Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Fort Smith, Arkansas - The Parade Ground
I continue today with our look at Fort Smith National Historic Site in Arkansas. This was the location of an important fort and military post during the Civil War.
The view shown here was taken from the south wall of the fort looking across the parade ground to the old barracks building. The left section of the brick building visible here is the highly altered original barracks of the fort. The second floor and the adjoining jail building were added after the war when the building was used by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.
During the Civil War, however, it was a military barracks. The basement included a dungeon-like jail known throughout the West as "Hell on the Border." The building now serves as the visitor center for the national historic site and offers displays on the Civil War in the region as well as a chance to tour the restored basement jail.
The barracks building is one of only two surviving structures from the Civil War era fort. Originally, though, a series of barracks and officers' quarters lined each side of the parade ground. The sites of the other buildings are now outlined by displays to help visitors better understand the appearance of the fort.
Our look at Fort Smith will continue.