The First Arkansas Infantry Reenactment Group fires the first of three volleys commemorating dedication of the Battle of Marks Mill Historical Marker at Marks Cemetery in Cleveland County, Arkansas. The ceremony on May 17, 2015, was part and parcel of the 138th Marks Family Reunion.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Pine Buff, Arkansas
The 138th annual version of what began in 1877 took place at Marks Cemetery in Cleveland County, Arkansas, south by southeast from Kingsland, Arkansas, on May 17, 2015. The event was the Marks Family Reunion. 2015 also happens to be the 150th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, ending the War Between the States.
The Marks family reunion began as a gathering of family members who were veterans of the war. See our June 2009 article and revisit the details of how the reunion started and grew. For even more information see our June 2011 article on the reunion.
Family Matters Most.
Doyle Taylor (front in uniform) of the First Arkansas Infantry Group and a noted Civil War historian provides some somber information on the roots of the conflict. To his left (right in the picture) is Edgar Colvin, husband of Sue Colvin, a Marks family descendant. Edgar Colvin is the de-facto curator and worker-bee for the outdoor museum that comprises the area around the cemetery. In the center is a grandchild who decided it was time to seek out a grandparent regardless of what the goings-on were.
There is another war connection to the Marks family. During the war, a large battle was joined on family property. It came to be called The Battle of Marks Mill. At the conclusion of the five-hour fight, the Confederates won out over the Union, capturing 1,100 Union soldiers, their equipment, weapons, and supplies. The battle was fought generally in the area of the cemetery. The official commemorative site, Marks Mill Battle State Park, is a few miles further southwest at the junction of Arkansas Highways 97 and 8.
The Troops Muster.
Members of the First Arkansas Infantry Reenactment Group of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, gather for a portrait after they conducted the dedication ceremony.
This being the sesquicentennial anniversary of the war's end, the Arkansas Heritage Commission authorized participating funds to erect a Civil War historical marker in each county. For Cleveland County, the site is the Marks Cemetery and the real site of the Battle of Marks Mill. Plans were made to dedicate the marker during the reunion. Then, plans were made for a re-enactment of the Battle of Marks Mill, but the only problem was the re-enactment had to be on the weekend of May 16 and 17. The reunion is traditionally held on the first Sunday in June.
The plans were etched in stone and the date was set. The reunion planners also made arrangements for the 1st Arkansas Infantry Reenactment Group to be on hand to commemorate dedication of the historical marker. Once the date was set, a Marks family descendant who resides in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia made plans to attend and participate with the reenactors. He made good on those plans. See Weekly Grist for more on one Thomas Maynard from Australia.
The biggest part of the rest of those detailed and grandiose plans came to naught when the United States Weather Service made dire prognostications for that corner of Mother Earth for the celebratory weekend. People stayed away in droves. Fortunately, enough family members were present to conduct the business of the cemetery and reunion association.
The other good news was easier parking for those of us who did attend — and the presence of the 1st Arkansas Infantry. The dedication came off without a hitch as did the pot-luck southern picnic. No one left hungry and all had a smile on their face as they departed.
A Sign of Good Order
You begin to get the idea that the Marks Cemetery site is well-organized and has something to see when you observe this sign north or south bound on Arkansas Highway 97.
On Down the Road....
A mile or so down the road, you can’t mistake the turn you must make to arrive at the cemetery. The Union and Confederate flags share the site as did the combatants.
Just Follow Old Glory.
On the left as you approach the turn to the cemetery, Old Glory points the way.
The Confederate colors confirm that you have made the correct turn. You cannot miss it from here. The site is rife with markers, artifacts, and historical information. Union and Confederate battle participants are held in equal honor.
But wait, there’s more.
See more of the reenactors
and the dedication ceremony,
including these reenactors
reloading their rifles
at Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.
Click, go and enjoy.