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September 26 , 2009

The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War


THE BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE, OR ELKHORN, AND ITS MORE IMMEDIATE EFFECTS The Indian alliance, so assiduously sought by the Southern Confederacy and so laboriously built up, soon revealed itself to be most unstable. Direct and unmistakable signs of its instability appeared in connection with the first real military test to which it was subjected, the Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn, as it is better known in the South, the battle that stands out in the history of the War of Secession as being the most decisive victory to date of the Union forces in the West and as marking the turning point in the political relationship of the State of Missouri with the Confederate government. In the short time during which, following the removal of General Frémont, General David Hunter was in full command of the Department of the West—and it was practically not more than one week—he completely reversed the policy of vigorous offensive that had obtained under men, subordinate to his predecessor.1 In southwest Missouri, he abandoned the advanced position of the Federals and fell back upon Sedalia and Rolla, railway termini. That he did this at the suggestion of President Lincoln2 and with the tacit approval of General McClellan3 makes no Footnote 1: (return) The Century Company's War Book, vol. i, 314-315. Footnote 2: (return) Official Records, first ser., vol. iii, 553-554. Hereafter, except where Otherwise designated, the first series will always be understood
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