The stand of Morgan's Division may have been the decisive moment of the battle of Bentonville. Morgan's Division of Jefferson C. Davis's 14th Corps deployed on the right flank of Slocum's wing of Sherman's army in a boggy area of light woods opposite the forces of Braxton Bragg's troops, comprising mainly Hoke's Division.
When Morgan's veteran troops encountered resistance, they started digging in. As the fighting with Hoke's troops intensified, Bragg lost his nerve, calling for reenforcements in the form of McLaws's Division from Hardee's Corps. The removal of these troops from the Confederate right deprived their main assault of reserves at a critical time, and the addition of McLaws's troops to Bragg's lines ultimately proved unecessary.
As the pressure on the Federal center from D.H. Hill's assault increased, Morgan's men found themselves nearly surrounded, at one point hopping over their works and fighting them from the opposite direction. Had McLaws remained on the right, the added pressure of his division applied in conjunction with D.H. Hill's assault may have crushed Morgan, with disastrous results for Slocum's entire wing.
See a map of the heroic stand of Morgan's Division here (requires Adobe PDF Reader).
Rebel batteries deployed in the distant woodline opened on the recently entrenched Federals as cavalry felt for an open flank, finding the Federal position secure. After a short bombardment, Hoke's Division stepped off to the assault. Hoke's men advanced steadily, but failed to close on Morgan's works in the faced of devastating volleys delivered by Morgan's veterans.
As Hoke's men struggled to regain their momentum, rebels forces of the Army of Tennessee under D.H. Hill emerged in Morgan's flank and moved to envelop his entire position. Morgan's troops, undaunted, deployed to face the threats from both directions. For a time, it seemed the rebels had Morgan in a death grip, but a timely counterattack with close range artillery support relieved the pressure, and the rebels retreated, leaving Morgan in command of the field.
20 hours ago