Van Buren residents probably thought the loud noise they heard Saturday morning (Oct. 6) was thunder, but it was cannon fire ringing out as it did in 1862 when Union troops attacked Confederate-held Van Buren.
Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the attack on the Confederate held Van Buren by Federal troops, the Drennen Scott Historic Site held infantry demonstrations, living history demonstrations, and artillery demonstrations for guests throughout the early morning and afternoon on Saturday. The event included tours of the house and firing of the cannon.
Guests didn't let the rain and cold keep them from coming out and seeing the demonstrations. However, some of the events had to be moved indoors because of the rain and cool temperatures.
Part of the event included a power point slide show with real pictures from the Drennen-Scott family during the Civil War. Leita Spears — portrayed Elizabeth Shibley during the living history demonstration — told the story of her sons joining the troops to fight in the war.
As a special presentation, Tom Wing, director of the site managed by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, and a group of volunteers demonstrated firing a heavy artillery piece on loan from the Arkansas State Park System. In 1862, Union troops surprised a force of Confederates, driving them across the Arkansas River. The Federal troops set up gun positions near the Drennen-Scott house and shelled the steamboat landing in Van Buren.
Wing said the Drennen-Scott Site dates back to the 1830s and serves as an educational facility for UAFS students.
The house contains furniture, papers, and a wealth of artifacts including a set of 12 solid silver tumblers made from John Drennen’s horse race winnings.
The Drennen-Scott house also features original paintings and photographs of the Arkansas Traveler that was created by artist Edward Payson Washburn near Russellville in the 1850s. The painting and other related items comprise the “Arkansas Traveler” exhibit, which can be seen through the end of November at the Drennen-Scott Historic Site in Van Buren, according to literature about the historic site. The exhibit is on loan from the Little Rock-based Historic Arkansas Museum and should attract the attention of many area residents and visitors, Wing said.