In 1827, a group of European settlers decided to establish a community in what is now the northwest corner of Arkansas. It was named Cane Hill (also spelled Canehill) after a prominent geological formation. Today, Cane Hill is located on State Route 45, about 15 miles southwest of Fayetteville and about 7 miles east of the Oklahoma border. Most of the settlers came from Little Rock and selected the location because of the abundant fresh water springs, rich fertile soil and the canebrakes, as well at the temperate climate.
In 1835, the Cane Hill School opened as an institution of higher learning.
In 1852, Cane Hill School became a men’s only college, however, women allowed to attend the school’s Female Seminary.
In 1861, Cane Hill School closed its doors due to the outbreak of the Civil War.
On November 9, 1862, Confederate General John Marmaduke was ordered to proceed north to the Cane Hill area to find food and supplies.
On November 14, 1862, Marmaduke’s forces left the Cane Hill area with wagon loads of meat, grain and other supplies.
Around November 21-22, 1862, Marmaduke was ordered to make another food and supply raid to the Cane Hill area.
On November 27, 1862, Union General James Blunt marched his force of 5,000 men and 30 cannons south and camped at Rheas Mills, about 7 miles north of Cane Hill. A Confederate scouting patrol spotted the Union forces and reported it to Marmaduke. He decided to send all the food they had gathered on to Fort Smith and to remain at Cane Hill to face the larger Union force.
On this day, November 28, 1862, the Battle of Cane Hill took place between Union forces led by General J Blunt and Confederate forces led by General Marmaduke. The Union forces numbered around 5,000 men with 30 cannons and the Confederate forces numbered around 2,000, mostly cavalry and only 6 cannons occupied the small community of Cane Hill.
Early in the morning, the Union forces began their march to Cane Hill, using a seldom traveled road that was steep and poorly maintained. Just north of Cane Hill, the Confederate forces began firing their cannons from the higher ground at the Cane Hill Cemetery. The Union artillery returned fire. The Artillery battle lasted about an hour.
The Battle of Cane Hill stretched over nearly 12 miles of rocky and wooded terrain and lasted nearly 9 hours. Late that evening, both sides called a truce to gather their wounded and dead. The Union forces suffered 2 dead and nearly 40 wounded. Among the Union casualties was Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Jewell who died on Nov. 30 from his wounds. The Confederate casualties are not fully known but estimated to be about twice that of the Union.
Even though the casualties on both sides were relatively light for a nine-hour battle, the Battle of Cane Hill was a Union victory since Marmaduke ended up moving his troops south and leaving Cane Hill in the hands of Blunt and the Union forces.
On December 7, 1862, the Blunt and Marmaduke again faced off at the Battle of Prairie Cove.
In 1864, three of the four buildings of Care Hill School were burned. The lone surviving building, a former men’s dormitory was used a hospital for Union soldiers.
In 1865, Cane Hill School reopened its doors.
In 1875, Cane Hill School admitted women to the college degree program.
In 1891, Cane Hill College moved to Clarksville and was renamed Arkansas Cumberland College.
In 1920, Arkansas Cumberland College was renamed College of the Ozarks.
In 1987, College of the Ozarks was renamed University of the Ozarks.
Today, Cane Hill, Arkansas has grown to a burgeoning population of close to 1,500.
Sources for the above includes: The Battle of Cane Hill – Canehill, Arkansas; Battle of Cane Hill; Engagement at Cane Hill; Battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas; Cane Hill; Canehill, Boston Mountains: Civil War Arkansas; Cane Hill (Washington County)