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Prairie Grove Battlefield

Prairie Grove, Washington County, Arkansas

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Confederate Headquarters
Morrow House

This house, built about 1855, was the home of the John Morrow family, and originally stood on Cove Creek 9 miles south of here. On the night before the battle of Prairie Grove, Confederate General T.C. Hindman met with his division and brigade commanders in this house and made final plans for battle. The army left the Morrow farm for Prairie Grove at 4 o'clock on the morning of December 7, 1862. This house also sheltered General Sterling Price in February 1862 when Price's army was enroute to the battle of Pea Ridge.

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Morrow House

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Colonel Joseph O. Shelby, C.S.A.

Missouri cavalry and artillery guarded the Confederate right flank and helped turn back the Union attacks while under the command of Colonel Joseph O. Shelby who stated:

"...All along the lines the near fire of the infantry rose, crash upon crash, the dense smoke filling the air and the wild powder gloom getting darker and darker. This terrible fire soon rippled out in one vast mighty weave of bullets, that circled and roared like a storm at sea, varied incessantly by the thunder of impatient cannon and the yell of exultant and furious combatants.

On the right, four regiments of Federal infantry formed in the open field, and came up in splendid order with flaunting banners and waving pennons...My skirmishers were steadily driven in, and down to meet them like an avalanche our own infantry swept. They met, the shock was terrible, but broken and rent, our boys drove them back and followed at the charge. Again and again they returned to the fight, and again and again were they repulsed with great slaughter."

Prairie Grove Battle Field

The heaviest casualties were around the Archibald Borden house and orchard. The first house was burned the day after the battle. Mr. Borden built this house on the site of the original in 1872. Charles W. Walker, 34th Arkansas Infantry, recalled:

"The once peaceful valley, now a field of carnage was swept with shot, shell, grape, and canister. The shriek of the wounded and the groan of the dying often rose above the din of battle. The Borden Orchard...was the storm center around which the battle raged furiously. Charge after charge across the valley and up the hill on which was Borden's house was made by the gallant boys in blue, only as often to be repulsed by the boys in gray."

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Stop #4
Borden House & Orchard

The heaviest fighting of the day took place around this house and orchard. After the battle, General Herron reported 250 dead within a 100-yard radius of the house. One soldier stated the ground was "muddy with blood" on the hillside where the Confederate cannons under the command of Captain William D. Blocher sat during the battle.

This is the only structure in the Park that is located on the original site.

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Blocher's Arkansas Battery was the focal point of the Union attacks. A sergeant in the battery reported:

"...The enemy advanced upon us with their artillery under cover of their infantry, until within range of our battery when they opened a most disastrous fire on us from both arms. Hail from Heaven near fell thicker than the shot, shell, and minie balls did for minutes. Having no support, Captain Blocher ordered our men to fall back and save themselves....we discovered our men forming about 200 yards in rear of our battery...Our men then charged and drove them from our guns with considerable loss to the enemy."

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Herron's Attack

From this spot the observer is viewing the fields over which General F.J. Herron's army advanced on the morning of December 7, 1862, to attack the Confederates position on this ridge. Because the ford of the Illinois River was under artillery fire. Herron crossed northwest of the ford, or almost directly north of this spot. His army consisted of troops from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Arkansas. Herron's divisions bore the brunt of the battle until 2 p.m., when Blunt's army came to his aid. Blunt's army entered the battle one mile west of this spot.

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Brothers Columbus and Ad Gray of Company D, 29th Arkansas Infantry withstood the first Union assault and counterattacked with Sergeant Ad Gray in the lead. Columbus Gray wrote home after seeing his brother fall mortally wounded:

"I stopped, squatted down by him, and laid my hand on his head and I said, 'Oh my brother whare[sic] are you hurt?' I saw that he was breathing his last....It almost run me distracted. I did not know what to do. I knew I could not do him any good by staying there with him, so I jumped up and run on with the company."

The Dead of Prairie Grove

The men who died on this field on December 7, 1862 are buried in the soldier cemeteries in Fayetteville. 700 unknown Confederate soldiers are in the cemetery maintained by the Southern Memorial Association on East Mountain. The Union dead are in the Fayetteville National Cemetery. The commanding Generals reported 339 dead and 1,630 wounded in action. The records show that many of the wounded died - 430 in the army hospitals of Fayetteville, 150 in the churches and homes of Cane Hill, and others in homes along the Cove Creek and Telegraph roads. The losses were about 10 per cent of the troops engaged.

Prairie Grove Battle Field

Blunt's Attack

From this spot the observer is viewing the terrain over which General James C. Blunt's 1st Division advanced on the afternoon of December 7, 1862, to attack the Confederate left and relieve the pressure on General F.J. Herron's 2nd and 3rd Divisions which had been engaged since early morning. Blunt had been in camp at Cane Hill and was bypassed by General T.C. Hindman's army on the night of December 6. Blunt marched his men to Rhea's Mill on Sunday morning, December 7, and entered the battle here at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Prairie Grove Battle Field

34th Arkansas Regiment
Confederate Infantry

Washington County's best known Confederate Regiment, the 34th Arkansas, received its baptism of fire in the battle of Prairie Grove. The regiment, composed largely of Washington County men, later fought in the battles of Jenkin's Ferry and Helena. Its officers at Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862 were:

Colonel W.H. Brooks
Lt. Colonel T.M. Gunter
Major F.R. Earles
Surgeons W.B. Welch and J.M. Lacy

Co. A - Captain J. Wythe Walker
Co. B - Captain James Mitchell
Co. C - Captain Sam Smithson
Co. D - Captain William Owsley
Co. E - Captain James E. Wright
Co. F - Captain Cyrus Pickens
Co. G - Captain James Hensley
Co. H - Captain Wallace
Co. I - Captain A.V. Edmondson
Co. K - Captain J.R. Pettigrew

The 34th Arkansas Infantry faced the brunt of General Herron's attack. Concerning the first Union Charge, Colonel William H. Brooks stated:

"...ordering my men to kneel and wait for the command 'fire', and taking advantage of the ground to conceal them as much as possible. I awaited their approach until within fifty or sixty yards, and then opened upon them a murderous fire, killing, and wounding many, their lines wavered and without further orders, I immediately ordered by regiment forward.

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