Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Eyewitness Account of the Battle of Prairie Grove - Part One

Cannon at Prairie Grove
The following was written by an unidentified officer in Captain W.D. Blocker's section of Arkansas Light Artillery and provides an outstanding first person account of the role of the Confederate field artillery in the Battle of Prairie Grove (December 7, 1862).

I've transcribed the entire account and will be presenting it here in two posts. This is part one:

"In Camp near Van Buren, Dec. 11, 1862.

"On the 3d inst. our army commenced a movement from this camp, in the direction of Boston Mountain, for the purpose of meeting the enemy, they having a strong position near Cane Hill, on the divide of the mountain. On approaching the mountain, our forces were divided and crossed it by two different passes: The Missouri force, under Gen. Parsons, by way of Cane Hill, and the remaining forces by what is known as the Cove Creek route.

"Gen. Parsons found about 3,000 Abolitionists, under Gen. Blunt, encamped at Cane Hill, and succeeded in utterly routing them, in double quick time, capturing a considerable train of wagon and some prisoners. Gen. Blunt succeeded in forming a junction with the main body of their army 10 miles south of Fayetteville, where the bloody battle of Prairie Grove was fought, and where we achieved another glorious victory.

"The enemy’s force may be safely estimated at 15,000 or 16,000 – 12,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, and 4 or 5 light and heavy batteries. Their force was all engaged, while the portion of our army engaged did not exceed 10,000 effective men. We had only two batteries actually engaged – Capts. West’s and Blockers.

"This memorable battle was fought, and this glorious victory achieved, on Sunday, 7th inst. Our advance guard opened the fight early in the morning, by surprising and capturing 140, Federal cavalry. Fortunately, they turned out to be a portion of the 1st Arkansas Federal cavalry, composed of Arkansas Jayhawkers and deserters. God grant they may share the fate all such traitors deserve.

"The general engagement commenced about 12  o’clock, M., and continued until dark, when both armies withdrew from the scene of action. About 8 o’clock P.M., a Federal flag of truce made its appearance at Gen. Hindman’s Headquarters, asking permission to remove their wounded and bury their dead, which was granted. During the night, our army (or a portion of it) were ordered to fall back to Boston Mountain – I supposed for the purpose of renewing the fight on the following day, provided the enemy were not satisfied with the previous day’s exercise.

"On the following morning, the Federal Generals despatched a message to Gen. Hindman, requesting a personal interview with him at their headquarters. Gen. Hindman consented, and the result of the meeting was, the Yankees acknowledged themselves badly whipped, turned over to us the spoils of the battle-field, and fell back in the direction of Fayetteville.

"The enemy’s loss is very heavy, while our’s is heavy enough, God knows. The opinion of many of our officers is, that we killed about 4 to 1. For my own part, I have no idea of the loss on either side, as I had no opportunity to go over the battle ground, after the fight, except where our battery fought, was charged and captured by the enemy, and afterwards recaptured by Col. Hawthorn’s gallant regiment, who fought most desperately, and justly deserve the praise and most hearty thanks of our army. Col. Brooks’, Col. McRae’s and Col. Pleasants’ regiments fought nobly, and acquitted themselves creditably." - End of Part One. Look for Part Two in the next post.

You can see more about the Battle of Prairie Grove, including official reports, photographs of the battlefield and links to related points of interest, at

No comments: