Friday, March 10, 2017
The Civil War Battle of Pea Ridge, which took place 155 years ago on March 6-8, 1862, is often said to have preserved the state of Missouri for the Union, says Pea Ridge National Military Park ranger David Harkleroad.
Had the South won, "they likely would have invaded Missouri, possibly bringing it into the Confederacy," he explains. "They could have used it as a staging point to launch raids into the northern Midwest, which could have diverted federal troops and prolonged the war.
Battle of Pea Ridge
WHEN — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE — Pea Ridge National Military Park, 15930 E. U.S. 62 near Garfield
COST — $7 per individual or $15 per car
INFO — 451-8122
"That was significant," he goes on, 'because the Confederacy's best hope of winning the war was help [from overseas] or, the more likely alternative, which makes Pea Ridge so significant, dragging the war out, which could have worn out the North's will to fight."
The park, in existence since 1956, is also significant, says Harkleroad, who has been there only about a month.
"I am impressed with how pristine the battlefield is," he says. "Coming from Pennsylvania and having been involved in Civil War living history most of my life, most [battlefields] aren't pristine. Most battles were fought at major population hubs, so much of the battlefields were lost to urban development. We don't have that problem as much here in Pea Ridge. When you're looking out at the battlefield, you are really seeing the topography of the land as they would have seen it in 1862."
At a commemoration of the battle's anniversary on Saturday, visitors will also get to see how soldiers would have camped, marched and interacted. Muskets and artillery will be fired, guided hiking tours will take place at Elkhorn Tavern, and there will also be concerts by the Northwest Arkansas Heritage Brass Ensemble at the visitor center.
What there won't be is a battle re-enactment. Those don't happen at Pea Ridge National Military Park. And that suits Harkleroad, a lifelong Civil War re-enactor, just fine. A veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Harkleroad takes the personal cost of war very seriously. That means he wants visitors to Saturday's "commemoration" to think -- not just about the significance the Union victory had in the early days of the War Between the States but also about the men who died and the families whose lives were disrupted.
"While this event is not a reenactment, these programs provide great insight into the lives of the men who fought at the battle of Pea Ridge," says fellow park ranger Troy Banzhaf.
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 03/10/2017
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