Thursday, March 5, 2009

Forrest's December 1862 West Tennessee Raid

In December 1862 Nathan Bedford Forrest led a raid into West Tennessee. The goal was to wreck havoc on the Union supply lines. At this same time Earl Van Dorn led a raid into Holly Springs, Mississippi. The two events convinced Grant to abandon his overland campaign for Vicksburg. He would start shifting his army back to Memphis and would make the campaign along the river. This was not the only thing that convinced Grant to move to the river but these two raids did factor into Grant's decision.

On December 15th Forrest crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton. For the next three weeks he would run around West Tennessee causing as much destruction as possible and getting into a few battles, Parker's Crossroads being the most memorable.
So on one of my trips I decided to follow Forrest's campaign as best I could. I have previously blogged about the December 19th fight at Salem Cemetery.
This map is at Parker's Crossroads and shows the entire area Forrest operated, but it also nicely shows the railroads and towns of West Tennessee.
This sign is not in Clifton but is on a highway near Clifton. I took the picture from the car as there was too much traffic and not enough space to pull over and do it right. Clifton is where Forrest crossed the Tennessee River to begin the campaign on December 15th, and also where he crossed at the end on January 2nd.
After the fight at Salem Cemetery near Jackson on December 19th Forrest was next at Humboldt, and then moved north to Trenton.

The next day they were at Rutherford's Station on their way to Union City (near the northwest corner of the state). There was railroad track running in this area, Union City to Jackson, which is why Forrest was here.

From Rutherford Station it was on to Kenton next as they continued to tear up the railroad.

Finally they reached Union City, this sign is south of the city. Now was the time to turn around and get away. Of course they would continue to destroy supplies and railroads but Union City was as far north as they went.

Instead of just retyping the list of what Forrest destroyed during his raid I thought I'd just show the marker at Parker's Crossroads that details it. I think the biggest accomplishments are the second, third and fourth things on the list; burning the depot at Humboldt, destroying over 100 miles of railroad as well as numerous bridges and trestles. This loss meant Grant could not rebuild the Holly Springs depot that Van Dorn destroyed at about the same time. That fact forced Grant to move to the Mississippi River so he would have a secure line of supplies.

1 comment:

Jennie W said...

Come visit the Military History Carnival - you've been included!