Monday, December 28, 2009

The Battle of Dripping Springs - December 28, 1862

The Union divisions led by Generals Blunt and Herron converged near Oliver's Store in northern Crawford County at around 3 o'clock on the morning of December 28, 1862. They did not rest long before General Blunt had them once again up and moving.

At Oliver's Store, the Union commanders learned that Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Crumps 1st Texas Partisan Rangers were camped at Dripping Springs on the main road to Van Buren. Moving ahead of the main army, Blunt and Herron advanced rapidly for Crump's camp with 3,000 cavalrymen and 4 howitzers. They began to skirmish with Crump's pickets almost immediately, but pushed forward so quickly that the main Confederate camp received very little warning of their approach.

Learning that the Federals were upon him, Crump formed his men into a line of battle on the northern slope of the hill where he was camped. The soldiers had been making their breakfasts when they received the urgent orders to prepare for battle.

As the outnumbered Confederates watched, the Union cavalry swung from column into a line of battle in the fields just north of their position. Moving up within range, the Federals opened fire with their carbines. After several rounds of fire, which was answered by the Confederates, Blunt ordered a mounted charge with sabers drawn.

The Federal line spurred forward. The 2nd Kansas Cavalry formed the left of the Union attack, while the 6th Kansas and several companies of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalries formed the right. The attack was made with sabers drawn, one participant remembering that they were gleaming in the sun. As the charge gathered speed, the Confederates could see the long line of Union cavalry thundering in their direction.

Realizing that it was impossible to hold back the much larger Federal force, the Confederates withdrew in a rapid retreat before the Union troopers could close in with their sabers. The Southern camp was abandoned, with all of its supply wagons and equipment, and the Confederate horsemen rode over the hill and struck the Van Buren Road at full speed.

The successful attack at Dripping Springs told General Blunt that he had achieved his goal of surprising the Confederates south of the Boston Mountains. He now ordered up his other 5,000 men along with his artillery and prepared for his final advance on Van Buren. I will post in depth tomorrow on the Battle of Van Buren.

To learn more about the Battle of Dripping Springs and to see photos of the battlefield as it appears today, please visit

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