Sounds from cannon fire will reverberate from the hillside over downtown Van Buren on Saturday, Oct. 12, when a series of Civil War programs and demonstrations are conducted at the Drennen-Scott Historic Site.
This is the third annual program to be held there, according to site director Tom Wing and will include the use of a three-inch ordnance rifle.
“This is what the Union Army used widely throughout the war,” said Wing, “and we will be demonstrating the authentic Civil war firing drill. We’ll shoot it the way they did -- but not with a live round, just blanks.”
The hourly presentations begin at 10 a.m., with the last one at 4 p.m. at the site, 221 N. 3rd St. in Van Buren. Programs will be presented by Wing, his University of Arkansas - Fort Smith students and community volunteers.
Wing said there is definitely a tie-in to the Civil War for the Fort Smith and Van Buren region.
“We have excavated Civil War evidence of soldiers having been at the Drennen-Scott Historic Site,” said Wing, “including a button from a Union uniform and a fuse from an artillery shell.”
The hourly programs will cover infantry and artillery, as well as civilian life during the war, relating how Van Buren was affected in 1862.
“In December of 1862 after the Battle of Prairie Grove in Northwest Arkansas,” said Wing, “Federal troops pushed down into the Arkansas River Valley, sending Confederate forces to seek refuge in Fort Smith. Federal troops sunk steamboats, burned warehouses and brought the war to the people of Crawford County.”
Wing said the Union forces withdrew back into Northwest Arkansas after two weeks, not returning until September 1863 and remaining in Western Arkansas until the end of the war.
“The Drennen-Scott house was a witness to the events in Van Buren of 1862,” Wing said. “It is fitting and proper that we should stop and remember, as well as try to understand, our Civil War history.”
The first year UAFS offered a similar program at the Drennen house was in 2011 as part of a Van Buren sesquicentennial celebration. Wing said UAFS decided to repeat the program last year and again this year.
UAFS acquired the Drennen home and acreage in 2005 and received several grants to restore the property and house, which dates back to the 1800s. The Drennen-Scott Historic Site, which opened to the public in May 2011, serves as a museum and educational facility for UAFS. John Drennen was a founder of Van Buren, politician, Indian agent, landowner and businessman.
The home was purchased from descendants of John Drennen and Charles Scott -- Caroline Bercher of Lavaca, Scott Bulloch of Van Buren and Drennen Bulloch of Little Rock. The three are fifth-generation descendants of the home's original owner, John Drennen.
“One of the special things about Drennen-Scott is we have a family story that covers every major event in American history,” he said. “We can connect our visitors and students with real people from the past, the events that affected them, on the site where it happened.”
The house located on the property will also be open for tours during the day-long activities.
In addition to the Oct. 12 events, Wing will also present "A Rapid Lapse to Barbarism: The Civil War in Crawford County and Western Arkansas" from 2-4 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Drennen-Scott home. This talk is part of the Crawford County Chronicles series and requires advance registration.
The Oct. 12 activities are free and open to the public. No pre-registration is required. Some parking is available at the Visitor Center at the Drennen-Scott Historic Site, with additional parking two blocks away at the Crawford County Courthouse.
For more information, contact Wing by telephone at 479-262-2750 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.