The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 26, 2011

Vignettes from the Battle of Pea Ridge

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — Hearth and home

“(Sterling) Price’s rebels were not the only Missourians who fought to defend — or to recover — heart and home,” wrote historians William Shea and Earl Hess in their book, “Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West.”

According to the historians, many of the men in the Union’s Army of the Southwest had a “personal stake in the success of the campaign.”

They were men who lived in Southwest Missouri, and some of them even had been driven from their homes by Southern sympathizers and soldiers. A Congressman from Springfield organized many of these men into a regiment known as the 25th Missouri, which like the 24th Missouri “contained substantial numbers of refugees from the southwestern corner of the state.”

Joplin resident Paul Butler said his ancestors helped illustrate this truth of the Pea Ridge campaign. Butler’s great-great-grandfather, Cornelius Gann, left his farm in Dallas County to enlist in the 24th Missouri in 1861. Gann was 42 years old at the time and the father of nine children. Eight other men in his company were related to him, or would be by marriage after the war. One would die in the fighting around Elkhorn Tavern and another would die later in the war in Missouri, but Gann and the others survived.

Tough fight

“I charged the battlements of Vicksburg ... and assisted in driving the Confederates from their almost impregnable position on Missionary Ridge ... but in all my army experience I did not see any fighting compared with the plain open field conflict that occurred in and around the Elkhorn Tavern on March 7, 1862.”

— Jacob Platt, Union officer

Source: Pea Ridge National Military Park

Jasper County general

“When a group of disbelieving Missouri soldiers asked Brig. Gen. (James) Rains of the 8th Missouri Guard Division if it was true they had lost the battle, the Missouri officer bellowed: ‘By God, nobody was whipped at Pea Ridge but Van Dorn.’ The Confederate commander was well within earshot of this intemperate outburst and promptly placed Rains under arrest.”

Rains was from Jasper County and was a former state senator for Southwest Missouri.

Source: Pea Ridge, Civil War Campaign in the West,” by William Shea and Earl Hess

‘Great misery’

An account of Pvt. Vinson Holman, an Iowa infantryman who enlisted on Aug. 23, 1861, and fought at Pea Ridge. This was his first battle.

March 7, 1862: “Isaac Arwine was wounded very bad in the Sholder. the ball entered the right sholder and lodged in the left sholder. now at present he is in very bad misery and is thought that he wont live. he said he thought he was a dead man.”

March 9, 1862: “I am still in Camp waiting on Arwine and the Boys that is wounded. There is any amount of legs, arms, hands lying around in Damp that had to be cut off on account of thair bones being broken. the Doctors are taking off arms, and legs and hands evry day. it is nothing to see them cut a mans arm off or a leg. I hope to God that I wont have to witness the same again. it is horable to think of.”

March 12, 1862: “the Doctors are stil taken legs and Arms off everyday. ... Arwine is in great misery and isnt expected to live.”

March 13, 1862: “this morning is very warm day and Arwine very bad. he was very bad all night and to day about eleven oclock Arwine died. we laid him on a hard board out of doors and Buried him about three oclock. We put a cople of Blankets around him and put him in a big grave and covered him up. it looks hard but cant be helped. there wasent no Man that suffered any more. while he lived his pain was so great that it gave him the lock jaw. he was in his rite mind all the while. half of his breath cam out of the wound on his back. he smelt awful. it was enough to make any bady sick to be around him. He wanted the Doctor to give him something to ease him and put him to sleep so he would never wake up again. he said he was sorry that he could not get home once more. but he said it was the fate of War and his time has come and he must go.”

Pvt. Arwine is buried in the national cemetery, Fayetteville, Ark.

Pvt. Holman died of jaundice Dec. 7, 1862. He was 20 years old.

Source: Pea Ridge National Military Park