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Elbert's 1st Missouri Flying Artillery Battery

Tour Stop

Directions: There is a gun carriage [ Waypoint = N36 27.107 W94 03.350 ] marking the location of Captain Gustavus M. Elbert's 1st Missouri Flying Artillery Battery in the southwestern corner of Foster's Farm.

  • Walk west along the snake fence rail on the northern edge of the field until you reach the first snake rail fence that runs north / south bisecting the field.
  • Follow this fence line to cross to the southern edge of the field.
  • Walk west along the southern edge of the field until you reach the gun carriage [ Waypoint = N36 27.107 W94 03.350 ] that is located just east of State Highway 72.
  • After you are finished, walk back along the fence line to the parking area.

Elbert's 1st Missouri Flying Artillery Battery at Foster's FarmDescription: You are standing near the location from which the Federals emerged from the woods behind you. This is where the Battle of Pea Ridge began when the Federals opened fire on the Confederate troops to the north on the morning of March 7, 1862. Look to the north across the field towards Good's Texas Battery. Just to the north of the battery's location was Ford's Road that headed east towards Elkhorn Tavern and the Wire Road. McCulloch's Division was advancing along Ford's Road to meet up with Van Dorn at Elkhorn Tavern.

Colonel Cyrus Bussey was leading a detachment of Federal cavalry north from Leetown along with a three-piece section from 1st Missouri Flying Artillery Battery. Bussey describes what happened in his official report:

“We advanced ... across the field [Oberson's] and entered the woods on the west side by a narrow road going west. Following this road about a quarter of a mile we came upon a small prairie extending 300 yards west and about 150 yards wide to the north … At this point we came in full view of the enemy's cavalry passing along about a half mile distant to the north. No other force being discovered, the three guns were immediately advanced by General Osterhaus, who was present and in command, about 200 yards, and immediately opened fire on the cavalry of the enemy on the road to the northwest. One company of the First Missouri Cavalry was in line of battle on the left of the guns and one company of the same troops on the right.”

When Osterhaus and the Federal cavalry broke out of the woods and into the southern edge of Foster's farm, they saw McCulloch's entire division marching east along the Ford Road towards Elkhorn Tavern. The Confederate cavalry charged the Federals, who, outnumbered 5-to-1, quickly withdrew south back across Oberson's Field towards Leetown.

When he arrived at Leetown, Union Colonel Osterhaus did not know what his forces were up against. Osterhaus decided to move forward towards Twelve Corners Church with his cavalry and leave Colonel Nicholas Greusel in command of the infantry deployed in line of battle at the southern end of Oberson's Field. But as he deployed in Oberson's Field, he soon found out what he faced.

“I arrived at Leetown, having no knowledge whatever of the whereabouts of the enemy, and took position in the open fields north of Leetown, going forward myself with the cavalry and three pieces of the flying artillery. The field in which the infantry and artillery were posted is divided from another tract of cultivated land by a belt of timber with thick undergrowth. Debouching from this timber I came in sight of a large force of the enemy, mostly cavalry. All the open fields to my front and right were occupied, and the road from Bentonville was filled with new regiments arriving.”

Osterhaus realized “...that the enemy was preparing a most energetic attack on our right flank at the same time that they opened fire on our rear.” Osterhaus knew his detached force was outnumbered, reporting later that his “... command was entirely inadequate to the overwhelming masses opposed to me...the safety of our position was dependent upon the securing of our right flank and the keeping back of the enemy until I was re-enforced.”

Sometime around 12 noon on March 7th, Osterhaus had his artillery open fire on the Confederates facing him and ordered the commander of his cavalry, Colonel Cyrus Bussey, to charge the enemy. The Confederate cavalry also charged and there was furious fighting. It was “...a wild, numerous, and irregular throng of cavalry, a great many Indians among them, rushed towards us, breaking through our lines. A general discharge of fire-arms on both sides created a scene of wild confusion, from which our cavalry, abandoning the three pieces of artillery, retreated towards their old camping ground, while that of the enemy made their way across the fields towards the Bentonville road.”

In response to the Federal artillery fire, Confederate Brigadier General McCulloch ordered his artillery to prepare to return fire. He also ordered Brigadier General James McIntosh to send his cavalry and take out the Federal battery. McIntosh led close to 3,000 Confederate cavalrymen in a charge against 600 Federal cavalrymen. Union Colonel Bussey described these events in his official report:

“The Third Iowa Cavalry galloped down the road, and going beyond the edge of the woods or timber on the west side of the prairie they unexpectedly found themselves in front of several lines of infantry heretofore unseen, and who were drawn up in line to the front and right of our men, at short musket range.

“The companies of the Third Iowa Cavalry were immediately wheeled into line facing the enemy, when they at once received a deadly fire from the near and overwhelming numbers of the foe, who were also partly concealed and protected by the woods and brush. A large number of my men and horses were here killed and wounded, and Lieutenant-Colonel Trimble, at the head of the column, was severely wounded in the head. This fire was returned by the Third Iowa Cavalry from their revolvers with considerable effect.

“Just at this moment a large force of the enemy's cavalry charged from the north upon different portions of our cavalry line, and, passing through the lines, went into the fields in our rear. The Third Iowa Cavalry companies now charged this cavalry force, and an exciting running cavalry fight ensued between these forces, the enemy fleeing and being pursued by my men to the south. The enemy was followed in this direction by the Third Iowa Cavalry alone to the brush on the other side of the large open fields.

“In this same charge of the enemy's cavalry a portion of them came in the direction of the three guns, and the companies of the First Missouri Cavalry being compelled to give way. The guns were left unsupported, and were taken by the enemy and burned.”


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