Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4, 1862: The March to Prairie Grove Continues...

Road followed by part of Hindman's Army
The more than 11,000 Confederates of General Thomas C. Hindman's Corps continued to move north from Van Buren 149 years ago today, pushing past Dripping Springs and into the edge of the mountains.
By nightfall the slow moving army had reached Oliver's store, then a well known landmark in northern Crawford County. Located north of Dripping Springs at the point where several roads merged as they came down out of the mountains, Oliver's was often mentioned in the reports of both armies during the Civil War. Hindman brought his men to a halt here and allowed them to rest as best they could through the night of December 4th.

They were so exhausted that they probably slept some, but hunger and cold kept many of them awake. His ill-supplied force was simply not able to move at the pace that Hindman had hoped, but he wisely opted not to repeat the mistakes made by Confederates earlier in the year when they outran their supplies and exhausted themselves prior to the Battle of Pea Ridge. The night of the 4th, then, was spent letting the men rest and eat as best as they could while his supply wagons and artillery came up.

View from Reeds Mountain down to Morrow's Station
Marmaduke's cavalry, numbering about 2,000, was pushed into the Boston Mountains on the 4th to watch for any signs of enemy scounting parties and also to check the condition of the roads. Hindman hopes to advance as far as Morrow's House the next day.

Morrow's House, or Morrow's Station, was actually a small settlement on Cove Creek a few miles southeast of Cane Hill (today spelled Canehill). The site is often confused with the modern community of Morrow, which is number of miles west of the point targeted by Hindman in 1862. Important roads then had stopping points or stations where travelers could get food for themselves and their horses or stop for the night. Morrow's Station was one such point, located where the road coming down Reeds Mountain from Cane Hill intersected with the Cove Creek Road.

1880 Map of Cane Hill area.
Morrow's Station is at lower right.
Morrow's Station was an important strategic point for Hindman. If he could get his army across the mountains and emerge there before the Union army knew he was coming, he would be in an excellent position for the coming battle. 

The Confederate general's plan was to concentrate his force at Morrow's Station. Marmaduke's cavalry would then continue up the Cove Creek Road and then turn northwest on the Maysville Road. This would allow the Southern horsemen to hit General Blunt's Union army on its left flank and from the rear.  At the same time, Hindman would advance with the infantry and most of the artillery up the road over Reeds Mountain and hit the Federals head on from excellent ground. If he could move as planned, the Confederate commander had a good chance of smashing the Union force occupying Cane Hill.

I will continue posting on the Prairie Grove Campaign over coming days, so be sure to check back regularly. To learn more until then, please visit

Also be sure to scroll down here to read more about the early stages of the campaign.

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