“I hope to God that I won’t have to witness the same again,” wrote Vinson Holman after his first combat experience at Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Though Holman’s regiment, the 9th Iowa, lost 216 men to casualties over the course of the three-day battle as documented by the Official Records, the Union victory on March 8, 1862 helped solidify northern control of neighboring Missouri. The Pea Ridge National Military Park preserves 4,300 acres including the entire battlefield and a newly updated visitor center and park museum, making it accessible for field trips. The National Park Service’s website provides resources for teachers that include excerpts from soldier diaries. Private Henry Dysart of the 3rd Iowa was particularly good at recording the daily life of the army soldier. On March 5, 1862, the day before the battle began, Dysart felt that it was worth noting that “Charles W. Gordon private of Co. C. 9th Missouri was drummed out of service to day in the presence of his brigade to the tune of ‘Pop goes the weasel.’” The National Park website also provides a series of visual resources that document Pea Ridge, Arkansas before, after, and during the 1862 battle through historic photographs and artwork.
The Pea Ridge Military Park has also created a comprehensive website, which would be valuable for teachers exploring the many organizational elements that went into fighting the Civil War. The website includes sections that explain the use of battle flags as well as how nineteenth-century infantry, cavalry, and artillery units were organized based on their weaponry and tactics. Each section includes multiple firsthand accounts such as a William L. Fayel’s description of the temporary hospital erected in the Elkhorn Tavern: “we found the lower floors occupied with the wounded so thick that it was difficult to step between them.”