> Firstly, my main computer has gone haywire, so if this does not
> post please feel free to relay it to the board, I managed to read your
> last message before the machine collapsed again and for the next few days
> will receive messages on this one - but I may have lost my back files.
> Pea Ridge was a close run thing, and if Van Dorn had conducted
> his affairs properly he could have won a battle, and in that terrain,
> probably destroyed the still inexperienced Federal army - but Curtis was
> a better battle commander than Van Dorn, and had his army better
> organised. an anecdote that makes an illuminating comparison - an item
> in the OR states that Curtsi shared the rations of his troops as they
> advanced through the Ozarks towards Pea Ridge, where as an item in the
> Southern Historical Society Papers by Dabney Maury describes the
> luxurious food the Confederate leaders were eating as they led their
> half-starved troops into the mountains. Such stories usually have one
> ending - a victory for the "spartan" side.
> As to youiour very good question about Curtis's march. I really
> must be more careful about my terms. By Northern Arkasnsas I meant that
> part of teh Ozark Mountains ( or Plateau ) within Arkansas - armies could
> starve there very easily indeed!. Curtis made his march in an "east by
> south east " direction through the basin of the White River - lowland and
> fairly fertile areas. Also, he did not march to Helena from Pea Ridge -
> he first retreated into Missouri, and re-entered Arkansas when Van Dorn
> left. He advanced to Batesville, but reached the very limit of his
> supply lines - wagons to him from his base at Rolla were largely loaded
> with fodder for the double trip as there was little to be had
> locally. He did get as far as Searcy, where a forward foraging party
> was wiped out at Whitney's Lane, and that reverse satisfied him, that he
> could not go on to Little Rock without a secure supply line. Halleck
> tried to organise this up the White River, but a timid commander whoi had
> listened to Grant's cautious advice too well dared not risk water levels
> in the river falling, even with a major Federal force nearby. It was
> from Batesville that Curtis advanced to Helena, but once there the
> Federals dominated the line of the White River and its catchment area -
> the region from where any Confederate counter-attack into Missouri had to
> be organised. Curtis had also stripped the country through which he
> passed of provisions and slaves, so the Confederates now had production
> problems in what should have been a major supply area.
> Speaking of Bruce Catton, I do like one of his comments on the
> battle that it was a measure of Van Dorn's evil luck that he fought the
> battle on the only day of the war in Which Franz Sigel performed competently.
> I hope that my normal computer service will resume soon - my big
> machie is going into dry dock tomorrow! Still, if you want me to add
> anything keep sending and I will do my best.
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