One hundred and fifty years ago today, Union troops were on the march on unimproved roadways from near Springfield, Missouri, to what became the Prairie Grove battlefield near Fayetteville, Arkansas. Although the mileages differed from regiment to regiment, the 2nd Division of the Army of the Frontier logged about 105 miles in three and a half days; the 3rd Division marched about 120 miles in a similar time frame. An incredible feature to this is that at the end of the march, the men went almost directly into heavy combat at Prairie Grove. Another amazing aspect of the march is the weather: on the mornings of December 4th and 5th, the temperature was about 20 degrees. And, if you’re in need of one more detail, the roads traversed terrain that was fairly rugged in places. Bill Shea, the author of the best book on the campaign, labels this march “an epic of human endurance,” and I agree with his assessment.
Source of quote: William L. Shea, Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), p. 128.