son, and 11th of the 12 children of Jonathon F. Stroud and Easter Huntsucker. The family had moved to Franklin from Greenville, South Carolina a few years before Francis's birth; they moved on to Madison, Arkansas by 1860, when he was 15.
When the Civil War began, Arkansas was, of course, a southern state and Francis's older brothers (including my great-great-grandfather) enlisted in the Confederate Army. His two oldest brothers had married and moved to Texas before the war began, but they both fought for the southern army there. There were no Union regiments formed in Arkansas in the first two years of the war, however, after the Battle of Bayou Forche near Little Rock in September 1863, a Union victory, northern sympathizers, who had previously gone to other states to enlist, began to form regiments in the state. In January of 1864, Francis Stroud enlisted in the 1st Arkansas Infantry, Union, at Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was an 18 year old farmer, and newly married to Lucinda Hamilton.
The 1st Arkansas returned to Ft. Smith in May of 1864. The regiment was frequently sent to rescue Union men and participated in several skirmishes in northwestern Arkansas. Francis is reported as being present on company muster rolls until September, when he is shown as having deserted on September 25 at Ft. Smith.
What led Francis to desert just a few months after he enlisted is unknown. Perhaps the realities of the war that he encountered on the Camden Expedition soured him on it. Being on the opposite side of the conflict from the rest of his family must have been difficult and may have caused trouble. He may have simply wanted to return home to his young wife. Francis continued to be reported as absent without leave until June 16, 1865, when he was arrested and confined to the guard house at Ft. Smith. How long he was held there is not recorded, however, the war had ended earlier that month, so he may have been released soon after.