Brice's Cross Roads
Prentiss, Union and Lee Counties, MS | Jun 10, 1864
In late May 1864, Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest set out from Mississippi with his cavalry corps to enter Tennessee and destroy the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, which was carrying men and supplies from Nashville to support Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's campaign against Atlanta. Sherman, who suspected the Confederate cavalry leader would cause havoc behind his lines, ordered Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis to move from Memphis to counter Forrest and to control northern Mississippi. Sturgis's first objective was the Mobile and Ohio Railroad that ran north and south from Tupelo. Forrest's cavalry met Sturgis' infantry and cavalry column on June 10th at Brice's Crossroads, 20 miles north of Tupelo, beating back the first Union cavalry division to arrive there. Sturgis sent in infantry reinforcements and counterattacked the Confederates. Forrest, although outnumbered two to one, used his more mobile cavalry to threaten both ends of the Union infantry line simultaneously and his artillery to focus on the center. When Forrest's 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, on a wide flanking move, captured the bridge over Tishimongo Creek in Sturgis' rear, the Union force fell back. The Confederate cavalrymen pursued the rapidly retreating Yankees several miles toward Memphis. The 55th United States Colored Troops (USCTs) and 59th USCT covered Sturgis's retreat, preventing a route and allowing the Federal force to remain relatively intact. Forrest's brilliant tactical victory against long odds cemented Forrest’s reputation as one of the foremost mounted infantry leaders of the war.