Exploring America's Battlefields: Pea Ridge Arkansas' Largest Northern Victory
Battlefields are a major part of our history as Americans. The battles of long ago act as a lasting reminder for us to never forget where we have come from and how we have moved forward as a people. While many protest these locations and their monuments because of the original causes, I instead look on at them as a way to educate myself as to some of the many things, which caused conflict and separation in life long before myself and how through these things I can make a change in the present.
Civil War battlefields are unique to those abroad, they are entirely found on our own countries lands. They pitted many brothers against bothers, cousins against cousins and families against families, and many times these were not because of the belief of support or lack of support for slavery. Many times these battles were waged for land and freedoms that were unrelated, though masked by the major battle banners.
I have learned through the many years of attending these locations that many people joined the forces of the Union or Confederacy by force. From this I take away that had I have lived during that time, my own life would have been forced by my geography no matter my ideals or personal convictions. The battlefields teach that death is not indifferent to someone who thinks differently, and tragedy comes with all nationalities, colors and religions.
Pea Ridge, factually was one of the most monumental Northern victories in the battle for the state of Missouri. Many natives to the area were torn, some supporting the ideals of the Confederacy and others supporting that of the Union. Others still wanted to obtain from fighting all together before being told they would be forced to pick a side. This of course did not sit well with many and to spite powers forcing their hands they would join the forces of the south, which in large part slavery aside, was looking to remove government from its affairs.
This too, not so different from today, except now we see this with parties and their lines. People speak on how far we as a nation have come, yet sometimes if you look back at the meat and potatoes of matters you will see we still lack advancement in so many areas and instead just change the look of the issues at hand.
Battle took place much differently then from now, it was hand to hand, using rifles, muskets and knives and bloodshed literally fell on lands which were front yards, city streets and farm lands. Weather did not pardon mercy on those fighting either, as engagements of battle were fought in the elements be it intense summer heat or bitter winter cold.
This battlefield harbored troops for just 2 days of fighting, March 7-8, 1862. Some 26,000 soldiers marched to determine the fate of Missouri and the West on the 4,300 acre battlefield. Now the fields serve as a war memorial to all which fought and are preserved as a part of the National Park Services. Some years after the wars a reunion of all soldiers was held at the grounds to unveil memorials to the soldiers from each side, right or wrong in consideration of politics, these were brothers, cousins and families that had lost one another and it was said that the only way to heal the nation was to heal together.
Seeing the special tribute to these soldiers and reading about their efforts to heal through unity still is inspiring to me today. No matter how many times I have been to this battlefield, it still strikes a special place with me. It is true, the only way to move forward is to put issues aside and do so as a unit. If those that literally lined up toe to toe to fight against one another can find peace within one another, when will we be able to do the same?
Just a little food for thought from a local battlefield….