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Statewide Culture 5

Arkansas Civil War History – 9 Must-Visit Landmarks


Arkansas is chock full of history, one of the many reasons to love the Natural State. And if you happen to be a Civil War buff, you’re definitely in luck with all of the many sites and landmarks our beautiful state has to offer.

Our family loves a good historical travel experience. History adds so much depth and meaning to travel. It builds a library of experiences within the traveling soul.

While I could share an entire list of all Arkansas Civil War sites, interpretive markers, and battlefields, that might be a little overwhelming because there are so many.

Instead, I’ve picked a few from different regions of Arkansas. These are places you may want to add to your weekend getaway or summer adventures with your kids. And often, there are other interesting places to visit in the vicinity of each landmark. Dig out your map, and let’s go exploring.

1. Historic Washington State Park

After the Union captured Little Rock in 1863, Washington became the Confederate capital of Arkansas. Visiting Historic Washington State Park is like taking a step back in time. Tour historic structures that have been preserved and restored; experience living history demonstrations; and enjoy a meal at Williams’ Tavern Restaurant, built in 1832.

Jacksonport State Park

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Parks & Tourism

2. Jacksonport State Park

Jacksonport State Park is a river port that was occupied by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War. The park’s 1872 courthouse houses several exhibits; park interpreters offer a variety of programs to visitors, as well. Admission is free, and you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities, including camping, swimming, the Tunstall Riverwalk Trail, picnic tables, and more. 

3. Pea Ridge National Military Park

We visit Pea Ridge National Military Park quite often; it’s actually one of our favorite places to get away and hike because the park is a quiet, peaceful spot. According to the National Park Service…

On March 7-8, 1862, over 23,000 soldiers fought here to decide the fate of Missouri and was a turning point of the war in the West. The 4,300-acre battlefield honors those who fought and died on these grounds. Pea Ridge was the most pivotal Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River and is one of the most intact Civil War battlefields in the United States.

The Visitor’s Center houses a group of interactive exhibits and a beautiful view of one of the battlefields. A loop driving tour takes visitors around the entire park with interpretive stops along the way. Don’t neglect to stop at Elkhorn Tavern, the only historic structure still standing in the park. 

4. Poison Springs Battlefield

Part of the Union Army’s Red River Campaign, Poison Springs Battleground State Park is the perfect place to picnic and explore outdoor interpretive exhibits. The first battle of the Red River Campaign at Poison Springs involved Confederate troops capturing a Union supply train. Two other parks that were a part of this campaign are Marks’ Mills Battleground State Park and Jenkins Ferry Battleground State Park.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Parks & Tourism

5. Helena, Arkansas

The Battle of Helena resulted in the loss of both Arkansas and control of the Mississippi River for the Confederates.  Hundreds of Freedmen fought in this battle. Take a half-day, full day, or two-day tour through all of the sites Helena has to offer, including the Delta Cultural Center, Freedom Park, Battery D, New Fort Curtis, the Polk House and Plantation, Maple Hill Cemetery, and more. 

6. Lakeport Plantation

The Lakeport Plantation house was built in 1859 near the Mississippi River. Open year-round, visitors can take a guided tour and explore exhibits surrounding the history of this plantation, including slavery and sharecropping.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Parks & Tourism

7. Headquarters House Museum

Headquarters House was a key location during the Battle of Fayetteville in 1863. It was built in 1853 and still stands in Fayetteville. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house and the grounds.

8. Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Prairie Grove Battlefield is the site of the last major Civil War battle in Northwest Arkansas. Every other even-numbered year, the park hosts the largest Civil War reenactment in Arkansas. On a more everyday basis, visitors can enjoy a Geocache Tour, a Driving Tour, Guided Walking Tour, Historic House Guided Tour, and Virtual Tour. The park also offers a picnic area, making it a great place for a day trip.

9. Old State House Museum

Originally the state capitol of Arkansas, the Old State House Museum in Little Rock has so many stories to tell. Rich in history, it was where the vote to secede and join the Confederacy took place; on the flip side, it was also where Arkansas was admitted to the Union. Visitors can choose between a guided tour and self-guided tour of all the history this museum has to offer.

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Arkansas Women Bloggers member Mel Lockcuff is a wife and homeschool mom to 3 boys, a family lifestyle blogger, freelance writer, and lover of the outdoors. She’s the owner and writer behind Adventures of Mel, where you'll find adventures in family, food, crafts, DIY, outdoor living, travel, and more. Mel’s work has also been featured in 66TheMotherRoad Magazine, as well as with Only in Arkansas, Visit Rogers Arkansas, Rhea Lana's, and Great Day Farms. Mel and her family live on a small 1-acre homestead in Northwest Arkansas.

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5 responses to “Arkansas Civil War History – 9 Must-Visit Landmarks”

  1. […] During the American Civil War, many young lasses lost loves to the realities of war. As beaus were buried, hopes of young ladies waiting for the joyful return of their fellows were dashed. But rather than a story of love lost, this is the story of love found and brought to bloom while performing the history of The Civil War in Arkansas. […]

  2. Jim holland says:

    Do you have any information about a camp ground in Greene county at the Campground Methodist church located near Paragould we are going to do a history day for a home school group thanks do you know anyone that could come and teach

  3. […] The Pea Ridge National Military Park, Prairie Grove Battlefield, Poison Springs battleground, the Battle of Helena grounds, and the Camden Expedition motorcycle trails represent battles fought on Arkansas soil. […]

  4. Ron Ferguson says:

    First, I would like to thank you for your program on Pea Ridge and Prarie Grove, Arkansas Civil War Battlefields. I have never been to the Prarie Grove park. However, I have been to the Pea Ridge site many times.
    Let me first explain. I am Ron Ferguson. I was born August 18, 1945 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My mother, in either 1951 or -52 took me over to the Pea Ridge Area. This was well before the “park” was developed. There was an older lady living there who said her parents owned the Elkhorn Tavern in 1862. She was 6 at the time. She described how she and her family hid in the cellar during the battle. In other words I got to meet someone who saw a Civil War battle.
    I am a product of the South. I had grandfathers who fought for the south. However I agree with you. This was a dark period in our history.
    I would appreciate a chance to visit with you. Could I call you sometime?
    Ron Ferguson

  5. […] played a pivotal role in history through several significant Civil War battles fought in multiple parts of the state. Eight trails are designated heritage sites with mapped […]

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