Monday, March 2, 2009

Forrest's Murfreesboro Raid July 13, 1862

On July 13, 1862 Nathan Bedford Forrest captured Murfreesboro using a combination of good fighting and guile. Guile seemed to be something Forrest always employed in battle.

The battle started off early in the morning when Forrest's force overran the pickets of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry and captured their camp as well as a hospital. Forrest then turned his attention to the other scattered Union camps in Murfreesboro. Sources do not agree but the 9th Michigan Infantry, 3rd Minnesota Infantry and a Kentucky battery were definitely in town. Other sources then list detachments from the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry and 3rd Kentucky Cavalry, usually these detachments are credited as the size of two companies. Because the sources don't agree on who all was there they do not agree on the side of the Union force. I've seen numbers from 900 to 1339. Forrest is generally believed to have had 1400 men at the battle.

The small camps seem to have fallen relatively easily so that by the afternoon all that remained was the 9th Michigan and 3rd Minnesota. The 9th Michigan was the more heavily engaged unit but was still holding out. The 3rd Minnesota seemed content to remain lightly engaged and did not venture from their camp to help the 9th Michigan. Eventually Forrest played his ruse on the 3rd Minnesota. He rotated his men in front of the 3rd Minnesota so that it appeared he had way more men than he did, in fact word spreads back to Nashville that Forrest has 3500 men, but this rumor is not just from the show put on for the 3rd Minnesota. Forrest then convinced the 3rd Minnesota's colonel that everyone else had surrendered which prompted him to surrender. This then caused the 9th Michigan to surrender (I've also seen sources that say the 9th Michigan had already surrendered by the time the 3rd Minnesota surrendered).

Some of the fighting with the 3rd Minnesota, and the surrender, took place in front of Oaklands, which is a historic mansion you can tour today. Depending on the source Forrest had captured 890 Federals or closer to 1200. A historical marker on the grounds of Oaklands says that the Union lost 1200 captured, 19 killed and 120 wounded. If there were 6 different units present then this total makes more sense than 900.

The historical marker at Oaklands.

Oaklands was built in 1813, with additions in the 1820s and 1830s. Sallie Murfree Maney inherited the land from her father, Colonel Hardee Murfree, for which the town was named. Dr James Maney and Sallie lived here until her death in 1857 when their son Lewis Maney returned to the property with his wife Rachel Cannon Maney, daughter of a former governor of Tennessee. James spent his final years living with a variety of his children. Oaklands was apparently the place for important people to stay when traveling in the area. John Bell stayed here for part of his presidential campaign in 1860. When Jefferson Davis visited the Army of Tennessee in December 1862 he stayed here too. And of course a variety of Confederate generals spent nights here when the army was in the area.

July 13th also happened to be Forrest's birthday. After the battle his officers joined him for a birthday celebration at Oaklands. When I visited the home I was told that they still do a birthday/battle anniversary celebration but I did not see such an event on their website's event page.

Oaklands has a wonderful tree lined drive. The house is at the far end. This is also the area of the property that saw some of the final fighting of the battle.

The historical marker at the courthouse.
A plaque on the courthouse thanking Forrest for liberating the city.

1 comment:

Jessica Hanson said...

Great blog! I am an English adjunct instructor in Smyrna, TN. I got my students to do their first essay on historical signs/ plaques. A gifted older Russian gentleman cited your blog. I am now following you. I look forward to your historical posts. This is a hobby/ fondness of mine, as wel..