Looking for something different and well worth adding to your next tour to Branson and/or Eureka Springs? May I suggest one of two significant Civil War battlefields in the area that are administered by our National Park Service?
In fact, there are three fine, but lesser known NPS sites that are inexpensive to visit and within easy driving distance of the Branson area. Both Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and George Washington Carver National Monument are close by in Missouri, and Pea Ridge National Military Park is right across the Arkansas line, about 25 miles west of Eureka Springs and 10 miles northeast of Rogers. This March 7 and 8, the latter site will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the crucial battle that saved Missouri for the Union during the first year of the Civil War.
Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., year-round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days, Pea Ridge features a visitor center with a theatre, bookstore and small museum, as well as a seven-mile tour route through the battlefield itself. Along the way, you’ll pass remnants of the original Trail of Tears, traveled by thousands of Cherokees and other Native Americans during their forced removal to “Indian Territory” (now Oklahoma) during the winter of 1838-39. You’ll also learn about the movement of the armies, some 16,000 Confederates and 10,500 Federals, which collided here in fierce combat. You can also visit the reconstructed Elkhorn Tavern, held at different times by each side.
Although the tide of battle turned several times, with both armies suffering significant casualties, the Confederates eventually withdrew when their ammunition ran low, leaving Missouri to remain at least politically neutral and a Union State throughout the remainder of the war.
Trail of Tears marker
Cannons at the Leetown Battlefield