As darkness descended on the battlefield of Prairie Grove (7 December), ravenous wild hogs descended upon the injured and dying. To light their field of fire in the gloom, Union gunners fired incendiaries into haystacks, unwittingly incinerating the wounded who had sheltered there for warmth. In a brutal battle, the two sides had fought themselves to a standstill. But low on ammunition, it was the Confederate commander Thomas C. Hindman who withdrew, to be pursued to his base at Van Buren, where his Union pursuers were again victorious on 28 December. Arkansas was not a happy hunting-ground for the Confederacy. Earlier in the year, Van Dorn’s attempt to envelop Curtis’s Union army went spectacularly awry at Pea Ridge in March, forcing the abandonment of his expedition. Prior to Prairie Grove, the battle at Newtonia (30 September) was a rare, if marginal, Confederate victory, notable for having Indian brigades fighting on both sides.
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