Dr. Curtis Varnell, of the Western Arkansas Educational Services Cooperative, and a committee of people from Paris and the surrounding area are starting to make final preparations for the Saturday, Oct. 5 re-enactment of a Civil War battle fought near the Paris-Subiaco Municipal Airport.
The re-enactment will be part of the annual Frontier Day celebration, which will be staged at the Logan County Fairgrounds in Paris.
Tuesday, a large rock monument commemorating the battle was scheduled to be set up near the airport. On Wednesday, Oct. 3, student re-enactors, wearing period costumes, will begin visiting area schools and talking to students about the Sept. 27, 1863 Battle of Haguewood Prairie. On Frontier Day, the monument and a historical marker will be dedicated at 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., a re-enactment of the battle will take place. Educational booths will be set up near the battlefield encampment on the north end of the fairgrounds. Those attending the event will be able to make and take crafts and Civil War-era toys. There will also be cannon and musket firing demonstrations.
Then, on Saturday, Oct. 12, a documentary about the re-enactment will be shown at the Paris Middle School auditorium. A documentary entitled This is Arkansas: Paris will also be shown that night.
Varnell said last week that the re-enactment will take about 30 minutes and involve more than 50 re-enactors. The actual battle, which Confederates won, took two hours.
"Tom Wing, a friend of mine at UAFS, has done this sort of things for years," Varnell said. "He’s going to help us. He teaches classes on how to do re-enactments so his help has really been important."
Varnell has prepared lessons on the Civil War, the battle and there’ll even be a coloring contest conducted.
Varnell also said last week that all this started when he stumbled onto information about The Battle of Haguewood Prairie.
"I stumbled onto it somewhere," he said. "I might have been looking up information about my family in the Internet. I went to Fort Smith and found newspapers from the era that had articles about the battle. I also found an old book written by the adjutant for Confederate Col. Joseph Shelby that describes the battle."
Each book found led to another book and they sometimes contained differing view points about the battle, Varnell said.
"Some exaggerate the southern view and some exaggerate the northern view," Varnell said.
Regardless, Varnell promises that what people will see on Oct. 5 is "as close to what actually happened as we can get."
Varnell and his committee began planning for the re-enactment last year when the historical marker was displayed at the 2012 Frontier Day event.
"The hardest thing for me to do has been to delegate stuff to other people," he said. "With a project of this size, you really need to depend on other people to help you. That’s good in this case, because we’ve got a lot of good people working on this."