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Leetown Battlefield (Oberson's Field)

Pea Ridge NMP Tour Stop #4

Pea Ridge National Military Park Tour Stop 4 Sign

Directions: The Leetown Battlefield Tour Stop [ Waypoint = N36 26.683 W94 03.146 ] is located 0.3 miles past the Leetown Tour Stop along the Park's Tour Road. Pull into the parking area and be prepared to do a bit of walking. This will be your base of operations for the next four tour stops. The Park's Tour Stop parking area is located in the southeast corner of Oberson's Field.

Stand To Your Posts Interpretive SignBefore walking to the artillery pieces located at the southern end of Oberson's Field, take a moment to read two of the four interpretive signs located near this parking area. Cross the tour road and walk to the "Stand To Your Posts" interpretive sign [ Waypoint = N36 26.677 W94 03.138 ] that is located near a battery of six artillery pieces. Its text reads as follows:

" 'Officers and men, you have it in your power to make or prevent another Bull Run Affair. I want every man to stand his post.' -- Nicholas Greusel, colonel, 36th Illinois Infantry Regiment"

"Yankee cavalrymen, mauled from a sharp fight with 7,000 Confederates, raced back across Samuel Oberson's cornfield from the belt of trees you see in the distance. 'Turn back! They'll give you hell!' some troopers shouted as they sped by the infantrymen moving into line of battle."

"Two predominantly German-speaking regiments -- one from Missouri and one from Illinois -- would have to stand and fight here without flinching. If they broke and ran, Pea Ridge would become as infamous as the July 1861 Union disaster at Bull Run near Washington, D.C."

"A Crisis in Command" Interpretive SignNow walk back across the tour road to the “A Crisis in Command” interpretive sign [ Waypoint = N36 26.688 W94 03.158 ]. It is located on the western edge of the parking area. Its text reads as follows:

“ 'We must not let the men know that General McCulloch is killed.' Benjamin Pixley, lieutenant, 16th Arkansas Infantry”

“The general in charge of this half of the Confederate Army – Texan Ben McCulloch – had formed his division, some 7,000 strong, just out of sight behind the trees you see in the distance. Before ordering a massive charge into Oberson's cornfield, 'Old Ben,' as his troops called him, rode alone to the edge of the trees for a final scout. Yankee skirmishers behind a rail fence shot the popular general dead.”

“No Confederate soldier or officer saw McCulloch fall. Minutes passed with no word. Finally second-in-command General James McIntosh took over only to die while leading a charge out of the woods. With no leader to give orders for more than an hour, the momentum that might have led to a swift Confederate victory at Leetown was lost.”

“General Ben McCulloch customarily wore a black velvet suit instead of a uniform. As the former Texas Ranger reconnoitered the woods' edge, he was easy to see.”

“General James McIntosh charged at the head of the 2nd Arkansas Mounted Rifles – out of the line of trees and into heavy Federal fire. He died not 200 yards from the spot where McCulloch had been slain.”

Now walk out along the southern edge of the field to the three artillery pieces [ Waypoint = N36 26.664 W94 03.275 ] about 0.1 miles from the Park's Tour Road. These three guns mark the location of a section from Welfley's Independent Missouri Battery that had been detached to Osterhaus's command.

Union General Peter Osterhaus

Welfley's Independent Missouri Light Battery in Oberson's Field

Description: This is where Union Colonel Peter Osterhaus and his detachment of Federal troops held off units from Confederate Brigadier General Ben McCulloch's Division. After routing the Federals at Foster's Farm, the Confederates were in pursuit and emerging from the line of woods that you can see at the north end of the field.



Confederate General Benjamin McCullochConfederate General Louis HebertIn pursuit of the retreating Federals after the fighting, Major Ross of the 6th Texas Cavalry discovered several thousand Federal infantry in line of battle at the south end of Oberson's Field. When the Federal artillery opened fired on his troopers, Ross withdrew and reported the presence of the Federal infantry to Confederate General McCulloch. McCulloch ordered Colonel Hebert to stop advancing to Elkhorn Tavern and return to address the threat from the Federal infantry. In the heat of the battle, McCulloch failed to notify Van Dorn about this decision.

Leetown Battlefield Looking North From Southern Edge of Oberson's FieldOberson's Field Looking Toward Little Mountain From Welfley's Battery

Back: Leetown
Next: McCulloch Falls

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