Monday, December 31, 2012

Battle of Parker's Crossroads

Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate cavalry commander, after embarking on another of his raids on December 11th, had scored a victory at the Battle of Lexington on the 18th. He would spend the next week destroying railroad tracks crucial to the Union supply lines. As the Union forces began to move towards him, he decided to fall back before he was surrounded and destroyed. As he moved in the vicinity of Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee, he decided to turn and attack the brigade of Col. Cyrus Dunham. Dunham, encountering the Confederate artillery, fell back and formed a defensive line. Forrest ordered his troops to dismount and attack, sending columns around to hit the Union flank while making feints on the front. Forrest, in his usual methods, sent a message to Dunham demanding his unconditional surrender. Dunham refused, but as the battle continued to progress, Forrest was surprised by firing in his rear. Another Union brigade of cavalry under John Fuller had arrived, the Confederate scouts having failed to detect their approach. Outnumbered and surrounded, Forrest did not even think of surrender. "Charge 'em both ways," he ordered. The Confederate troops, turning from Dunham, struck Fuller's force, and after repulsing them moved south, escaping from their dangerous situation. After the battle, Forrest was able to cross the Tennessee River to safety. The Federals had failed to catch Forrest, even when he was in the palm of their hand.



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