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— The Blue and the Gray will meet up to exchange gunfire and cannon fire in a full-scale Civil War battle re-enactment in Jacksonville on Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12.

Soldiers will take the battlefield at 2 p.m. each day at the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield on Arkansas 161 South. Demonstrations of military drills andmusket training will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

To make the historic battlefield look as it would have nearly 150 years ago, it has undergone two years of restoration.

“In August of 2008, there was nothing there but a mowed area that we called the battlefield,” said Steve Shore, president of the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society. “Then in January of 2009, we started clearing the forest and gettingdonations for the cannons.” Shore said he built the first cabin out of the wood harvested from the clearing of the forest.

“In January, I picked up two replicas of 1841 cannons from Virginia,” Shore said.

In addition to the new cannons, the battlefield now has a mock homestead that has a barn, a family cabin, a kitchen cabin and a garden with crops.

The actual battle occurred on Aug. 27, 1863, when Union soldiers, who were advancing south, clashed with Confederate soldiers.

The family-oriented weekend will offer visitors a chance to explore the camp and battlefield and interact with the re-enactors, who aren’t all portraying soldiers. Women played a large role in the Civil War, too.

Other re-enactors will show examples of daily life and cook meals and make crafts throughout the weekend. There will also be a Civil War-era wedding at 4:30 p.m. A dance will take place at 7.

“The re-enactment is a great opportunity to gain a sense of Arkansas’ Civil War history, and the battlefield has undergone many dramatic changes,” said DannaKay Duggar, director of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History. “I’m excited for the community to come out and experience Reed’s Bridge in a new way.”

Shore also said, “Schoolchildren could come out during the day and see what a farm looked like back then.”

The battlefield, which is on the National Historic Register, will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with food vendors available. There is no admission charge, and parking is free.

- jbrosius@ arkansasonline.com

Three Rivers, Pages 145 on 08/29/2010

Print Headline: JACKSONVILLE Civil War re-enactment set for restored battlefield

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