The Democratic Banner didn’t always carry much information from some of the far-flung battlefields of the Civil War, but on Dec. 13, 1962, the day Gen. Ambrose Burnside was launching his futile assaults at Fredericksburg, Banner readers learned about a key fight that left northwest Arkansas firmly in Union hands.
The Battle of Prairie Grove took place on Dec. 7, 1862, when Confederate Gen. Thomas Hindman tried to destroy the divisions of Gen. Francis Herron and Gen. James Blunt before they could join forces. The result was a tactical stalemate, but a strategic Union victory as Hindman’s withdrawal left the North in control of the area for the rest of the war.
The Confederates had a slight edge in the number of troops engaged — 11,059 to 9,216 — but that’s not what was reported in the Banner in a dispatch dated Dec. 8:
“Gen. Herron’s forces, en route to reinforce Gen. Blunt, met the enemy yesterday on Crawford Prairie, ten miles south of Fayetteville, Ark., and won a decisive victory over them. The enemy, 24,000 strong, divided into four divisions . . . all under Gen. Hindman. They embraced the flower of the Trans-Mississippi army in all supported by 18 pieces of artillery. The enemy flanked Blunt’s position at Cave Hill and made a sudden attack on Herron to prevent him uniting with Blunt. Herron’s force consisted . . . in all from 6,500 to 7,000 men and 24 pieces of artillery. The battle raged from 10 a.m. until dark and was desperately fought throughout, Our artillery drove the enemy from two string positions and kept their overwhelming numbers at bay.”
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