Grove Battlefield State Park
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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