Pea Ridge National Military Park

Elkhorn Tavern

Photo of the Elkhorn Tavern at Pea Ridge National Military Park
Elkhorn Tavern
Civil War Trust

Quick Facts

Location:
Garfield, AR
Significance:
Served as both a field hospital and Confederate headquarters during the Battle of Pea Ridge.
Designation:
National Park, National Historic Landmark, HABS/HAER/HALS

The original Elkhorn Tavern was built around 1833 by William Reddick and his son-in-law, Samuel Burks. In 1858, Burks, sold the house and the 313 acres to Jesse & Polly Cox for $3600. Cox made several improvements to the tavern, including adding white-painted weatherboarding (siding) to the exterior and a set of stairs leading to the upper porch. The stairs allowed members of the Benton County Baptist Society, to meet at the house without having to go through a "public house." Another addition was a set of elk horns that Cox placed on the ridgepole, which gave the tavern its name.

Prior to the Civil War, the house was used for many purposes, including a house of worship, inn, post office, and trading post, although it was well-known locally as a stop for the Overland Stage. During this period, the tavern was described as a place "of abundant good cheer."

In February 1862, the fields surrounding the tavern were transformed into the Federal army's main supply camp. During the Battle of Pea Ridge, the tavern served as a field hospital and, for a brief time, as Confederate General Earl Van Dorn's headquarters. Polly Cox, her son Joseph, his wife Lucinda, and the two youngest children, Elias and Franklin, stayed in the tavern's cellar during the battle. Although it was hit many times, once by a cannonball that hit the upper floor, the tavern survived the battle intact.

After the battle, the Federals used the tavern as a headquarters and military telegraph station, until it was burned around January 1863 by Confederate guerrillas. Joseph Cox rebuilt the structure on the original foundations soon after the war's end. As hundreds of veterans and their families returned to the battlefield, Cox ran a small museum with battle artifacts hung on the walls. The structure went through a number of modifications and changes until it was transferred to the National Park Service on March 7, 1960. The structure has since been restored to its approximate wartime appearance.