What to know
On March 4, 1862, Confederate Gen. Earl Van Dorn led his Army of the West north from the Boston Mountains, intent on crushing Union Gen. Samuel R. Curtis's Army of the Southwest at Pea Ridge, then invading Missouri. His cavalry nearly captured a Union contingent under Gen. Franz Sigel at Bentonville, though Sigel fought free and joined Curtis. Van Dorn's army, badly strung out along the advance route, ended up splitting, with half hitting Curtis at Leetown while the rest circled Big Mountain to attack via the Springfield to Fayetteville Road at Elkhorn Tavern on March 6. The Leetown fight ended after two Rebel commanders were killed and one captured, and the Rebel attack at Elkhorn was blunted. Curtis wheeled his army around and drove Van Dorn from the field on March 8, ending any hopes of invading Missouri. Curtis fell back to Missouri, then learned that Van Dorn had moved his troops east of the Mississippi River. He reentered Arkansas at Salem and advanced to Searcy, frightening the Confederate Arkansas government into loading the state archives into wagons and fleeing to Hot Springs from Little Rock. He was joined by a column under Gen. Frederick Steele from southeast Missouri, which fought with Curtis through the remainder of the campaign. Supply problems led Curtis to abandon hopes of taking the capital and he instead cut his supply line and headed east toward Helena, living off the land (two years before Sherman's famous March to the Sea) and emancipating slaves (months before the Emancipation Proclamation). His revolutionary tactics resulted in Union occupation of Helena, a major base for the remainder of the war. BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE ROUTES Confederate Advance (Earl Van Dorn led his Confederate Army of the West north from Elm Springs on March 4, 1862, to attack Samuel Curtis's Army of the Southwest at Pea Ridge. The Rebels, soft from months in winter quarters, fell out on the road by the dozens.) Start at Elm Springs on Hwy 112 to Hwy 12 then US 71 into Bentonville. Sigel's Retreat (Union General Franz Sigel tarried over breakfast in Bentonville on the morning of March 6, 1862, but managed to escape a Confederate trap and rejoin Curtis on Little Sugar Creek.) Start at Bentonville at the intersection of US 71 and Hwy 72 to Sugar Creek Road to Brightwater. Ford Road (The Ford Road connected the Bentonville Detour with the Telegraph Road near Elkhorn Tavern. Confederate General Ben McCulloch cut across on the Ford Road, but was killed by Union skirmishers in the fighting at Leetown.) Start at Twelve Corners on Dodd Road to Hwy 72 then US 62 to Military Park Road at Elkhorn Tavern. Bentonville Detour (Van Dorn's troops took the Bentonville Detour to march around strong Federal positions above Little Sugar Creek, circle behind the Federal army, and attack from behind.) Start at the intersection of Sugar Creek and Ryan Roads. Follow Ryan Road to Hwy 72 to Pea Ridge then Lee Town Road to Greer Street to Schrader Road to Guthrie Road to Hwy 72 then Patton Road to Twelve Corners Road to Gann Ridge Road to Corinth Road ending at Corinth. Telegraph Road (The Telegraph Road was the main route from southwestern Missouri to northwest Arkansas. Earl Van Dorn attacked the Union Army of the Southwest from the Telegraph Road near Elkhorn Tavern.) Start at intersection of Hwy 16 and Hwy 265. Follow Hwy 265 through Fayetteville and Springdale to Old Wire Road then Hwy 94 through Rogers to Arkansas Street to Old Wire Road through Avoca and Brightwater then Military Park Road to Old Military Road to the Arkansas border. Confederate Retreat Start at Elkhorn Tavern follow Alvin Seamster Road to US 62. SECOND PHASE PEA RIDGE CAMPAIGN ROUTES Curtis's Movements (Curtis's Army of the Southwest marched across southern Missouri, but re-entered Arkansas after learning that Van Dorn had crossed the Mississippi River. Curtis would threaten Little Rock before marching cross-country to Helena.) Start at the Arkansas/Missouri border on Hwy 395 through Moko to Salem then Hwy 9 through Oxford and Brockwell into Melbourne then Hwy 69 through Mount Pleasant and Cushman to Batesville then US 67 to Hwy 157 through Sunnydale and Providence to Plainview then Hwy 385 to US 167/67 then to the intersection of US 167/67 and Hwy 367. Curtis stops here and retreats to Batesville along the same route. From Batesville Hwy 69 to Newark then Hwy 122 to Hwy 14 to Newport then Hwy 17 to Tupelo then Hwy 33 through Augusta to Hwy 260 then Hwy 17 to Hwy 38 into Cotton Plant then Hwy 17 to US 49 into Brinkley then US 70 to Hwy 302 to Clarendon then Hwy 17 to US 49 through Marvell into Helena. Steele's Movements (Frederick Steele led a Union contingent from southeast Missouri into Arkansas, linking up with Curtis's Army of the Southwest at Jacksonport.) Start at St. Francis on US 62 to Piggott then US 49 through Rector to Marmaduke then Hwy 34 to Hwy 135 to US 49 through Paragould to Hwy 358 to Hwy 351 to US 49 into Jonesboro then Wood Street to Neely Street then Hwy 226 to US 67 through Tuckerman to Diaz then Hwy 367 into Newport. Links with Curtis at this point.