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After the Confederate forces suffered defeat in the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Union troops advanced toward the Confederate city of Little Rock. Rector moved his staff and state records to Hot Springs.
The year-round population soared to 1,200 inhabitants by 1870.Also a destination for the arts, Hot Springs features the Hot Springs Music Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival annually.Members of many Native American tribes had been gathering in the valley for untold numbers of years to enjoy the healing properties of the thermal springs.The townsite consisted of 196 blocks and 50 miles (80 km) of streets and alleys.
The remaining portion of the original four sections of government land consisted of hills and mountains which were mostly unoccupied, and Congress acted on the commission's recommendation in June 1880 by adding those lands to the permanent reservation. During the early 20th century (1894–1925), Hot Springs was known for baseball training camps after the construction of Whittington Park in 1894.
During this period, Hot Springs became the prey of guerrilla bands loosely associated with either Union or Confederate forces.