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An Enduring Union: Arkansas in the Civil War

The Old State House Museum will observe the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with five exhibits over the next four years. The Old State House building was the seat of both the Union and Confederate governments in Arkansas during the conflict. The first of the museum’s five Civil War exhibits, An Enduring Union: Arkansas in the Civil War, is now open.

An Enduring Union examines why Arkansas commemorates its Civil War veterans and features artifacts documenting the post-war Confederate and Union veteran reunions in the state. After the end of the Civil War, veterans sought occasions to remember their wartime experiences, celebrate heroism and honor those who died. Although a majority of reunions were separate Union or Confederate events, the reunions eventually symbolized national reunification. Veterans’ reunions were punctuated by speeches, picnics, parades, and the dedication of memorials. Little Rock was selected to host the 1911 National Reunion, and the city more than doubled in size during that time!

The Old State House Museum maintains a large collection of Arkansas-related veterans’ reunion memorabilia, Blue and Gray. Many of these unique items are part of the exhibit, An Enduring Union. Other impressive artifacts, including photographs, medals, memorabilia and uniforms, will help visitors understand the significance of the American Civil War and its impact on our state.

An Enduring Union will be followed by four other Civil War-related exhibits in upcoming years. Wall of Fire, highlighting battles in Arkansas, will open in 2012. In February, the Old State House Museum was awarded a Save America’s Treasure's Grant that, with the additional private donations received, will enable the museum to conserve two recently-acquired battle flags so that they may be exhibited in 2012. What is to Become of Us (2013) will explore Union occupation. Desolation Met Our Gaze will portray how Arkansas’s home front was devastated by the war and opens in 2014. The fifth exhibit is slated for 2015; A Strict Observance of the Law concerns Reconstruction.