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Civil War Flags.jpg Eighteen veterans of the Civil War started the Ellis G. MILLER Post of the Grand Army of the Republic on November 3, 1880. The Post was named in honor of Lieutenant MILLER. Ellis G. MILLER was born in Pennsylvania and enlisted as a Sergeant on July 4, 1861 with Company G of the Fourth Iowa Infantry. He was promoted to first Full Lieutenant on September 5, 1861, and commanded the company at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7, 1862. Lt. MILLER was killed at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou at Vicksburg, Mississippi on December 29, 1862. Lt. MILLER had been the first commissioned officer from Mount Ayr to die in service. The Ellis G. MILLER Post membership reached 246 by July of 1926.

March 6 - 8, 1862

Other Names:  Battle of Elkhorn Tavern
Commanders:  Maj. Gen. Samuel R. CURTIS, U.S.; Maj. Gen. Earl Van DORN, C.S.A.
Forces: 10,500 Union soldiers; 16,000 C.S.A. soldiers

Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas  Courtesy of National Park Service

In the wake of a disaster at Wilson's Creek in August of 1861, the Union forces located in Missouri were reorganized into the Army of the Southwest, numbering around 10,500 men under the command of Brigadier General Samuel R. CURTIS. Brig. General CURTIS was ordered to push the Confederates out of the State of Missouri.

Brig. General CURTIS established a strong position facing south along Little Sugar Creek. In anticipation of a Confederate attack from that position, the Union Army fortified their position with artillery.

Eager to destroy CURTIS' stronghold and open a pathway for the capture of Saint Louis, Major General Van DORN led his men on a three-day forced march through bitter and severe winter weather. Reaching Bentonville, Van DORN failed to capture the Union force under the command of Brig. General Franz SIGEL on March 6th, perhaps because the Confederate troops were totally exhausted. Undaunted, Van DORN planned to proceed, personally leading one column along the north edge of Pea Ridge, and a second column led by Brig. General Benjamin McCULLOCH which would join him at Elkhorn Tavern. Van DORN put his plan into action on the night of March 6th, seaching to outflank CURTIS and the Union's position near Pea Ridge.

Although Major General CURTIS did not anticipate Van DORN's movements, he did take precautions of falling trees across the Bentonville Detour which would slow down any Confederate advance should they take this route. CURTIS' precautions worked, alerting him and the Union Army of Van DORN and McCULLOCH's advance.

Learning of Van DORNís approach, the Federals marched north to meet his advance on March 7. This movement, compounded by the killing of two generals, Brig. General Benjamin McCULLOCH on the Ford Road from Twelve Corner Church and Brig. General James McQueen McINTOSH, McCULLOUGH's second-in-command, and the capture of their ranking Colonel Louis HEBERT, halted the Rebel attack. Van DORN led a second column to meet the Federals in the Elkhorn Tavern and Tanyard area. By nightfall, the Confederates controlled Elkhorn Tavern and Telegraph Road. The next day, Major General Samuel R. CURTIS (Union Army), having regrouped and consolidated his army, counterattacked near the tavern. By successfully employing his artillery and funneling units into the battle, CURTIS slowly forced the Rebels back.

Running short of ammunition and realizing that his supply train and reserve artillery were located six hours away from the battle, Van DORN abandoned the battlefield. The Union controlled Missouri for the next two years, thus ending the Confederate threat in the State of Missouri. Pressing on from Pea Ridge, Brig. General CURTIS succeeded in taking Helena, Arkansas in July, 1862.

Leetown, a thriving community near the Pea Ridge Battlefield, was taken over and used as a hospital site for both Confederate and Union wounded. After the Battle of Pea Ridge, Leetown's buildings were in such a state of disrepair that only a handful of citizens returned to their homes.

Casualties:  1,349 Union; 4,600 Confederate
Results:  Union Victory

December 26 - 29, 1862, Operations Against Vicksburg

Other Names:  Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, Battle of Walnut Hills
Commanders:  Maj. Gen. William T. SHERMAN, U.S.; Lt. Gen John C. PEMBERTON, C.S.A.
Forces: Right Wing, XIII Army Corps, U.S.; Dept. of Mississippi and East Louisiana, C.S.A.

Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi  Courtesy of National Archives

In December of 1862, Major General Ulysses S. GRANT's Federal advance south on the line of the Mississippi Central Railroad was stalled. He deicded to utilize naval power in an attempt to outflank the Confederate States Army which were gathered around Vicksburg, Mississippi. The plan was for Major General William T. SHERMAN and his troops to assume command of the Major General John A. McCLERNAND's troop, and then decend the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Yazoo River located north of Vicksburg. Here, SHERMAN would be supported by Rear Admial David D. PORTER's gunboats, and disembark his 32,000-man army to seize the high ground located northeast of Vicksburg.

On December 26, 1862, three Union divisions, under the command of Major General William T. SHERMAN, disembarked at Captain W. A. JOHNSON's Plantation on the Yazoo River to approach the Vicksburg defenses from the northeast while a fourth landed farther upstream on the 27th. However news that the invasion convoy was approaching from the Yazoo River had been received by the Confederates dug in to the rifle pits which covered all approaches to Wall Hills. Furthermore, the Federal troops faced launching their advance across rough ground and an enormous swamp.

On the 27th, the Federals pushed their lines forward through the swamps toward Walnut Hills, which were strongly defended. On the 28th, several futile attempts were made to get around these defenses.

On December 29, SHERMAN ordered a frontal assault which was repulsed with heavy casualties. The twisted swampland prevented any attempt to bring up Federal artillery support. SHERMAN then withdrew. By the time SHERMAN withdrew, Confederate defenders had grown from 6,000 to 14,000 men. This Confederate victory frustrated GRANT's attempts to take Vicksburg by direct approach.

Estimated Casualties:  1,983, U.S.; 207, C.S.A.
Results:  Confederate victory

American Civil War Soldiers Database,

Ringgold County History, Complied and written by the Iowa Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Iowa, Sponsored by Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools, Mount Ayr, Iowa. p. 43. 1942.

Submission by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2009

To contribute to Ringgold County' soldier pages, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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