“Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, The, or The Pea Ridge Battle”


A Union/Confederate soldier (Dan Martin) tells of how he fled from the rebels/federals at Elkhorn Tavern


The officers referred to in this ballad include:

[Samuel] Curtis (1877-1866), Union commander at Pea Ridge. He was field commander of Union forces in Missouri and Arkansas for most of the war. Although badly outnumbered at Pea Ridge, he asked far less of his raw troops than Van Dorn, and so was able to win the battle

"Mackintosh" (so Belden): Probably James McIntosh (1828-1862), a Confederate general killed March 7.

[Ben] McCulloch (1811-1862), who had held field command of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi until the arrival of Van Dorn. Now relegated to command of a de facto division, he was killed on March 7

[Sterling] Price (1809-1867), former governor of Missouri and commander of Missouri's Confederate troops

"Rain": Neither army had a general named "Rain," but the Confederates had three generals named "Rains," The reference is probably to James E. Rains (1833-1862), who served in the west though he was still only a colonel (11th Tennessee) at the time of Pea Ridge

[Franz] Sigel (1824-1902), a wing and division commander under Curtis. He had attained his rank by bringing many German immigrants to the Union colors; other soldiers (both Union and Confederate) had a very low opinion of his "Dutchmen." Generally inept, Sigel had his one good day of the war at Pea Ridge. He is probably Belden's "Segal"

[William Y.] Slack (died 1862), a Confederate brigadier killed on March 7

[Earl] Van Dorn (1820-1863), commander of Confederate forces beyond the Mississippi. He was appointed to soothe the squabbles between Price and McCulloch over who was senior (the two had been squabbling about this for over a year; Price was made Major General earlier, but by the government of Missouri; McCulloch was appointed by the Confederate government). For more on his rakish personal life, see the notes to "Oh You Who Are Able...." - RBW

Historical references

  • Mar 7-8, 1862 - Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Ark. Federal forces under Samuel Curtis had advanced into Arkansas, and were met by the larger Confederate forces of Earl Van Dorn. Van Dorn's envelopment strategy was too complex for his raw troops, and Curtis was able to beat them off and eventually counterattack


  1. Laws A12a, "The Battle of Elkhorn Tavern"/Laws A12b, "The Pea Ridge Battle"
  2. Belden, pp. 368-369, "The Battle of Elkhorn Tavern" (1 text)
  3. Randolph 209, "The Pea Ridge Battle" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 200-203, "The Pea Ridge Battle" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 209A)
  5. Darling-NAS, pp. 162-163, "The Battle of Pea Ridge" (1 text)
  6. DT 685, ELKHORNT
  7. Roud #2201
  8. BI, LA12


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1928 (Randolph)
Keywords: Civilwar war
Found in: US(So)