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Acquisition ceremony set for Prairie D’Ane Battlefield

By submitted, 02/13/18 1:08 PM


PRECSOTT – As the Elkins’ Ferry Battlefield acquisition process drew to a close in August 2016, Dr. Nathan Patrick Hale announced he had a portion of the Prairie D’Ane Battlefield that he wanted to sell for preservation and development as a heritage tourism site.

The land lies immediately adjacent to I-30 at the Highway 19 exit. The Civil War Trust had the 808-acre tract appraised and the appraisal came in at $1.4 million. Dr. Hale made the generous offer to sell it for $900,000 – a $500,000 charitable contribution. The Civil War Trust and Dr. Hale have signed an agreement confirming that contribution and calling for the sale to be concluded by December 2017.

Prairie D’Ane was the scene of skirmishing from April 10-12, 1864, as Confederate forces sought to block an anticipated thrust by Steele’s Union army toward the Rebel state capital at Washington. There was a spirited artillery duel on subject property on April 10, 1864, followed by sporadic skirmishing on April 11. The entire Union army moved forward on April 12, only to find that the Confederates had abandoned their works and fallen back to cover approaches to Washington. This ended the Union advance toward Shreveport, and Steele lost the strategic initiative as he turned his starving army toward Camden. He remained on the defensive for the rest of the campaign. Prairie D’Ane marked the high tide for the Union during the Camden Expedition.

The National Park Service describes the Prairie D’Ane Battlefield: “While portions of the battlefield have been altered by road construction and growth around the town of Prescott, most of the historic landscape retains good integrity. Prairie D’Ane … will continue to suffer development pressures if preservation of the landscape does not occur in the near future. Prairie D’Ane should be viewed as the highest priority for its protection among the Camden Expedition battlefields given its current good condition and the continuing threat of development.”

The Prairie D’Ane Battlefield was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 22, 1974, and designated a National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1994.
As the effort to acquire the Prairie D’Ane battlefield continued, the Nevada County organizations hired Mudpuppy and Waterdog, Inc., of Versailles, Kentucky, to develop an interpretive plan that will incorporate both the Elkins’ Ferry and Prairie D’Ane Battlefields, in addition to skirmish sites between Arkadelphia and Elkins’ Ferry. This plan has been completed and will enable efforts to commence immediate development of the battlefields as heritage tourism resources.

In August 2016 a fund-raising campaign began in order to purchase the Prairie D’Ane Battlefield. In 2017 The American Battlefield Protection Program provided a grant for one-half of the appraised value: $700,000, leaving only $200,000 for the remainder of the purchase price because of Dr. Hale’s contribution. The additional fund raising was successful with the help of the following contributors: Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Senator Bruce Maloch & Senator Larry Teague $50,000, Historic Preservation Program $40,000, Kitty Sloan $35,000, Sturgis Trust $20,000, Charitable Foundation $10,000, Nevada County Quorum Court $5,000, City of Prescott $5,000, Bank of Prescott $5,000, Bank of Delight $5,000, Ross Foundation $5,000, Nevada County Depot and Museum $2,660, and a wide network of supporters for preserving the battlefield donated the remaining $17,340. The Civil War Trust, which has stated that it will cover half of the closing costs and as with Elkins’ Ferry, the American Battlefield Protection Program will cover the other half of the closing costs.

The Nevada County Depot Museum, in cooperation with the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office, lead the fund-raising effort and will hold title to the property after its purchase; the AHPP will hold an easement on this property.

Plans are to preserve both Elkins Ferry and Prairie D’Ane Battlefield sites for this historic value as well as economic potential as a source of heritage tourism for Nevada County and the region.

On Friday, February 23,at 2 p.m., there will be a ceremony presenting the deed for the 808 acres of Prairie D’Ane Battlefield to the Nevada County Depot and Museum. The Acquisition ceremony will take place at First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 201 East Main Street, Prescott, Arkansas. Mike Preston, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission will be the guest speaker. Mark Christ, Community Outreach Director for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program will also speak. Carl Drexler, Archeologist Assistant with SAU in Magnolia, will have artifacts discovered at Elkins Ferry Battlefield on display. The Friends of Nevada County Battlefields, Nevada County Depot and Museum and the Economic Development Office invite everyone to attend this historic event.


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