May 16-18, 1911 Confederate Veterans Reunion in Little Rock Pictures and story (Part 6)

The American Civil War Part 1 The Union

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 sixth part: 

Participants included veterans, dignitaries, bands, and Reunion Queen Kathleen Barkman and her maids of honor in a float drawn by four gray horses. Parade estimates were of 12,000-15,000 participants, with up to 150,000 onlookers. Veterans of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry were among those in the parade on horseback.

“Here and there was a veteran with a leg missing, or with an empty coat sleeve pinned to his breast,” the Arkansas Gazette reported. Many veterans carried “tattered Southern flags … worn and shot riddled.”

One of the parade’s famed participants was known only as a Civil War drummer from Georgia. The one-time “drummer boy” marched and beat his drum until almost collapsing from the heat on the parade’s countermarch, the Gazette reported. He insisted on continuing until the end, where he was seen by a physician and was reported to have recovered.

Fourteen bands from across the South played Southern favorites while marching. “There was no telling how many times ‘Dixie’ was played,” one newspaper account said, “but it could have been played a thousand times and still would have been greeted with great enthusiasm.”

From all accounts, the 1911 Confederate reunion earned Little Rock great praise.

“From a tourist perspective, it was a huge success,” McAteer said. “There was to be no one who would not have a place to sleep or not be fed. The community got together and took care of them while they were here.”

Little Rock again hosted the United Confederate Veterans Reunion in 1928 and in 1949, the latter being attended by only four veterans. The oldest among them was 103 years old.

Photographs for these articles were provided by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, both in Little Rock. Other art elements were obtained from the archives of the Arkansas Democrat, the Arkansas Gazette and The News and Courier of Charleston, S.C.

Benjamin H. Crowley, delegate to the 1911 United Confederate Veterans Reunion. Crowley was the grandson of Benjamin Crowley, who helped found Greene County and after whom Crowley’s Ridge is named.

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