|Pea Ridge Battlefield|
By March 22, 1862 (150 years ago today), the remaining Confederate troops in the region had fallen back to Lee Creek in Crawford County and were preparing to leave the area for good. The Union army and navy were pressing on New Madrid and Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River and Van Dorn proposed to his commander, General P.G.T. Beauregard, that he march in support of the trapped garrison there.
|Arkansas River at Van Buren|
|Riverfront Historical Marker at Van Buren|
...Please direct your march, via Clarksville, Dover, and Springfield (Conway County), toward Batesville, on White River. Expressmen will meet you on this road with instructions which will control you in the further march of your column. The troops of the advance post in Boston Mountains, on Lee's Creek, should not, of course, be relieved until the last moment, and when relieved should march with Greer's cavalry as the rear guard of the army. It is of the greatest importance that the troops of your command should reach White River at the earliest possible date. - Dabney H. Maury, CSA, March 22, 1862.
|Gen. Dabney H. Maury|
The plan to strike against the Union army attacking Island No. 10 was a bold one, but would not happen. The Confederate defenses on the Mississippi River would crumble far faster than any of the Southern generals in the region could imagine.
The movement of Van Dorn's army, however, placed the western half of Arkansas in a terribly exposed position. With spring arriving, the entire Arkansas River valley from Little Rock to Fort Smith was now subject to Union conquest. Fort Smith was prepared for capture by the Federals and General Pike was ordered to act on the defensive in the Indian Nations. A time of great crisis was developing for the pro-secession people of the region.