This collection of Pea Ridge paintings are the permanent collection of artwork at the Pea Ridge National Military Park in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Each image was also used on the wayside exhibits that are along the historic sites within the park.
After pushing a small group of Federals from Fosters field, Confederate Brigadier General Ben McCulloch decided to move his army through the woods to attack the Federals on the southern edge of Oberson’s field. McCulloch received word that there were thousands of Federals along the southern edge of the field. McCulloch turned to his second and third in command and told them he was going to reconnoiter the Federal position on the opposite side of a large wooded area. He told Colonel Louis Hebert, third in command and at the far left of McCulloch’s line, that when he heard the guns open up on his right that was his signal to press his attack. McCulloch, wearing his distinctive black suit, moved around the right flank of his troops, held by the 16th Arkansas Infantry, and into the woods. He was unaware that he was riding towards two companies of the 36th Illinois Infantry posted near these woods. Perfectly silhouetted against a grey sky, a crash of musketry erupted and McCulloch tumbled from his horse, a bullet striking his heart. McIntosh was informed of McCulloch’s death and moved to press the attack as planned. Forgetting that he was now in overall command, McIntosh would move to the front of his old regiment and lead them through the woods. Minutes after McCullochs death, McIntosh would meet an identical death also at the hands of 36th Illinois.
Hebert, hearing these shots, thought the general attack had begun and began what would be the most successful attack of the day. Not knowing that McCulloch and McIntosh were both dead and that he was now in overall command, Hebert moved his brigade into Morgans woods, smashed into the union line causing it to break, and captured two guns of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery before sheer weight of the Federals pushed him back. In the confusion, Hebert and his staff would be cut off and captured.
As this fight in Morgans Woods lasted for almost three hours, over half of McCulloch’s army stood idly by on Fosters Far,. It was the perfect opportunity for a junior officer to lead these troops in support of Hebert and possibly change the outcome of the Battle of Pea Ridge. We must not let the men know that General McCulloch is killed.
Lieutenant Benjamin Pixley, 16th Arkansas Infantry
These paintings are all at the Pea Ridge National Battlefield Visitor’s Center, stop by and take a look at this history.
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