Pea Ridge National Military Park Travel Guide

  • Sketch of the Leetown battle.
    Sketch of the Leetown battle.
    by Toughluck
  • View over southeast fields of battle
    View over southeast fields of battle
    by razorbacker
  • Meadows soaked with the blood of patriots.
    Meadows soaked with the blood of...
    by razorbacker

Pea Ridge National Military Park Things to Do

  • Pea Ridge National Battlefield

    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

    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,...

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  • Confederate Sunset/Federal Line stops

    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,...

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  • Elkhorn Tavern

    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...

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  • East Overlook

    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...

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  • Leetown

    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...

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  • Unused defensive positions (Union)

    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...

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  • Elkhorn Tavern

    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

    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

    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...

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  • The Open Fields

    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,...

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  • Spartan Living

    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

    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

    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?

    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...

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Pea Ridge National Military Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Don't Get Rattled

    Depending on how the park service has managed the grounds recently by the time of your visit, you might find full fields gently laid down after a recent mowing. In the summer, I need not tell you that this type of environment is perfect for area rattlesnakes. Keep your eyes and ears open, and if you happen to have a stick or broom in your trunk, or...

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  • Get Here Early Enough

    In the late afternoon and early evening, park officials will tend to close down the entrance gate, assuming that latecomers will not complete their circuit early enough to risk their admission. If you are not here by 4:00 p.m., it is possible you will be turned away at the entrance. Be certain to get here early enough, and if you are taking...

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Pea Ridge National Military Park Off The Beaten Path

  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    by mrclay2000 Written May 11, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Few persons who come to Pea Ridge for its own merits will neglect visiting Wilson's Creek National Battlefield a few hours away in Republic, Missouri. This is not only a nice tour of the Ozarks, but also provides you a tour of two Civil War battlefields that are forever connected by proximity and strategy in the War between the States.

    Wilson's Creek entrance
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park

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Pea Ridge National Military Park Favorites

  • No Gun Unmolested

    I have mock-fired a cannon at just about every Civil War battlefield between Virginia and Mississippi, and few of the better known trenches or depressions among military parks have not at some time or other felt the impress of my devoted play-acting person in their shallows. Visitation at Civil War battlefields is generally small and sadly in...

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  • Scarce Monuments

    Unlike even the comparatively absent monuments at Chickamauga, Pea Ridge is decidedly poor in respect to monuments and memorials raised to the regiments which fought here. Most of those presently standing are among the most modest you'll see anywhere, having their highest concentration around the rebuilt Elkhorn Tavern.

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