For those that have never visited the Pea Ridge National Military Park in northwest Arkansas, the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, also known as the Battle of the Pea Ridge, may seem long ago and unimportant but the significance of this battle was pivotal during the Civil War.
This weekend marks the 158th anniversary of the battle and the Pea Ridge National Military Park Foundation has planned a variety of activities to mark the occasion.
Pea Ridge is one of the most intact Civil War battlefields and stretches across 4,300 acres of fields and woodlands, hills and flatland. Driving tours with multiple stops are offered daily.
On March 7-8, 1862, 11,000 blue coated Union troops under the command of General Samuel Curtis defeated 16,000 Confederate troops under Generals Sterling Price, Earl Van Dorn and Ben McCulloch.
The Johnny Rebs attacked with a rear assault that came close to defeating Curtis' troop but the Union troops rallied and counterattacked on Saturday, March 8. With major causalities and losses numbering in the thousands on both sides, the Confederate troops retreated and surrendered their chance at taking control of Arkansas.
General Ben McCulluch, CSA, was a veteran of the Mexican-American War and a Texas Ranger. He fell during battle on the first day.
The battle raged around Elkhorn Tavern that served as a hospital, as Van Dorn's headquarters and as Union supply headquarters during different phases of the battle. The structure standing at the military park today was rebuilt based on 1880's photos of the Elkhorn Tavern that replaced the original, which burned in 1863, a war casualty.
The south fireplace and chimney along with the foundations are original. The reconstructed Elkhorn Tavern is listed on the National Register of Historic places. Prior to the Civil War, it served as an Overland stage stop and a tavern although the Benton County Baptist Society met upstairs as well.
The battle kept Missouri in the union and was the most pivotal battle fought west of the Mississippi.
This weekend, to mark the 158th anniversary of the battle, a variety of events will be held within the park and at the Visitor Center.
Schedule of Events for 158th Anniversary of the Battle of Pea Ridge
Northwest Arkansas Heritage Brass Band concert-(visitor center auditorium) 10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
Blacksmith demonstrations- (outside of visitor center) 11:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
Period broom making- (outside of visitor center) 11:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
Period tinsmith demonstrations- (outside of visitor center) 11:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
Union Artillery- (behind the visitor center) 12:00, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
3rd Louisiana Infantry demonstrations- (Tour stop 4) 11:00 a.m., 1:00 and 2:30 p.m.
17th Arkansas Infantry-(Elkhorn Tavern) 11:30 a.m. , 1:30 and 3:00 p.m.
24th Missouri Union Infantry- (Elkhorn Tavern) 11:00, a.m. 1:00 and 2:30 p.m.
Missouri State Guard (Elkhorn Tavern) 11:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m.
The Pea Ridge National Military Park is open 6 a.m. until dusk 365 days a year. The Visitor Center is open 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. seven days a week, closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. It is located at 15930 East Highway 62, Garfield, Arkansas, east of Rogers.
For more information about the park, visit their website at: https://www.nps.gov/peri/index.htm.