Civil War
Things to See & Do in Arkansas
Arkansas Post National Memorial
In 1686, Henri de Tonti established a trading post known as "Poste de Arkansea" at the Quapaw village of Osotouy. It was the first semi-permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley. Over the years, the Post relocated as necessary due to flooding from the Arkansas River, but its position always served of strategic importance for the French, Spanish, American, and Confederate military. Arkansas Post became part of the United States following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. By 1819, the post was a thriving river port and the largest city in the region and selected as the first capital of the Arkansas Territory. Today, the memorial and museum are located outside of Gilett and commemorate the multi-layered and complex history of the site. Located on a peninsula bordered by the Arkansas River and two backwaters, the site offers excellent fishing and wildlife watching opportunities.
Fort Smith National Historic Site
At Fort Smith National Historic Site you can walk where soldiers drilled, pause along the Trail of Tears, and stand where justice was served. The park includes the remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Exhibits in the visitor center focus on Fort Smith’s military history from 1817 – 1871, western expansion, Judge Isaac C. Parker and the federal court’s impact on Indian Territory, U.S. Deputy Marshals and outlaws, Federal Indian policy, and Indian Removal including the Trail of Tears. Located on the grounds are the foundation remains of the first Fort Smith (1817-1824), the Commissary building (c. 1838) and a reconstruction of the gallows used by the federal court. A walking trail along the Arkansas River includes wayside exhibits on the Trail of Tears.
Pea Ridge National Military Park
Pea Ridge National Military Park is a 4,300 acre Civil War Battlefield that preserves the site of the March 1862 battle that saved Missouri for the Union. The park also includes a two and one half mile segment of the Trail of Tears. The Elkhorn Tavern, site of bitter fighting on both days, is a NPS reconstruction on the site of the original. The park is one of the most well preserved battlefields in the United States.
Old State House Museum
Set in the oldest surviving state capitol west of the Mississippi River, the Old State House Museum has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The museum houses a multimedia museum of Arkansas state history, with emphasis on women's history, political history, and educational programming for school children. The Little Rock museum also boasts collections of Civil War battle flags, the inaugural gowns of governors' wives, Arkansas art pottery, and African-American quilts.
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