Thursday, May 19, 2005

Battle at Prairie De Ann

Battle at Prairie De Ann - Detailed account about this little-known, four-day American Civil War battle. Includes CSA Brig. Gen. Joseph O. Shelby's poetic report about the men who fought and died.

From the site:

The story of the four days of fighting on Prairie De Ann is a part of the story of the expedition of the Union forces into Southern Arkansas in the spring of 1864. This expedition was made up of two armies, one from Little Rock, and one from Fort Smith. It lasted for a period of forty days and, reckoning from Little Rock, covered a distance of about 275 miles. It included, besides the fighting on Prairie De Ann, the battles of Okolona, Elkins' Ferry, Poison Spring, Marks' Mills, and Jenkins' Ferry and almost continuous skirmishing over much of the route.

Prairie De Ann, a circular body of land embracing some twenty-five or thirty square miles, lies in the northern part of Nevada County, a hundred miles southwest of Little Rock. The Forests that once surrounded it have largely disappeared, and, except by local people, its name is almost forgotten. Located in the central section of the prairie is the city of Prescott, the county seat, with a population of approximately four thousand. The rest of the prairie, for the most part, is taken up by farms and ranches. Through the prairie and the city passes the Missouri Pacific and the Prescott and Northwestern Railroads, and paved Highways 67, 371, and 19.

In the days of the Civil War, Prairie De Ann was far different from what it is today. One soldier, looking upon it for the first time, said that it "stretched away smoothly as a sea of glass." Another said, "Like an oasis lies this beautiful prairie in the midst of dense forests and almost impassable swamps, a relief for the eye of the traveller, who for many days has hardly seen anything but rocks crowned by dark pines or gloomy cypress swamps." The city, the railroads, and the highways had not then been built. Much of the land was unoccupied. Here and there, widely seperated, were a few small farm houses, and the village of Moscow nestled away in the eastern edge. The prairie was a well-known landmark and noted for its singular natural beauty.

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