Leader Blues

Friday, February 08, 2008

TOP STORY > >City agrees to add land to battlefield

Leader staff writer

Four more acres of land were added Thursday to the Reedís Bridge Battlefield off Hwy. 161 when the Jacksonville City Council voted to spend $100,000 to buy the acres.

ďWeíve got to grab the green space when we can,Ē said Tommy Dupree, president of the Reedís Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society, which operates the battlefield site.

The council agreed to pony up the money after the society don-ated $50,000 worth of battlefield land to the city, along with $50,000 in cash.

ďAnytime we can do something like this with matching funds itís a win-win situation for all sides,Ē said Alderman Kenny Elliot.
The city will take control of the land, clear all the titles and allow the society to use the acreage through what is called a conversion easement, which lets the society use the land for park purposes.

The four acres bring the total amount of battlefield land owned by the city to about 35 acres. The society also owns or has access, through agreements with private landowners, to about another 120 acres of land in the battlefield area. Studies and surveys have shown that the Civil War battle covered an area of about 412 acres.

The new land includes about 3.5 acres off Hwy. 161, a lot at 105 Lakeshore Drive, and a lot near the intersection of Military Road and Trickey Lane.

So far, 15 acres have been improved or restored for the battlefield park.

Tommy Dupree, with the Reedís Bridge Historical Society, said long-range plans call for connecting the battlefield to Dupree Park through bike and hiking trails.

The battlefield area abuts the south end of the city park. The Battle of Reedís Bridge in 1863 was an effort to slow down the Union march and eventual control of Little Rock. Confederate Major Gen. Sterling Price sent two of his top calvary units under the command of Brig. Gen. John Marmaduke and Brig. Gen. Lucius M. Walker out to Reedís Bridge just south of Jacksonville to slow the Union forces.

On Aug. 26, 1863, the Con-federate calvary and Union forces collided along the Bayou Meto and Reedís Bridge.

The job of the Confederate troops was to hold out for as long as possible. During the battle, the Confederate troops set fire to the original Reedís Bridge. As Union troops ran to put out the flames, the Confederate troops opened fire, killing seven, wounding 38 and delaying the Union advance. But the battle was not all glory for the Confederacy.

As they pulled back, closer to Little Rock, Gen. Marmaduke supposedly accused Gen. Walker of cowardice during the Battle at Reedís Bridge.

The accusations were quickly settled during a duel in which Marmaduke killed Walker.

The site, off Hwy. 161, on the banks of the Bayou Meto, is open daily from dawn to dusk.

In other council business:

Aldermen agreed to spend about $8,000 to replace the phone system at the community center.

The mayor reminded the council that there was a mandatory joint-planning session between the council and the planning commission Tuesday at the community center. ďDepartment heads, the chamber and others are welcome to attend and give their input,Ē the mayor said.

The engineering department, in its monthly report, showed that 12 building permits and 17 business licenses were issued in January. The department also performed almost 200 inspections during the month and mailed out 100 letters to residents and business owners regarding trash-filled or unkempt yards or property.