The Enemy is Behind Us

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A courier arrived at Curtis’s headquarters to inform him of the presence of Confederate troops along the Bentonville Detour and Ford Road near Twelve Corner Church and behind Curtis’s army.

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Eleven Paintings…One Battle…One Artist

This collection of Pea Ridge paintings are the permanent collection of artwork at the Pea Ridge National Military Park in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Each image was also used on the wayside exhibits that are along the historic sites within the park.

Early on the morning of March 7, a courier arrived at Curtis’s headquarters to inform him of the presence of Confederate troops along the Bentonville Detour and Ford Road near Twelve Corner Church and behind Curtis’s army. Curtis held a council of war with his officers informing them of the information he had received. The officers were of differing opinions, some wanting to fight and others wanting to retreat back to Missouri.

Curtis, however, had made up his mind to fight. He sent Colonels Osterhau’s and Greusel with a brigade of troops in the direction of Twelve Corner Church. Around 10:30 am another courier arrived this time from the Elkhorn Tavern warning Curtis that a large body of confederates was on the Telegraph Road directly north of the tavern. Curtis then sent Colonel Eugene Carr with Colonel Grenville Dodges brigade north to the Elkhorn Tavern to reinforce the 24th Missouri that was stationed north of the tavern. Curtis believed these confederate troops to be nothing more than a confederate feint to lure him out of his strong position.

Confident the main attack would occur against his troops at Little Sugar Creek, Curtis did not realize that the confederates north of the tavern were the advance of Van Dorns army and the troops near Twelve Corner Church were those belonging to Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch. Within the hour, both of these Federal brigades would be fighting toe to toe with Van Dorn’s entire army of the West.

How had the enemy reached our rear, had we not worked all night to receive them with our artillery as they approached our front? They certainly did not relish the warm reception and had frustrated all our plans. 

Lieutenant George Currie, 59th Illinois Infantry

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