Year
1862
Month Day
December 07

Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas

On December 7, 1862, northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri are secured for the Union when a force commanded by General James G. Blunt holds off a force of Confederates under General Thomas Hindman at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

Hindman assembled a force at Fort Smith, Arkansas, to make an attempt to recapture territory lost during the Pea Ridge campaign of early 1862. He planned to cross the Boston Mountains into northwestern Arkansas and then Missouri, but the Union Army of the Frontier, commanded by John Schofield, made a preemptive move to Maysville, Arkansas. Schofield had to leave the army due to illness, and Blunt assumed command. When Hindman sent an advance detachment of cavalry under John Marmaduke through the mountains in late November, Blunt moved south and defeated Marmaduke in a minor engagement at Cane Hill.

After Cane Hill, Hindman moved his 11,000-man army across the Boston Mountains and approached Blunt’s 5,000 troops. Hindman prepared to attack, but was surprised by the approach of Union reinforcements from Missouri. In one of the most dramatic marches of the entire war, Union General Francis Herron had moved 7,000 reinforcements more than 110 miles in three and a half days. Hindman turned to face Herron, but then took up defensive positions in Prairie Grove. Herron arrived and attacked Hindman on December 7. Herron sent only half of his force to the assault, believing that this was only part of Hindman’s force. Outnumbered nearly three to one, Herron’s attack failed. Hindman ordered a counterattack, but it was repulsed with heavy loses. Hearing noise from the battle, Blunt moved toward Prairie Grove and attacked Hindman later that day. This, too, failed, as did another Confederate counterattack.

Darkness ended the engagement with the Confederates still holding the high ground at Prairie Grove. The battle was a tactical draw but Hindman’s army was running low on ammunition. Confederate losses amounted to more than 1,400 killed and wounded, while the Yankees lost more than 1,200. Hindman retreated back to Fort Smith, and the region was secured for the Union.

READ MORE: Civil War History

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Sugar Ray Leonard fights Roberto Duran for the third and final time

On December 7, 1989, the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard triumphs over a lackluster Roberto Duran in a unanimous 12-round decision at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Leonard became a sensation in the boxing world during the 1980s, providing a superstar presence that boxing lacked after ...read more

Pearl Harbor bombed

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious ...read more

Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the Constitution

In Dover, Delaware, the U.S. Constitution is unanimously ratified by all 30 delegates to the Delaware Constitutional Convention, making Delaware the first state of the modern United States. Less than four months before, the Constitution was signed by 37 of the original 55 ...read more

Indonesia invades East Timor

Early in the morning, Indonesian forces launch a massive invasion of the former Portuguese half of the island of Timor, which lies near Australia in the Timor Sea. The Portuguese departed East Timor in August 1975, and Indonesian troops soon began infiltrating the border from ...read more

First execution by lethal injection

The first execution by lethal injection takes place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol, the barbiturate that is known as a “truth serum” when ...read more

FDR reacts to news of Pearl Harbor bombing

On December 7, 1941, at around 1:30 p.m., President Franklin Roosevelt is conferring with advisor Harry Hopkins in his study when Navy Secretary Frank Knox bursts in and announces that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. The attack killed more than 2,400 naval and military ...read more

Lewis and Clark temporarily settle in Fort Clatsop

Having spied the Pacific Ocean for the first time a few weeks earlier, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark cross to the south shore of the Columbia River (near modern-day Astoria) and begin building the small fort that would be their winter home. Lewis, Clark, and their men ...read more

“Ocean’s Eleven” remake opens in theaters

Ocean’s Eleven, a caper film featuring an all-star ensemble cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts, opens in theaters. Ocean’s Eleven was a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which featured so-called ...read more

Earthquakes wreak havoc in Armenia

Two earthquakes hit Armenia on December 7, 1988, killing 60,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. The two tremors, only minutes apart, were measured at 6.9 and 5.8 in magnitude and were felt as far away as Georgia, Turkey and Iran. It was 11:41 a.m. when the ...read more

Shooter opens fire on Long Island Railroad train

Colin Ferguson opens fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train from New York City, killing 6 and injuring 19. Other train passengers stopped the perpetrator by tackling and holding him down. Colin Ferguson was a mentally ill man from Jamaica who spent years on the West Coast ...read more