Did you know that one of the finest museums in the state charges no admission, is both family friendly as well as a serious resource for historians and, best of all, is only an hour’s drive from Natchitoches? Camp Beauregard, the Louisiana National Guard Base in Pineville, hosts the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum. The museum is set in a purpose built replica of a WW II era army barracks and is flanked by outdoor aircraft and vehicle displays.
The museum holds about 3800 artifacts concerning Louisiana’s extensive contributions to our nation’s military history. The items on display range in age from the colonial times to the present day. The eclectic collection has everything from uniforms to weapons and equipment, including items captured from enemy forces. One of the more interesting items is a tattered Japanese flag that flew over the Hiroshima area during the dropping of the atomic bomb.
One of the more interesting aspects of the museum is that while its collection of equipment, weapons and uniforms is truly impressive, the museum is about more than that. It tells the often little known details of history. For example, there is a display honoring the Code Talkers of WWII. The Navaho who were used by the Navy and Marines in the Pacific became the best known of the code talker units, but they were not the only ones. The Comanche tribe, among others, served in the Army during WWII. The display shows them in both the Louisiana Maneuvers and in combat. This is one of the many interesting facts that make the museum a true delight to visit. The curator has an encyclopedic knowledge of the artifacts and exhibits and is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge with visitors.
The Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum is well worth a visit. They have something for every age and level of interest.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is free. Note: The museum is located in Camp Beauregard, so visitors will have to show a driver’s license at the gate.