he Battle of Pea Ridge, March 7-8, 1862, was the decisive battle in the first two years in the trans-Mississippi theatre of the Civil War, denying Missouri to the Confederacy and putting Arkansas in a precarious strategic position. In time the Confederates lost the state capital, Little Rock, and their efforts were hampered to mount a serious challenge to Federal power in the region.
It was also the second largest battle west of the River in the entire war. The battle featured rival Indian tribes, some of whom scalped the casualties during the battle! The fight that swirled around Elkhorn tavern was as ferocious as the more familiar ones in the Eastern theatre of the war, with about three thousand men being struck down in the thickets and fields of northwest Arkansas.
Forty years later, former Union Major General Grenville Dodge declared that the Union army in the Pea Ridge Campaign did “more marching and endured more suffering than the great armies I was connected with east of the Mississippi . . . for hard fighting, long and weary marches, as well as privations and sufferings endured, no army can show a better record nor one deserving greater credit, than the Army of the Southwest.”
In our tour of this great battlefield, military historian Bill Potter will discuss the events in Arkansas and Missouri leading up to the remarkable opportunity presented to the more numerous Confederate army under Earl Van Dorn, to defeat or destroy the Union forces of Samuel Curtis, crossing the southern Missouri border into Arkansas. For two days, more than 26,000 men fought to the death, and it seemed that the South might be able to carry the war back toward St. Louis, or at least to the state outside that bastion of Unionism. We will drive and walk the entire battlefield, so well preserved and marked thanks to the efforts of the Walton family to preserve this rural treasure.
Regiments from Missouri and Arkansas fought on both sides in this battle, reminding us again that it was a brother’s war, one that would be bitterly contested by small forces of warriors on the backroads and farmsteads of the region, to the dismay and suffering of both soldiers and especially the families with no way of escape.
Space Is Limited, Registration Required for Admission
Historian Bill Potter
An experienced historian and avid bibliophile, Bill Potter combines a lifelong study of American history with an uncommon ability to captivate audiences of all ages as he traces the providential acts of God throughout the ages. Mr. Potter has taught history in high schools and colleges, has led many tours of American and European historical sites and brings to each event a wealth of experience and knowledge. An experienced researcher and writer, Mr. Potter possesses a practical knowledge of antiquarian books, documents, and artifacts and has published several short books and has penned many articles and book reviews for publication. Bill has earned a well-deserved reputation as a man gifted in communicating the story of God’s providential hand in American history. As a father of eight children, he appreciates the necessity of passing on to the succeeding generations the richness of both our regional and national history. He and his wife, Leslie, reside in Virginia.
Thursday, March 22
|8:30am||Tour begins at the Visitors Center of the Pea Ridge National Military Park
(15930 E Hwy 62, Garfield, AR 72732)
|1:30pm||Conclusion of tour|
Note: There is no food service at the battlefield, but there are some beautiful picnic sites.
We will be staying at the Embassy Suites Northwest in Rogers, AR as Mr. Potter is a featured speaker at the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention hosted there on March 22-24.
There are many other nearby hotels to choose from with a wide variety of rates and amenities. We find Trip Advisor to be a helpful resource in hotel searches.
• USA General Samuel Curtis
• USA General Franz Sigel
• USA General Grenville Dodge
• CSA General Earl Van Dorn
• CSA General Ben McCullough
• CSA General Sterling Price
• CSA General Albert Pike and the Indian Regiments
Key Ideas & Questions
• Holding Missouri in the Union
• Vital role of Missouri German regiments
• Significance of the death of leaders in battle
• Why was this region evidence of a real “civil war”?
• Why were Indian tribes involved?
• Did this battle end all fighting in NW Arkansas and Missouri?
• Pea Ridge, Civil War Campaign in the West by William L. Shea & Earl Hess, NC Press, 1992
• Blue & Gray Magazine, January, 1988, “Battle of Pea Ridge”