Leader Blues

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

TOP STORY >>Civil War battlefield site grows

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader staff writer

Civil War enthusiasts committed to preserving Jacksonville’s battle site have managed to add to it even as they look for increased funding.

Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society president Tommy Dupree said the restaurant tax, popularly known as a “hamburger tax,” enacted earlier this year to fund potential tourist destinations such as Reed’s Bridge on Hwy. 161 South has not yet materialized.

“We just hadn’t gotten any of it yet,” he said, but he expects $12,000 from the Advertising and Promotion Commission.
The Reed’s Bridge Society has secured funds from the city of Jacksonville and other sources.

The Arkansas Humanities Council helped finance five new historical panels dedicated Saturday and the city did dirt work and put gravel down. Dupree said the county is also going to put down gravel and asphalt.

Ninety-one visitors came to Saturday’s dedication.

The Daughters of the American Revolution furnished one panel on Maj. Jacob Gray, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who traveled up Bayou Meto in 1820 and settled in the area that has since become Jacksonville.

Dupree said the city has agreed to pay $20,000 for two more lots to add to the historic site, which have been appraised for $30,000.

“I hope it will happen soon,” Dupree said and added the deal is “ready to close.”

Dupree said more money is needed before any more land can be bought and included in the historic site. “There’s more land available,” he said. “You can’t buy it all today because some people don’t want to sell.” Dupree said buying all the land to preserve the Civil War battle site would cost about $2 million.

Other panels dedicated Saturday commemorate when Military Road was created by Congress in 1824, the Indian removal from 1831-1838 and the Civil War troop movement on Aug. 27, 1863.

On that day, Union soldiers advanced along Military Road toward Little Rock when 6,000 men under Gen. John Wayne Davidson’s command attempted to cross Reed’s Bridge. A Confederate force of 4,000 soldiers under the command of Gen. John Marmaduke burned the bridge and defended the crossing under heavy fire throughout the day.

Several attempts by Union soldiers to cross failed and they withdrew by day’s end. Two days later, they crossed the Bayou Meto five miles south of Reed’s bridge.

It was the last Confederate victory before the Union troops captured Little Rock on September 10.

Re-enactors from the 1st and 6th Arkansas infantry bivouacked at the Reed’s Bridge site over the weekend.

The public was invited to visit the site and interact with the re-enactors and experience what it was like to be a Confederate soldier during the Civil War.

All the land acquired so far for the site has been deeded over to the city, and the society shares upkeep duties with the city.

Along with the Arkansas Humanities Council and the city, the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the Arkansas Historic Preservation program, the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office and the Southwest Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trail also supported the project.

The Battlefield Preservation Society is planning a re-enactment in August, near the anniversary of the Reed’s Bridge battle.