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ment and, one at a time, the Confederate guns either ran out of ammunition or were disabled by Union fire. It was March 8.

Curtis brought all of his four infantry divisions into position and ordered a general attack. The Confederates made gallant attempts to hold their positions, but the Union infantry and unanswered artillery began to have an impact. The Confederate left began to come apart as additional Federal infantrymen struck Van Dorn's center, and an orderly retreat quickly became a rout. As with Lyon at Wilson's Creek, the decision to divide his force in the face of the enemy— given the numerous difficulties facing any Civil War commander trying to communicate

Confederate Army Images

In the distance, Federal troops advance on the Pea Ridge battlefield to reclaim their former positions at Elkhorn Tavern.

with and coordinate his subordinate units during the confusion of combat—had cost Van Dorn the battle.

Pike, angry with the accusations of atrocities that were made against his Indian Brigade and disappointed with the lack of support given him by Van Dorn, simply left the region to return to the Indian Territory. Van Dorn reported that he had not been defeated at Pea Ridge, but he greatly overstated his impact on the military situation in the wake of his retreat.

Curtis had won a major victory for the Union at Pea Ridge. Price and the Confederates in Missouri had won at Wilson's Creek and Lexington, but now this critical state and her large population were firmly held by the Federal authorities. A large part of the Mississippi River was under Federal control and such northern areas as St. Louis, Kansas, Iowa, and the industrial areas of the upper midwest were now safe from Confederate raiding parties. Coming so soon after Grant's major victory at Fort Donelson, the triumph at Pea Ridge gave considerable levels of

In the distance, Federal troops advance on the Pea Ridge battlefield to reclaim their former positions at Elkhorn Tavern.

comfort to the Union war leaders and their supporters. After Pea Ridge, Missouri remained in the hands of the North for the remainder of the Civil War. And although this border state was to suffer through some of the most severe guerrilla warfare of the entire war (entire counties would be depopulated as a result), in the strategic sense, these ongoing raids were simply a nuisance. Missouri was securely in the grasp of the Union. Price would attempt to invade in 1864, but this would also serve to annoy rather than threaten.

Van Dorn, the handsome, courageous Indian fighter, moved east of the Mississippi and operated there until he was shot dead by a jealous husband in 1863- And Grant was able to turn his full attention from possible threats to Missouri to the campaign against targets in the Mississippi Valley in the continuing effort to split the Confederacy in half.

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A Bloody, Dismal Battlefield

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