American Battlefield Trust's map of the Battle of Chickamauga - Reed’s Bridge
On the morning of September 18, 1863, Confederate Gen. Bushrod Johnson’s division, supported by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry, crossed west Chickamauga Creek near Reed’s Bridge to attack the Union left flank. Federal Col. Robert Minty, tasked with guarding the approach to Reed’s Bridge with only three cavalry regiments, a battalion of Fourth U.S. Cavalry, and a section of the Chicago Board of Trade battery, delayed the Confederate crossing. At 7:30 a.m., Forrest began a skirmish with Minty a mile east of Reed’s Bridge, opening the Battle of Chickamauga with a fierce fight that continued throughout the afternoon. As Johnson’s superior force advanced, Minty was pushed back toward Reed’s Bridge, where he formed a line to hold off the Confederate assailants. Desperate for reinforcements, Minty called on Col. John T. Wilder, who sent over seven companies of the 72nd Indiana Mounted Infantry, the 123rd Illinois Mounted Infantry, and a section of Capt. Eli Lilly’s Battery while in the midst of his own struggle at Alexander’s Bridge. Reinforcements, however, could not hold off Forrest’s cavalry. In one quick onrush, Forrest drove the stubborn Federals over the bridge. Col. John Fulton's Tennesseans pushed across the bridge behind them, still under fire from Minty's men. As the Chicago Board of Trade battery raked the opposing Confederates with canister shot, Forrest’s cavalry forded the creek, and Minty was finally forced to retreat, ending the skirmish that began the Battle of Chickamauga.