Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Battle of Dripping Springs, Arkansas

This photo shows the ground across which the Union troops advanced during the Battle of Dripping Springs on December 28, 1862. One of the little known episodes of the Civil War in Arkansas, this encounter took place as part of an important expedition following the Battle of Prairie Grove.

Having given their forces time to recover from the severe fight at Prairie Grove, Union commanders decided to push across the Boston Mountains in the dead of winter and strike at the Confederate forces on the Arkansas River at Van Buren. Following the tactical draw at Prairie Grove, General Thomas Hindman (C.S.) had pulled back to Van Buren and moved most of his battered forces across the river to camps around Fort Smith. A cavalry force was left a few miles north of Van Buren at Dripping Springs with orders to push scouts up the Cove Creek Road to watch for any movement by the Federal troops.

On December 27, 1862, despite cold weather, ice and snow, Union Generals Blunt and Herron left their camps at Prairie Grove, Rhea's Mill and Cane Hill with 8,000 men and 30 pieces of artillery. Herron came down the old Telegraph Road, while Blunt moved across Reed's Mountain from Cane Hill to the Cove Creek Road. Conditions were horrendous. Blunt's men were forced to splash through 33 crossings of Cove Creek (the road runs straight up the creek valley and is crossed many times by the winding waters of the creek). Herron's men had to pull their artillery over the mountain tops and ridges on the Telegraph Road, sometimes using as many as 50 men and 12 horses to pull single guns over the hills with ropes.

The two forces finally met at Oliver's Store, north of Dripping Springs, at 3 a.m. on the morning of December 28, 1862.

We'll continue our look at the Battle of Dripping Springs over the next few days. In the meantime, you can read more and see additional photos by going to and looking the link under the "Battlefields and Forts" heading in the left had column.

No comments: