Gunpowder smoke fills air at Civil War re-enactment in Arkansas

CMWinkler

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Gunpowder smoke fills air at Civil War re-enactment in Arkansas
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Americans unite in Battle of Prairie Grove Civil War Re-Enactment.......approximately 1500 re-enactment soldiers from all over the United States re-enacted battle on 150th anniversary of pivotal battle in Arkansas.
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Edward Lane

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More than 1200 Civil War re-enactment soldiers charged up and down the battlefield and fired guns at each other Sunday in memory of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
This was a much happier day than the original battle on December 7, 1862, in which 2,700 soldiers died in a day of fierce fighting during America's Civil War.
There were no casualties today as no lead bullets were fired from the muzzle-loading one-shot rifles, according to Jack Hill, a Civil War historian from Wichita Falls, Texas who drove seven hours from the flatlands of his home area to the Ozark Mountains to witness one of the pivotal battles in this nation's history.
Hill said many of the soldiers in the Civil War fired one shot muzzle-loading rifles which expelled minnie balls up to a range of 1,000 yards with reasonable accuracy.
"They were conical-shaped, hollow bullets which could kill up to a distance of a thousand yards," Hill said, as he snapped photographs of the re-enactment soldiers in action today.
Although smoke from the cannons and muskets filled the sky today, there was no real danger to the participants. Hill explained why.
"While a powder bag is pushed down in the cannons and a friction primer ignites the shots that are fired today, there is no real risk of anyone being killed," Hill said, as he took a photograph of a cannon belching smoke so thick observers couldn't see for a few moments.
Hill was taking photographs for his Civil War Roundtable group in Wichita Falls, Texas.
The sounds of the cannons were loud enough to sound authentic as shock waves caused leaves to jump off the prairie in northwestern Arkansas where the actual battle took place 150 years ago.
Hill explained that the rifles used in the re-enactment today were also safe since only blanks were used, although gunpowder caused gunsmoke to erupt from the ends of the barrels.
"The Confederates in this battle probably had several six-pound cannons while the Union soldiers had some of the Napoleon 12-pounders," Hill further explained.
Hill clicked some photographs of two regiments of blue-uniformed soldiers charging up the ridge as they fired their rifles at the gray-clad combatants at the top of the hill.
"Getting one shot off in 20 seconds was considered good in those days. If a man could fire three shots in a minute he was really doing well with the rifles they had," Hill explained.
When one of the observers in the crowd asked Hill why many of the soldiers didn't appear to be wearing standard uniforms he explained "that many of the soldiers didn't really have what we would consider uniforms today. For example some of those butternut-colored outfits (brownish-gray) turned that shade because their women washed them in pecans. As they were washed more often they sometimes even turned to the white color you see in some paintings of the day."
Dan and Karen Dantzler, two longtime friends of Hill from Fayateville, Arkansas, were able to join the Navigator representative during the re-enactment. Dan, who is a United States Army veteran, said, "The chances of those soldiers who had to use the older muskets which fired round balls were almost nil of hitting the enemy."
Hill said that earlier in the war many of the men had only their own shotguns or muskets available to use, although by the end of the war most soldiers had the more accurate single-loading rifles.
Readers interested in finding further information regarding the Battle of Prairie Grove may click on the website.
Although the battle was a virtual draw, many consider it a tactical victory for the North as General Thomas C. Hindman and his Southern troops were forced to retreat south that night after running low on ammunition. As for the effect on the overall war, the stalemate secured northwest Arkansas for the Union.
The re-enactment today was described by one onlooker as a way of honoring all the brave men who gave their lives on this battlefield no matter which side they served on.

http://www.examiner.com/article/gunpowder-smoke-fills-air-at-civil-war-re-enactment-arkansas
 

Red Harvest

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Apr 10, 2012
Couple of corrections to the article:

There were at least 2,700 casualties but only a fraction of that number died. This is one of the most common mistakes made about battles in general, I've even seen it creep into sesquicentennial brochures at times too.

The summary misstates the result of the battle somewhat. It is widely considered a strategic union victory rather than a tactical one. At the tactical level it was a draw. On a strategic level the Confederate army in Arkansas had little choice but to withdraw. The Federals had gained control of Northwest Arkansas and disrupted Hindman's intended Spring campaign into Missouri. From then on only cavalry raids would be possible into Missouri.
 

Red Harvest

2nd Lieutenant
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Apr 10, 2012
Also, to improve readibility of the article it might be helpful to use the "eraser" tool in the far left window to remove formatting, then go back and set paragraphs and edit as needed. I find this necessary for even short quotes, else I never know what will show up. YMMV, I'm offering it as it was the only reliable method I found to get things to look as they were intended.
 

Red Harvest

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Apr 10, 2012
Guess I should add that I was at the re-enactment on the 1st. The Arkansas State site is a beauty, and best seen without the many thousands of extra people (I've done this one before.) The re-enactment scenario was entertaining, plenty long.

My main complaint was the food vendors...an unusual one for me. Usually I pack some lunch when traveling, just in case the vendors are disappointing, but end up buying BBQ, etc., this time I did not pack anything, assuming something would be available, huge mistake! There were rumors of two food vendors, though we only found one and they ran out of food at noon just as we were ready to order. Pretty much a cluster....in the food category.

Prairie Grove is terrific much of the rest of the year.
 

CWNurse

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Feb 11, 2009
Location
Prairie Grove
Guess I should add that I was at the re-enactment on the 1st. The Arkansas State site is a beauty, and best seen without the many thousands of extra people (I've done this one before.) The re-enactment scenario was entertaining, plenty long.

My main complaint was the food vendors...an unusual one for me. Usually I pack some lunch when traveling, just in case the vendors are disappointing, but end up buying BBQ, etc., this time I did not pack anything, assuming something would be available, huge mistake! There were rumors of two food vendors, though we only found one and they ran out of food at noon just as we were ready to order. Pretty much a cluster....in the food category.

Prairie Grove is terrific much of the rest of the year.
The other food vendor was over close to the confederate medical camp..and then the boy scouts had something in the latta barn..I never made it over to the BBQ thing. I think there was some stuff that didn't show for one reason or other.
 
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