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Skirt of Timber

Tour Stop

Directions: Walk back to the parking area and cross to the east side of the Park's Tour Road and you will be at the southeast corner of the Skirt of Timber [ Waypoint = N36 26.967 W94 01.336 ] used as cover by the Confederates on the morning of March 8th.

“A Perfect Storm of Shot and Shell” Interpretive Sign [ Waypoint = N36 26.966 W94 01.331 ] text reads as follows:

A Perfect Strom of Shot and Shell Interpretive Sign“ '...[the Yankees] a perfect storm of round and shrapnel shot and shell...[the ground] was literally ploughed up by cannon ball...It is a perfect miracle that any of us ever came out.' – John J. Good, captain, Dallas Texas Light Artillery, Good's Battery”

“Here two armies lined up for a second day of fighting after a long, bitterly cold night. Confederate artillerists set up their guns along the edge of these woods. The Union battle line was only 500 yards away – a 5-minute walk – across wide open fields.”

“At 8:00 a.m. the Union cannon bellowed out their first volley, concentrating first on the Confederate artillery positions here. Confederate gunners fired back. The roar of big guns was heard more than 50 miles away. The Yankee barrage went on nonstop for two hours. ”

“It was the largest artillery shelling of the Civil War up to that point. The unrelenting bombardment forced the Confederate cannoneers – by then low on ammunition – back to safety at Elkhorn Tavern.”

Walk over to the artillery pieces that mark the location of Wade’s Missouri Artillery Battery [ Waypoint = N36 26.973 W94 01.353 ] on the morning of March 8th. Then walk west to the gun carriages that mark the location of Good’s Texas Artillery Battery [ Waypoint = N36 26.995 W94 01.405 ] on the morning of March 8th.

Description: You have just walked along the center of the Confederate line of battle on the morning of March 8th. Confederate Colonel Henry Little's 1st Missouri Brigade was deployed in the skirt of timber on your right. About 350 to 500 yards directly south of this position was the Federal line of artillery batteries. You should be able to see the Federal artillery if you turn to look south.

Skirt of Timber Looking South From Wade's BatteryWade's Battery at the Skirt Of Timber

From your position near Good's Texas Battery, turn and look to the west and just a little to the south. That rise of ground you see would come to be known as Welfley's Knoll [ Waypoint = N36 27.072 W94 01.794 ]. You should be able to see the gun carriages marking the location of Federal batteries [Waypoint = N36 27.070 W94 01.708 ] that were able to pour enfilading fire onto the Confederate positions in the Skirt of Timber.

Skirt of Timber at Pea Ridge BattlefieldGun Carriages Marking Location of Good's Texas Battery at Skirt of Timber

Confederate General Earl Van DornAlthough Confederate General Earl Van Dorn would fail to mass his artillery for the battle on March 8th, the batteries position here at the skirt of timber would have a great effect on the Federals early on the morning of March 8th. Union Colonel Jeff Davis had observed movement by the Confederates and ordered the 2nd Illinois (Peoria) Battery, commanded by Captain Peter Davidson, to open fire on their position. The Confederate artillery replied which was answered by the Federal 1st Indiana Battery under the command of Captain Martin Klauss.

Colonel Davis described these events in his official report:

Union General Jeff C. Davis“At sunrise the enemy's position was discovered by a few shots being thrown by Davidson's battery, which was at once answered by the rebel batteries. Klauss' battery soon responded, but after a sharp contest of a few rounds was forced to retire by a sudden attack from one of the enemy's heretofore-undiscovered batteries, which opened closely upon his flank with grape and canister. This battery, however, soon withdrew upon discovering dispositions being made by the First Brigade to charge it.

“The Second Brigade at this time was much exposed to an enfilading fire from the enemy's guns, and I ordered it to fall back and take position. under shelter of the timber. By this time the position of the enemy's batteries was well developed, and Davidson's now took a more commanding position in the open field. He was soon joined by Klauss, whom I had ordered to support him, and in a few moments the contest was opened and maintained with great spirit on both sides until the arrival of General Sigel's forces, about 7:30 o'clock. Sigel's artillery soon took position on the enemy's right and engaged with great spirit in the contest. The approach of Sigel's infantry on the left of my division rendered the position of my battery secure, and enabled me to withdraw the Second Brigade from their support and prepare my whole division for a general attack upon the enemy's left.”

The artillery fire from the Confederates had caused Davis to have his men to pull back a bit into the cover offered by a wooded area. The pull back by Davis resulted in a weakening of the Federal line of battle. Upon seeing this movement, Curtis sent word for Carr to have the Fourth Division fall back and keep the Union right intact.


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