In early 1862 the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas had been fought, resulting in Confederate defeat. Now a Confederate army under General Thomas C. Hindman was advancing to try to regain that lost ground. He moved with 11,000 troops into the northwest corner of the state, where he planned to attack 5,000 Yankees under Brigadier General James G. Blunt, who were 70 miles from any reinforcements. Hindman sent Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke ahead with 2,000 cavalry to hold Blunt in place while the rest of the Confederates came into position.
Blunt, however, did not sit passively and wait for Hindman's plan to work. He headed south, and encountered Marmaduke 35 miles south of where the Confederates had expected. The outnumbered rebels were surprised by the Yankee attack on November 28th, 150 years ago today. Marmaduke ordered Col. Jo Shelby to delay Blunt and cover the retreat of the main Confederate force. Although the fighting stretched for nine hours as Blunt pursued the Confederates for 12 miles, there were few large clashes and the casualties were light. The Union lost 41 killed and wounded, and the South 45.
Although he was successful in driving back Marmaduke's thrust for the time being, the attack left Blunt even further from reinforcements. The campaign would culminate in the Battle of Prairie Grove, just nine days later.