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Feb 23rd
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Home National & State Parks Other NPs Forth Smith Marks 150 Anniversary of Confederate Occupation

Forth Smith Marks 150 Anniversary of Confederate Occupation

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Fort Smith National Historic Site in Arkansas will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and Confederate occupation on April 23, 2011 with a variety of programs for park visitors.

While most eyes at the start of the war were on the East Coast and the Deep South, many regions of the West experienced the Civil War first hand.
When Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter, N.C. on April 12, of 1861, Fort Smith was garrisoned by two companies of the 1st Cavalry under the command of Captain Samuel Sturgis. Fearing that Arkansas would secede and that his men would not be able to defend the post, Sturgis evacuated Fort Smith April 23, 1861.

Within hours, state militia came up the Arkansas River from Little Rock and took control of Fort Smith. A month later Arkansas officially joined the Confederate States of America and the garrison at Fort Smith became a Confederate outpost. Confederate troops from Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, and even Indian Territory would assemble and drill at the newly acquired stronghold.

To commemorate Fort Smith's role during the Civil War, visitors on April 23 will experience some of the feel for what it was like in 1861. Throughout the day, there will be re-enactments of events that took place in Fort Smith during the first year of the Civil War.

Programs about soap making, gardening, weaving, sewing, and quilting will be presented to demonstrate the valuable contributions Southern women made to assist the army during the war.

From 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. a local band will play Civil War period music. Visitors are invited to tour the soldier's camps and learn about the life of a Civil War soldier. There will also be demonstrations of firing rifles and cannons.

The schedule of the day is as follows:

  • 10-11 Reenactments
  • 11-11:30 Artillery demonstrations
  • 11:30-12 Small arms demonstrations
  • 12-1 Civil War period music
  • 1-2 Reenactments
  • 2-2:30 Small arms
  • 2:30-3 Artillery demonstrations
  • 3-4 Reenactments

April 23 is National Junior Ranger day as well. There will be a special junior ranger activity for children to earn a junior ranger badge and certificate.

Fort Smith National Historic Site is located in downtown Fort Smith along the Arkansas River. To access the parking lot from Garrison or Rogers Avenue, turn south on 4th Street and right on Garland Avenue.

For more information, call Fort Smith National Historic Site at (479)783-3961 or visit the web site at

National & State Parks