The 16,000-strong Confederate Army of the West spent most of the first week of March 1862 trudging on muddy roads through Northwest Arkansas. They traveled some 60 miles from their winter camps deep in the Boston Mountains, beyond the low ridges you see in the distance, to get to Pea Ridge.
General Earl Van Dorn pushed his troops hard to sweep completely around his opponent, using a backroad called the Bentonville Detour. Van Dorn gambled that if he could capture the Telegraph Road — the only pipeline for Union supplies and communications— he could crush the Union army. The mountain in which you are standing hid the Confederates’ approach to the vital highway.