Monday, March 31, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
This is part one of a new series on the Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas. Over the next several days, we will explore the history of this important engagement and look at some sites associated with the battle as they appear today.
The Battle of Cane Hill is often treated by historians as a preliminary episode of the Battle of Prairie Grove. While this is technically true, it was also a significant encounter in its on right that involved thousands of troops and dozens of pieces of artillery.
The battle took place when Union General James G. Blunt attacked the Cane Hill (sometimes spelled "Canehill") settlements on the morning of November 28, 1862. The community was held by around 2,000 Confederates under General John S. Marmaduke.
Blunt's men emerged from the hills and ravines north of Cane Hill at daybreak and quickly engaged Marmaduke's men in a battle that would continue for the rest of the day. Over 9,000 men took part in the fight, that raged over 15 miles of mountain country.
Watch for our next post as we begin to explore the history of this important battle. Until then, you can read more by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ARCaneHill
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
When Confederate armies assembled and mobilized around Fort Smith at the time of the 1862 Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove campaigns, Massard Prairie was a vast military campsite. The presence of streams of water, excellent grass for livestock and the proximity to the town and post of Fort Smith made the prairie an ideal place for the Confederate armies to camp.
Much of the prairie has been lost to modern development. Factories, homes and even the Fort Smith Regional Airport now occupy ground that once looked much like this. This section of original prairie can be seen from Geren Road.
Massard Prairie was also the sight of one of the most dramatic cavalry charges of the Civil War. More on that is coming up this week here at Arkansas in the Civil War, along with news on the release of my new book, The Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas.
Friday, March 14, 2008
If you wish to help, donations in situations like this can always be made through the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
By the end of the day on March 7, 1862, the Confederates under Gen. Price had pushed past Elkhorn Tavern. They followed the retreating Federals and took up positions south of the tavern looking out onto the fields across which their enemy was reforming.
Although they had been victorious on their sector of the battlefield, the Confederates were exhausted. Ammunition and other supplies were running short, largely because Gen. Van Dorn had pushed his army forward to Pea Ridge at such a rate that his supply trains were unable to keep up.
Federal troops, meanwhile, achieved a dramatic reversal of front that continues to be studied by military students to this day. Curtis turned his entire army around and during the night of March 7 formed his troops facing the Confederates.
Dawn broke on the morning of March 8, 1862, the battered Confederates found themselves facing a fully arrayed and fresh Union army. No supplies had yet come up and most of the Southern troops who had fought on the Leetown sector of the battlefield had not reached Elkhorn by the time the battle resumed.
Bold to a fault, Gen. Van Dorn formed three of his batteries on either side of Telegraph Road and began a fierce artillery duel with the Federal batteries facing him. The firing started at 8 a.m., opening a second day of fighting.
The Confederate guns, however, soon began to fall silent. Ammunition was running out. Union artillery soon began to inflict severe losses on the Southern cannon crews as counter-battery fire from the Confederate lines diminished.
The tide of the Battle of Pea Ridge had turned.
Our series on Pea Ridge will continue in our next posting. Until then, you can read more by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
As he arrived with his division at Leetown to the right and rear of the Federal right flank and found the Confederates there in force, Union Col. Peter Osterhaus deployed his infantry along a treeline and sent his cavalry forward into an open field. They were quickly driven back by Confederate cavalry.
The Confederates greatly outnumbered Osterhaus and planned to launch three separate attacks on this segment of the battlefield. General Ben McCulloch planned to attack Osterhaus' infantry with his man force, while Col. Lewis Hebert moved through Morgan's Woods and struck the Federal right flank. General Albert Pike's warriors from Indian territory would operate on the Confederate right.
Gen. McCulloch rode forward to take a closer look at the arrangement of the Union lines before launching his attack. It proved to be a fatal decision. He was shot and killed by Federal skirmishers.
His second-in-command, General James McIntosh, now assumed command of the attack. He was killed less than 15 minutes later, however, while leading a regiment forward. The Confederate attack disintegrated as command and control broke down on the battlefield. Other Confederate officers had no way of knowing that both generals were dead and so no one stepped forward to assume command of the attack. Osterhaus had held.
Col. Hebert was now the division commander, but had already moved with his men into Morgan's Woods following orders to attack the Union right flank. He drove back two Union regiments and captured part of a battery, but his attack became disorganized in the thick woods. Things became so confusing that some Confederates fired into the backs of their own men.
Since the attack on his front had fallen back, Osterhaus now swung his command to the to the right and struck Hebert's flank. Another force of Union troops under Col. Davis soon attacked the Hebert's other flank and his command disintegrated. The colonel himself became confused as he tried to escape the debacle and went in the wrong direction, only to be captured near Curtis' headquarters.
The Confederate attack at Leetown had failed and two promising Southern generals - Ben McCulloch and James McIntosh - had been killed. The Battle of Pea Ridge, however, was just beginning.
Our series on the battle will continue in the next post. Until then you can read more by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.
We are marking the 146th anniversary of the battle with a new series here at Arkansas in the Civil War. Over the next week, we will look in depth at the Battle of Pea Ridge (also called the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern) and explore some of the key sites on the battlefield.
The battle began on March 7, 1862, when the Confederate Army of the West, commanded by Major General Earl Van Dorn, launched an uncoordinated attack on the right flank and rear of the Union Army of the Frontier, commanded by Major General Samuel R. Curtis.
Pea Ridge was one of the few major battles of the Civil War in which the Confederate forces outnumbered the Union forces. Van Dorn brought an army of 16,000 men and 65 cannon into the fight, compared to the Union force of 10,500 men and 52 cannon.
Van Dorn's primary strategy was to sweep around the left flank of the Union army and surprise Curtis with a devastating attack on his flank and rear. The Union forces were then entrenched in a line overlooking Little Sugar Creek in northern Benton County, Arkansas. Despite severe cold and the exhausted state of his men, Van Dorn committed them to battle on March 7, 1862, without waiting for his supply trains to come up or for his forces to move completely into position. His attack was intended to encounter an invasion of Northwest Arkansas by Curtis, who had moved into the region in February and penetrated as far south as Fayetteville.
General Curtis was meeting with his subordinate generals behind his lines at Pratt's Store on the morning of March 7, 1862, when couriers reported that Confederates were present in force on the Ford Road just north of the little hamlet of Leetown. A second report soon indicated that more Southern troops were coming south down the Telegraph Road. All of these sites are now part of Pea Ridge National Military Park. Curtis sent Colonel Peter Osterhaus with his division to intercept the Confederates at Leetown, while Colonel Eugene Carr marched north with Colonel Grenville Dodge's brigade to unveil the situation up the Telegraph Road.
Osterhaus reached Leetown to find that the reports were correct and that a major Confederate offensive was sweepingdown on the Union right flank.
Our series on the Battle of Pea Ridge will continue later today. Until then, you can read more by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.