Civil War re-enactment gives glimpse into history

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published September 5, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated September 4, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
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Men portraying Union and Confederate soldiers re-enact the Aug. 27, 1863, Civil War battle at Reed’s Bridge in Jacksonville in 2011. Visitors will have the opportunity to see similar events Sept. 6-8.

JACKSONVILLE — To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Action at Reed’s Bridge in Jacksonville, Tommy Dupree and local volunteers will do their best to recreate the Civil War battle that occurred on Aug. 27, 1863.

During the Action at Reed’s Bridge, also known as the Action at Bayou Meto, Confederate troops tried to keep Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele’s Union army from advancing toward Little Rock, according to The Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Heritage Park features an 1860s-era replica homestead, along with 16 historical information panels scattered throughout the park.

Although the houses that accompany the park aren’t part of the original battlefield, Dupree said, they were taken on as a project by the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society Inc., and a member had the idea to build the homes.

Dupree said that on Friday, Sept. 6, local schoolchildren will come to the homestead site around 9 a.m. to learn about the battle, as well as to see what life was like when the battle originally occurred in 1863.

Throughout the weekend, visitors can take tours of the cabins on site to learn about the living conditions of soldiers during the Civil War.

Though the event will last all weekend, Saturday, Sept. 7, will be the busiest day, Dupree said.

On Sept. 7, Dupree, chairman of the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission, and his fellow commissioners, along with dozens of volunteers, will recreate the 150-year-old battle, he said.

“The battle lasted all day long,” Dupree said.

War re-enactors will replicate the Battle at Reed’s Bridge at 2 p.m. Sept. 7, and the re-enactment will last about three hours.

“We’re going to have five cannons,” Dupree said. “We’re planning on using fireworks to simulate gunfire. It’s going to be noisy.”

Dupree said he plans on using local people as re-enactors for the battle.

“Each cannon should have a five-man crew,” he said.

In addition to the battle’s re-enactment on Sept. 7, more activities are planned for visitors.

The homestead will open at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 7, and events will continue throughout the day.

“We’re going to have fun,” Dupree said. “People can come around and see how folks lived during that period of time. They can also see the battlefield and get an idea of the size of it.”

Before the re-enactment, Civil War games will be available for children, and music by the Conway Women’s Chorus and the Salted Dogs Band will entertain visitors until the battle re-enactment begins. Food, along with Civil War replica items, will be available for purchase at the events throughout the weekend.

“People will be able to see how the soldiers lived and what equipment they had and how it was used,” Dupree said.

The park will close at 5 p.m. Sept. 7. Then on Sept. 8, visitors can come back to attend a church service at 10 a.m. at Reed’s Bridge.

Dupree said he expects about 1,500 people to attend the events this weekend and looks forward to seeing familiar faces, along with some new ones.

“Some folks are interested in seeing how their great-great-great-grandpa fought in the Civil War,” Dupree said. “Maybe people will learn something.”

More information about the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission is available at www.arkansascivilwar150.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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