The Battle Begins - Pea Ridge National Battlefield, AR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 36° 26.462 W 094° 01.933
15S E 407487 N 4033361
Quick Description: A short distance from here is the spring, the soldiers weary and angry came here to fill their canteens.
Location: Arkansas, United States
Date Posted: 2/6/2015 2:27:33 AM
Waymark Code: WMNBCZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Where's George
Views: 0

Long Description:

County of site: Benton County
Location of marker: Military Rd., stop 1, Pea Ridge National Battlefield
Marker erected by: National Park Service

Marker text:

The Battle Begins
March 7, 1862
During the night 16,500 Confederates under Van Dorn had circled behind the 10,500 Union Soldiers entrenched along Little Sugar Creek

Union General Curtis, discovering the move, hurried one column north through Leetown and another to Elkhorn Tavern.

"Keeping Missouri in the Union was one of the prime objectives of the Federal government during the first year of the Civil War. It was the reason for the Battle of Wilson's Creek near Springfield, Missouri in August of 1861, and it was one of the reasons for the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas in March, 1862.

"The Pea Ridge Campaign began Christmas Day 1861, when General Samuel R. Curtis was appointed to command the Federal Southwestern District of Missouri. His main objective was to drive out the Confederates, and by mid February, 1862 his troops had chased Major General Sterling Price and the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard into Arkansas.

"In the Boston Mountains south of Fayetteville, Price joined forces with Brigadier General Ben McCulloch, and on March 4th, this combined 16,000 man army marched north under the command of Major General Earl Van Dorn.

"Their mission was to force their way back into Missouri and capture St. Louis, but Curtis' 10,500 Federals were waiting on the bluffs above Little Sugar Creek, part of the larger Pea Ridge plateau.

"Van Dorn knew that a frontal assault would be disastrous, so he swung north to come in from behind. Planning to strike at dawn on March 7th, his troops were hungry, cold and weary from a difficult three day march, and arrived hours behind schedule. McCulloch's Confederates fell so far behind that Van Dorn decided to divide his army temporarily, ordering McCulloch around the west end of Elkhorn Mountain, then east along Ford Road to rejoin Price's troops near Elkhorn Tavern. This gave Curtis time to turn his line around and prepare for the attack from behind.

"As McCulloch's troops, including two regiments of Cherokee Indians, were engaged in this maneuver, they ran into intensive fire near Leetown, which led to the killing of McCulloch and Brigadier General James McIntosh, and the capture of the ranking colonel. With the lack of command structure, McCulloch's men scattered from the field.

"Attacking east of Elkhorn Mountain, Van Dorn and Price fared better. Price's troops slowly and steadily pushed the Federals back until, at nightfall, they held Elkhorn Tavern and the crucial Telegraph and Huntsville Roads. During the night, survivors of McCulloch's Leetown fight joined them.

"On the morning of March 8th, General Curtis led his men in a counter attack of the tavern area. A two hour artillery barrage crippled the Confederate line, and a Union infantry attack broke their defenses. Realizing his ammunition was running low, Van Dorn ordered his troops to withdraw and The Battle of Pea Ridge was over. Afterwards, most of the Union and Confederate troops moved east of the Mississippi to fight in other campaigns. Missouri remained in the Union and politically neutral throughout the war, although it provided men and supplies to both sides." ~ Legends of America

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