Prairie Grove

DESCRIPTION: "Come ye gallant sons of I-o-way, come listen to my song... About the gallant charge at Prairie Grove, An' we an' Southern rebels on equal numbers strove." The singer describes a federal victory, the burial of the southern dead, and their widows' mourning
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (Randoph)
KEYWORDS: battle soldier death Civilwar
Dec 7, 1862 - Battle of Prairie Grove
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Randolph 222, "Prairie Grove" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 205-207, "Prairie Grove" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 222)
High, p. 31, "Battle of Prery Grove" (1 text)

Roud #4032
cf. "Give the Dutch Room" (subject)
NOTES [570 words]: The battle of Prairie Grove was one of the more confusing messes of the Civil War. It had little effect on the main war effort (though it contributed significantly to the Union conquest of Arkansas), and so is rarely mentioned in the histories. The battle came about because the Union forces of Schofield's "Army of the Frontier" were scattered.
Two divisions, under Herron, were located near Springfield, Missouri; another, under Blunt, was in an advanced position south of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The Confederate general Hindman, observing this deployment, saw an opportunity to defeat the Unionists in detail. He took his force -- somewhat smaller than the combined Union forces but much stronger than Blunt alone -- and on Dec. 6 attacked Blunt.
Unknown to Hindman, Herron's force had been ordered forward a few days earlier. When Hindman learned that Herron was approaching, he tried to get between the two Union forces.
It didn't work. Herron managed to hold off Hindman until Blunt arrived. The Confederates -- many of them raw Arkansas troops who deserted at the beginning of the battle -- wound up abandoning the field. The battle was not a great Union success, but neither was it a great defeat. In the aftermath, the Federals were able to occupy a large part of northern Arkansas. Herron received a promotion to Major General as a result -- being, at the time, the youngest Major General in the army (Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana Status University Press, 1964, p. 228).
That seems to be typical of Hindman's career: Glenn Tucker, Chickamauga: Bloody Battle in the West, Konecky & Konecky, 1961, pp. 68-69, summarizes his career as follows:
"Thomas C. Hindman had been an enterprising soldier in the trans-Mississippi department, and his conduct in the later phases of the Chickamauga campaign was in sharp contrast with his lethargy in [a preliminary action at] McLemore's Cover. He had been an outstanding resident of Arkansas when the war broke and had played one of the leading roles with his stump speeches to take Arkansas out of the Union.
"Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, he had been educated in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, had been cited for conspicuous bravery in the Mexican War, had served in the Mississippi legislature as a staunch Jefferson Davis man, then had moved across the Mississippi River to Helena, Arkansas. A lawyer and a gifted speaker, he was sent by the Helena district to Congress in 1856.... Like George Pickett, he wore his hair in long curling locks and was something of a dandy in his civilian dress with his pink gloves and rattan cane. He has small and tended to be tyrannical.
"After secession, Hindman raised a regiment, commanded a brigade at Shiloh, where he was wounded, and because of his good fighting there became a major general. In command of the Confederate army at Prairie Grove, Hindman was at first aggressive and appeared to be winning, but he lost the battle by suddenly taking a defensive position and awaiting attack, thereby allowing his opponent, Brigadier General James G. Blunt, to unite his forces on the field. Hindman has been called a 'man of genius,' a man who would have been a good Secretary of War but was unable to command an army or plan a battle. However, he was to prove at Chickamauga that he could strike hard under competent leadership."
This song is item dA38 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW- RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: R222

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