Battle of Reed's Mountain
This view shows the old road
across the crest of Reed's
Mountain. Confederates took
this ridge to hide the march of
their main column.
Battle of Reed's Mountain - Washington County, Arkansas - Battle of Reed's Mountain, Arkansas - Battle of Reed's Mountain, Arkansas
Battle of Reed's Mountain, Arkansas
Confederate troops advanced up this slope and
drove Union soldiers off the mountain in fierce
fighting on the day before Prairie Grove.
Preliminary to Prairie Grove
On December 6, 1862, the Confederate Army
of the Trans-Mississippi pushed its way over
the crest of the Boston Mountains in a bold
effort to catch the divided divisions of the
Union Army of the Frontier and smash them
before they could reunite.

Driving north out of the mountains, General
Thomas Hindman hoped to put his Southern
army into position and snap up the division of
General Francis Herron, which was coming
from Missouri via Fayetteville before turning
on the division of General James G. Blunt,
then camped at Cane Hill. A key to this plan
was to prevent detection of his army as it
moved north past the left flank of Blunt's

To accomplish this, Hindman ordered the
taking of the crest of Reed's Mountain. This
rugged slope had been the scene of part of
Battle of Cane Hill just one week earlier
and was now occupied by a small force of
Union soldiers. Reed's Mountain overlooked
the Cove Creek Road by which Hindman was
advancing out of the mountains, and the
taking of the ridge would screen his army
from Blunt's force at Cane Hill.

The task fell to Colonel J.C. Monroe, who
commanded a brigade of Arkansas cavalry.
Pushing ahead of the main army, he attacked
the Federal picket at the intersection of the
Cove Creek and Cane Hill Roads and forced
it to retire up the slope of Reed's Mountain.

As Monroe advanced on the Cove Creek side
of the mountain, Union reinforcements came
down from Cane Hill and took up positions
on the opposite side. Advancing in two lines,
with a unit of 200 allied Indians thrown out to
their left, the Federals moved up the slope
and occupied a ledge of rocks where they
awaited the main Confederate attack. It was
not long in coming.

The first Confederate charge against the
Federal position was driven back, but Monroe
clung to the fight and a severe engagement
of about 45 minutes too place between the
two forces near the summit of the mountain.
Late in the day, however, the Southern troops
threatened the flanks of the Union command
and it withdrew down the mountain.

The two sides disputed who had won the
fight at Reed's Mountain. The officers of the
2nd and 11th Kansas Regiments, the Union
units involved, said they fired the last shot of
the day. Colonel Monroe, however, reported
that, "the enemy held his position until we
were in 10 paces of him, when he broke and
fled in confusion." Since Monroe wound up
taking the ridge with only 400 men, 150 of
whom never made it into the fight, against a
larger Union force, his account is probably
Confederate losses in the Battle of Reed's
Mountain were listed as 3 killed and 12

Union losses in the fight were not detailed in
reports of the action. As best as can be
determined, however, they were probably not
worse than those sustained by the Southern

The Confederates took up positions on the
mountain during the night, maintaining an
elaborate ruse to convince General Blunt that
they were part of a much larger force. The
strategy worked. The Union army took up
strong positions in the valley between Cane
Hill and Reed's Mountain in anticipation of a
fierce battle the next day. When dawn broke,
however, there was no battle and Blunt soon
realized he had been deceived.

The main Confederate army, meanwhile,
resumed its march up the Cove Creek Road.
In a matter of hours, the first shots of the
Battle of Prairie Grove were sounded.

Reed's Mountain is located between the
modern community of Canehill and the Cove
Creek Road in Washington County a few
miles south of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. The
site is undeveloped.
View from Reed's Mountain
Blunt's Division formed in the
distance as Confederates
watched from the mountain.
Cove Creek Road
The Battle of Reed's Mountain
was fought to conceal the
main Confederate army as it
marched north on this road.
Reed's Mountain
The mountain slopes are
rough and rocky, terrain that
had both advantages and
disadvantages for the two
forces fighting there.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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