|Pea Ridge National Military Park|
As part of the commemoration of this battle that preserved Missouri for the Union, I will be posting throughout January, February and March on the Pea Ridge campaign, using as often as possible the words of the soldiers, generals and civilians that witnessed it. Be sure to check back regularly for the latest posts.
The Confederates, in turn, were equally determined not only to hold at least part of Missouri if possible, but to stop Curtis from advancing into Arkansas. In mid-January of 1862, however, their forces were scattered and had yet to assemble for battle. The Missouri State Guard, under Price, was clinging to its position at Springfield, Missouri. Gen. Price knew, however, that he could not hold there against Curtis's much larger army.
To the south in the Arkansas River valley, Gen. James McIntosh commanded a large cavalry force that was wintering around Van Burn and Fort Smith. He had declined a request from Price for help in December and gone instead to support Col. D.H. Cooper in the Cherokee Nation where he had won the Battle of Chustenahlah several weeks earlier.
To Van Dorn would fall the task of pulling together the three major Confederate forces then assembled in Missouri and Arkansas and leading them into battle. He would receive support from Gen. Albert Pike's brigade of Southern-allied Indian troops.
I will continue to post on the Pea Ridge Campaign throughout the coming weeks. To read more about the battle itself, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.