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Forrest's First West Tennessee Raid

ForrestIn December 1862 famed Confederate cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest led his troopers on a West Tennessee raid directed at Union-held railroads. Confederate authorities hoped the raid would disrupt Union Gen. U.S. Grant’s supply lines enough to end the Federal campaign against Vicksburg. Although finally defeated at Parker’s Crossroads Dec. 31, 1862, Forrest’s raid plus the destruction of Grant’s main supply base at Holly Springs MS forced the Union commander to change his base of operations to Memphis.
    Also see McKenzie and Jackson listings below.

Parker's Xrds

Lexington

Battle for Lexington
Trails sign located at the Lexington Senior Citizen’s Center
145 S. Main St.
Lexington TN 38351
 Road map 
   Union Gen. Robert Ingersoll surrendered his command of about 150 (and two pieces of artillery) here after trying to stop Forrest near Lexington Dec. 18, 1862. The Federals did slow the Confederates down a little, but Union positions near Beech Creek were quickly overrun. Forrest’s troopers then continued toward Jackson. Ingersoll himself seemed to enjoy his captivity until paroled three days later.


Trenton

Fighting for Trenton
Begin tour at the Gibson County Courthouse and follow the signs from there
309 S. College St., Trenton TN 38382
 Road map 
   Three Civil War Trails signs describe the action here as Forrest’s men captured this important stop on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad Dec. 20, 1862. After putting up a brief fight in the depot area, Union defenders surrendered rather than face destruction by Forrest’s artillery. The Confederates then ransacked the courthouse and destroyed military supplies in the town. Forrest then moved on to Union City.

Another Trenton Trails sign is located at the site of the Female Collegiate Institute, which was occupied by Union troops during the war before being destroyed by an accidental fire. Following the war, Confederate veteran Julius Freed built a house on the site and helped the town rebuild.


Clarksburg

Clarksburg
Trails sign located at 3395 Hwy 22, Clarksburg TN 38324
 Road map 
  Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest’s men camped here in the last days of 1862 near the end of their winter West Tennessee railroad raid. Forrest was making his way back to the Tennessee River, hoping to cross to safety. Elements of the Union pursuit caught up with Forrest near here resulting in some skirmishing before both forces moved on to Parker’s Crossroads.


Parker's Crossroads

VisitorCenter

Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Park
0.5 miles south of I-40 on TN 22 North (Exit 108)
Parker’s Crossroads TN 38388
 Road map 
   A Confederate cavalry force under Gen. N.B. Forrest was nearly trapped here by converging Union forces Dec. 31, 1862. Forrest was returning from a raid during which he destroyed Union railroad lines carrying supplies for the building Federal offensive against Vicksburg. Union pursuers caught up with him at Parker’s Crossroads. Forrest’s men fought their way out of the trap with the Confederate hero famously ordering his troops to “charge them both ways.” A very good driving tour of the battlefield with two interpreted walking trails has been developed. The battlefield now straddles I-40, but modern interruptions are few on this well-preserved property.
    Visitor center (open 9 am-5 pm daily) is located just south of I-40. Maps and other materials available there. It's free.


More Western Tennessee Sites


Henning

Fort Pillow State Historic Site
3122 Park Road, Henning TN 38041
731-738-5581, 731-738-5731
 Road map 
   Fort Pillow was built by Confederates early in the war to defend against naval attack on the Mississippi River. Faced with bombardment from the river and the threat of invasion by land, the Southerners evacuated the fort in June 1862, and the place was occupied by Union troops.
    Almost two years later, on April 12, 1864, Confederates under Gen. N.B. Forrest attacked the fort and easily got the best of the small Federal garrison. About half the Union defenders were black, members of the United States Colored Troops. Forrest demanded surrender. Controversy surrounds what happened next. A high rate of casualties among the black troops suggests that killings occurred following the surrender. But if and how it happened remains uncertain. Very good interpretive center here explains the controversial events.
   Remains of the fort’s earthworks no longer overlook the river, which has moved 2 miles west. Park open 8 am–sunset. Park interpretive center/museum open 8 am–4 pm daily (call first during off season). Free. Civil War Trails sign.


Covington

Tipton County in the Civil War
Trails sign at 200 W Washington St, Covington TN 38019
 Road map
    Residents of Tipton County voted overwhelmingly to leave the Union in 1861 and harbored resentment during the early Union occupation. Confederate Col. Robert Richardson led his Partisan Rangers in operations here. In September 1862 the town of Randolph was destroyed in retaliation for guerillas firing shots at a Union packet boat.


Drummonds

Twin Defenses
Trails sign 189 Ballard Slough, Drummonds TN 38032
 Road map 
The village of Randolph played an important role in the Confederate defense of the Mississippi River early in the war. The state built a training camp here and constructed two forts (Randolph and Wright) on either side of the Hatchie River. One of the men who began his military career here was Nathan Bedford Forrest. The town was virtually destroyed Sept 25, 1862, on orders from Union Gen. William T. Sherman, who was responding to shots fired on a packet boat.


Camden

Fighting on the Tennessee River
Trails sign located at Birdsong Marine
225 Marina Road, Hwy 191 N, Camden TN 38327
 Road map 
   Several Tennessee River engagements between Confederate cavalry and the Union navy occurred within 5 miles of this site. On April 26, 1863, near the mouth of the Duck River east of here, Confederate artillery opened fire on Union gunboats. The gunboats eventually drove the Confederates off. Union marines then pursued their antagonists inland. In another action near here, Nov. 4, 1864, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest bombarded the Union supply depot at Johnsonville on the east bank. (See the following listing.)


Eva

Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
1825 Pilot Knob Road, Eva TN 38333
731-584-6356
Road map
Park   Confederate cavalry commander Gen. N.B. Forrest used the heights here Nov. 4, 1864, to bombard the huge Federal supply depot at Johnsonville across the Tennessee River. A monument to Forrest and that action stands just outside the park’s interpretive center, which focuses on area folk life but includes some Civil War material. Center open 8 am–4:30 pm daily but closes for lunch 11 am–noon (call first during off-season). Parking fee.


Jackson

Railroad Gateway to Deep South
Trails sign located at I-40 at Highway 45 Bypass, Jackson TN 38305
 Road map 
After taking control of Jackson’s railroads in 1862, Union forces used the transportation center as a supply line for the Mississippi campaigns. Jackson then became a target for Confederate raiders resulting in the battles at Britton Lane and Salem Cemetery. Famed Confederate cavalry commander occupied Jackson during this first Tennessee Raid in December 1862.

Salem Cemetery Battlefield
35 Cotton Grove Road, Jackson TN 38301.
731-424-1279
 Road map 
Confederate Gen. N.B. Forrest ran into a Union ambush Dec. 19, 1862, near this circa-1820 cemetery. The battle, fought up and down the Cotton Grove Road, eventually turned in Forrest’s favor after dislodging a Federal line in the cemetery. The Union force withdrew to Jackson, leaving Forrest to continue his raid north. An interpretive kiosk at the site helps explain the battle. Civil War Trails sign.

Occupation of Jackson
Trails sign located at the Civil War Museum at the Carnegie, 305 E College St, Jackson TN 38301
 Road map 
Following the fall of Fort Donelson, Confederates evacuated Jackson June 7, 1862. Union troops entered the town shortly after. The small town was overwhelmed by soldiers and camps for another year


Parsons

Divided Loyalties
Trails sign located at the Parsons Memorial Park, 535 Tennessee Ave South, Parsons TN 38363
 Road map 
A small majority of citizens here voted against secession in 1861 despite pressure from a greater number of Confederates in the general area. Trails sign here tells the story of two men who fought for different sides. The hard feelings in the area lasted beyond the war.


McKenzie

McKenzie’s Station
Trails sign at 2470 Cedar Ave, McKenzie TN 38201
 Road map 
On Christmas Day 1862, Confederate Gen. Nathan B. Forrest’s cavalrymen turned east toward McKenzie during his West Tennessee Raid. His men destroyed track and trestles on his way, arriving in town Dec. 27 to word that Union pursuers were catching up. The Confederates managed to slip through and continued to Parker’s Crossroads.

Harris-Collier-Holland Farm
Trails sign at 586 Carroll St North, McKenzie TN 38201
 Road map 
    Built in 1857, this house (now remodeled) survived both Union and Confederate occupation although Union troops ransacked the farm and killed or stole most of the livestock. The Harris family hid coins and paper money in secret places inside and outside the home. John Harris ran away from home at 15 to join with Confederate Gen. Nathan B. Forrest. Family papers indicate that Forest’s men frequently visited the farm during the war.


Union City

Unknown Soldier Monument
Trails sign at 919 Summer St, Union City TN 38261
 Road map 
    This 1869 monument is a rare example of Confederate Reconstruction-era memorials. Local women raised the funds to disinter the bodies of Confederate soldiers throughout the county and rebury them here.


Tiptonville

Island No. 10
Trails sign at 2515 State Route 22, Tiptonville TN 38079
    Strategically located above a double curve of the Mississippi River, this Confederate-fortified island appeared to be a major obstacle to Union operations moving south. After attempts to pass the stronghold, two Union navy vessels finally ran past the island’s guns and destroyed the land batteries that protected the Confederate line of retreat. The Confederate garrison there slipped away before the gate closed. A Union army under Gen. John Pope then was free to cross the river near here and capture 4,000 Confederates near Tiptonville. The only Confederate river fort left between here and Memphis after Island No. 10’s fall was Fort Pillow.

Dyer County in the War
Trails sign at 1 Veterans Square, Dyersburg TN 38024
    At least 15 Confederate companies were formed in Dyer County and guerrilla bands operated within its borders. The area was rich in bacon, corn and hay and was periodically scoured by foragers from both sides.

Sardis

Doe Creek School
Trails sign located at 2420 Doe Creek Road, Sardis TN 38371
 Road map 
   A feud with Civil War origins began near this church and school (built in 1870). Most of the members of the local Kennedy clan joined the Confederate army, while a few others served in the Union forces. Unionists here warned that the Confederates would be killed if they returned to the area after the war and two Southern veterans were murdered near here. The feud lasted into the 20th century.


Denmark

Britton Lane
Britton Lane Battlefield

5 miles southwest of Denmark TN
Directions: From I-40 exit 76, follow Hwy 223 through Denmark. Turn left on Britton Lane, follow signs.
731-989-7944
Road map
About 3,000 Confederate cavalry under Col. Williams Jackson raiding north from Mississippi ran into an outnumbered but stubborn Union force on Britton Lane Sept. 1, 1862. The sharp battle resulted in a Confederate victory and the capture of a couple hundred Union prisoners and two pieces of artillery. A nice park includes a walking trail and historical markers. A cabin that stood during the battle and was used as a hospital is preserved. Civil War Trails sign.

Denmark Presbyterian Church
Trails sign at 2799 Denmark Jackson Road, Denmark TN 38391
 Road map 
Union infantry camped on the grounds of this 1854 church prior to the Battle of Britton Lane, and Confederates kept prisoners here after the fighting. Local Confederate soldiers attended services here after final Union occupation in 1863. But they had to be careful. A Union patrol bursting into the church forced the attending Southerners to hide under their girlfirends’ hooped skirts.


Town of La Grange

Pick up tour info during business hours and see a Civil War Trails sign at the City Hall, 20 Main St, La Grange TN 38046.
901-878-1246
 Road map 
This small town (much larger during the war) was visited by Union troops and officers, including Gens. Grant and Sherman, for most of the war. Many of the stately mansions and other buildings, many used for hospitals, survive. The famous 1863 Grierson’s Raid through Mississippi began here. Tour material covers the Civil War history.


Selmer

Mobile and Ohio Railroad
Trails sign located at 114 N Second St, Selmer TN 38375
 Road map 
The last miles of track on the Mobile and Ohio were laid in April 1861, just as the war began. The railroad connected the Gulf of Mexico with the Ohio River and was strategically important to both sides. Union Gen. U.S. Grant made the road a target, eventually controlling it by the fall of 1862. The Union held on, despite cavalry raids, until the end of the war


Grand Junction

Grand Junction
Trails sign located at 224 Tippah St, Grand Junction TN 38039
 Road map
Two railroads, the Memphis and Charleston and the Mississippi Central, intersect here, making this an important spot for both armies. Union Gen. U.S. Grant stashed supplies here for his Vicksburg Campaign in late 1862 and was attacked unsuccessfully by Confederate Gen. Earl Van Dorn following a devastating raid on Honey Springs MS. Escaped slaves found refuge here, resulting in the formation of several “contraband” camps.


Moscow

Battle of Moscow
Trails sign at Moscow City Hall, Highway 57, Moscow TN 38057
Confederate cavalry ambushed a Federal cavalry unit along modern-day Route 57 and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad near here Dec. 4, 1863. The Union cavalry, including United States Colored Troops, managed to fend off the strong multi-prong assault until receiving help from LaGrange that evening.


Pocahontas

Davis Bridge Battlefield (Hatchie River)
South of Pocahontas TN
 Map of the area 
Confederate forces under Gens. Sterling Price and Earl Van Dorn, withdrawing west and south after their defeat at the Battle of Corinth, Miss., managed to hold off a Union attempt to trap them near the Hatchie River. It was a near thing with the Confederates finding a way across the river after a daylong battle Oct. 6, 1862 near Davis Bridge. This was the second-largest battle fought in Tennessee and the subject of a strong preservation effort. Much of the battlefield remains as it was in 1862. For more information about this battle and others connected with the Corinth Campaign, ask at the NPS Corinth Interpretive Center.
    Directions to the battlefield: From Route 57 at Pocahontas, take Pocahontas-Ripley Road south. Battlefield markers and landmarks are located on a loop from Pocahontas Road south to Oak Grove Church Road then east to Essary Springs Road then back north to Route 57.


Huntingdon

The Hawkins Cousins
Trails sign at 20340 E Main St, Huntingdon TN 38344
 Road map 
Two notable Unionist cousins, Isaac and Alvin Hawkins, lived in Huntingdon at the outbreak of the war. Isaac served with the 7th Tennessee Cavalry (US) and Alvin assisted Military Gov. Andrew Johnson rebuilding "loyal" local governments. Both Republican politicians after the war, Alvin was elected governor and Isaac was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.


Website links to these places: Tennessee Links