Ozark Outing: Visiting the Civil War Battlefield at Pea Ridge

   We were pretty adventurous this weekend, which is so not our style. We are, usually– as Gladys Taber would say– “stay at home birds.” 
   Saturday morning we ventured over to Arkansas to visit the Civil War Battlefield and national park at Pea Ridge.  Pea Ridge doesnt get as much attention as the sites like Gettysburg, but it was a pivotal battle during the frigid winter fighting in early 1862 and decided the fate of Missouri and other western state’s in whether they’d remain in the union or go with the confederacy. After fierce fighting, the aftermath of Pea Ridge saw Missouri and the west side with the Yankees. 

   The poor fighters have long gone now, leaving behind their dearly departed, faded echos of cannon fire, and pieces of history, such as The Elk Horn Tavern. The Tavern today is rebuild– the original structure was lost to fire–twice— but the chimneys and beautiful stone fireplaces remained.
   According to the website of the Pea Ridge National Military Park

Close to 23,000 soldiers fought at Pea Ridge on March 7 and 8, 1862. Many of the soldiers were from small towns and had never traveled more than twenty miles away from home before they joined the Army. They were farmers, merchants, teachers, mechanics, lawyers and countless other occupations before they enlisted.

At this early stage of the war, every man was a volunteer. Many joined for patriotic reasons, to preserve the embattled Union or to fight the “Second American Revolution”, while others sought to escape the boredom of life in a small town. Some went with their heads filled with dreams of glory, while others simply did not want to be thought of as cowards. No one thought that this was to be a long or bloody war. They were wrong.”

   Today, the Ozarks are still remote, densely forested, and rural. Just imagine how it was over 150 years ago? Can you imagine how the people living in these rural communities must have felt when this great wave of soldiers and war came colliding with their little mountainside farms, mills and taverns? It must have been a heady mixture of fear, excitement, and confusion.
    I know I had ancestors living in the White River area, which was not far from Pea Ridge. Perhaps they heard the booming of the cannons and wondered what on earth they could be?
   I also had two separate ancestors who enlisted as Union soldiers with the Missouri Calvary (We were Yankees?!) whose horsemanship and knowledge of the rugged Ozark landscapes made them perfect for being scouts. 

     For me, it’s so amazing to think about all this— and walk on the grounds on which it happened. Today, Pea Ridge is quiet, serene, and beautiful. All that remains of war are the old cannons you’ll see rolled out in the battlefields— now more populated with wildlife than soldiers. They are also long quiet. But hopefully, their lessons not lost.

6 thoughts on “Ozark Outing: Visiting the Civil War Battlefield at Pea Ridge

  1. What a fun and interesting visit! The reconstructed Tavern is very cool too. It is also neat that you had ancestors involved in the Civil War as well. My Mom had some relatives on her side that were in the Union Army. Civil War reenactment is big down here about an hour north of where I live. They do an entire weekend with a camp set up and pretend gun powder to do the actual fights. It is amazing to watch and consider that this war actually happened just right up the road. Love that family shot of everyone too! Everyone looks like they were having a great day!


  2. Oh Heather what beautiful pictures! And such a wonderful place to see with the family. This is what I would call an adventure too, and I am that kind of \”stay at home\” gal as well….getting ready for my dream adventure. 😉 But I will have to wait to load pictures for my computer died and I can't load pictures to my kindle…sigh Many m Blessings,and warmth, Linnie


  3. Your family is just so sweet! You are such an awesome mom to expose your family to history, and historical places from early childhood. The trips based in history we took as a child are the ones I remember best, and most fondly. Beautiful photographs.


  4. Heather, you'd make an excellent tour guide! I followed right along enjoying every moment of your tour. Here in Maryland we are surrounded by Civil War battlefields so I never thought to think there were battles anywhere west of the Mississippi! I come from Confederate stock and almost wouldn't be here! My great-great-grandfather was from Mississippi, but was discharged in 1862 for medical reasons (wounded? sick? I don't know). He married again (he was a widower) and then diedin 1863 just before my great-grandfather was born in January 1864.


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