Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park



Battlefield statistics


State battlefield








The Battle-

(December 7th, 1862)


        The battle of Prairie Grove, waged on December 7th, 1862, was one of the greatest and most decisive Union victories in the state of Arkansas during the Civil War.  In November of 1862,  a Union army under the command of U.S. General James Blunt invaded north-west Arkansas from south-west Missouri.  Blunt was a very aggressive commander, and soon marched deep into north-west Arkansas, right in the expanse of the Boston Mountains.  Although General Blunt won a small battle at Cane Hill on November 28th, he had isolated himself almost 100 miles away from the nearest Union army, which was based at Springfield, Missouri, and commanded by U.S. General Francis Herron. 
         In early December, C.S. General Thomas Hindman, commanding a 11,000 man army and based east of the Boston Mountains, decided to strike at Blunt and his 5,000 strong army while he was isolated from re-enforcements.  But while General Hindman prepared for the attack, General Herron, in Springfield, ordered one of the greatest and longest forced marches of the Civil War.  In five days, Herron marched his 7,000 strong army about 110 miles from Springfield to just north of the Confederate's army. 
      Stunned by the rapid approach of Herron's army, Hindman turned north and attacked Herron's army on December 7th near Prairie Grove Church.  Because of the rigors of the forced march, Herron's army was severely depleted, but none-the-less, managed to hold their ground and actually begin to push the Confederate forces back until early in the afternoon, when the Union forces gave way to the superior numbers of the Confederates.  But before Hindman was able to push the Union forces back across the Illinois River, the Confederates encountered General Blunt's waiting army, who managed to stop the Confederate army's advance.  
        As night fell over the battlefield, the fighting ended, and Hindman continued to hold the high ground.  But events that occurred early that evening turned the tide of the battle.  Stragglers from General Herron's forced march, numbering almost 2,000, began to return to their army, strengthening the Union army to almost 10,000 men.  Hindman soon realized that the loyalty of many of his conscripts was in doubt, as desertion became rampant during the night.  Realizing that he would not be able to sustain another attack, Hindman and the Confederate army left Prairie Grove and gave up the high ground and ultimately northern Arkansas to the Union. 


The Battlefield-


Prairie Grove State Battlefield Park is located in north-western Arkansas, near the town of Fayetteville.  The battlefield can be found on Highway 62, off of Highway 71.

        Prairie Grove State Battlefield Park is owned and administered by the State of Arkansas.  The battlefield is, in my opinion, one of the greatest state-owned Civil War battlefield in the nation.  A state-of-the-art visitor's center, staffed by friendly and helpful staff members, offers information on a driving and walking tour of the battlefield.  The state-owned portion of the battlefield is split into two parts.  The first part surrounds the visitor's center, and includes battlefield monuments, a stone wall that surrounds the historic Morrow House, and several interpretive markers.  A small re-created village made out of several original houses from around the area also adds a nice touch to the battlefield. 
         The second portion of the battlefield is a short one mile walking tour that takes you through the area where the heaviest fighting occurred.  Historic structures, cannons, and interpretive markers help to explain the battle.  Prairie Grove Battlefield comes highly recommended, and a combined trip to Pea Ridge National Military Park can make an excellent day-trip in north-west Arkansas.


Picture Gallery-


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