Imagine 7,000 Confederate troops crowded in close order along Ford Road, the lane to the right edge of the field. As they trudged east towards Elkhorn Tavern, a small Union force of Iowa cavalrymen — only 600 men — unexpectedly appeared from the thick belt of trees you see on the left. Neither force expected to fight here.
Three Union cannons unlimbered and fired into the massive rebel formation. Within minutes, 3,000 cavalrymen from Texas and Arkansas turned off the road. With war whoops they swept over Wiley Foster’s wheat field. The shattered Federals fled back through the trees.