In early March 1862, these now quiet fields bustled with the clamor and constant motion of an army headquarters in the time of battle. Soldiers drilled, cleaned guns, and checked ammunition. Officers convened for councils of war. Mules brayed and teamsters swore. Teams pulling wagons and artillery rattled by. Here, across the road from Samuel Pratt’s store, decisions were made that would determine the fate of the two armies — and the state of Missouri. A temporary city of soldiers covered the field before you and the surrounding area. Here would would have seen the nerve center of the Union army during the two-day fight for Pea Ridge.
It was still below freezing at 10:30 a.m. March 7, 1862, when an alarmed messenger thundered into Union headquarters. The news he carried was startling; Confederates were moving down the a Telegraph Road a mile north of Elkhorn Tavern. All of General Curtis’s careful troop positioning for a battle at Little Sugar Creek — to the south— was now useless.
As gunfire from the far side of Elkhorn Mountain and the fields north of a Leetown grew louder, Curtis had to move his remaining troops to prepare for the Confederate attack. Blue-coated regiments reversed direction and rushed past their vulnerable supply wagons to confront the enemy.