Pea Ridge National Military Park

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Pea Ridge National Military Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Map showing the location of Pea Ridge National Military Park
Map showing the location of Pea Ridge National Military Park
Location Sugar Creek Township / Garfield Township, Benton County, Arkansas, USA
Nearest city Garfield, Arkansas
Coordinates 36°27′16″N 94°02′03″W / 36.45444°N 94.03417°W / 36.45444; -94.03417Coordinates: 36°27′16″N 94°02′03″W / 36.45444°N 94.03417°W / 36.45444; -94.03417
Area 4,300 acres (1,700 ha)[1]
Authorized July 20, 1956 (1956-July-20)
Visitors 114,234 (in 2011)[2]
Governing body National Park Service
Designated: October 15, 1966
Reference No. 66000199[3]
Built: 1862

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.[4]

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.[4]

Elkhorn Tavern, center of day two's fighting

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.[4]

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 two-and-a-half 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.

The Winton Springs Mansion was the primary residence on the large Winton Springs estate, which became part of the Pea Ridge National Military Park. The mansion, which was built several years after the Civil War, was considered inappropriate for the nature of the park and was too large to be moved when the government acquired the land in the early 1960s. It stood empty for more than 20 years after the establishment of the Park before being torn down by the National Park Service.

The battle[edit]

Main article: Battle of Pea Ridge

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[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  2. ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  4. ^ a b c Warren, Steven L. Pea Ridge National Military Park, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.

External links[edit]