Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pea Ridge Battlefield Archeology

Today is the 148th anniversary of the first day of major fighting at Pea Ridge (or Elkhorn Tavern). Recently, while surfing the net I came across a publication written by Carl G. Carlson-Drexler, Douglas D. Scott, and Harold Roeker titled "The Battle Raged...With Terrible Fury": Battlefield Archeology of Pea Ridge National Military Park. This 170 page document was published in 2008 by the Midwest Archeological Center of the National Park Service. To read the report click on this link for the Midwest Archeological Center and then scroll down until you find the title listed above. There is also a lengthy report listed on the MWAC's website about the investigation at the Wilson's Creek battlefield. Battlefield archeology has become an important supplement to the traditional work of researching written sources, and this publication documents a recent survey of parts of the Pea Ridge National Military Park. The publication includes a history of the battle, an explanation of the field survey, a detailed discussion of the artifacts discovered (with photographs included), and an interpretation of the findings. There are also some tables included that detail the weapons carried by various Union and Confederate units at the battle. All in all, it provides fascinating insights into the value of using archeological techniques to document battle actions.


  1. Jane,
    I don't know if they are still available, but I was able to obtain free hardcopies of the Pea Ridge and Wilson's Creek archaeology studies simply by writing to them and asking. Unfortunately, I don't recall the contact person there.

    I agree that archaeology work should have a place in battle histories. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have caught on too much (at least I don't recall frequent mention of archaeology reports in modern bibliographies).

  2. Dear Drew,
    It's nice to know that obtaining printed copies is at least a possibility! When I have some extra time, I'll try to find out if free copies are still available. Now that you mention it, I don't recall either seeing much mention made of archaeology reports in bibliographies. I don't really know why historians don't make more use of archaeological studies although I can think of some possible reasons.

  3. I contacted Pea Ridge Park. They do not have any copies of the report available. It will be printed and for sale by the University of Oklahoma Press- date is unknown.

  4. Thank you for the information, James! I will look forward to seeing the OU edition.