Friday, May 22, 2009
Memorial Day, Part Three - Pea Ridge Battlefield, Arkansas
One of the most significant battles of the Civil War took place not in Virginia or Tennessee, but far to the west and high in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
The Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, was a major turning point of the war in the west and firmly established Union control of the state of Missouri. It was also one of the bloodiest battles of the first year of the war, with thousands of men - Northern and Southern - shedding their blood for the causes for which they fought.
The battle began on March 6, 1862, in the eleventh month of the Civil War, and raged for two days. By the time the killing had stopped, more than 3,000 men had been killed, wounded or captured. A disaster for the Confederate forces, led by General Earl Van Dorn, the Union victory achieved by General Samuel Curtis was one of the most complete of the war.
The site today is one of the most pristine battlefield areas in the country. The Pea Ridge National Military Park preserves 4,300 acres where the two armies maneuvered and fought. Features include a visitor center, driving tour, walking trails, overlooks and the restored Elkhorn Tavern around which heavy fighting took place. For those living in the western parts of the South, Pea Ridge is an excellent place for a Memorial Day trip to explore the cost of the bloodiest war in American history. The entrance fee is only $5.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/pearidgeindex.