Saturday, April 26, 2008
Massard Prairie, Part Three
Continuing with our series on the Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas, this photo is a close-up view of the plaque on the UDC monument on the battlefield..
As darkness fell on the night of July 26, 1864, Gano's men began their approach on Fort Smith. The general planned to let his men rest once they reached a point about four miles from the Union camp at Massard Prairie. In the darkness, however, the guides became lost themselves and the Confederates spent much of the night stumbling around looking for the right road. Finally assured that he was in the right place, Gano ordered his men to get some rest.
Two hours later, they were back up and in their saddles and ready to move out. It was quickly discovered, however, that instead of reaching their planned jumping off point four miles from Massard Prairie they were actually twice that distance away.
Determined to strike as quickly as possible, Gano continued forward. The advancing Confederates scattered a small party of Union pickets and rode up over the mountain on the south side of Fort Smith where the Fianna Hills subdivision is located today. Reaching the crest of the mountain, they could look out across the broad expanse of Massard Prairie and see the Union camp at the "Picnic Grove."
General Gano divided his command into two columns. The first, under Colonel Folsom, would swing to the right and strike the left or east side of the Union camp. The second, commanded by Gano in person, would swing to the left and strike the right or west side of the Union camp.
With their plans clear, the Southern horsemen started down the slope of the mountain to begin their attack at Massard Prairie.
Our series will continue, but until the next post you can read more by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/massardprairie Also please consider my new book, The Battle of Massard Prairie, now available by following the link. All proceeds from the book benefit historic preservation efforts in Arkansas.