Thursday, December 20, 2012

Van Dorn Captures Holly Springs

Earl Van Dorn
In December, 1862 the Confederates in the Western Theater embarked on an all out cavalry attempt to cut Union supply lines. The Union forces under Grant were preparing to move on Vicksburg, the last remaining Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. These cavalry raids were to try to bring him to a halt for lack of supplies to feed his army. Nathan Bedford Forrest had set out on another of his famous raids on December 10th, defeating Union forces in the Battle of Lexington, Tennessee. With Forrest still on the prowl more Confederates would set out under the command of Earl Van Dorn.
Civil War view of Holly Springs, Mississippi

Van Dorn had performed badly as an army commander in the Battles of Pea Ridge and Second Corinth, and although he was acquitted by a court of inquiry, he was demoted back to a cavalry commander. Back in his element, he set out with 3,500 troopers on December 18th and just two days later on December 20th, 150 years ago today, he struck the Union supply depot at Holly Springs. There he captured or destroyed over $1 million worth of supplies, and captured the 1,500 Yankees who had been assigned to guard them. In the next days he would attempt to move north into Tennessee, but meeting Union opposition at Davis Mill would return to his starting point on December 28th, having accomplished a very useful raid for the Confederacy.


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