Stop 4: Leetown Battlefield-Day 1

Photo of a green plowed field with blue skies and fluffy white clouds
Oberson's Field at Leetown Battlefield, photo by Sirena Evans

Colonel Osterhaus placed his infantry along the treeline on the south edge of this field and sent his cavalry to the field beyond the trees. The cavalry was soon overrun by the Confederate cavalry and fled towards the far edge of the field where they attempted to regroup.

General McCulloch planned to attack Osterhaus from the north treeline with the majority of his division. Once the attack was underway, Colonel Louis Hébert would attack the Federal right flank from Morgan’s Woods. McCulloch rode forward to see the Federal lines for himself and was killed by Federal skirmishers. His second-in-command, General McIntosh was killed 15 minutes later while leading a regiment forward. The death of McCulloch & McIntosh ended the Confederate assault from the north. No one knew they were dead and no one took the initiative to take charge on this side of the field.

Colonel Hébert, who was now the division commander, led his men forward through Morgan’s Woods. His attack was initially successful and he drove two Federal regiments back in disorder and captured part of a battery. Hébert’s attack slowed and units became separated in the thick woods. Some Confederate soldiers became disoriented in the smoke and confusion and fired into the backs of their own ranks.

Oberson field section of the Leetown battlefield showing the treeline where General McCulloch was killed.
Leetown Battlefield, Oberson's Field, Pea Ridge National Military Park.

NPS Photo

The Federals formed their main line along the treeline on the south side (left of photo) in this field. General McCulloch planned to launch his main attack from the far treeline.


"We flank to the left in line of battle and move forward but a short distance when we met the rebels in line, and now the battle begins. Meeting, both armies fire simultaneously and both fall back. We retreat about two hundred feet, about face, and reload our guns."

Lieutenant George Currie
59th Illinois Infantry


Seeing no attack from the north, Osterhaus swung his line to the right and attacked Hébert from the west. The two regiments that were initially driven back regrouped and formed a new line. Colonel Davis arrived with reinforcements and attacked the Confederates from the east. Hébert’s command disintegrated after being hit from three sides. Hébert himself became disoriented and retreated to the south. He was captured near Curtis’s headquarters. McCulloch’s Division lost its third commander of the day.

Last updated: June 26, 2021

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