Benton County, AR | Mar 6 - 8, 1862
By the spring of 1862, Union forces had pushed Confederates south and west through Missouri into northwestern Arkansas. On the night of March 6, 1862, Confederate Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn and his 16,000-man Army of the West set out to counterattack the Union position near Pea Ridge. Hoping to move quickly, in a fateful decision, Van Dorn ordered the supply trains far to the rear. Learning of Van Dorn’s approach, some 10,000 Federals in Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis's Army of the Southwest marched to meet the Rebel advance the next day. The forces met near Elkhorn Tavern just three miles south of the Missouri border and fighting quickly ensued. Two Confederate generals, Brig. Gens. Ben McCulloch and James McQueen McIntosh, were killed in the action, halting the Rebel momentum. By nightfall, the Confederates controlled Elkhorn Tavern and the Telegraph Road. Curtis consolidated his force during the night, and the next day, counterattacked near the tavern and, by successfully employing his artillery, slowly forced the Rebels back. Running short of ammunition due to the absence of supply support, Van Dorn abandoned the battlefield, leaving Arkansas virtually defenseless. With the Confederate defeat, the Union controlled the border state of Missouri for the next two years.