KAREN LAWLESS/Barrett Family Branches


Following is Karen Lawless’ story of her family’s visit to Arkansas Post National Memorial in November, 2003. Karen is a descendant of Peter B. Irvine, who died during the battle. The story passed down in her family is that Captain Wooldridge buried Peter on the battlefield.

The burial place of the men who fell at the battle has never been located, but it is possible that the men of the Twenty-fourth Regiment were buried within the Riflepits where they were positioned. It is also possible they were buried in a mass grave where the "pond" is now located, behind the museum.

My family and I visited the National Memorial at Arkansas Post on the way home from Tennessee last November.  Boy, what a remote area.  We spent the night in Pine Bluff and got up the next morning and drove out there. Ranger Eric was not on duty that day, but his assistant, Donna Robertson, was very nice and was excited to get the info on Peter B Irvine, which I brought for their vertical files. 

I was very moved to be there and took lots of pictures.  My girls were not very interested, but at their age, I expected that.  When they are older, they will grasp the significance of what took place here and be able to imagine their own flesh and blood fighting on the very ground where we stood.

My husband and I walked out to the rifle pit area. 

We were not really sure exactly where the pits were. 

There were slight indentations in the ground about 25 feet behind the "sign" that tells about the rifle pits and the battle. 

Then, much further back through the woods was an actual ditch-like trench, but we had a short hike back to it.  Ranger Eric wrote later that it was the remains of a 1930s roadcut that led to the park.  

We stood at the spot where the 24th Regiment supposedly was positioned.   

I'm so sorry that Peter had to die in that battle, but glad that he died in such a beautiful place.  I hope somehow he knows that I came to see his death and burial place and knows that he is remembered with pride. 

I've decided to put a memorial grave stone in our family cemetery at Old Danville Cemetery for him.  The president of Daughters of Confederacy, Anna Shepeard, (Magnolia Rangers, Humble, TX) said that the chapter would hold a dedication at the cemetery in Danville when I get the stone. 

We will figuratively return him home to rest with the other members of the family like Minerva, his wife, set out to do back in 1863 when she sent a servant in an unsuccessful attempt to bring his body home.  We can't return his remains, but we can return his "memory".

The ending to my own personal journey in researching Grandfather Peter will be to bring his memory back to his homeplace in the form of a memorial headstone; his story has always haunted me, and I feel as though honoring him in this way would be closure.

(by Karen Lawless, December, 2003)


Karen Lawless

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