Pea Ridge National Military Park Things to Do

  • View over southeast fields of battle
    View over southeast fields of battle
    by razorbacker
  • Interpretive exhibit of some southern forces.
    Interpretive exhibit of some southern...
    by razorbacker
  • A view of some of the Northern invaders.
    A view of some of the Northern invaders.
    by razorbacker

Most Recent Things to Do in Pea Ridge National Military Park

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    Pea Ridge National Battlefield

    by razorbacker Written Apr 26, 2012
    View over southeast fields of battle
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    A decisive Civil War battle for the region where victory was given away because an Army out-paced its supplies. The fighting was fierce. Bravery was plentiful on both sides. Alas, the vanity of one general! And the deaths of two others. Do watch the interesting and authoritative 30-minute video. Entry fees minimal and very worthwhile.

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    The Auto Tour

    by PinkFloydActuary Updated Dec 19, 2010

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    Pea Ridge Battlefield
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    As with all the famous battlefields throughout the NPS system, the highlight is to take the auto tour to see some of the sites that make the battlefield famous. The Auto loop at Pea Ridge is seven miles long - the brochure recommends at least 30 minutes to do it, though if you want to get out and see some of the overlooks or take a short walk, you'll need longer than that. There are 10 stops in total, but the most interesting are found in the second half of the trip. Start at the Visitor Center, where they have a small museum, restrooms, and the requisite gift center. Here, you also will pay your admission and get your Battlefield map.

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    Confederate Sunset/Federal Line stops

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Dec 19, 2010

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    Confederate Sunset Stop
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    The last two stops on the tour give you a closer look at what you were seeing from the East Overlook. The Confederate Sunset marks where the Confederate forces tried to charge across the field and smash through the Union lines (they were turned back and retreated here to the woods.) The Federal Line marks where the Union started the next morning, en route to barraging the Elkhorn Tavern area, eventually forcing the Confederate forces to retreat.

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    Elkhorn Tavern

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Dec 19, 2010

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    Elkhorn Tavern
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    This building is a recreation of a very important structure on the battlefield. Initially, this was a supply base for the Union. During the battle, the Confederates captured it, and turned it into a field hospital for both sides of the battle. Eventually, the Union retook it, then converted it into a telegraph station. Years later, Confederated soldiers burned it down. You can take a look inside the windows to see the makeshift hospital (complete with bloody beds.) Across the street from the parking lot are a few small monuments.

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    East Overlook

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Dec 19, 2010

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    View from the overlook
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    The best stop of the tour. Here, you leave the parking lot and walk under 200 yards to an overlook of the battlefield below. What I found most interesting is the Confederates hid in the rock surfaces beneath the overlook, thinking it was a great place to fortify themselves, but the Union starting firing cannonballs into the rocks, and the shrapnel eventually drove the Confederates out.

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    Leetown

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Dec 19, 2010

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    Leetown Marker

    Leetown was a small village that was in the woods near the battlefield. Both sides of the battle brought their wounded here, and a number of the buildings stood in for hospitals. Eerily, there is absolutely no trace of the town left. You exit your car and walk into the woods for a very short hike and come across this sign which marks the site of Leetown.

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    Unused defensive positions (Union)

    by Toughluck Updated Mar 17, 2010
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    Gen. Curtis, assumed that the Confederate Army, wintering south around Fort Smith, would return north along Wire Road. Here at the bluffs of Sugar Creek, he found a defensive position that would test the Rebel committment. What he didn't count on was finding an alternate route around his positions. That is what Gen Van Dorn did. Gen Curtis had plenty of warning, as outriding Union forces continuously met Rebel troops to the west and northwest of his position, using the Rogers and Fayetteville roads as a by-pass of his position.

    Technically this area has been closed. But, much of the scenery is visible from the dirt roads that still cross this section of Arkansas. You can turn down Wire Road (Telegraph Road) and follow it south to Sugar Creek. The narrow ravine through which the road passes is barely changed after more than 150 years.

    I last saw this area in 2000. If they've paved the road, that's the only change and it's minor when relieving life of 1862. Oh, the wire for which Wire Road is named? It's the Telegraph Wire, which is the modern name of the road.

    Before the Battle of Pea Ridge, Wire Road was one of four routes used by the U.S. Government to relocate the Cherokee Nation from the Carolinas to Oklahoma. It's now commemorated as the 'Trail of Tears National Historic Trail'.

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    Elkhorn Tavern

    by Toughluck Written Mar 17, 2010
    Elkhorn Tavern
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    Focal point of day 2. From the woods to the north, the Rebel yell stirred the Union batteries in this open field. Sitting on the edge of the forest, only the winter conditions gave the gunners sight of the on-coming rush. Swept before them, the batteries pulled back to the south side of the barren farm fields.

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    Pea Ridge Overlook

    by Toughluck Written Mar 17, 2010

    Named for this prominent Ridge, very little of the battle took place here. This section, just west of Elkhorn Tavern, saw a Conferderate flanking movement. But the rough country slowed and stopped any major effort. This same terrain protected the Confederate batteries around the Tavern from being outflanked by the Union forces.

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    Leetown

    by Toughluck Updated Mar 17, 2010

    The Confederate Troops under Gen. McCullough's command, turned south around Pea Ridge to catch up with the head of the column. Spotted by Union outriders, soon the battle commenced here in the west of the ridge. From this Rebel Gun Battery, Cherokee Mounted Rifle charged the Union lines to the south. This is one of a few battle that included American Indian warriors during the Civil War.

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    The Open Fields

    by mrclay2000 Updated Oct 19, 2003

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    cannon emplacements, Pea Ridge

    Much of the auto tour through Pea Ridge winds through close-knit woods, but vast expanses open before the eye. There was not much cover in many phases of the fighting, instead a relentless assault between opposing foes. Nothing original of the battlefield survives, though the spots of a few structures are documented on the field. As in other parks, the timber rail fences and rows of cannon have been installed roughly in line with their placements in 1862.

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    Spartan Living

    by mrclay2000 Written May 11, 2003

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    Elkhorn Tavern

    Though reconstructed for the benefit of the modern-day military park, the interior of the Elkhorn Tavern displays all the spartan living you would expect from a mid-19th century remote stop on the overland mail route.

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    A Closer Look

    by mrclay2000 Written May 11, 2003

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    Elkhorn Tavern

    As the center of the conflict, Elkhorn Tavern is likewise the center of the largest congestion of important stops on the tour. The east overlook is only a few hundred yards westward, while Stop 8 is right on top of Stop 7 (both directly connected with the tavern). Stop 9 (the Confederate Battery) is directly down the road from the structure.

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    Resident Warfare

    by mrclay2000 Written May 11, 2003

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    Elkhorn Tavern

    So many of the Civil War battlefields in the US promote surviving or rebuilt structures that once were prominent during the conflict. Often used as hospitals or headquarters, the scene at Elkhorn Tavern in March 1862 was a sad juxtaposition of relief and refreshment in the inn from the imposing line of battle drawn up on the front lawn.

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    Elkhorn Tavern - But What's in a Name?

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 11, 2003

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    Elkhorn Tavern

    The Confederates knew this battle as that of Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge to the Federals). This antiquated-looking structure is a modern reconstruction of the celebrated tavern that, like the Ray House in Springfield's Wilson's Creek, served as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Route. During the battle the original structure was safe, but burned by guerrillas afterwards. Even then it was rebuilt, but apparently sank into disrepair. Given the scarcity of monuments in the park and the vagueness of former "sites," the present-day tavern receives the lion's share of the park's traffic.

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