Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hot Springs - A Civil War Landmark

Steam can be seen rising in the background of this winter photograph of Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Just as the natural hot springs flowing from the Ouachita Mountains continue to amaze visitors today, they also attracted the attention of soldiers during the Civil War.
The springs were already well known then and owned by the U.S. Government, which had secured the "Hot Springs of the Ouachita" as the nation's first national ecological preserve. Early settlers and visitors believed the water held curative properties of benefit to individuals suffering from a variety of afflictions, and a small industry catering to visitors had grown in the area of the springs long before the war.
The outbreak of conflict, of course, interrupted the use of the springs, but also exposed the natural wonder to thousands of new visitors - the troops of both sides who marched back and forth through the Hot Springs Valley during the Civil War.
Thousands of troops en route from Fort Smith to participate in the Red River Campaign marched past the springs early in 1864 and comments appeared in letters and diaries written at the time expressing wonder and amazement at the springs.
Hot Springs National Park is today one of the most unique attractions in Arkansas. To learn more, visit and scroll down to the Arkansas heading in the Index section.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fairview Cemetery - Van Buren, Arkansas

The Confederate Section of Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
The cemetery contains the graves of more than 400 unknown Confederate soldiers, many of whom died from wounds received during the Prairie Grove campaign of 1862. Also buried here are a number of identified Confederate soldiers, some of whom were killed during the Battle of Van Buren in December of 1862.
During the battle, Union officers placed artillery on the ridge at Fairview Cemetery and used it to shell retreating Confederate troops as well as steamboats on the Arkansas River. The cemetery is today a somber place to walk and reflect on the horrible cost of the war and also provides interpretive markers outlining the role of the ground during the Battle of Van Buren.
If you would like to read more about the Battle of Van Buren, Arkansas, please visit and scroll down the page to the "Arkansas" section.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Headquarters House - Fayetteville, Arkansas

This is the Headquarters House in Fayetteville, a major Civil War landmark in Northwest Arkansas.
Constructed in the 1840s by Judge Jonas Tebbetts, the house stood across the street from the old Arkansas College. Following a skirmish fought in Fayetteville during the days leading up to the Battle of Pea Ridge, the home was briefly occupied by Union General Alexander Asboth. A young girl then living there wrote of his massive drooping mustache and enormous sweet tooth (he ate an entire jar of preserves in one sitting).
One year later, on April 18, 1863, the home was in the line of fire during the Battle of Fayetteville. Union officers made their headquarters here and the Union lines were formed directly in front of the house. Colonel M. LaRue Harrison of the 1st Arkansas Cavalry (U.S.) commanded the Federal ranks during the battle and was able to turn back a Confederate attack led by General W.L. Cabell.
The house still shows damage sustained during the battle. Panels on two doors were shattered by bullets.
Located at 118 East Dickson in downtown Fayetteville, the home and grounds are now preserved and a museum by the Washington County Historical Society. The society is open on Wednesday afternoons from 1 until 4 p.m.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Blue Spring, Arkansas

Located just outside of Eureka Springs, Blue Spring is one of the most beautiful places in Arkansas. Nestled in the Ozarks, the spring is now the center piece of the Blue Spring Heritage Center, a park area that interprets its natural and cultural history.
An important camping place on the Cherokee Trail of Tears during the 1830s, the spring was a landmark for early settlers of the region. A mill was constructed here during the 1840s, with the flowing water from the spring run as its power source.
Such small industries were targeted throughout Arkansas during the Civil War and the mill at Blue Spring was burned by soldiers. It was part of a larger strategy of defeating the South by denying its residents the means to support the Confederate armies in the field. By destroying mills, crops, stored up supplies and other necessities, citizens were placed in dire straits and prevented from supporting the war effort.
Blue Spring Heritage Center is located off U.S. 62 West about six miles northwest of Eureka Springs. Open during the spring, summer and fall, the park features walking paths, boardwalks, an interpretive center and more.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - West Overlook

We conclude our online tour of Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Prairie Grove, Arkansas with the West Overlook. This facility, remote from the main park area, is on the six mile Self-Guided Driving Tour and provides interpretive panels and an excellent view of the west end of the battlefield.
From the overlook, visitors can see the open ground that was the Morton Hayfield at the time of the Battle of Prairie Grove. This was the scene of the heaviest fighting on the west end of the battlefield. When General J.G. Blunt's Union troops arrived on the scene during the afternoon of December 7, 1862, the battle had already been underway for hours. General Herron's command had been fighting the Confederate right flank near the Borden House all afternoon.
Blunt's men, arriving from the west, attacked the Confederate lines several miles west of the Borden House, targeting positions around the Morton House and adjacent sections of the ridge. The Confederates, under General Mosby M. Parsons, stormed down the ridge here during the final fighting of the day. They engaged Blunt's men in and around the Morton Hayfield in a fierce fight before being driven back up the ridge by superior Union musket and artillery fire.
If you would like to read more about the Battle of Prairie Grove, please visit You will find a detailed summary of the battle, numerous modern photographs, photographs of key officers, Union and Confederate reports and links to related events such as the Battles of Cane Hill, Dripping Springs and Van Buren, Arkansas.
You can also visit the state park's official website at for downloadable brochures, directions and more.

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Latta House and Cellar

After completing the one mile Battlefield Trail, visitors to Prairie Grove can learn more about the battle by following the Self-Guided Driving Tour of the rest of the 3,200 acre battlefield.

At a normal pace, this tour takes about 30-45 minutes to complete. Printed and audio guides are available at the visitor center in Hindman Hall on the battlefield. You can also print out or read a copy online by following this link:

One of the first stops on the driving tour is the Latta House and Cellar. Although the house is not original to the battlefield, it was brought here and restored to represent the four homes that did exist on the ridge at the time of the Battle of Prairie Grove. On the grounds is a stone cellar. During the battle, civilians who fought themselves caught between the two armies took shelter in such cellars. Twenty men, women and children hid in the cellar at the Morton House during the heavy fighting that ranged around that residence. They later wrote of emerging from the darkness to see bodies in every direction.

The interpretive stops on the Driving Tour include:
  1. Shoup Chooses the Position.
  2. Latta House and Cellar
  3. The Ravine
  4. Borden House and Orchard
  5. Carnage in the Orchard
  6. Confederate Right Flank
  7. Borden Wheat Field
  8. Illinois River Ford
  9. Borden Cornfield
  10. Position of the 20th Iowa
  11. Morton Hayfield and West Overlook
  12. Morton House Site
  13. Confederate Left Flank
  14. Prairie Grove Church

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Medal of Honor

Among the interpretive signs along the Battlefield Trail at Prairie Grove is one at the base of the ridge below the Borden House that tells the story of John C. Black, an officer with the 37th Illinois Infantry. He later received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Prairie Grove.
Lt. Col. Black was with his regiment when it charged up the ridge to the Borden House. Realizing that his men were about to be overwhelmed, he ordered a retreat back down to the base of the hill. There he positioned the 37th Illinois and 26th Indiana regiments behind a fence and prepared to receive the Confederate counterattack. The two regiments, directed by Black, turned back a Confederate charge in fierce fighting that was among the most intense of the day. Black's brother later described how the men rose up and unleashed a volley on the pursuing Confederates, catching them in the open and breaking their rapid pursuit of the Federals who were trying to withdraw from the ridge.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Attack on the Right Flank

Continuing our look at the Prairie Grove Battlefield in Arkansas, this view was taken from the Battlefield Trail from the bottom of the ridge looking at the ground across which Herron's troops charged.
After forming in the wide prairie and moving up to the foot of the ridge, the Union troops attacked the Confederates who were formed at the crest. A major attack took place across this ground with the Federals surging up the ridge seen here and storming the Confederate line. Heavy fighting took place around the Borden House, which can be seen here at the top of the ridge.
The Union troops managed to break through and charge into the orchard beyond the house, but were driven back by a Confederate counterattack and pushed back down the ridge. The Southern troops followed on their heels, storming down the ridge and advancing across the open ground in this view. They charged into a fury of Federal fire, however, and withdrew back to their original line atop the ridge.
Repeated charges and counter charges took place across the ground seen here throughout the afternoon of December 7, 1862, until nightfall finally brought the Battle of Prairie Grove to a close. Some of the worst bloodshed of the Civil War took place here.
Our postings on Prairie Grove will continue, but in the meantime you can see and learn more about the battlefield and other Civil War sites in Arkansas by visiting

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Charge of the 19th Iowa

This view looking down the Battlefield Trail shows the ground across which the 19th Iowa Infantry charged during the attack on the Confederate right flank during the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
The 19th charged from right to left across this ground, storming up the ridge that begins on the left side of the photograph.
Additional Union regiments were arrayed beyond the tree cover in the distance and joined in the attack, launched by General Francis Herron on the afternoon of December 7, 1862, in an unsuccessful effort to drive General Hindman's Confederates from their position on the ridge.
From this point, the trail leads on across the ground crossed by both Union attacks and Confederate counter-attacks throughout the afternoon of the 7th. We will continue with additional views and postings through tomorrow and you can also read and see more about the Prairie Grove battlefield by visiting When you get there, just scroll down the page to the Index section and look for the "Battle of Prairie Grove" link under the "Arkansas" heading.

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Union Lines

This view, taken from the Battlefield Trail, at Prairie Grove shows the ground on which General F.J. Herron's Union forces formed before assaulting the Confederate positions on Prairie Grove Ridge.
The Union artillery formed in the distance shown here and began shelling the Confederates on the ridge while the infantry formed ranks.
In the early afternoon, the Union infantry advanced from right to left across the open ground seen here, taking heavy fire from the Confederates on the ridge. It was the first major assault of the Battle of Prairie Grove. Reaching about the position from which the photograph was taken, they began their push up the ridge into the face of fierce musketry from General Hindman's Confederates.
We will continue our tour of the Prairie Grove Battlefield as this week goes along, but in the meantime you can read and see more by visiting Just scroll down the page to the Index section and look for the "Battle of Prairie Grove" link under the "Arkansas" heading.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - More on the Right Flank

This view at Prairie Grove Battlefield was taken from the Battlefield Trail looking across the open prairie from the position held by the Confederate cavalry under "Fighting Jo" Shelby on the right flank. The Union troops formed in this prairie and then attacked the Confederate lines.
Shelby's men had brought on the battle by opposing the approach of General F.J. Herron's Union column to the crossing over the Illinois River (off to the right of this photograph). After delaying the Federals for some time, the Confederates under Shelby fell back to this position and formed the right flank of General Thomas Hindman's line on Prairie Grove Ridge.
Shelby's men were heavily engaged in the fighting throughout the day of December 7, 1862, and still held this position when the Battle of Prairie Grove came to an end that evening.
From this point, the Battlefield Trail curves down to the bottom of the ridge and then leads along ground across which the Union forces charged. We'll continue over the next few days with looks at that part of the battlefield, but in the meantime you can explore the Prairie Grove Battlefield in its entirety by going to When you get there, just scroll down the page to the Index section and look for the Battle of Prairie link under the "Arkansas" heading.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - The Right Flank

This photograph looks down the Battlefield Trail to the position of the Confederate right flank during the Battle of Prairie Grove. Taken from the front yard of the Borden House, the image shows the position of "Fighting Jo" Shelby's dismounted Southern cavalry in the distance.
Shelby's men formed the far right flank of the Confederate line.
After passing the Borden House, the trail leads on through the positions of Shelby's men and then turns down the ridge and passes along the ground across which Gen. Francis J. Herron's Union troops charged in their ill-fated attempt to drive the Confederates from the ridge.
For more information on the Prairie Grove Battlefield, including additional photographs, please visit and scroll down the page to the Index section. The link is under the "Arkansas" heading. We will continue posting more on the battlefield over the next few days.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Borden Orchard

This photograph shows the apple orchard in the rear of the Borden House at Prairie Grove Battlefield. During one of their key attacks, Union troops rushed through the yards around the Borden House and surged into the orchard. Confederate soldiers, however, ringed the orchard and poured heavy fire into the outnumbered attackers. Overwhelmed, the Federals withdrew out of the orchard and fell back down the ridge, with the Confederates charging behind them.

The orchard today has been restored by employees at the state park and can be seen both from the Battlefield Trail and from the driving tour.

For more on the Battle of Prairie Grove, please visit Simply scroll down the page and look for the "Arkansas" heading in the Index section.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Borden House

As the Battlefield Trail at Prairie Grove winds through the scene of some of the heaviest action of the battle, it passes the Borden House, a beautiful old historic structure that is now preserved as part of the state park. The current structure was built immediately following the war on the foundations of the original, which was destroyed during the battle.
When Hindman's Confederates formed on the ridge at Prairie Grove on the morning of December 7, 1862, their right flank was anchored on the grounds surrounding the Borden House. An artillery battery was put in position on the crest of the ridge within site of the house and men took up positions stretching along the slope in front of the house.
The Federals charged up the ridge at 1 p.m. and succeeded in capturing the cannon near the Borden House. Surging forward, they poured around the house and into the orchard to its rear. The Confederates responded, however, by ranging the orchard on three sides and pouring fire into the exhausted Union soldiers. Unable to withstand the onslaught, they began to fall back down the ridge, the Confederates storming behind them. The Southern troops made a fatal mistake, however, and pursued the retreating Federals down the ridge only to find their ranks shredded by heavy Union fire.
And so the battle continued for hours. The Union soldiers would storm up the ridge, only to be driven back. The Confederates would storm down after them, only to be driven back themselves. By the end of the day, the Confederates still held the ridge and the Federals were still in position in the prairie below.
Eyewitness accounts estimated that as many as 250 men fell in the yards around the Borden House, making it one of the bloodiest spots of the Civil War. The home was burned to the ground at the end of the battle, but the family rebuilt it after the war, using the same foundations as the original.
Keep checking back for more posts on the Battle of Prairie Grove and the Civil War in Arkansas. In the meantime, you can read more by going to and scrolling down the page to the Index section. Just look for the Arkansas heading and you'll find links to Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, Massard Prairie, Devil's Backbone and other Arkansas Civil War sites of interest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - First Union attacks

This view from the Battlefield Trail at Prairie Grove Battlefield shows the well preserved ground across which the Union army launched its massive attacks on the ridge top positions of General Hindman's Confederate Army.
The Confederate line was positioned atop the ridge from the spot where this photograph was taken. The Union forces formed on the prairie below and advanced in formation to the foot of the ridge before charging up into the face of the Southern artillery and muskets.
There were repeated charges up and down this ridge throughout the day of December 7, 1862. The Union troops would charge up and be thrown back. The Confederates would then counterattack but be forced back themselves by fierce Federal fire. The scene was enacted repeatedly through the course of the day, but by sundown the two armies retained their primary positions and the battle on the Confederate right flank, where this fighting took place, had ended in a tactical draw.
We'll continue to post more on the Prairie Grove battlefield over the next few days, but until then you can read more by visiting and scrolling down to the Index section and following the "Battle of Prairie Grove" link under the "Arkansas" heading.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Ozarks Village

The first section of the Battlefield Trail at Prairie Grove Battlefield passes through a fascinating collection of historic structures saved from locations around the Ozark Plateau. None of these buildings were originally on the battlefield, but they were saved by the community and relocated to the site to provide visitors with a good understanding of the normal homes, churches and schools in the region during the Civil War. Beautifully restored and maintained, the village represents one of the few places that life in the Ozarks as it was lived during the 1860s can still be experienced.
The village area does not intrude on the primary battlefield and provides an interesting step back in time for visitors as they leave the modern park facilities around the visitor center and begin their walk through the battlefield.
We will continue our look at Prairie Grove over the next few days with more photographs and postings. In the meantime, visit for more information on the battlefield. Just scroll down the page to the index and you will see the link under the "Arkansas" heading.

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Battlefield Trail

This photograph shows the beginning of the Battlefield Trail at Prairie Grove. A one mile paved loop, the trail leads through the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the Battle of Prairie Grove.
The trial loops through the eastern end of the battlefield, following the Confederate lines to near the right flank and then dipping down the ridge and leading through the area across which the Union forces charged over and over again in futile efforts to drive the Confederates off the ridge above. Interpretive plaques along the trail help interpret key moments of the battle.
This section of the Prairie Grove Battlefield is one of the best preserved Civil War sites in the nation. The ridge still provides a commanding view of the fields across which the Union troops advanced and much of the core battlefield area has been saved. Among the highlights along the trail are the historic Borden house, ground across which both Union and Confederate charges took place and the scene where a Union officer won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
We'll look closer at specific sites along the trail over the coming days. In the meantime, feel free to learn more about the Battle of Prairie Grove by visiting Simply scroll down the page and look for the link under the "Arkansas" category.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Rhea's Mill

We continue our look at the Prairie Grove Battlefield in Northwest Arkansas. One of the focal points of the park is the chimney from Rhea's Mill.
Originally located 6 miles northwest of the battlefield, the 55-foot high chimney was donated to the park in 1957. Relocated to Prairie Grove and carefully reconstructed, it now serves as an imposing monument to the men who fought here on December 7, 1862.
During the actual Battle of Prairie Grove, Rhea's Mill served as a concentration point for the supply train of General J.G. Blunt's Union Army of the Frontier. The mill was considered a relatively safe location, due to its distance behind the Union lines during the battle.
We will continue our look at the Prairie Grove Battlefield over the next few days. In the meantime, you can see additional photographs of the park, read official battle reports and learn more about the Battle of Prairie Grove by visiting Simply scroll down the page to the index section and click the link for the "Battle of Prairie Grove."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Hindman Hall

Continuing our look at Prairie Grove Battlefield in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, this photograph shows Hindman Hall, the interpretive center, museum and book store for the park. In addition to museum exhibits featuring artifacts from the battlefield, Hindman Hall also offers an interpretive video on the Battle of Prairie Grove.
Visitors to the battlefield can also obtain tour brochures and an audio tour at the center. Located immediately adjacent to Hindman Hall are key battlefield areas, including a sector of the Confederate lines, monuments, markers and the chimney from the historic Rhea mill. Originally located on a site several miles away from the battlefield, the chimney was reassembled and restored at Prairie Grove to serve as a towering monument to the battle.
As always, you can read more about the Battle of Prairie Grove at Just scroll down to the index and look for the link.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield - Prairie Grove, Arkansas

The photograph at right shows the entrance to the Battlefield Trail at Prairie Grove Battlefield, a state park in the picturesque community of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
One of the key features of the park, the one mile paved trail loops around the ridge where the Confederate right flank was posted during the December 7, 1862, battle. This was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the war.
The Battle of Prairie Grove took place when Confederate General Thomas C. Hindman pushed north across the Boston Mountains, hoping to catch the divided Union Army of the Frontier by surprise. He wound up battling both wings of the Northern army at Prairie Grove, where the Confederates were able to use a strong position to beat back repeated attacks by the Federal forces. By sundown on December 7th, tens of thousands of men had spent the day slaughtering each other on the now hallowed ground at Prairie Grove.
I'll be posting more on the Prairie Grove Battlefield over the next few days, but in the meantime please visit my Prairie Grove site at for photographs, official reports and an in depth account of the Battle of Prairie Grove.

War Eagle Mill - Northwest Arkansas

One of the most picturesque sites in Arkansas also has a rich Civil War history. The first War Eagle Mill was constructed by Sylvanus Blackburn two decades before the war, but was washed away during a flood in 1848. He replaced it and by 1860, War Eagle was a prosperous little community.
The second War Eagle Mill was used by Union Col. Grenville M. Dodge to grind corn for the Northern army on the eve of the Battle of Pea Ridge. After the battle, the Confederate army under Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price passed the mill during their retreat.
The mill was burned before the end of the war and, due to the economic hard times of Reconstruction, was not rebuilt until 1873. The current structure is a modern reproduction of the 1873 mill, but offers visitors a fascinating opportunity to see the War Eagle Mill site as it appeared more than 100 years ago.
War Eagle Mill is located at 11045 War Eagle Road east of Rogers, Arkansas. If you would like to read more about the mill or see more photographs, please visit:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth

Known for his huge drooping mustache and iron gray hair, Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth was a key figure during the early years of the Civil War and played a major role in the Union invasion of Arkansas in 1862.
Commander of a division under General Samuel Curtis, Asboth had served as an aide-de-camp to Kossuth during the Hungarian Revolt of 1848. When he and his fellow patriots were overwhelmed by the combined armies of Austria and Russia, he fled Hungary. Brought to the United States (along with Kossuth) aboard the U.S.S. Mississippi, Asboth settled in New York where he worked as a surveyor, engineer and industrialist. He developed an improved method of asphalt paving and conducted the original surveys for New York's famed Central Park.
The adlatus or chief of staff for Fremont in Missouri early in the war, he helped develop the army that ultimately preserved the "Show Me" state for the Union.
A talented cavalry officer, Asboth led Curtis' advance into Benton and Washington Counties during the days leading up to the Battle of Pea Ridge. He captured Fayetteville and briefly occupied the "Headquarters House."
During the Battle of Pea Ridge, he pushed a couple of pieces of artillery and small force of infantry up the Telegraph Road to assist Union troops who were being pushed back by the unexpected rear assault launched on their position by Confederate General Earl Van Dorn. According to eyewitness accounts, Asboth performed heroically on the first day of the battle and was seriously wounded in the arm. Without his brave actions on the first day of the fight, the Union army might well have collapsed.
During the night, believing (correctly) that the Union troops were outnumbered, Asboth recommended a withdrawal from the battle. Curtis, however, decided to stay and fight. The decision proved prophetic as Van Dorn had pushed his army too hard trying to get it into action and the exhausted Confederates were already running short on ammunition and other vital supplies. When Curtis counter-attacked the next morning, he swept the field and sent Van Dorn into a headlong retreat. Asboth commanded his division during the Union counterattack.
After Pea Ridge, General Asboth served in a variety of roles in Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. He was one of the officers who recommended the promotion of Phil Sheridan to the rank of brigadier general.
Late in the war, he commanded the Union District of West Florida and was severely wounded at the Battle of Marianna, Florida, on September 27, 1864. Operated on after the battle by a team of surgeons including by Union and captured Confederate surgeons, he retook the field during the final months of the war. Promoted to Major General at the end of the war, he was named a U.S. Minister and served in South America where he died from an infection. His wounds from the Battle of Marianna never healed and were listed as the official cause of his death.
During the 1980s, the general's body was returned to the United States and re-buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery. A eulogy written by President George H.W. Bush was read during the ceremony.
Asboth is considered a hero today both in his native Hungary, where he fought in the ill-fated revolution to bring freedom to his homeland, and among Hungarian-Americans.

Welcome to Arkansas in the Civil War!

Welcome to Arkansas in the Civil War, my new blog on the Civil War history and historic sites of the Natural State!

This is a sister blog to my Civil War Florida blog (

I moved to Arkansas in 2004 and fell in love with the state and its history. If you've never visited, I encourage you to make the trip. It is a beautiful and progressive state with warm, friendly people and a fascinating history. Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove are among the most pristine battlefields in America and the people value their history and are making great strides at preserving it.

I'll devote space here to telling you more about the Civil War in Arkansas, so I hope you check back often!