Pea Ridge, AR

Battle of Pea Ridge

[Battle of Pea Ridge, Ark., by Kurz and Allison - Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Date(s): March 6-8, 1862

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas, United States

Campaign(s): Pea Ridge Campaign [1862]

Battles in Campaign:


  • Union forces in Missouri had effectively pushed Confederate units out of the state.

  • By the spring of 1862 Union General Samuel R. Curtis determined to pursue the Confederates back into Arkansas with his Army of the Southwest.

  • Curtis moved his approximately 10,250 Union soldiers and 50 artillery pieces into Benton County, Arkansas, along a small stream called Sugar Creek.

  • Curtis found an excellent defensive position on the north side of the creek and proceeded to fortify it and place artillery for an expected Confederate assault from the south.

  • Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn had been appointed overall commander of the Trans-Mississippi District to moderate a conflict between competing generals Sterling Price of Missouri and Benjamin McCulloch of Texas.

  • Van Dorn's Army of the West totaled approximately 16,000 men, including 800 Cherokee Indian troops, Price's Missouri State Guard, Texas Rangers, and Confederate infantry from Arkansas and Louisiana.

  • Van Dorn was aware of the Union movements into Arkansas and was intent on destroying Curtis's Army of the Southwest and reopening the gateway into Missouri.


  • UnionMaj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis

  • Confederate: Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn

Principal Forces:

  • Union: Army of the Southwest [11,000]

  • ConfederateArmy of the West [14,000]


  • On the night of March 6, Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn set out to outflank the Union position near Pea Ridge, dividing his army into two columns.

  • Learning of Van Dorn’s approach, the Federals marched north to meet his advance on March 7.

  • This movement—compounded by the killing of two generals, Brig. Gen. Ben McCulloch and Brig. Gen. James McQueen McIntosh, and the capture of their ranking colonel—halted the Rebel attack.

  • Van Dorn led a second column to meet the Federals in the Elkhorn Tavern and Tanyard area.

  • By nightfall, the Confederates controlled Elkhorn Tavern and Telegraph Road.

  • The next day, Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, having regrouped and consolidated his army, counterattacked near the tavern and, by successfully employing his artillery, slowly forced the Rebels back.

  • Running short of ammunition, Van Dorn abandoned the battlefield.

  • The Union controlled Missouri for the next two years.

Photo Gallery:1

Please click the photo gallery link to view pictures.

Classification2: A


  • Union: 1,349

  • Confederate4,600

Results: Union Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Arkansas Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of"

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 03/08/2013