Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 1862 - Confederate Cavalry returns to Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs, Arkansas
Having been pushed out of their advanced position in the fighting on the 28th (see The Battle of Cane Hill), General John S. Marmaduke and his three brigades of Confederate cavalry returned to their camps at Dripping Springs on November 30, 1862, 149 years ago today.
Located about 9 miles north of the historic Crawford County Courthouse in Van Buren, Dripping Springs takes its name from a spring that bubbles from a hillside. Because it allowed Confederate cavalry to watch the key roads leading south over the Boston Mountains to Van Buren and the Arkanasas River, the crossroads was a key position for the placement of Marmaduke's small division.

Gen. Thomas C. Hindman, C.S.A.
Across the mountains to the north, General James G. Blunt and his Union army settled into new camps at Cane Hill. Blunt did not know it, but his decision to remain at this point created a window of opportunity for the overall Confederate commander at Van Buren, General Thomas Hindman.

Hindman had enough ammunition for one good battle and only enough supplies to maintain his position at Van Buren and Fort Smith for a short time longer before he would be forced to move his command down the Arkansas River to Little Rock in order to obtain provisions and other necessities. He hoped to accomplish something significant before being forced to withdraw and was carefully watching the positioning of Union troops in Northwest Arkansas.

Van Buren and the Arkansas River
As seen from Logtown Hill
When Blunt established his new camp at Cane Hill instead of returning to Camp Babcock north of Siloam Springs, he placed himself almost beyond reach of reinforcements. Since Hindman knew he had little chance of prevailing if the Blunt's command was reinforced by General Francis J. Herron's division, then in southern Missouri, he was hoping for a chance to strike one of the two forces and destroy it before the other could reinforce it. Blunt provided him that opportunity and he began making immediate preparations to take advantage of it.

Over the next two days, the Confederate forces at Van Buren and Dripping Springs did everything they could to get their arms, supplies and horses ready for a move in force across the Boston Mountains. Hindman hoped to corner Blunt at Cane Hill and destroy him. Using ammunition captured in this battle, he could then turn on Herron's division as it came down from Missouri to save Blunt.

It was an interesting plan with a reasonable prospect of success.  It would lead seven days later to the massive Battle of Prairie Grove.

I will continue posting on the Prairie Grove Campaign over coming days, so be sure to check back regularly.  Until the next post, you can read more about the Battle of Prairie Grove at

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