Fight In Morgan's Woods

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During the first day of the Battle of Pea Ridge on March 7, 1862 Union troops engaged Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch’s division of Confederates at what would become known as the Leetown battle. Morgan’s Woods, the wooded area located east of what is now the tour road and the historic Leetown Road, saw desperate fighting between the troops of Confederate Colonel Louis Hebert and Union troops under Colonels James Osterhaus and Jefferson C. Davis. After the deaths of McCulloch and McIntosh, Louis Hebert technically assumed command of the entire division. However, Hebert never received word of either officer’s death and,a round 2:00pm, Hebert ordered his four regiments forward in a southwesterly direction from the north end of Morgan’s Woods without coordinating and collaborating with the rest of the division. Due to the dense tree cover and brush, the Confederate advance slowed and began to break apart. When Hebert halted the Confederate advance in order to realign his troops, Union cannoneers in Oberson’s field began shelling the Confederates inflicting the first casualties on Hebert’s troops. As Hebert’s four regiments moved on Osterhaus’s right flank, Hebert thought the other Confederates to the west of Leetown Road were advancing as well but they were not, as they were awaiting the order to advance which never came because Hebert still did not know that McCulloch and McIntosh were killed. General Curtis, upon receiving a call for reinforcements from Osterhaus, quickly sent word to Colonel Jefferson C. Davis to go to the aid of the Union troops at Leetown. Around 2:00pm, Davis arrived to reinforce Osterhaus and spread his troops in Morgan’s Woods east of Leetown Road. Union artillery shelled the Confederates in Morgan’s Woods and then Union infantry advanced on Hebert’s Confederates. The fighting in Morgan’s Woods quickly became frantic and confusing due to the foliage and the confusion of battle. In some instances, opposing troops would practically collide before opening fire on the other. After disastrous troop movements, Davis’s Union troops were forced to fall back toward Oberson’s field. Confederates swarmed the Union artillery facing Morgan’s Woods but were halted and effectively pushed back when Osterhaus wheeled his troops from Oberson’s field towards Morgans woods. The combined Union forces under Davis and Osterhaus were too much for Hebert’s Confederates. Hebert and several of his supporting staff are captured and the rest of Hebert’s troops fall back towards Foster’s Farm. The fighting ends at Leetown, a hard fought Union victory.