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Pea Ridge - Arkansas

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The Confederacies top General at the time, Albert Sidney Johnston, appointed Major General Earl Van Dorn to the command of the newly created Trans-Mississippi District. This included Texas and Texas troops. He was to command General Price’s seven thousand-man command, General Albert Pike’s four regiments of Confederate Indians and the soldiers under General Ben McCulloch, which of course included the men of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. When General Van Dorn arrived and took command on March 3rd he stated so all could hear, " Soldiers: Behold your leader! He comes to show you the way to glory and immortal renown." Van Dorn was a vain man, sold on himself and somewhat of a ladies man. This personality fault would lead to his undoing. His subordinates must have recognized these traits but followed his orders as they were soldiers and sworn to do so.

The battle now know as Pea Ridge commenced on March 7th and was to be a turning point for the 3rd Texas Cavalry and indeed the four Texas Cavalry Regiments in Van Dorn’s command. As the battle commenced and progressed Van Dorn’ had some success on the eastern end of Pea Ridge. He was, very sick during the battle and had to be moved along by a cart. His command was said to be a bit precarious but taken none the less. Pike’s Cherokee were successful in attacking a Federal Battery and as was their nature in battle, took several scalps. A portion of the Confederate forces took the tavern and by nightfall bivouacked south of the landmark. General McCulloch had not been as successful. McIntosh mounted a second attack and failed to successful follow through. The Confederate commands lost contact with each other and had actually fought two separate engagements with in the same battle.

Repeated attempts were made by Colonel Greer to contact McIntosh and McCulloch, with no success. Finally, at the end of the day, Col. Greer went looking for them himself. He found that they had both been killed and found Colonel Hebert had been captured. As the now senior officer, Col. Greer now in over all command. Greer collected the scattered Confederate units into a bivouac on the battlefield as darkness closed in.

The 3rd Texas was nearly unscathed as it was only lightly engaged at what was called the battle of Pea Ridge and known to them as Elk Horn Tavern. They had been used a reconnaissance and guards for most of the battle but did see a little of the fight. Van Dorn could have claimed a victory but let the victory slip from him and was only saved from a decisive defeat because the Federals did not pursue. Hunger proved to be a strong factor for Van Dorn’s in ability to pursue the Federals as most of his men were without substance. Had the Federal counter attacked, they would have been hit in a disorganized Confederate army as most were out foraging for food immediately after the battle. With McCulloch and McIntosh dead, the promising careers of these two fighters would be lost and reorganization would take some political maneuvers until the commands were solidified.

Van Dorn, being somewhat egotistical and thrilled with himself refused to take the blame for the defeat.

The end result of the battle saw the Confederacy to lose any claim they had on Missouri.