Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30, 1862 - The Union Army Begins its long slow march to Pea Ridge

Historic Photograph of the Missouri Ozarks
Library of Congress
Newspaper readers across the Midwest learned 150 years ago today that the long anticipated southward movement of the Union army in Missouri was underway.
The positioning of Colonel Jefferson C. Davis and his Division (not to be confused with the Confederate President) was a sign that General Samuel Curtis was beginning a slow drift to the south that would pick up speed over the coming days and weeks:

The movement foreshadowed by the preparations at Otterville of the past week has taken place. One division under the command of Jeff C. Davis has already taken up its march for the South. They left Versailles Tuesday morning. Their destiantion is supposed to be Springfield. The division consists of five regiments, the 8th and 22nd Indiana, the 37th Illinois, and the 9th Missouri, accompanied by two batteries of twenty-four pieces, and three companies of cavalry, under the command of Major Hubbard. From the skill and energy of Gen. Davis, important results are confidently predicted. The next division under Gen. Turner is expected to leave Thursday or Friday. - Springfield Republican, January 30, 1862.
Colonel Jefferson C. Davis, U.S.A.
National Park Service

It seems remarkable today that such detailed reports were printed in newspapers in 1862, but it was a common practice. The generals of both sides learned a great deal from the newspapers of the other side.

The article also made reference to an interesting report that seemed to indicate General Sterling Price and his Confederates might not might for Springfield:

A gentleman from Green county, a few miles from Springfield, who arrived at Rolla on the 24th, says no entrenchments are being built at Springfield, and but little uneasiness is manifested by Price or his officers. There is a general cry for reinforcements, and the rebels say they are on the way, but vary as to the number.... Price expects his appointment [i.e. as a regular general] will be confirmed within two weeks, when he will be reinforced from Arkansas. Unless he can take command of the whole force, he may be obliged to retreat. He has a large number of wagons, and is putting everything in readiness to decamp. - Springfield Republican, January 30, 1862.

The article predicted the future quite well. Price would retreat from Springfield, Missouri, without a major fight and fall back into Arkansas where he linked up with the divisions of Generals Ben McCulloch and James McIntosh. Together their combined forces would form General Earl Van Dorn's new Army of the West. The long road to the Battle of Pea Ridge had begun.

I will continue posting on the 150th anniversary of the Pea Ridge Campaign over coming days and weeks, so check back often. You can also read more on the Battle of Pea Ridge at

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