Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pea Ridge #15 - Arkansas Rallies to oppose the Invasion

As General Earl Van Dorn scrambled to pull together a Confederate army to oppose the occupation of Northwest Arkansas by strong Federal forces, he was gratified by the speed with which the men of Arkansas responded to his call.

Boston Mountains of Arkansas
The following report from the Pocahontas Herald appeared in the Louisiana Daily True Delta on March 4, 1862. While the report was not dated, it appears to have been written around the first of March (150 years ago today) and details the rapid movement of men from throughout Arkansas to the Boston Mountains:

ARKANSAS RALLYING. - From all parts of the State, says the Pocahontas Herald, we hear the most flattering acconts of volunteering, and think that by the 5th of March over 10,000 sons of Arkansas will have enrolled their names and offered their services for the glorious cause of liberty and southern rights. In this county alone, fully three hundred men will go forth to battle under the late call, and we hear that other counties adjoining us are doing nearly as well. To talk of drafting Arkansians is sheer nonsense. If the men are needed all that is necessary is to call them out and furnish them guns to fight with. - Louisiana Daily True Delta, March 4, 1862.

Arkansas River landing at Van Buren
The men were reinforcements for the forces of Confederate Generals Ben McCulloch, Sterling Price and James McIntosh, all of which were positioned south of the Boston Mountains ridge in Crawford County.

Although Union General Samuel Curtis did not know it, the initiative that he had maintained so well in his advance down through Missouri and into Arkansas was now beginning to shift. A naturally aggressive officer, Van Dorn would move with characteristic speed to try to destroy his Federal counterpart. The Battle of Pea Ridge was now less than one week away.

In addition to the rapid movement of men, cannon and supplies to the south side of the Boston Mountains near Van Buren, troops also were on the march from the Indian Territory of today's Oklahoma. Brigadier General Albert Pike had marched for Northwest Arkansas on February 28th and was slowly moving for the Arkansas line near which he expected to link up with the Cherokee troops of Colonel Stand Watie. Together they would move thousands of Native American troops forward to take part in the Battle of Pea Ridge.

I will begin to accelerate my postings on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge tomorrow, so be sure to check back regularly. You can also read more anytime at

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