Battle of Pea Ridge Re-enactors’ Connection to History

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Pea Ridge National Military Park celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge. Confederate and Union re-enactors presented infantry, cavalry and artillery programs. The National Military Park preserves the site and commemorates the fight that helped Union forces gain control of Missouri.

On the Pea Ridge battleground re-enactors came from near and far to remember those who lost their lives. 3,400 soldiers died or went missing during the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.

"Whether they fought for the Confederacy or whether they fought for the Union, they volunteered to do this because they believed so strongly in what they were fighting for," said Matt Laird.

Laird, Arkansas native, said his ancestors fought on both sides. Laird said his great-great-great grandfather, who was also born in Arkansas, fought for the Union.

"His mother didn't forgive him for fighting for the Union until she was in her 90s and it caused quite a rift in the family," said Laird.

For seven years, Laird has been a living historian at Pea Ridge.

"Every veteran that fought here, every man that shed his blood here, deserves to be remembered," said Laird.

Erasmus Anderson was Keith Hiney's great-great uncle who was part of the 36th Illinois. This is Hiney's first time at Pea Ridge. He traveled from the Chicago area.

"Driving down here we were driving through these hills and trying to imagine having to march over these hills and things like that coming from Illinois," said Keith Hiney.

Hiney has been re-enacting since he was 10 and said it's important to preserve history.

"A lot of people say why are you glorifying war? I'm not glorifying war, I'm glorifying the men that fought in that battle and fought in those battles, what they went through, what hardships they endured on both sides," said Hiney.