Southern hopes dashed in faraway Arkansas today in 1862


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Today, the 7th March, in 1862 the Confederates met a smaller Union army at Pea Ridge in NW Arkansas with the aim of wresting back control of the region and moving back into Missouri.
    The Confederate force of 16000 was led by a diminuitive Mississipian, formerly a US Army Captain of Cavalry by the name of Earl Van Dorn. His forces were divided into two Divisions, one of Missourians and the other of mostly Texans, but including a Brigade of Indians under the only native to rise to the rank of General, Albert Pike.
    The plan was sound, except in wanting to give his army speed, by making them travel light and on three days’ rations, he was to find himself commanding a thirsty and hungry one by battle’s end. Van Dorn sent both Divisions on a flanking march of the Union army under Sam Curtis, a New York former West Point soldier turned lawyer, then Republican Congressman.  Curtis had chosen good defensive ground and decided to await the Confederate attack.  Unfortunately for Van Dorn, his flanking move was detected and his army found itself fighting the front of Curtis’ army as he redeployed to face the threat. Worse was to come for the Confederate army as the Texan Division commander,Ben McCulloch, was killed early on as was his replacement, McIntosh. The smaller Union army was forced to retreat on more than one occasion, but was never routed.
    Van Dorn could have sealed victory, but cautiously decided not to rush his 5000 man Missouri Division into the fray prefering  an artillery duel. The Union forces held on, even counterattacking before night fell.
    The battle was rejoined on the 8th.


  • '12

    As usual thanks for the historic lesson Witt.  I see some douche gave you a -1 so I upped it back to a zero at least.  It is beyond me why somebody would down vote history, its history for Petes’ sake not a personal opinion……  To forgive is divine so let’s do a group forgive on the wretched soul.



  • Another good one Wittmann - thanks


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thank you both. US Civil War is my favourite history subject.
    I only wish I had read more about Napoleon’s campaigns. I know next to nothing about them.
    I have had more than one conversation with Southerners who have visited mine or my father’s restaurant and who lived in a town where a battle was fought.
    Most sites are well kept and the dead remembered.
    I like that.



  • I have been lucky enough to visit a few battlefields. I used to live about a 15 minute drive from Sharpsburg so I know that battlefield fairly well. Gettysburg is really cool. Been there a few times.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    I need to visit Virginia, Maryland and Gettysburg.
    I thought this year was the best excuse with the 150th anniversary in July, but I can’t with work.
    I will come when I am an old man.



  • I have visited Pea Ridge Battle Field, it’s a great park. The area is still very isolated and is considered one of the best undisturbed Civil War Battle Fields.

    I have often wondered how a Southern Victory at Pea Ridge would effect the War in the West.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    By all accounts it should have been.
    Van Dorn’s numerical superiority was an advantage few Southern armies ever had. Half his troops were above average quality too. The fault lies with the commander. His plan based on speed did not count on Curtis’ subordinates’ improvisation. Excepting Sigel they all performed well and as we know the South lost the most influential and revered  one early on, then his replacement. Not knowing one of his staff had sent his spare ammo and supplies back is inexcusable. On the second day the Union artillery bettered the Southern one, because of this.
    Van Dorn’s holding back the final assault with fresh troops saved Curtis’ Army of the Southwest; it still mystifies today as it was so out of character for the ever impetuous former Cavalry Captain.
    A victory would have been a precursor to a Northern incursion into now enemy Missouri.
    The administration  would have still wanted Van Dorn’s army over the Mississippi, but it would have been hard to argue with a victorious one. I suspect Lee would have suggested to Davis rhat the army be used in such an agressive manner as it could have caused the recall of tens of thousands of Nortgern troops to counter a possible assault on St Louis or Cairo.
    In the early days of the war the fear of the unknown was always on politicians’ minds.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    I need to visit Virginia, Maryland and Gettysburg.
    I thought this year was the best excuse with the 150th anniversary in July, but I can’t with work.
    I will come when I am an old man.

    You’re ALREADY an old man! So you might as well come now! LOL…


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    I omitted: rich(old man).
    I was born old. Have never been reckless with money and always saved, so it really is because I expect to be unemployed(thanks Al!)and I cannot justify blowing 3k off savings on a week long holiday.
    Oh, and I am scared of loving it so much that I do not want to come back: I would sign up for yearly reenactments of Civil War battles and stop playing A&A!


  • '12

    I cannot justify blowing 3k off savings on a week long holiday.

    So two weeks it is……


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Just DO IT.

    Surely someone at A&A.org lives near there locally, and could house you for the period.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    I would not come without trying to meet a few of you and have many sites to see that I would not regret coming.
    One day. I mean it.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    Thank you both. US Civil War is my favourite history subject.  I only wish I had read more about Napoleon’s campaigns. I know next to nothing about them.

    As a Civil War enthusiast, you may know more about the Napoleonic Wars than you realize. One of the factors which produced such large battlefield casualties during the Civil War was that the two sides (at least initially) used formations and tactics which resembled those of the Napoleonic era: massed infantry moving across open terrain.  This was fine at Waterloo, in the days of short-range smoothbore muskets which had a range of about 200 yards: advancing men could cross that distance in a minute or two, and thus would only face a couple of volleys before being reaching the other side’s lines.  In the Civil War, however, the primary firearm was the rifled musket, which had an aimed-fire range of about half a mile.  It took a while for both sides to realize that Napoleonic formations and offensive tactics could be suicidal when used to attack a defender armed with a long-range rifle which gave him the opportunity to fire multiple volleys against such concentrated targets – especially when the defender is able to fire from good cover, as was the case at Antietam where the Confederates made good use of a sunken road for this purpose.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    True. Well said.
    I meant smaller details of the battles and the senior commanders, rather than just a few names.
    They were colossal affairs and so much was decided on one battle.
    In the US Civil War both sides would lick their wounds and go again!


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