Northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouriare holds strong for the Union on December 7th, 1862 as a force led by General James G. Blunt were able to repel an attack by the Confederates led by General Thomas Hindman at what is today known as the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
General Thomas wanted to make an attempt to regain territory that was lost in the beginning of 1862 during the Pea Ridge campaign, so he made the decision to build a force in Arkansas at Fort Smith. The general’s plan was to go and cross the Boston Mountains into northwestern Arkansas and finally into Missouri; unfortunately, the Union Army of the Frontier that was led by John Schofield made a surprise and defensive move to Maysville, Arkansas. Blunt was forced to assume command when Schofield was forced to give up his command because of illness. Hindman decided to send forward an advanced detachment of cavalry under the leadership of John Marmaduke in late November through the mountains; however, Blunt defeated Marmaduke by moving south and won the minor battle at Cane Hill.
Hindman made the choice to relocate his force of 11,000-man army after the Cane Hill battle across the Boston Mountains and went towards Blunt’s forces totaling 5,000 troops. Hindman was preparing to attack when he was caught off-guard by the approach of reinforcements from Missouri for the Union. Union General Francis Herron had transported 7,000 reinforcements in three and a half days more than 110 miles; this became known as one of the most important marches of the whole war. Though Hindman looked as if to face Herron, he decided to instead go to Prairie Grove in order to take up a defensive position.
Herron attacked Hindman when he arrived on December 7th. Thinking that this was only a part of Hindman’s troops, Herron only sent in half of his force to attack him. Herron’s attack failed even though they outnumbered Hindman three to one! Hindman thought he could take advantage of the situation and ordered a counterattack; it was driven back suffering heavy losses. Blunt sent his forces toward Prairie Grove when he heard noise from the attack and later that day launched an assault against Hindman. This attack failed as well as did another counterattack launched by the Confederates.
Darkness finally stopped the engagement resulting in the high ground at Prairie Grove still being held by the Confederates. Although the battle was considered to be a tactical draw, the problem facing Hindman was that his troops were dangerously low on ammunition. The Yankees lost over 1,200 individuals while Confederates losses totaled to over 1,400 individuals wounded and killed. The Union ultimately secured the region when Hindman finally made the decision to retreat back to Fort Smith.