Friday, January 8, 2010

Confederate Section of Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, Arkansas

A walk through the Confederate Section of Van Buren's picturesque Fairview Cemetery provides a haunting reminder of just how brutal the year 1862 was for the Southern forces in Arkansas.

Row after row of headstones, many of them marked as "Unknown," bring a great deal of reality to the brutal cost of the Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove Campaigns. This is especially true because, with a few exceptions, the men and boys buried here did not die in combat. Instead, they suffered from horrible battle wounds and debilitating disease. Often linger in misery for days and weeks before finally breathing their last.

These men were the hard luck soldiers of the Western frontier. Some of them marched through winter snows and ice with no shoes and threadbare uniforms literally falling off of their emaciated bodies as they followed Van Dorn to Pea Ridge and Hindman to Prairie Grove. Unlike many others, they did not desert and slip away into the mountains or through the lines to join the Federal forces. Instead they stood their ground and fought fiercely and bravely for the cause in which they believed.

Walking the beautifully preserved and landscaped battlefields of Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge today, it is difficult to really conceive the brutality that took place on such picturesque fields and ridges. But a walk through Fairview provides a sobering reminder of just how brutal the war was for the men in the ranks.

To learn more about the cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, please visit

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