Nine months after their victory at Pea Ridge, the Union Army of the Frontier in the area was geographically divided. One division under Brig. Gen. James Blunt remained in the northwestern part of Arkansas, and the second under Brig. Gen. Francis Herron was stationed around the Missouri capital of Springfield. The Confederates, hoping to use Arkansas as a base for operations into the border state of Missouri, looked to defeat the Union armies in the area. Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman gathered a Confederate force at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and sought to catch the Union groups while separated and destroy them in detail. On December 3rd, Hindman departed Fort Smith with 11,000 men and marched for Blount's army. Both met along the high ground near Prairie Grove, halfway between Fort Smith and the Missouri border. By that time, Herron had arrived from Missouri and joined Blount. The Rebels established their line of battle on a wooded high ridge northeast of Prairie Grove Church. After the failure of two Federal assaults, a spirited artillery duel kept the opposing forces from gaining any advantage. Hearing the cannon fire from Herron's fight, Blunt moved his division toward the sound of the fighting and assailed the Confederate left flank. Hindman parried Blunt’s advance but was unable to make any further progress against Herron. Though the battle ended as a stalemate, nightfall saw Hindman's force retreating, establishing Federal control of northwest Arkansas.