How to Clean Interpretative Markers

Cleaning interpretative markers

Cleaning interpretative markers

Your interpretative panels are one of the most important assets when it comes to telling your story. Your panels are also in most cases your first impression with visitors and it is very important to keep your markers looking good.

Panels that are 90 degrees to the ground, like the one shown here, gets much less dirty over time compared to those at a lower 45 degree angle. To keep these signs looking their best, only clean them when they start to get dirty from bird poop or tree sap. This does not count with graffiti. What we do is get a small ice chest with Dawn dishwashing detergent and water. Save your 20 oz soda bottles for the perfect rinse bottle. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

We have dozens scattered across town and some only get cleaned a couple times a season while others under trees will get cleaned much more often. Only use Dawn as it is a very mild detergent and seems to do the best job. We use a regular wash cloth, as a SOS pad or other similar products will scratch the surface of the panel.

For more info on panel cleaning or to volunteer on our Battlefield Crew, email info@arkansastoothpick.com.


An Original Sketch That Shows How A Civil War Soldier Carried His Pack

Original sketch on how a soldier carried his pack

Original sketch on how a soldier carried his pack

Entitled, “Seven sketches of soldiers and how they carry their packs” these sketches done by a Civil War soldier shows several ways to wear their packs. A soldier would have carried everything he owned on his person at all times, as few had the luxury of having all their personal gear shuttled around on a wagon. The common soldier would have in his pack things like an extra uniform, shoes, socks, a plate, and perhaps a tin-type of a girl friend back home.

Civil War soldiers were much smaller than we are today and would frequently find themselves in marches of up to 20 miles per day. A soldier would have only carried what he needed. As the war began, a soldier’s pack would have been much heavier than in 1862. After a few miles marching even the smallest of unnecessary weight is shed. Following the Battle of First Manassas the roads and battlefield were littered with perfectly good equipment that the soldier’s found to be more or a burden than otherwise.

However if you had the luxury of having a pack like the one seen in the sketch, you would have been able to carry more luxury items such as whiskey, a deck of cards, and maybe a few pair of dice. Such was the way of many a poor soldier during the war.

This sketch was found on the Library of Congress’ website. They have a multitude of free images that tell an interesting story. Even the shape of the item above is a story in itself. The kind of paper it was drawn on must have had an interesting story as well. It is easy to let our imaginations run wild while looking at such a personal hand drawn primary source such as this.


Thinking of Home- Sketch of a Soldier

Soldier reading a newspaperWouldn’t you just love to know the story behind this sketch? This would have been a common site throughout both Union and Confederate camps throughout the Civil War. This was most true early in the War when both sides of the conflict had the luxury of printing newspapers. By 1862 most Arkansas newspapers had either cut back on the size of the paper or they shut the printer down altogether due to a severe lack of supplies, namely paper.

Reading was a luxury in a Civil War camp. Most soldiers were educated but the short supply of printed material would find soldiers reading the same newspaper many times over. It was icing on the cake when a letter came from home. Perhaps that is what this young man is reading in the sketch.

As a public historian one must give a primary source, or artifact to a visitor and it will mean to them what they make of it, regardless of the interpretative gestures used. The fact is that the soldiers on both sides of the Civil War had a human side rarely seen throughout the 150 years of militaria – battles and carnage sells. So does the human interest aspect of the era.

This sketch was taken from the Library of Congress website and I encourage all our readers to browse through the multitude of sketches and other artwork!


Helena Battlefield Crew And Seven Generals Camp Meeting Tuesday

Helena, Arkansas

Seven Generals SCV Camp #135

The Seven Generals SCV Camp 135 in Helena, Arkansas will meet at 6:30 PM Tuesday, August 18 at the 1912 Railroad Depot at the corner of Sonny Payne and Missouri Streets in historic downtown Helena. The Battlefield Crew will discuss maintenance on the Confederate Memorial Park and the Confederate Cemetery.

Anyone interested in battlefield preservation, maintenance, and security is welcomed to join our Battlefield Crew. Even if you can only come over once on vacation for a day to help, we would love to have your help and show you the ropes on battlefield work. Some of the benefits of becoming a part of our team include special workshops on interpretation, cemetery maintenance, battlefield preservation, and living history. All events and programs are family friendly and are completely free.

The BEST way to become familiar with our work is to come over during a steamboat visit. It is for the American Queen that we pull out all the stops. Lots of interpretation, living history, and great photo opportunities for the whole family. If you want to visit we would love to have you. If you want to take part in our living history programs, email us at info@arkansastoothpick.com.

One last note: if you or someone you know has a trail camera they would like to donate to the Helena Battlefield Crew, have them contact us at info@arkansastoothpick.com. All donations are tax-deductible.


Update on Security Cameras

Arkansas ToothpickSince the installation of cameras at the Confederate Cemetery in Helena, Arkansas we have seen several benefits of having cameras. First of all we are noticing exactly how many visitors we are getting as secondly we are able to see what goes on in the cemetery when visitors don’t know anyone is looking at them.

Overall our visitors have been very respectful. Snapshots have caught fathers teaching their children about General Cleburne, or any one of a hundred Confederate veterans buried atop the hill. We have seen visitors paying their respects to the dead, and we have seen quiet a few geocaching folks locate hidden treasure.

Unfortunately we caught someone metal detecting directly on top of Confederate soldiers’ graves. Though no digging was done and no damage has been noted, the Helena police were notified and are aware of the incident. Thanks to our readers’ kind contributions, we are able to catch vandals in the act if it does occur. Because we do not want to give away the location of the cameras, we will not be able to show photos from the cameras on our sites unless a crime is committed; rest assured the whole world will then see the photo.

Again, thank you all for your support! We still need several more cameras and maintenance equipment. If you can, please make a tax-deductible donation today.

Our Battlefield Crew section of the Seven Generals Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #135 works daily to ensure the maintenance and security of our sites; it is a job we take very serious. With your continued support, these monuments, markers, parks, and heritage sites will be around for your grandchildren to enjoy!

Next time you are in Helena, contact our Battlefield Crew for a behind the scenes tour of Civil War Helena!

Please pause for a moment and send us a dollar via pay-pal at the bottom of this post or simply put a dollar bill or check in the mail to:

Seven Generals SCV Camp #135
ATTN:Heritage Defense
PO Box 409
Helena, AR 72342

These brave soldiers fought and died for their cause. Our cause is to make sure we never forget them. Please support our heritage today! Every dollar counts!


Civil War Roundtable of the Delta Monday Night in Helena

Civil War Roundtable of the Delta

Civil War Roundtable of the Delta

Jack Myers, DCC education coordinator, will present a program entitled, “The Bitter End.” Presented as a power-point/slide show this program documents the closing of the Civil War.

Popular notions about the end of the war hold that it ended as General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox, but is that really the case? Myers will show how the “War” could not end in the sense that we think of wars ending today. There were many surrenders and even a few battles yet to be fought. Many men fled the country to avoid feared retribution and attempted to start life anew away from their former enemies.

This event is free and open to the public and Civil War-related door prizes will be given to those that come out. This will be a great way to officially cap-off the 150th!



Arkansas Civil WarLITTLE ROCK—The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission has approved applications for Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Historical Markers in Calhoun, Grant and Calhoun counties, ACWSC Chairman Tom Dupree announced today.

The approved markers are:

* Calhoun County in the Civil War, commemorating the men from the county who served in the Civil War. Sponsored by Calhoun County, the marker will be placed at the Calhoun County Courthouse in Hampton

* Jenkins’ Ferry Battlefield/Impact on Civilians, commemorating the fighting near modern Leola and the battle’s aftermath. Sponsored by the descendants of Jane McWhorter Jenkins, the marker will be placed at 824 Grant County Road 6 in Leola

* Skirmish near Osceola/Skirmish near Elkin’s Ferry, commemorating fighting in Clark County during the 1864 Camden Expedition. Sponsored by the Clark County Historical Association, the marker will be placed at 308 South Main Street in Okolona.

Through the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Historical Marker Program, the ACWSC works with local partners to help tell the stories of how the Civil War affected communities around the state. The Commission hopes that there will be at least one marker in each of the state’s 75 counties by the end of the commemoration in 2015. Counties that currently do not have Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Historical Markers are Howard, Lawrence, Polk and Sharp.

To date, 130 markers in 71 counties have been approved. Marker applications are available at http://www.arkansascivilwar150.com/historical-markers/markers.aspx.



Arkansas Civil WarLITTLE ROCK—Battlefield tours, artillery demonstrations, lectures and exhibits are among the August 2015 activities the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission has sanctioned, ACWSC Chairman Tom Dupree announced today. A complete listing of scheduled sesquicentennial activities, as well as additional information on the activities listed below, can be found at http://www.arkansascivilwar150.com/events/.

Civil War sesquicentennial events during August include:

* Tour of Elkins’ Ferry Battlefield, featuring a bus tour of the 1864 battle site, dinner and a talk on preservation efforts at the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield in Jacksonville, will be held August 1 in Prescott; call (870) 887-2101 or email tclupper@pn.partnership.org for more information.

* Artillery Demonstration will be held at Pea Ridge National Battlefield in Benton County on August 1, 15 and 29; call (479) 451-8122 for more information.

* Empty Cupboards and Scarce Game, an event focusing on the hardships faced during the Civil War, will be held August 8 at Jacksonport State Park; call (870) 523-2143 or email jacksonport@arkansas.com for more information.

* Life as a Confederate Soldier, a program on the daily life of the common soldier in the Civil War, will be held August 8 at Mammoth Spring State Park; call (870) 625-7364 or email mammothspring@arkansas.com for more information.

* “Civil War Arkansas 1861-1865,” the ACWSC traveling exhibit, will be at the Cross County Library in Wynne through August 9; call (870) 238-3850 or email jpaul@crosscountylibrary.org for more information.

* Grand Prairie Civil War Round Table will feature Dr. Bill Gurley speaking on “Yankee Bullets, Rebel Blood: The Remarkable Medical Casebook of Dr. Henry M. Dye, Confederate Surgeon in Arkansas” at the Lonoke County Museum in Lonoke on August 11; call (501) 676-6750 or email misslata@sbcglobal.net for additional information

* “Fought in Earnest,” the Arkansas History Commission’s traveling exhibit, will be at Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville August 11 to 25; call (479) 967-5516 or email lakedardanelle@arkansas.com for more information.

* Civil War Collections, a display and discussion of Civil War artifacts, will be held at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park on August 16; call (479) 846-2990 or email prairiegrove@arkansas.com for more information.

* “Life and Limb: The Toll of the American Civil War,” an exhibit on the effects of the Civil War on injured soldiers during and after the war, will be at Pea Ridge National Battlefield in Benton County through August 15; call (479) 451-8122 for more information.

* Civil War Roundtable of the Delta will feature Jack Myers of the Delta Cultural Center speaking “The Bitter End: A Look at the Conclusion of the Civil War in Arkansas” when it meets at Beth El Heritage Hall in Helena-West Helena on August 17; email armedic73@hotmail.com for more information.

* Tour of Moscow Church and Archeological Richness of Civil War Sites, featuring bus tours of an 1864 battle site and other local historic sites before dinner, will be held August 22 in Prescott; call (870) 887-2101 or email tclupper@pn.partnership.org for more information.

* Civil War Round Table of Arkansas will feature Mark Christ of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial speaking on the experiences of a soldier from Wisconsin when it meets at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock on August 25; email brianb1578@aol.com for more information.

* “Batesville in the Civil War,” an exhibit on life in Batesville during the Civil War, will continue at the Old Independence Regional Museum in Batesville during August; call (870) 793-2121 for more information.

* Des Arc Rangers: Co. B, 1st Arkansas Mounted Rifles, an exhibit on a Confederate unit raised in the area, will continue at Lower White River Museum State Park at Des Arc during August; call (870) 256-3711 or email lowerwhiterivermuseum@arkansas.com for more information.

* “‘Freedom! Oh, Freedom’: Arkansas’s People of African Descent and the Civil War, 1861-1866” will continue at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock during August; call (501) 683-3593 or email info@mosaictemplarscenter.com for more information.

* War on the Water: Gunboats on the White River, an exhibit at Lower White River Museum State Park in Des Arc, will continue during August; call (870) 256-3711 or email lowerwhiterivermuseum@arkansas.com for more information.
For more information on sesquicentennial plans, visit http://www.arkansascivilwar150.com/or e-mail acwsc@arkansasheritage.org.

The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission is housed within the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. The AHPP is the Department of Arkansas Heritage agency responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Historic Arkansas Museum.


Unique Volunteer Opportunities

Living History opportunities in Helena, AR

Living History opportunities in Helena, AR

Living History opportunities in Helena, AR[/caption]If you are interested in starting a living history program and are at least 14 years of age and older, then Helena is the place for you. We are looking for volunteer living historians interested in helping to share our unique story with visitors from across the globe. We are looking for tour guides, Union artillery, Union infantry, Confederate infantry, and civilians. If this sounds like something you might be interested in starting, contact us at info@arkansastoothpick.com.


Cameras on Confederate Monuments- The need is Real

Arkansas ToothpickAgain, I want to take this time to thank everyone who donated to the safety and security of Confederate monuments in Helena, Arkansas. As many of you know this is the final resting place of over 120 Confederate veterans, including three generals (Pat Cleburne, James C. Tappan, and Thomas C. Hindman).

Your donations have helped us secure several cameras of which are either up or being shipped. We have been studying the photos from the cameras and everything is safe at this time. The cameras are trained in on license plate numbers and the general view of the cemetery. This is one way to keep out monuments safe.

We have a great system down for this and if any Sons of Confederate Veterans camps or individuals concerned about the safety of their cemetery, please email us and we will tell you how we are doing it here and what equipment we are using. Because of the sensitivity of the situation, we will not post images for public consumption until, heaven forbid, there are criminals caught in the act of vandalizing the cemetery.

There are other camps in Arkansas following suite and I recommend every Confederate monument in this country get a camera immediately!

Again, thank you so much for your donations! Our readers have stepped up to the plate and put their money where their mouth is and we do appreciate it. We will install two more cameras as funds come in. Have a great week everyone!