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Cross Hollow (or Cross Hollows), located along the Telegraph Road eighteen miles south of the Missouri-Arkansas border near modern-day Rogers (Benton County), was the site of Confederate winter quarters during the winter of 1861–62. A Civil War skirmish was fought near Cross Hollow in 1864.
Following the August 10, 1861, Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek in Missouri, General Benjamin McCulloch’s army fell back into Arkansas. Feeling that the troops would be close enough to Missouri to march there readily if circumstances demanded, commanders chose Cross Hollow, a long, narrow valley at the intersection of an east-west road and the Telegraph Road, which was the major north-south road into Missouri. Abundant springs and forage and the presence of two mills nearby, coupled with the presence of several high ridges commanding the Telegraph Road, made it an excellent location for the camp.
The Confederates erected huts made of logs, boards, and turf in a cleared area, covering several acres near the road junction. Other encampments were established in the valley, the largest of which was Camp Benjamin, about two miles east of Cross Hollow. Peter Van Winkle was commissioned to build sixteen 18' by 36' cabins from boards cut at his mill. Van Winkle’s construction at Camp Benjamin was completed on December 11, 1861, and forty-nine other structures were built there with wood from Thomas K. Blake’s mill.
Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Southwest drove Sterling Price’s Confederate Missourians into Arkansas on February 16, 1862, and Price marched to Cross Hollow to link up with McCulloch’s Confederate troops. Curtis, wary of reports that the camp at Cross Hollow was heavily fortified, declined to continue his march down the Telegraph Road and instead ordered Brigadier General Alexander Asboth to scout to the west to seek a way to flank McCulloch from his winter quarters. Following the February 18, 1862, Action at Bentonville, McCulloch concluded that Cross Hollow was indeed indefensible and, despite Price’s opposition, ordered his men to abandon their camps and march south into the Boston Mountains. The Sixth Texas Cavalry Regiment set fire to many of the cabins, and other supplies and equipment were also destroyed to deny them to Curtis’s Federal army.
Curtis stationed two divisions at Cross Hollow and two at McKissick’s Creek (near present-day Centerton (Benton County) as he waited to see what the Confederates’ next move would be. They remained there until March 5, when the Union commander learned that the Confederate army, now under Major General Earl Van Dorn, was advancing toward them. Curtis drew his troops back above Little Sugar Creek near Elkhorn Tavern, setting the stage for the climactic Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7–8, 1862.
More than two years later, Federal forces in northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri used cavalry patrols to prevent Confederate regulars and guerrillas from organizing in the Cross Hollow area. The June 23, 1864, Skirmish at Cross Hollow was part of an effort by Union forces in Missouri to disrupt small bands of the enemy gathering near Cross Hollow.
For additional information:
Hilliard, Jerry, Mike Evans, Jared Pebworth, and Carl Carlson-Drexler. “A Confederate Encampment at Cross Hollow, Benton County.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 67 (Winter 2008): 359–374.
Shea, William L., and Earl J. Hess. Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 2/25/2017
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