Pea Ridge National Military Park
|Pea Ridge National Military Park|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
|Location||Sugar Creek Township / Garfield Township, Benton County, Arkansas, USA|
|Nearest city||Garfield, Arkansas|
|Area||4,300 acres (1,700 ha)|
|Authorized||July 20, 1956|
|Visitors||114,234 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
|Designated||October 15, 1966|
Pea Ridge National Military Park is a United States National Military Park located in extreme northwestern Arkansas near the Missouri border. The park protects the site of the American Civil War Battle of Pea Ridge which was fought March 7 and March 8, 1862. The battle was a victory for the Union, and helped it gain control of the crucial border state of Missouri.
The 4,300-acre (17 km2) Pea Ridge National Military Park was created by an act of Congress in 1956 to preserve the battlefield of the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge. It was dedicated as a national park during the nation’s Civil War Centennial in 1963.
In 1956, the Arkansas congressional delegation proposed legislation to make Pea Ridge a national military park. This was a major breakthrough in Civil War battlefield preservation. At that time, under the National Park Service classification system, only 1-acre (4,000 m2) should have been preserved, along with a monument. On July 20, 1956, Congress enacted legislation to accept a 5,000-acre (20 km2) donation from the state of Arkansas.
In acquiring the land for the park, the government purchased or used eminent domain on dozens of farms and residences of various sizes, ranging from a few acres to the large Winton Springs estate. Many of the houses and structures were sold and moved off of park property, including some that still stand in nearby Pea Ridge, all other remaining structures, with the exception of the historic Elkhorn Tavern, were demolished by the park, including the elaborate Winton Springs mansion.
Many Union and Confederate veterans attended several reunions at the Pea Ridge battlefield long before it was a park. The first of these reunions was held in 1887, twenty-five years after the battle. The reunions promoted not only remembrance, but healing. The veterans dedicated the first monuments on the battlefield to both the Union and Confederate dead. These monuments are located within the park today.
The Battle of Pea Ridge (also known as Elkhorn Tavern) was fought on March 7 and March 8, 1862, near Bentonville, Arkansas. In the battle, Union Army forces led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis defeated Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn effectively securing Missouri, St. Louis, the Missouri River and the Upper Mississippi River for the Union.
Visiting the park
The park is acknowledged as one of the best preserved Civil War battlefields. The park features a visitors center and museum, a driving tour, the restored battlefields, hiking trails, a portion of the pre-war Old Telegraph/Wire Road, approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) miles of the Trail of Tears as followed by some members of the Cherokee Nation and the restored Elkhorn Tavern, which was the epicenter of much of the battle.
- "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
- "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Warren, Steven L. Pea Ridge National Military Park, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
- Official site: Pea Ridge National Military Park