Sunday, October 11, 2009

Touring Prairie Grove Battlefield

“While visiting Prairie Grove Battlefield today, I was able to take advantage of the daily house tours offered by the park. During my tour I was actually able to go inside several of the houses and buildings located on the park grounds, and I learned what life was like for civilians during the Civil War. I was amazed by how difficult life was back then!

We began at the Morrow House, where I saw the one room log cabin John and Mariah Morrow lived in when they first came to Arkansas in 1834. This one room served as a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and dining room for the Morrows until they finally expanded the house around 1855. Originally located south of the battlefield, the house’s parlor served as a conference room for Confederate General Hindman and his generals before the battle.

Moving on to the Latta House, I learned that the Latta family came most of the way to Arkansas by flatboat because there were so few roads in those days. Even when the Civil War began, Arkansas was still considered a frontier, and there were still very few roads. This made it very difficult for the armies to move around, too.

My guide ended the tour by telling me about the guerrilla warfare in northwest Arkansas and its effect on the civilians. I learned that guerrillas were actually men who organized in their own small groups rather than joining the army and who frequently attacked civilians. They were especially bad in this area because of the different opinions held by the people here. During the war, the people of northwest Arkansas were usually one of two types of people, unionists or secessionists. Unionists were people who supported the Union rather than the Confederacy, while secessionists were people who supported the Confederacy. Northwest Arkansas was unusual because of the large number of unionists who lived here during the war. Since these unionists had opposite views from their secessionist neighbors they frequently fought each other. This type of fighting was especially hard on the civilians and added to their burden. As my tour ended I had a new understanding of how hard the Civil War was not only on soldiers but on civilians as well.”

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