Battle of Dripping Springs
This marker commemorating
the battle is located on S.R.
59 near the battlefield.
Confederate Campsite
Crump's regiment camped
just to the right of this road
that slopes down to Dripping
Springs crossroad.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Dripping Springs, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Dripping Springs, Arkansas
Battle of Dripping Springs - Crawford County, Arkansas
The Battle of Dripping Springs, Arkansas
Union cavalry charged across this open ground to
attack the Confederates who were positioned along
the wooded ridge on the far side of the pasture.
The Union Raid on Van Buren
On December 28, 1862, the Union Army of
the Frontier stormed out of the
Boston
Mountains and attacked Confederate troops
at Dripping Springs and
Van Buren,
Arkansas.

The first confrontation of this brief campaign
was the Battle of Dripping Springs. A sharp
cavalry fight at that took place at a vital
crossroads between Van Buren and the
mountains, the battle ignited a running fight
that ended on the banks of the Arkansas
River.

The raid on Van Buren was a direct result of
the
Battle of Prairie Grove. This bloody battle
in Northwest Arkansas was fought on
December 7, 1862, and ended in a tactical
stalemate. Recognizing that he lacked the
men and supplies to continue his advance
on Missouri, however, Confederate General
Thomas Hindman withdrew back across the
mountains.

The Union commanders, James G. Blunt
and Francis Herron, considered pursuing,
but hesitated due to the severe casualties
they had sustained at Prairie Grove. By the
time they were ready to move, winter weather
set in, clogging the mountain passes with ice
and snow.

In late December, however, news reached
the Union camps that Hindman was being
strongly reinforced for another campaign into
Northwest Arkansas. The intelligence was
inaccurate. Hindman, in fact, was struggling
to hold his battered army together in its
camps around Van Buren and
Fort Smith. In
fact, to better protect his men from a feared
Union attack, he moved most of them to
positions around Fort Smith south of the
Arkansas River.

Unwilling to risk the possibility of another
surprise attack, Blunt and Herron moved out
from their camps around Prairie Grove, Cane
Hill and Rhea's Mill on the morning of
December 27, 1862. Herron advanced via the
old Telegraph or Wire road (a former route of
the Butterfield Stage Line), while Blunt moved
his column down the Cove Creek road into
the mountains. The total Union force was
roughly 8,000 men with 30 pieces of artillery.

The two wings of the army converged at
Oliver's Store in northern Crawford County at
around 3 a.m. on December 28th. Learning
that a Confederate cavalry force was camped
a few miles ahead at Dripping Springs, the
Union generals pushed forward with 3,000
cavalrymen and 4 small howitzers.

The severely outnumbered Confederates at
Dripping Springs were the member's of Lt.
Col. R.P. Crump's 1st Texas Partisan
Rangers (30th Texas Cavalry). Formed in the
summer with 1,000 men, the regiment had
far fewer by December of 1862.

As they approached Dripping Springs,
skirmishing with Confederate pickets, the
Federals found Crump's men camped on the
north slope of a hill. The camp overlooked
fairly level ground that was a patchwork of
fields and woods.

Forming a line of battle, the Union cavalry
charged across the open ground with sabers
flashing and bugles sounding. Crump's men
resisted briefly, but quickly retreated from
their camp and began a fighting withdrawal
before the massive Union charge reached
the camp.

There is no park at Dripping Springs, but the
site of the battle can be viewed from the
intersection of Highway 220 and Dripping
Springs Road north of Van Buren, Arkansas.
A marker commemorating the battle can be
viewed on Highway 59 north of Van Buren.
Dripping Springs Crossroads
Confederate troops retreated
via the road leading off to the
left of this photograph.
Dripping Springs Road
Union troops approached via
this road. The main charge
was across the fields on the
left.
Confederate Dead
Southern casualties from the
Battles of Dripping Springs
and Van Buren are buried at
Fairview Cemetery in Van
Buren, Arkansas.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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