November 30, 1862: Gen. Marmaduke and his cavalry, after having been beaten by Gen. Blunt’s Union army at Cane Hill, have retreated southward into the Boston Mountains. Marmaduke has sent a fast report down to his commander, Gen. Hindman, at Ft. Smith. Marmaduke reasons: If Blunt had been overextended in the first place, too far south from his base of supply and nearby reinforcements, he was now even 35 miles even farther out of touch. Blunt’s nearest supports were a lone regiment of cavalry at Pea Ridge made up of Arkansas Unionists, 35 miles north. Beyond that was a small force, the Army of the Frontier, under Brig. Gen. Francis Herron, 150 miles away in Springfield, Missouri. Marmaduke argues that if Hindman were to bring up the rest of his army, he would easily outnumber Blunt’s division of 5,000 by at least 2 to 1, and the Confederates might have the chance to destroy his force while isolated from the rest of the region’s Union forces. Hindman agrees, and begins taking action, dispatching another regiment of cavalry north to Marmaduke, and preparing his infantry to march. Hindman’s troops begin crossing the Arkansas River last night. Although one whole regiment is still without muskets, he decides to take the chance.
---Gen. Ulysses S. Grant has finally consolidated his 40,000 troops in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and has moved south towards Oxford, where Gen. Pemberton and 24,000 Confederate troops wait. Gen. Sherman approaches Oxford from the northwest with another 26,000 men. Pemberton’s nearest reinforcements are 12,000 men in the Vicksburg garrison. A cavalry force under Gen. Cadwallader Washburn, from Steele’s force, dashes southward along the Mississippi Central railroad, burning bridges and destroying telegraph wires behind enemy lines.