Sunday, March 16, 2008

Massard Prairie - Fort Smith, Arkansas

This is one of the few surviving sections of Massard Prairie, once a vast expanse of grass and brush that stretched for miles on the southeast edge of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

When Confederate armies assembled and mobilized around Fort Smith at the time of the 1862 Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove campaigns, Massard Prairie was a vast military campsite. The presence of streams of water, excellent grass for livestock and the proximity to the town and post of Fort Smith made the prairie an ideal place for the Confederate armies to camp.

Much of the prairie has been lost to modern development. Factories, homes and even the Fort Smith Regional Airport now occupy ground that once looked much like this. This section of original prairie can be seen from Geren Road.

Massard Prairie was also the sight of one of the most dramatic cavalry charges of the Civil War. More on that is coming up this week here at Arkansas in the Civil War, along with news on the release of my new book, The Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas.

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