A Civil War marker commemorating “Skirmishes at Prairie D’Ane” was unveiled during a dedication ceremony in Prescott Tuesday afternoon. A group of city and county representatives attended the event in front of the T/A Travel Center on Highway 371 at I-30.
Area historian Peggy Lloyd spoke about the area’s Civil War history, along with Historic Washington State Park Chief Interpreter, Billy Nations.
The marker is cast aluminum, painted black with the following inscription on both sides in gold lettering:
Gen. Sterling Price’s Confederate army held strong earthworks on the western edge of Prairie D’Ane when Gen. Frederick Steele’s Union troops approached on April 10, 1864, and dug their own trenches. After heavy fighting on the 10th, the combatants shelled each other and skirmished, while many men rested or hunted to extend tight rations. On April 12, Steele’s men advanced, only to find the Confederates fallen back toward Washington. Steele abandoned his advance to Shreveport, La., and turned his hungry army toward Camden, which they reached on April 15.
The following is taken from a program handed out at the Tuesday unveiling ceremony:
The Battle of Prairie D’Ane occurred on April 9-13, 1864. Major-General Frederick Steele with a force of seven to eight thousand men had moved into southwest Arkansas from Little Rock and was joined at the Cornelius Farm in then Hempstead and now Nevada County by Brigadier-General John M. Thayer’s force of four to five thousand men from Fort Smith. The Union Army moved onto the open grassland known as Prairie D’Ane to confront a Confederate force under General Sterling Price. Price’s army had dug in to protect the road to Washington, then the Confederate capital of Arkansas.
Steel’s forces drove back the Confederate line for a mile before being stopped. Neither side wanted a major engagement but continued with sporadic shelling and skirmishing until April 11. With supplies running low, Steele took his forces toward Camden leaving a rearguard under Thayer to protect his flanks. Thayer engaged the Confederate forces on April 13 near the scattered antebellum village of Moscow on the outskirts of the present day Prescott in a four-hour flight. The Union Army made its way to Camden, entering the city on April 15.
Prairie D’Ane is considered a Union victory. The number of casualties is uncertain but is estimated to be about 100–100 Union and 50 Confederates. With the decision to go to Camden, Prairie D’Ane also became the turning point of the Camden Expedition, the Arkansas portion of the Red River Campaign. Though the Union forces prevailed in this engagement, southwest Arkansas would remain in Confederate hands until the end of the war in 1865.
The marker is located directly in front of T/A Travel Center between the two main entrances.
This is the second Civil War marker unveiled in Nevada County recently. Another marker commemorating the Elkins Ferry National Historic Landmark and the Cornelius Farm site was unveiled in front of Missionary Grove Baptist Church in the Nubbin Hill community on Sunday, November 25th.
The markers were sponsored by a grant from the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the Nevada County Depot and Museum.