Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pea Ridge #8 - Skirmish at Flat Creek, Missouri

Gen. Sterling Price, CSA
National Park Service
February 15, 1862 (150 years ago today) found the Union army poised and ready for battle at Crane Creek in Southwest Missouri. The heavy fight that General Samuel Curtis hoped for did not develop, however, and the Confederates continued what he called a "precipitate flight."

The truth was that General Sterling Price was unwilling to sacrifice the lives of the men in the Missouri State Guard (CSA) in a battle he knew he could not win. As a result, he continued to move his army south down the Wire Road for Arkansas, but kept a strong rear guard in place to hold back any sudden move by the pursuing Federals.

Flat Creek, Missouri
USGS Photo
Having passed Crane Creek, Curtis ordered his cavalry forward to "overtake and charge the enemy." The horsemen moved forward rapidly and soon approached Flat Creek, a mountain stream that flows west to east and eventually feeds the White River (today's Table Rock Lake).

 They reached the crossing of Flat Creek to find that the fight was definitely not out of Price's Missourians:
...When they arrived here [i.e. Flat Creek] they were fired on by artillery and therefore made a stand until other forces came up. The little howitzers returned the fire of the enemy, and kept them at bay till I got heavier batteries in position and drove the enemy forward. The valley is very strong for the enemy, and I wonder he did not make a better stand. I am taking the straggling cattle for rations to-night, and will move on to Cassville at 4. - Gen. Samuel Curtis, USA, February 1862.
Gen. Franz Sigel, USA
National Archives

Curtis was still having difficulty making contact with the second main column of his army led by General Franz Sigel. With little practical knowledge of that general's location and movements, Curtis expressed hope that they would meet soon:

I hope the force of your command is near me to-night. My men are living on meat, and have hardly time to cook it; but they seem eager to push forward, either to take Price or drive him out of the State. - Gen. Samuel Curtis to Gen. Franz Sigel, February 15, 1862.

Flat Creek township, it is interesting to note, was the childhood home of actor Don Johnson, famed for his roles in "Miami Vice" and numerous movies. On February 15, 1862, however, it was home to a sharp skirmish as General Sterling Price continued to fight delaying actions so his army could safely withdraw from Missouri into Northwest Arkansas.

I will continue to post on the 150th Anniversary of the Pea Ridge Campaign over coming days, so be sure to check back often. You can read more about the Battle of Pea Ridge anytime you like at


Gail said...

I've enjoyed reading these accounts. I live near a less famous skirmish site...The Lunenburg Skirmish.

I did three posts last year on the reenactment.

thank you for sharing this history.

Dale Cox said...

Gail, Thank you very much for the note. I'm familiar with the Lunenburg Skirmish and hope to visit the site when I'm roaming around this spring. There was a lot more fighting in Arkansas than many people realize!