When the Confederates
under General Price
fled into Arkansas
in February, 1861, General Curtis
and a strong force of Nationals pursued him. Curtis
crossed the Arkansas
line on Feb. 18 and drove Price
and his followers over the Boston Mountains
He then fell back and took a position near Pea Ridge
, a spur of the Ozark Mountains
had been joined by Gen. Earl Van Dorn
, a dashing young officer who was his senior in rank, and now took chief command of the Confederates
Forty heavy guns thundered a welcome to the young general.
cried the general, “behold your leader!
He comes to show you the way to glory and immortal
He comes to hurl back the minions of the despots at Washington
, whose ignorance, licentiousness, and brutality are equalled only by their craven natures.
They come to free your slaves,
Battle of Pea Ridge.|
lay waste your plantations, burn your villages, and abuse your loving wives and beautiful daughters.”
came from western Arkansas
with Generals McCulloch
, and Pike
The latter was a New England
man and a poet, and came at the head of a band of Indians whom he had lured into the service.
The whole Confederate force then numbered 25,000 men; the National
troops, led by Curtis
, did not exceed 11,000 men, with 50 pieces of artillery.
On March 5 Curtis
was informed by his scouts of the swift approach of an overwhelming force of Confederates; he concentrated his army in the Sugar Creek Valley
He was compelled to fight or make a disastrous retreat.
Choosing the former, he prepared for the struggle.
Meanwhile Van Dorn
, by a quick movement, had flanked Curtis
and gained his rear, and on the morning of the 7th he moved to attack the Nationals, not doubting his ability to crush him and capture his train of 200 wagons.
's troops were in battle order.
His 1st and 2d divisions, on the left, were commanded respectively by Generals Asboth
; the 3d was under Gen. J. C. Davis
, and composed the centre, and the 4th, on the right, was commanded by Colonel Carr
His line of battle extended about 4 miles, and there was only a broad ravine between his troops and the heavy Confederate force.
Towards noon the battle was opened by a simultaneous attack of Nationals and Confederates.
A very severe conflict ensued, and continued a greater part of the day, with varying fortunes to each party, the lines of strife swaying like a pendulum.
At 11 A. M. the pickets on Curtis
's extreme right under Major Weston
were violently assailed, and Colonel Osterhaus
, with a detachment of Iowa
cavalry and Davidson's Peoria Battery, supported by Missouri
cavalry and Indiana
infantry, attacked a portion of Van Dorn
's troops before he was fairly ready for battle.
went to the assistance of Weston
, and a severe engagement ensued.
Thus the battle near Pea Ridge
met with a warm reception, for the woods were swarming with Confederates.
His cavalry were driven back,
when General Davis
came to his rescue with General Sigel
, who attacked the Confederate
Soon afterwards Davis
fought severely with McCulloch
, and Pike.
Then the battle raged most fiercely.
The issue of the strife seemed doubtful, when the 18th Indiana attacked the Confederate
flank and rear so vigorously with ball and bayonet that they were driven from that part of the field, when it was strewn with the dead bodies of Texans and Indians
The Confederates now became fugitives, and in their flight they left their dead and wounded on the field.
Among the latter were Generals McCulloch
, mortally hurt.
, and Sigel
with his heavy guns,
Map of battle of Pea Ridge.|
now went to the assistance of Colonel Carr
on the right.
had held his ground.
There were no indications that the Confederates
wished to renew the fight, for it was now sunset.
bivouacked on the battle-field that night among the dead and dying.
The contest was renewed at dawn (March 8), when the Nationals hurled such a destructive tempest of shot and shell upon the Confederates
that the latter soon broke and fled in every direction in the wildest confusion.
, who had been a greater part of the day with the troops that fought Carr
, concentrated his whole available force on Curtis
The latter had been vigilant, and at 2 A. M. he had been joined by Sigel
and his command.
The whole four divisions of the army were in position to fight Van Dorn
With batteries advantageously planted, and infantry lying down in front of them, Curtis
opened a terrible cannonade.
Battery after battery of the Confederates
was silenced in the course of two hours, and so horrible was the tempest of iron that Van Dorn
and his followers were compelled to fly to the shelter of the ravines of Cross Timber Hollow.
At the same time, Sigel
's infantry, with the troops of the centre and might, engaged in the battle.
fled so suddenly, and in such a scattering manner, that it was difficult for Curtis
to determine the main route of his retreat.
had been posted some distance off, and he, too, participated in the flight.
The Confederate army, made so strong and hopeful by Van Dorn
's speech twenty-four hours before, was now broken into fragments.
This conflict, called the battle of Pea Ridge
by the Nationals and Elkhorn
by the Confederates
, was a sanguinary one.
under Pike shamefully tomahawked, scalped, and mangled the bodies of National soldiers.
It is said they were maddened with intoxicating drink before the battle.
lost 1,351 killed, wounded, and missing. The loss of the Confederates
was never reported.
It was probably about the same as that of the Nationals.