One hundred and fifty years ago, the Federal Army was not sitting idly by while the Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi were in the midst of reorganizing. While Helena hosted the majority of the Federal army in Arkansas, one cannot forget the scattered Yankee forces across the state by late October, 1862.
General Thomas C. Hindman had been replaced by General T. “Granny” Holmes as Commander of the Army in Arkansas. As Hindman made his way to North West Arkansas, he began to organize a Confederate resistance to check the Federal advances in that corner of the state. On October 22, 1862, he requested ammunition and commissary trains to be transported to the area of Camp War Eagle, near Huntsville, Arkansas. In a letter written from this camp in North West Arkansas to Colonel McRae, General Hindman asked that the ammunition and commissary be moved, “with the greatest possible rapidity.” The letter continued, “The enemy are reported by [J.O] Shelby to be at Huntsville and advancing.”
This proverbial cat-and-mouse game continued between the Confederate and Federal Armies. On October 23, 1862, a dispatch was sent to the Rebel forces near Fayetteville that begins the accumulation of forces near Cane Hill and Prairie Grove:
“General Hindman thinks it best, that you concentrate your force in front of the enemy and scout in the direction of Fayetteville so as to cover all the approaches from that direction.” Hindman pointed out that the Texas troops were “entirely without provisions, and that you must make some arrangement to supply them, at least with beef.”
Before closing the dispatch, Hindman was also mindful enough to “direct that you examine into your ammunition and make report as to the amount and its condition.” Hindman could smell a battle brewing in North West Arkansas and took every measure for his army to be prepared.