Dressed like a Union soldier, Ace Addington watched intently as the Union soldier reenactors cannon crew prepared to fire the cannon behind the visitor center at the Pea Ridge National Military Park Saturday.
The 9-year-old grandson of Mike and Starla Billington of Pea Ridge, Ace is the son of Vicki and Trent Addington and is in the third grade at Vaughn Elementary School.
Wearing a dark blue wool jacket, part of his "suit," Ace was outfitted with a cavalry hat, canteen, ammo case, belt and a wooden musket.
"I wanted to see all the stuff they're doing," he said, admitting that the loud boom of the cannon startles him when it goes off.
"I think it's cool!"
He said he has studied soldiers and likes learning about them.
"Ace is very passionate about all things military especially the Civil War and Revolutionary War," Starla said. "For Christmas and birthdays, we purchase military items for Ace. He has quite the collection so far to include a tent (like the ones they use in reenactments), the complete uniform with insignia, a bugle, jaw harp and kepi hat just to name a few. We, his whole family, are so very proud of his patriotic heart."
Hundreds of people visited the Pea Ridge National Military Park Saturday, March 4, 2023, to participate in the 161st anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge, the largest Civil War battle west of the Mississippi.
Troy Banzhaf, chief of interpretation, education and visitor services for the Pea Ridge National Military Park explained the operation of cannon and how they were used in the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862. Members of the cannon crew demonstrated each phase of loading and firing the cannon before setting them off.
At the Elkhorn Tavern, reenactors milled about visiting with one another. Some, in Union blue, representing members of the Missouri 24th, Company B, camped, marched and demonstrated artillery.
The battle, fought on March 7-8, 1862, was alternately known as the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, saved Missouri for the Union. More than 2,300 soldiers fought in what has been referred to as the most pivotal Civil War west of the Mississippi River.
For nearly a century, people continued to live on, to farm, to work the land until an act of Congress in 1956 created the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park. It was dedicated as a national park during the Civil War Centennial in 1963.