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Pea Ridge National Military Park
Pea Ridge National Military Park
15930 HWY 62, Garfield Arkansas 72732
Headquarters Phone:  479-451-8122     FAX:  479-451-0219
  • Pea Ridge Civil War 'Living Community' Photos - March 2005 Series
  • Ozark Merchants Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery
    Battle of Pea Ridge -- March 7th and 8th, 1862
    Fee Site - Check in at Visitor's Center
    Pea Ridge National Military Park, Benton Co. Arkansas,
    Commemorates and Preserves the site of the pivotal March, 1862 battle.
    Elkhorn Tavern is located at the junction of the old Military (Telegraph) and Huntsville Roads
    Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery
    Map from Park Brochure
       Pea Ridge National Military Park is a 4,300 acre Civil War Battlefield that preserves the site of the March 1862 battle that saved Missouri for the Union. On March 7 & 8, nearly 26,000 soldiers fought to determine whether Missouri would remain under Union control, and whether or not Federal armies could continue their offensive south through the Mississippi River Valley. Major General Earl Van Dorn led 16,000 Confederates against 10,250 Union soldiers, under the command of Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis. Van Dorn's command consisted of regular Confederate troops commanded by Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch, and Missouri State Guard Forces commanded by Major General Sterling Price. The Confederate force also included some 800 Cherokees fighting for the Confederacy. The Union army consisted of soldiers from Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. Half of the Federals were German immigrants. The park also includes a two and one half mile segment of the Trail of Tears. The Elkhorn Tavern, site of bitter fighting on both days, is a NPS reconstruction on the site of the original. The park is one of the most well preserved battlefields in the United States.
    Elkhorn Tavern Battle Oil Painting 'On the Battery' by Andy Thomas on display at PRNMP Courtesy of Maze Creek Studio
    Photograph of Oil Painting 'On the Battery'  by Andy Thomas
    on display at PRNMP Courtesy of Maze Creek Studio
    Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery
       The Battle:  On March 7 & 8, 1862, the Federal Army of the Southwest, under the command of Brigadier General Samuel Ryan Curtis defeated the combined Confederate Army of the West commanded by Major General Earl Van Dorn. The battle would decide whether Missouri would remain in the Union or would join the Confederacy. Along with the capture of Forts Henry & Donelson in Western Tennessee, the decisive Federal victory at Pea Ridge set in motion the Federal campaigns in the West that would lead to the eventual Northern victory in 1865.

    On the night of March 6, Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn set out to outflank the Union position near Pea Ridge, dividing his army into two columns. Learning of Van Dorn's approach, the Federals marched north to meet his advance on March 7. This movement--compounded by the killing of two generals, Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch and Brig. Gen. James McQueen McIntosh, and the capture of their ranking colonel--halted the Rebel attack. Van Dorn led a second column to meet the Federals in the Elkhorn Tavern and Tanyard area. By nightfall, the Confederates controlled Elkhorn Tavern and Telegraph Road. The next day, Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, having regrouped and consolidated his army, counterattacked near the tavern and, by successfully employing his artillery, slowly forced the Rebels back. Running short of ammunition, Van Dorn abandoned the battlefield. The Union controlled Missouri for the next two years.

    Pea Ridge COULD have been a great Confederate victory. The Army of the West marched into battle with more men and more artillery than the Army of the Southwest. The Federal forces were 250 miles from their supply base in the middle of winter. Morale in the Confederate army was high. The men were ready and confident of victory. But the commander, Earl Van Dorn, squandered his advantages.

    The Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge, resulted from the complete lack of leadership on the Southern side. Earl Van Dorn handled the Army of the West with almost criminal negligence. He failed to plan for any option other than complete victory, marched his men too hard, given the weather and road conditions, and did not have adequate supplies for the campaign. His lack of control, especially at Leetown, let a major opportunity to destroy Curtis slip away, and his failure to call up his ammunition and supply trains from Camp Stephens on the night of March 7 led directly to the Confederate defeat.

    The rest of the Confederate leadership bears a large measure of responsibility for the defeat as well. McCulloch and McIntosh were both killed while acting in a capacity other than a division commander -- McCulloch while acting as a scout and McIntosh while acting as a regimental commander. After their deaths and Hébert's capture, no one in McCulloch's Division stepped forward and took charge allowing an opportunity to destroy Curtis to slip away.
    Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery
    Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery Ozark Region Civil War Reenactment Photo Gallery
       The Telegraph Road   has shaped the history of Northwest Arkansas more than any other land feature. It has brought settlers, commerce, prosperity and war to the region. Many parts of the original road still exist and are in use today.

    Until the mid-1840s, the road was used primarily by the Army to move supplies and correspondence between Springfield, Missouri and the garrison at Fort Smith, Arkansas. During this period, it was referred to as the Military Road. In 1838, thousands of Cherokee Indians moved along the Military Road near the end of their forced exodus from their ancestral homes in Georgia and the Carolinas. Due to the extreme hardships endured along the way, the route, including the Military Road, became known by the Cherokees as the Trail of Tears.

    As the frontier moved west and the threat of Indian attack diminished, the Army reduced its presence in the region. The road, now known as the Springfield to Fayetteville Road, became the region's primary route for commerce with Missouri. Small towns began to develop along the road, including Bentonville, the region's second largest community and the county seat for Benton County. From 1840 to 1860, Benton County's population increased over 300% as the road brought settlers to the region, many of them farmers and hunters from Tennessee.

    The Butterfield Overland Stage began running along the road in 1858. Two years later, in 1860, the region's first telegraph line was strung along the road, giving the road its last, and most enduring name - the Telegraph or Wire Road. The line ran from Springfield, Missouri to Fort Smith, but was cut less than a year later when Arkansas seceded from the Union.
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    Prairie Grove Battlefield in Northwest Arkansas

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           P.O. Box 58, Hardy Arkansas 72542
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