December 6, 1862: Hindman’s Rebels clash with the Kansas horsemen along the Cove Creek Road, and drive them back in a slow, drawn-out running battle. As the Rebels finally gain the junction of the roads, thus cutting off Blunt’s retreat route, scouts come to Hindman with news of Gen. Francis Herron and his division of reinforcements from Missouri being less than a day from that very spot, and that they will be there by morning. Hindman decides to fight each part of the Union force before Herron and Blunt have a chance to combine. Herron’s men are exhausted from marching 100 miles in a little less than three days, so Hindman decides to attack them. He marches his troops north toward Prairie Grove, where a ridge dominates the highway. Hindman urges on his Rebels with this rather inflammatory proclamation:
Remember that the enemy you engage have no feelings of mercy or kindness towards you. His ranks are composed of Pin Indians, free negroes, Southern Tories, Kansas jayhawkers, and hired Dutch cut-throats. These bloody ruffians have invaded your country, stolen and destroyed your property, murdered your neighbors, outraged your women, driven your children from their homes, and defiled the graves of your kindred. If each man of you will do what I have here urged upon you, we will utterly destroy them. We can do this; we must do it;. our country will be ruined if we fail. A just God will strengthen our arms and give us a glorious victory.
Hindmans’ biggest worry, and biggest secret, is that the Confederate Quartermasters have only been able to supply him with enough ammunition for one day of hard fighting.
---Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, in a bid to win a publicity struggle with local Mississippians, issues orders forbidding foraging or pillaging of any kind among his troops.