Generals of the Battle of Pea Ridge

ART NPS/Harold Smelcer


Pea Ridge was a decisive victory for the Federal Army, even though the Federal forces at Pea Ridge were outnumbered and outgunned by the Confederates, and had been surprised by Van Dorn's bold moves. The Battle of Pea Ridge was one of the few times during the Civil War that a Federal Army would be at such a disadvantage.

The victory came down to one important factor - leadership. The outcome of the battle rested squarely upon the shoulders of Samuel Ryan Curtis. Curtis led his army capably and skillfully. His division and brigade commanders fought aggressively, took the initiative when it was required, and served their chief well. Thoughout the campaign, Curtis allowed his commanders enough flexibility to adapt to changing situations while still retaining control.

Each time that the Confederates appeared to gain the upper hand, a different leader stepped forward and made a bold counter move - Osterhaus & Davis at Leetown, Carr at the Elkhorn Tavern, Sigel on Welfley's knoll, Dodge on the Bentonville Detour and on the morning of the 7th.

Pea Ridge would be the proving ground for some of the Federal Army's most successful leaders. Curtis and Asboth would command military districts during the war. Sigel would command an Army. Osterhaus, Davis and Dodge would each command a Corps. Carr would command a cavalry Division. And then there was Sheridan. He would rise to be General-in-Chief of the United States Army, only the 4th man (after Washington, Grant & Sherman) in United States history to wear the four stars of a full General.

Learn more about Confederate Commanders and Federal Commanders on our biography pages.

Last updated: June 26, 2021

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