138 years and still counting

Civil War reenactment widows

Reenactor Civil War widows place flowers at the base of the new Battle of Marks Mill historical marker at Marks Cemetery prior to the First Arkansas Infantry Reenactors firing a three-volley salute as part of the dedication of the marker. After the war Confederate widows would place flowers on the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers. After a few years, the widows noticed that there were no flowers on Union soldiers graves. It occurred to the widows that the some Union soldiers families might have no idea where their fallen love ones were and even if they did, had no way to memorialize their fallen, so they began to decorate Union soldier graves as well. That same idea is the guiding principle of memorials in and around Marks Cemetery.

One hundred and thirty eight years ago, the Marks family of Cleveland County, Arkansas held their first family reunion. A week ago, they held their 138th. The first reunion consisted mainly of family veterans of the War Between the States. The most recent one included a direct Marks descendant who is a native of Australia. You kind of get the idea that the Marks family has been serious about their reunions since the get-go. You figured right. See more of the 2015 Marks Family Reunion and ceremony on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We will wait here while you look.

First Arkansas Infantry reenacators firing a salute

First Arkansas Infantry Reenactors Group members fire the second of three volleys at the dedication of the new Marks Cemetery Historical Marker.

Child interrupts Civil War reenactment ceremony

Click the pic to see this precocious child stroll into the dedication ceremony

The 2015 edition of the Marks family reunion coincides with the sesquicentennial celebration of the cessation of hostilities of the aforementioned war. Aside from furnishing cannon fodder for the Confederate Army, on April 25, 1864, the Marks family was unplanned host of a significant battle on their family property, the Battle of Marks Mill. The Confederates scored a big victory in the battle but it mattered for naught in the overall scheme of things since the surrender was a few days shy of 12 months away. On a local basis, the results of the battle caused the Union forces to reconsider where they would deploy troops.

Civil war reenactors reload after firing a salute

First Arkansas Infantry reenactors re-load for the third and final volley.

As part of the Civil War sesquicentennial observation, the Arkansas Heritage Commission encouraged and partially funded new historical markers recognizing a Civil War event in each county. In Cleveland County, the Battle of Marks Mill was the choice and the location selected was Marks Cemetery.

It was a good choice since the family has turned the area around the cemetery into a jam-up fine outdoor museum of the battle – and life in the mid 19th century. See our Marks Mill Battle and Cemetery Gallery  for a good look at what they’ve done. The first Arkansas Infantry Reenactment Group of Pine Bluff, Arkansas provided its troops and family members to participate in dedicating the historical marker. You may also want to check out our previous posts on the reunion, cemetery and battle: Our first post was on June 9, 2009; our second post was on June 6, 2011.

Edgar Colvin unveils a historical marker

Edgar Colvin, husband of Sue Colvin, a Marks family descendant unveils one side of the new Battle of Marks Mill Historical marker at Marks Cemetery. One side provides information on the battle. The other side describes the battle impact on and actions of the Marks family and is covered with a Confederate flag. Colvin is the de-facto curator and main worker-bee of the outdoor museum which comprises the Marks Cemetery area.

The memorials and markers in the park honor the memory of fallen soldiers on each side with no preferential treatment.The reunion had an international participant. Thomas Maynard of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, a direct Marks descendant traveled to visit relatives in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and participate in the dedication as a part of the First Arkansas Infantry Reenactors Group. We’re guessing there ain’t many other Aussie reenactors.

Thomas Maynard of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Thomas Maynard of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, a direct Marks family descendant and participant in the dedication ceremony as a First Arkansas Infantry reenactor.

If you really want to learn how to do a family reunion in the right way, contact the Marks family. They know how to do it right. Don’t even think about keeping up with them. You are 138 years behind at the get-go.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind