Monday, March 5, 2012

Pea Ridge National Military Park

This weekend the hallowed grounds of the Pea Ridge Battlefield that lies just a few miles northeast of Granny Mountain will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle between 26,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. The two day battle ended with a Confederate retreat and the loss of many lives.

 The Battle of Pea Ridge was the most significant conflict in the war west of the Mississippi but even so, history books didn't give much attention to the battle. Even during the war there just wasn't as much interest in events that happened west of the Mississippi.

Last summer I made my first trip out to the Battlefield with GRANDson Gavin. After watching a very interesting film at the park's museum we drove through the fields where 3,400 soldiers lost their lives. It was a sobering feeling to think of the conditions that they fought under, bitter cold and the lack of supplies at this stage of the war took it's toll on an Army that was poor equipped to fight.

For as far as the eye can see, the terrain is wooded with deep ravines and rocky outcrops.

William L. Shea who co-authored Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West wrote, "A late winter storm swept across the Ozark Plateau and covered the roads with sleet and snow. The pace of the advance slowed to a crawl and the Confederates suffered immensely. Wrote a Missouri soldier: “It had turned bitter cold. We had no tents and only one blanket to each man. We built log heaps and set them afire to warm the ground to have a place on which to lie, and I remember well the next day there were several holes burned in my uniform by sparks left on the ground.” After two dreadful days and nights in the open, the shivering Confederates ate the last of their rations and set out for Bentonville on March 6.  “Such a worn-out set of men I never saw,” remembered a Louisiana soldier. “They had not one single mouth full of food to eat.” 

Elkhorn Tavern was used as a make-shift hospital for soldiers of the battle.

With the severity of their injuries and the limited means to operate, there were few survivors.

Re-enactments of the battle are planned on Friday in Bentonville (re-enactments are prohibited in National Parks) and on Saturday, volunteers will be placing 3,400 candles in luminaries throughout the Pea Ridge Battlefield's grounds to be lit at sundown. One candle for each soldier that died, an excellent way for us to realize the sheer numbers of men that sacrificed their lives on these battlefields.

For more information go to: Pea Ridge National Military Park

15 comments:

  1. Such a lot of history near you! It's good that you're able to take your grandson on a tour and make history real for him.
    I love your header photo!

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    1. Thanks so much, the daffodils are just beautiful this year! I can't believe it took me so long to go out the the battlefield since it is close. It was sobering to look across those fields.

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  2. I love places like this. There were Civil War battles up and down our valley and there is a fabulous plantation house which was used as a hospital. Naturally, everyone says it is haunted.

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    1. The Buckhorn Tavern (where they brought injured soldiers) really gave me an errie feeling. The park attendent said that they have had "activity" that was unexplained. My Grandson LOVED that part!

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  3. a sobering look at history. beautiful territory, though. love those fences and hills.

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    1. The battle was fought in bitter temperatures, a late winter storm bore down on the area. Conditions were so hard for an army that was already weak from travel and lack of food. The park's film really brought the battle to life, it was the account of one soldier.

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  4. I have a large old country store counter from Pea Rigde, AR. I did not know the history of the area. Anyone out there need an old green store counter from Pea Ridge?

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    1. Donna, have you thought of advertising on Craigslist? We live only about 12 miles from Pea Ridge, I'm wondering if the counter came out of the old hardware store there? The stores downtown are ANCIENT! But like every other place, they have a Dollar General and a Sonic!

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  5. Very beautiful land to hold the ghosts of those lost.

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    1. True, you can't help but think of all the souls that departed earth from those fields as you drive through.

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  6. Great post. As some what of a civil war buff I found this really interesting. I live about 2 hours from Gettysburg and have been there numerous times.50,000 men died there in a 3 day battle. It's funny, the photos of your battle field look very similar. It's humbling to stand there and imagine the men running across those fields.

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    1. So true, Mark. We went to Gettysburg 1995 and it was absolutely had the most
      sobering effect on me. I felt an overwhelming sadness when I looked across all
      those graves. That trip we went onto Washington and spent several days, then on
      to Philadelphia. There just wasn't enough time to see everything, I'd love to
      make another trip soon, while our 11 year old grandson is at the age he could
      absorb it all. My husband says that doesn't sound like a vacation!

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  7. I am an amateur Civil War buff too so I really enjoyed this post. Have you visited the
    Wilson's Creek Battlefield park? I went several years ago (again) with my adult son. It is awe inspiring to walk those grounds and think that soldiers were laying out there shooting and killing each other right where we were walking.

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    1. I have visited Wilson's Creek Battlefield many times when I was growing up at Springfield. It is awe inspiring, history comes to life when you visit these National Parks.

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  8. I was just out yesterday! It truly is a remarkable place, and I often daydream about the soldiers charging through the woods or marching along the dirt roads that used to be there every time I go. It really is a beautiful and peaceful place.

    I live over in Fayetteville, by the way. "Ms. A" from above sent me your link (she reads my blog, too) and was wondering if we were anywhere near each other. So, I hopped on over here, saw Pea Ridge, and got to wondering, too. What a coincidence! ; )

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