Published: October 27th 2011October 27th 2011
Last year we decided we wanted to do something a little different than we usually do. We planned a three day, two night run through northern Arkansas. We drove down on a Thursday evening and arrived at out hotel in Bentonville at about 8:30pm. The room we had reserved was not the room we got but we were tired from the four hour drive down so we just decided to grin and bear it and get some sleep. The following morning my wife said she found hair in the tub and after seeing the room in the sunlight we realized what a mess we had slept in.
Despite the hotel problems the next day started pretty decent. On our way to Pea Ridge National Military Park we came across the Roger’s Municipal-Carter Field Airport where we found another UH-1 Huey helicopter display.
Following Highway 62 brought us right to the entrance of the Military Park.
In 1862 a two day battle was fought by 26,000 soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies. The fate of Missouri (my home state) would be determined by the outcome of this battle. One notable fact about this battle is that it was one
of the few times that the Union army was outnumbered by the Confederate army. The Union army commander was General Samuel Curtis who commanded the Army of the Southwest. General Earl Van Dorn commanded the Confederate forces. Perhaps part of the downfall of the Confederate army was that the force was split during a maneuver and was forced to fight two different actions and neither group was able to support the other. Union scouts ensured that the Union army matched the movement. The final blow to the Confederates was that they lacked sufficient artillery support and were running out of ammunition. The Union army took the victory which kept the state of Missouri firmly under Union control.
The museum thoroughly details troop movements, artillery locations, and just about every detail of the battle. Displays included cannon balls and guns that were found on the site. Driving through the park is an experience; you can almost still smell the smoke of the guns as they were discharged against the coming formations of soldiers. The cannons sit there, quietly marking artillery positions, but you can still sense that they are still manned by their crews. It was not until we came
to the cliff that overlooked the entire battlefield that we saw the just how massive and difficult the battle must have been. A map at the lookout location shows where all the units moved and were located. At this point the gravity of what those soldiers endured starts to become clear.
The park rangers are very friendly and answer any questions you might have. Notably this is one of few battlefields to be maintained to be as it was at the time of the battle.
The park is open:
May 1 – October 31
6:00am – 9:00pm
November 1 – April 30
6:00am – 6:00pm
Visit their website for more information on the history of the battle.
There are more photos below