May 16-18, 1911 Confederate Veterans Reunion in Little Rock Pictures and story (Part 4)

Best of Shelby Foote

I really enjoyed the article “REBEL GRAY’S GOLDEN DAYS: In 1911, LR filled to the brim with Confederate veterans,” by Jake Sandlin that ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on May 15, 2011. It took 81 years before more people to gather in Little Rock for another event (Bill Clinton’s election to president)  I will be sharing portions of it the next few days and here is the fourth part: 

A Gazette headline on May 19 proclaimed that Little Rock had hosted 106,800 visitors. That figure was based on the number of train passengers and was often used as a total. Other estimates push the number to 120,000, Gurley said.

“When you include the people who rode horses in or drove in, the more accurate estimate is 140,000,” Gurley said of total reunion attendance.

An “unexpected rush,” the newspaper reported, of about 500 early arrivals came three days before the reunion’s start. Another 8,000 came the next day. The Reunion Committee had preregistered about 1,500 veterans and made arrangements for only 5,500.

“We are literally swamped,” the Arkansas Gazette quoted Judge William M. Kavanaugh, the chairman of the reunion executive committee, and for whom Little Rock’s Kavanaugh Boulevard is named. “We are confronted by a crisis.”

Kavanaugh put out a plea also through the newspapers urging residents “to open your homes.”

“They were quite surprised and quite stunned, really, by the number who came into the city,” Gurley said. “They lived up to the task, you have to give them credit. The city fathers went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure everyone’s experience in Little Rock would be quite memorable.”

Confederate veterans pose for photo with camp commander Robert G. Shaver while attending the United Confederate Veterans Reunion in Little Rock (Pulaski County); May 1911. Shaver stands third from the left in the front row.

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