What started out two years ago as just another preservation idea has turned out to be the most active Civil War battlefield restoration of its kind the state of Arkansas has ever seen. Starting with a few acres of heavy underbrush where the Confederate trenches were situated during the battle on August 27th, 1863, Reed’s Bridge battlefield in Jacksonville, Arkansas is looking more and more as it did nearly one hundred and fifty years ago.
Southern Brigade Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’
Arkansas Division Ron Kelley noted, “I have been involved in this restoration from the beginning and I have never seen so many groups coming together and working toward a common goal like this.” Originally envisioned by Arkansas living historian Steve Shore, a small 19th century village is nearing completion just in time for the 147th anniversary of the battle as members from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Sons of Union Veterans, the Civil War Round Table of Arkansas, the Arkansas Civil War Heritage Trails, living historians, the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society, the Jacksonville Museum of Military History, and the City of Jacksonville spent their summer preparing for the 147th anniversary reenactment that will be held on September 11, 2010.
This restoration was first reported in The Civil War News back in the April, 2009 edition during the first phase of clearing off of the undergrowth and trees. Since then, a smokehouse and barn have been constructed on the property and a kitchen and homestead are currently under construction, not to mention the mountains of brush that have been cleared from the property.
The Civil War era village will be completed by the September, 2010 battle reenactment. Two full scale 1841 replica cannons and a new information stand have also been added to the area as well as a walking trail and a small scale version of the original bridge that the Confederates set fire to during the 1863 battle.
There are many benefits in restoring historical sites other than strictly clearing off land and reconstructing history for the sake of education and heritage. “We have converted this property from a haven for prostitutes, drug dealers, and homeless transients to a beautiful battlefield park perfect for a family picnic.” Kelley continued, “Everyone benefits from a community project like this.” Park admission is free and is open year-round. Reed’s Bridge Battlefield is located on Arkansas Highway 161 south of Jacksonville, Arkansas.