Friday, February 7, 2014

Civil War Sunday Special Edition - The Town that Disappeared

Today, I am taking things a bit out of order.

I normally post on the United States Civil War on Sunday, and I try to write about events that happened 150 years ago and not take things out of turn.  But today is the 152nd anniversary of a battle fought in Northwest Arkansas (where I used to live), and Sunday is the 50th anniversary of a special event in my life.  So, if you come to my blog Sunday and see a post on the Beatles, well, you've been warned.

After a 28 year plus wait, I finally got to visit this battlefield in August of last year.  Following the styles in which the Union and the Confederates named battles, this battle was called Pea Ridge by the Union, and Elkhorn Tavern by the Confederates.

Of many interesting things, what interested me most was one phase of the battle, March 7, 2014 - Leetown.

Leetown, located in present day Benton County (the same county as Bentonville, the home town of Wal-Mart), was one of the oldest settlements in Northwest Arkansas.  It was a thriving settlement in March of 1862, when war came to its front door and knocked.

This is what Leetown looks like today.

That's right. It's gone, basically gone except for a gravestone.

There is a beautiful description of the Battle of Elk Horn Tavern (Pea Ridge), written by a descendent of the man who founded the settlement of Leetown, John W. Lee.

As I've blogged about before, people in whose backyards the battles of the Civil War were fought paid a heavy and terrible price.

The buildings of Leetown were taken by both sides for field hospitals.   The stink of death filled the air, as it would in tens of battles over the next three years. The buildings were left in such disrepair that few people wanted to return to the settlement. 

We tend to forget how much civilians suffered in this war.

Today, though, the battlefield is quiet - and, like so many battlefields of the "western" portion of the Civil War, not as well known as they should be. 

This picture, so peaceful, was taken near where two Confederate generals died.
Some of the terrain the soldiers had to deal with.

And, one of the many who died at Pea Ridge during the two day battle (gravestone at National Cemetery, Fayetteville, Arkansas) that won nearby Missouri for the Union.  Michael Waltrip was a native of Illinois, born in 1844, and served with the 25th Illinois Infantry.

I have other pictures taken at Pea Ridge, and I hope to share them with you another time.


  1. Wow...very interesting...thank you for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing this information and your photos!

  3. very, very interesting. I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about the battles that were fought in Arkansas. I'm mostly familiar with the battles fought up and down the east coast. Thanks for the history lesson!

  4. It surprises me that there were battles fought in states that were as far West as Arkansas, Alana. This sounds like it would be an interesting place to add to our list of Civil War sites to visit.

  5. A good reminder of how the war shaped and re-shaped communities. Interested, of course, to see the Michael Waltrip grave marker...


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