Arkansas is not only known for its remarkable beauty but also its rich history, including Civil War history. This week for Adventure Arkansas, I visited the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park to learn about the battle that helped turn the tide of the war.
“When we think of Civil War battlefields we often just think of a big field where two armies met but at Prairie Grove, like a lot of places, the battles are actually fought in people’s backyards,” said Park Interpreter, Laura Jennings.
We went Antebellum and took a tour of the Civil War Battlefield State Park in Prairie Grove, which is home to one of the bloodiest battles fought west of the Mississippi River. Jennings narrates what happened here, and explains what you can expect when you visit one of the most historically accurate civil war sites in the country.
“The thickly wooded area you see along our walking trail is historically accurate. We are actually considered one of the most well-preserved or intact Civil War battlefields in the United States, just because we’ve maintained historical accuracy,” said Jennings.
The battle wasn’t just fought in the woods, but amongst the local civilians as well.
Park officials tell me that this area is the perfect definition of “total war”. The Confederate forces set up on this ridge, while the Union forces came in from the valley, but notice the farmhouse that’s right behind me. This battle was not fought someplace far far away but amongst the townspeople of Prairie Grove.
“All of a sudden they wake up and there are 22,000 men fighting in their front yard and their lives are never going to be the same,” said Jennings. “We interpret total war here which is a war that extends beyond the official armies and touches every aspect of society and the civilians were very much involved in the Civil War.
When you visit, you can get a tour and walk where the union and Confederate soldiers marched into battle.
“We can actually walk you over to the eastern flank of the battlefield and actually walk you across the regimental lines and tell you what happened in each place,” said Jennings. “I think when you are able to tell specific stories and bring the men’s voices to life that actually fought here, it just makes it that much more real to you.”
Taking it one step further, mark your calendars because there will be a battle reenactment later this year.
“They will set up period accurate camps where the civilians, the public, can actually walk through and experience a little of that camp life and of course you’ll get to see the skirmishing as well when they actually reenact the battle,” said Jennings.
The reenactment will have at least 500-foot soldiers on December 1st and 2nd of this year.
The State Park is open all year long and tours are free.
Follow this link where you can register for a weekend tour.
Follow this link to follow the state park on social.
For Adventure Arkansas and covering the battles where you live, I’m 5NEWS Meteorologist Matt Standridge.
Segment Sponsored By: Adventure Subaru