20th Tennessee Cavalry, CSA

Descriptive Notes on Battles


Battles Biographies Chronology History Links References Rosters

Revised June 21, 1999
Summary of Changes

 Athens   Bolivar   Brice's Crossroads   Carter's Creek   Centerville   Coonewah Crossroads   Estenaula   Fort Pillow   Hood's Invasion   Hurricane Creek   Jack's Creek   Johnsonville   Memphis   Okolona   Old Town Creek   Paducah   Paris Landing   Somerville   Tupelo   Union City   Wyatt 

Links are included to the NPS Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (CWSAC) Battle Descriptions. The CWSAC maps showing significant battles in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee may also be of interest.

These notes also include information on visitor facilities at the battle sites.


References (Middle Tennessee Raid)

The Hollis diary (Chester (1985), p. 110) includes the following:

Friday -- September 23, 1864 Command moved on towards Huntsville or Athens and reached Athens about night.
Saturday -- September 24, 1864 Fought at Athens. Captured the entire enemy some 1100. Lieut. Lawler lost right arm.
Sunday -- September 25, 1864 Fighting early some 6 miles from Athens. Few burn Fort. Surrendered about 1000 prisoners. We fought below on railroad. Burned Athens Forts and camped at State Line.

During the night of September 23, 1864, Forrest's raiding force reached and invested the town of Athens, Alabama. An assault was ordered at 7 a.m. on the 24th, and the fort and garrison (571 officers and men) soon surrendered. Other elements of Forrest's command engaged Federal reinforcements approaching Athens from the direction of Decatur.

... a train came up from the direction of Decatur ... filled with Federal infantry, who disembarked, over 400 strong, near a block-house, about one mile from the work, and were moved forward with the evident purpose of forcing their way to a junction with the invested garrison. The Seventh Tennessee, ... became immediately engaged in a lively skirmish with these troops, as, soon after did a detachment of Russell's and Wilson's Regiments ... (Jordan & Pryor, p. 563-4)
The 7th Tennessee, having been previously posted in that quarter, became immediately engaged ... A detachment from Wilson's and Russell's regiments, under Lieut. Col. Jesse Forrest, and some one hundred and fifty men of the 15th Tennessee under Lieutenant Colonel Lockwood, fell upon the flank, and the attack soon became so furious that the enemy, throwing down their arms, surrendered. (Dinkins, 1926)
These surrendered reinforcements numbered about 340 men. That day and the next two blockhouses were besieged, one surrendered on demand, the second was shelled into surrender. The Confederates moved 4 miles north and captured another blockhouse.

There was additional skirmishing between elements of Forrest's command and Federal troops near Athens on the 1st and 2nd of October. It is possible that the 20th Cavalry was involved, although it seems more likely that they were still in Tennessee at this time.


In his diary for December 26, 1863, Lt. T.A. Carter of Co. E reports:

Fight at Fayette Station and Boliver. Went out to cut railroad bridge with our company. Yankee guard too strong.

Brice's Crossroads

Also known as Guntown and Tishomingo Creek.
CWSAC Description

A map of the battle is available at the Mississippi Civil War Information site maintained by Greg Moorer.

In a short time we then started on rail to Alabama ... after the first days travel was ordered back to meet the Yankees at Brice's Crossroads as some calls it the Guntown fight at this fight we got 115 wagons and avalanche on several pieces of artillery and all the ammunition we needed at that time. (J.R. Miles in Dyer and Moore, 1915-22/85.)

We have had one of the hardest fought battles since this war began & one of the most complete victories that Forrest has ever gained. We captured 250 hundred waggons 24 peaces of artilry and a large quantity of small arms 1500 or 2000 thousand prisners. The enemy was 10000 tenn thousand strong our army 3000 strong our loss heavy the enemy's loss was about 2 two on one what we ... did not capture of the infantry throw down their arms and took to bushes the most of the caaldry mad there escape ... our Redment suffered from ... the hotest part of the fight. (Lt. J.A. Crutchfield, Letter, 13 June 1864)

The Federals were not expecting severe resistance:

From all I can learn there is nothing in your front but Russell's brigade, which came up on a scout from Oxford. (Sturgis to Grierson, 7 June 1864, 6:30 pm, Official Records, I-39-2, p. 84)

Bell's brigade was not on the field at the beginning of the action.

Buford came on the field at about half-past twelve pm with Russell's and Wilson's regiments of Bell's brigade, and Forrest placed him on Rucker's left. (Mathes, 1902/86, p. 243)
A heavy skirmish was kept up until about twelve o'clock when General Buford arrived with Bell's brigade ... [Forrest] formed Wilson's and Russell's regiments on the right of the road ...
It was now 1 o'clock, and as all my forces were up I prepared to attack him at once. Taking with me my escort and Bell's brigade I moved rapidly around to the Guntown and Ripley road, and advancing on that road, dismounting the brigade, and forming Russell's and Wilson's regiments on the right, extending to Colonel Rucker's left ... (Forrest's report, Official Records, I-39-1, p. 223)

The pursuit was strenuous:

Four miles east of Ripley the Federals were found drawn up west of Hatchie Creek ... Forrest dismounted two of Bell's regiments, moved leftward up the creek, crossed over and flanked the Federals out of their position after a slight skirmish. (Mathes, 1902/86, p. 247)

For part of the pursuit, Russell's regiment was temporarily attached as reinforcement to Lyon's brigade (Bearss, 1991, p. 132).

... the retreat became a rout, Russell's Regiment being prominent in the pursuit which lasted for two days, or until the command, both men and horses, were well nigh worn down. (Rennolds, 1904/1961, p. 262)

The 20th's casualties at Tishomingo Creek were Capt. J.R. Hibbitt and four men killed, 7 officers and 40 men wounded, for an aggregate of 52 casualties. The brigade had 131 casualties, and 492 were reported for the command (Official Records, I-39-1, p. 231). Four soldiers from the regiment were buried in the battlefield cemetery.

Photo of Park
Visiting the Site

Brice's Crossroads National Battlefield Site is very small and consists of a single large marker and a small cemetery. It is located on Mississippi Highway 370 about 4 miles west of US Highway 45. The state has placed a series of markers along the roads leading to the site. Additional Park Information may be found on the Tupelo Home Page.

The City of Baldwyn has opened (Aug. 1998) a Brice's Crossroads Visitors and Interpretive Center with exhibits and a film on the battle. It is located just east of the MS 370 - US 45 interchange. The center is visible from the highway; take the first road and go south a block. Posted hours are 9-5 Tuesday-Saturday, 12:30-5 Sunday.

Carter's Creek

On the 1st of October, a blockhouse guarding a bridge about 3 miles south of Spring Hill (Carter's Creek Station) was invested, but the German commander refused to surrender.

It was now nine o'clock, and very dark. Dismounted men were at once pressed close up to the work, under cover of the railroad embankment, and opened a noisy fire upon the block-house, during which others -- picked men, provided with bags of combustibles -- crept to the bridge, and placing these unders its braces, at the signal ignited them with the Greek fire, a small vial of which each man carried also. In a moment the bridge was effectually in flames, and the men who had applied the fire rejoined their companies without hurt. [Footnote: This bridge was burned by Colonel Russell and his regiment of Tennesseans] (Jordan & Pryor, p. 577)


We met enemy near Tuscaloosa, Alabama ... We had skirmish Wilson's redgement brought on the atact he had several prisoners the next morning we atacted them about daylight run them out of there camp killed several horse and some men. I got a ham of meat and a fine lot of roasted sweet potatoes. We skirmished with them on the river Centerville -- they ... burnt the bridge we could not follow further (G.W. Taylor in Dyer and Moore, 1915-22/85).
April 1, 1865: Colonel A.N. Wilson's Regiment had a fight with the Yanks. Stomped all the Yanks. ... Yanks in three miles of us on picket.
April 2, 1865: Colonel Wilson had another fight with the Yanks. We followed them to Centerville. They burned the bridge. (Bondurant Diary)
... the Twentieth Regiment ... set out to Selma to help in the fruitless attempt to check the raid of General Wilson through the heart of the Confederacy. But the destruction by the enemy of the bridges across the Cahaba River effectually prevented their reaching Selma, and nothing was left to be done but to submit to the inevitable, and to lay down their arms, which they did at Gainesville, Ala., with the balance of Forrest's renowned cavalry. (Rennolds, 1904/61, p. 264)
When the Cahaba river bridge at Centerville was destroyed, W.H. Jackson's division, including the 20th Cavalry, was kept from participating in the battle of Selma (CWSAC Description).

Coonewah Crossroads

Also known as Coonewah Crossroads, Camargo Crossroads, and Walker's Crossroads This action may also be the one referred to as "Pontotoc" in some records.

As the Federals of Smith's column moved eastward toward Tupelo on July 13, 1864, elements of Forrest's command engaged in skirmishes with portions of the column. The third of these involved the 20th. Late in the afternoon, Bell's brigade and a section of Morton's battery attacked the right flank of the Federal column. After a skirmish of about an hour, the Confederates withdrew, and the Federals continued on to Harrisburg.

In his report, Gen. Bell describes the events of the 13th (Official Records, I-39-1, pp. 346-7):

Marching two and a half or three miles to the Coonewar Creek, we discovered a short distance beyond that the enemy was moving on the Pontotoc and Okolona road. It was determined at once to strike the enemy a severe blow, if possible. ... The regiments were all dismounted before crossing the creek. ... The Fifteenth Tennessee (Colonel Russell), just in rear of the Second Tennessee, was ordered to form on the left of it, two companies of which were hardly formed before the firing commenced. Newsom's and Wilson's regiments were ordered up as rapidly as possible but not in time to enable the advanced regiments to hold their positions. No blame can certainly be attached to the men for falling back, as they were completely overpowered and forced to retire. Being comparatively new troops, that good order common to veterans was not preserved ... Our loss in killed and wounded for the time the brigade was engaged was quite heavy, each regiment sacrificing some of its best officers and bravest men. The engagement continued but for a few minutes, during which we were under a hot fire in our front and on our left flank also. The conduct of the men and officers before retreating was alike gallant and commendable.

The skirmish at Walker's Crossroads is the subject of research by Raymond Doherty


As Forrest moved his newly recruited command from West Tennessee to safer havens in Mississippi in December 1863, Federal forces had to be discouraged. A detachment of men under Col. Richardson encountered part of Grierson's column 4-1/2 miles south of the Estenaula crossing of the Hatchie on December 24.

Richardson's men, being raw and indifferently armed, gave way under attack and were driven back some three miles to the Slough Bridge, where Col. J.J. Neely had set up a covering line which successfully held off the Federal attack until after the rise of a bright, clear Christmas moon, about 8:0 P.M., when the Federal forces withdrew [to camp about 5 miles south of the river - rmp]
(Henry, 1944, p. 208)
Later that evening, Forrest arrived, attacked with his escort company, and drove the Federals back an additional 10 miles.
I moved my force to Estnaula, on the Hatchie, crossing it by the night of the 25th. Met a cavalry regiment and routed them. Fought the enemy again on the 26th at Somerville ...
(Forrest, 1880b)

The Carter diary makes it clear that the men who were to become part of Company E of the 20th were involved:

Fight at Estenaula. One man wounded. The Yankee did not fight much. We whipped them. Not much fight. Only skirmishing all day.

Rennolds (1904/61) indicates that Company "K" had one man wounded and another killed at Estenaula, and Lindsley (1886) lists a man killed there on December 24, 1863.

It seems likely that Greer's Regiment may have been serving as part of Richardson's covering force for the move south, especially since the regiment was listed as being responsible to him in October 1863 (Official Records, I-30-2, pp. 787-9). Mathes (1902/86) describes events that would seem to correspond to the action at Estenaula mentioned in the other sources:

Colonel Richardson ... was ordered ... to put his little brigade in motion southward and cross the Hatchie at Estenaula, eighteen miles west of Jackson, which was accomplished on [December] 24th. ... Soon after crossing the river the command came in collision with the advance of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry ... Meantime Neely's Fourteenth Tennessee Cavalry and Lieutenant-Colonel D.M. Wilson, with about one hundred and fifty of Colonel J.E. Forrest's old regiment, came to Richardson's support, and in the animated skirmish which ensued the Confederates were at first scattered in the face of well-trained and well-handled troops, but rallied and held their ground. After nightfall the Federals withdrew. (p. 163)

Fort Pillow

CWSAC Description

The Dyer County History Page includes articles on Fort Pillow and the West Tennessee Unionist Troops who formed part of its garrison.

From the report of Gen. Chalmers, CSA, on the action at Ft. Pillow (Official Records I-32-1, pp. 620-621). Chalmers was in command of his own division plus Bell's brigade and was responsible for the investment of the fort:

My intent was to invest the place, and I proceeded to do so as follows: ... Colonel Bell with Barteau's and Russell's regiments moved down Coal Creek to attack the fort in the rear.

From the 1921 Veteran's Questionnaire (Dyer and Moore, 1985) of James J. White:

In April we captured Fort Pillow. I was one of a squad placed out on the old confederate trenches as sharp shooters to keep them down in the fort while our men came up river and surround fort. I was sent by officers with message to Gen. Bell and had to go ... long hill in plan view of the fort which was ... very risky business ... but I made it through and then I was in charge that carried the fort.

Then Sergeant A.V. Clark provides more detail:

Our brigade filed round to the right of the fort. Skirmishers were deployed and we advanced very slowly it is true but surely toward the enemy ... By two o'clock P.M. we had approached within fifty yards of the fort on all sides. A part of our regiment was in twenty steps of it. Strange to say after five hours constant firing the Yankees had not killed a single one of our men and wounded only a few among whom I am sorry to name the gallant Capt. Wilson of our regiment who fell in twenty steps of the fort shot through the lungs dangerously ... (Cimprich & Mainfort (1982), p. 298)

From the report of Capt. William T. Smith, 6th US Colored Heavy Artillery, on the capture of Fort Pillow (Official Records I-32-1, p. 569):

When I went over the field I was under the escort of Colonel Greer, who informed me that it was the hardest battle he was ever in -- the most strongly contested.

Casualties are not certain -- Cimprich & Mainfort (1982) include a report by an officer of Wilson's 16th Regiment that "the loss of Bell's Brigade is 37 -- five killed & 32 wounded." Other sources indicate higher figures (Materials in the "Civil War by Brent Cox" folder at the Gordon Browning Museum & Genealogical Library, McKenzie Tennessee, state 52 casualties).

Park Entrance Restored Redoubt
Visiting the Site

Fort Pillow State Historical Park (a second link) includes a small interpretive center, camping and fishing. There are 5 and 10 mile hiking trails that follow the original breastworks. The redoubt has been restored. According to the park brochure, both the park and the interpretive center are open year round.

Hood's Invasion of Tennessee


Forrest's men were attached to the main army for the late 1864 invasion that culminated in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. In particular, Forrest was responsible for screening the long retreat to Corinth.

Substantial portions of the 20th were away from the regiment on furlough and securing remounts and so did not participate in the invasion.

Buford's division was reduced to about seven hundred and fifty men and Bell's brigade to seven hundred and fifty by the absence of men furloughed to secure mounts.
The Hollis diary seems to indicate that Company I was among those on leave. This is confirmed by a report of casualties in Forrest's cavalry for November and December of 1864 (Official Records, I-45-1, pp. 760-761). Russell's regiment reports 1 officer and 4 men wounded in November (these may have been occurred during the raid on Johnsonville), but is not included on the return for December.

Rennolds (1904/61) states that "the Twentieth Cavalry shared fully in all the dangers and suffering of this ill-starred campaign, and especially as part of the rear guard on the retreat to Corinth." This suggests that the Henry County companies (E, F, and K) may have been present, but I've found no definite evidence of this.


CWSAC Description


CWSAC Description

Hurricane Creek

On August 10, 1864:

Forrest ... left Pontotoc with Bell's Brigade and Morton's Battery ..., hoping to reach Oxford by midnight. ... Forrest reached Oxford at 11 o'clock. ... The following morning Forrest advanced with his entire force and drove the enemy back across Hurricane creek. Here the two forces faced each other for two days, during which time savage picket firings were going on. On the morning of the 13th the enemy attacked the left of the Confederate line, ... Very soon the engagement became general along the entire line, and finally, by might of numbers, we were pressed back. The enemy, however, did not improve his advantage, and the Confederates took position on a wooded ridge, three miles north of Oxford, where we remained several days." (Dinkins, 1908)

Lt. Crutchfield of Company E describes the events:
... one battle 4 miles north Oxford the engagement from right to the left & senter the attack was first upon our right the boys drove them back they then flanked to the left drove our left back wich consists of Mabry's Brigade, the yanks fell back the nex day to there former position was at Abbesville

William Faulkner's short story "My Grandmother Millard and General Bedford Forrest and the Battle of Harrykin Creek" (in the Collected Stories) is supposed to be about this battle.

Jack's Creek

On December 23, 1863, a detachment of recruits for Forrest's newborn command were moving south under the command of Lt. Col. D.M. Wisdom. Near Jack's Creek, they encountered part of a column of pursuers moving northwest from Corinth, MS.

High water had forced this [Mower's] column to swing east and north ... to the vicinity of Jack's Creek, where before daylight of the morning of the twenty-fourth Wisdom's detachement struck them to start a noisy all-day fight which ended in the withdrawal of the Federal column toward Corinth. After an all-night march of thirty miles Wisdom's men came up with the rest of the command at the crossing of the Hatchie on Christmas morning.
(Henry, 1944, p. 208)
Forrest later reported:
The Corinth force of the enemy reached Jack's Creek, within 25 miles of Jackson on the 23rd. I sent out a force to meet and develop their strength and retard their progress ... We drove the Cavalry back to the infantry, and then returned. (Forrest (1880b), p. 41)

I currently believe that none of the units that became Russell's regiment were involved in this fight.

Historical Marker
Visiting the Site

A Tennessee State Historical Marker is located on the south side of Tennessee Highway 100, just east of the intersection with Road 22A. The marker reads: "The Jacks Creek community was settled in the 1820s in Henderson (now Chester) County. It furnished men to the 13th Infantry, 18th Newsome's and 21st Wilson's Calvary [sic] units, C.S.A., and was the site of a skirmish 1 mi. N on Sept. 12, 1863, and an all-day battle by 2,500 troops under Gen. Forrest 1 mi.l S on Dec. 23, 1863. It is the former home of J.M. Stone, Gov. of Miss."


CWSAC Description

Our command [Morton's Battery] encamped the night of the 1st south of the crossing of the Memphis and Clarksville railroad over the Tennessee River ... The location of General Bell's encampment some two mile north of Morton's battery (Morton (1882b), p. 472).
Morton also notes that two men from the infantry were killed or wounded.

Photo of Park
Visiting the Site

Johnsonville State Historic Park occupies a site on the east bank of Kentucky lake, formed by the Tennessee river. The actual town was flooded by a TVA dam and the site is underwater. The park is primarily recreational; a small visitor's center appears to have some information on the battle, but seems to be open only seasonally (it was sealed up during a visit on a November weekend), and even then to maintain sporadic hours (it was closed on a July Friday afternoon).

The Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park (a second website) on the opposite bank of the river has an interpretive center devoted to life on the Tennessee River. The only battle material I found was a descriptive marker located just outside the center.

The Raising the Gunboats Homepage describes an effort to raise some of the boats sunk by Forrest's men during the fighting at Fort Heiman, Paris Landing, and Johnsonville.


CWSAC Description

Forrest biographies indicate that particular units and parts of units were selected for the Memphis raid, culled to eliminate those whose health or horses might slow the progress of the raiders. Parts of Russell's regiment were involved, although Rennolds (1904/61, p. 263) states that the Twentieth "did not actively take part in the fighting.

It appears that the regiment's primary role was to cover the retreat:

the Second Tennessee and Russell's regiments and the parrot guns were left in the rear to cover the retreat. (Dinkins, 1908)
... Colonel Bell held in reserve, with Newsom's and Russell's Regiments and the Second Tennessee, under Lieutenant-Colonel Morton, with Sale's section of artillery, was to cover the movement. (Jordan & Pryor, p. 538)
Colonel T.H. Bell, with detachments of Newsom's, Russell's, and Barteau's regiments, and two pieces of Morton's battery ... , were to compose the reserve under General Forrest in the suburbs and cover the movement and the retreat. (Mathes, 1902/86, p. 270).

Lt. Crutchfield, of Co. F, described the raid in a September 3, 1864 letter to his wife:

Gen. Forrest had taken our Brigade & Neely's Brigade and was marching in the direction of Panola west course, leaving Chalmers & the Kentucky Brigade at Oxford to watch the Yank. We traveld three dayes & nights two days & nights it rained nearly all the time. We got about 3 hours sleep in the three dayes & nights or I should have sayed two days and about 4 oclock in mourning of the third day we drove the pickets in at Memphis & had a pretty sharp fight there, I don't know the day of the month now though it was early one Sunday morning. We captured 250 prisners kiled about the same our loss about 12 men kiled, 10 wounded, one man wounded in our Redgment.
however, Capt. Hollis of I Company was not present. He was returning from leave at home and had not rejoined the command when it went on the raid. Apparently several others from the company were with him.

Forrest Statue
Visiting the Site

Memphis was Forrest's home before and after the war, and the subject of at least one historical marker in the city. I am not aware of any specifically related to the Memphis Raid. Forrest is buried beneath the equestrian statue in Forrest Park.


CWSAC Description

Bell's brigade was detached on February 20th to block a possible Federal crossing of the Tombigbee. The 21st was spent maintaining position between the Federals and the river. On the 22nd, the brigade took up position about 3/4 of a mile east of the railroad at Okolona. As the engagement began, they advanced through and north of town and encountered resistance.

Colonel Barteau, commanding Bell's Brigade, approached Okalona from the east and found the Federals drawn up in line. Forrest coming up just then was received with cheers and lent confidence to the men and while Russell's, Wilson's and Newsom's regiments all made up mainly of men now under fire for the first time, attacked in front (dismounted), while the Second Tennessee (mounted) attacked on the Federal right flank (Rennolds, p. 260).
Forrest ... ordered ... an immediate charge of Russell's, Wilson's, and Newsom's regiments on foot, while he, with Barteau's ... mounted, swept around to attack the Federal right flank. (Jordan & Pryor, p. 394)
This attack caused the Federals to fall back 6 or 7 miles, where they took up new positions.

In the subsequent fighting, Jeffrey Forrest, commanding a brigade, was killed. Jordan and Pryor (p. 396) quote Col. Russell on the general's reaction:

The moment was too sacred for angry passions to have sway, and, catching its inspiration, I ordered the men to cease firing, that all might join in sympathy with our suffering General. After nature had triumphed for a while, he rose up, and, casting aside those reflections which had unmanned him for a few moments, by a strong mental effort, Forrest was himself again.

... the enemy gave way and fled. The Twentieth took part in the continuous charge that extended far toward Memphis. (Rennolds, p. 260)

Capt. Hollis of Co. I reports:

Fine weather, reached Oakland early, enemy in force. Charged them, had two men killed and two wounded and then fought them hard all day for ten miles. Night closed the fighting.

The report of regimental casualties from Forrest's report in the Official Records (Series I, Volume 32, Part 1, p. 355) lists two men killed, three officers and 15 men wounded, and one man missing, for an aggregate loss of 21. This figure is repeated in Tennesseans in the Civil War. Col. Russell assumed command of Bell's brigade after the acting commander, Barteau, was wounded (Also reported in Porter (1899/n.d.) and Forrest (1880)).

Morningside Bookshop has included a brief article about Okolona by Edwin Bearss, "Forrest Gets The Bulge On Sooy Smith" on their website as part of their series of Morningside Notes.

Visiting the Site

The Okolona Confederate Cemetery contains a number of graves; most are of men who died in hospitals in the area. I did not find a battle specific monument on my visit to the area, although there is a monument to Confederate Soldiers of the region in the center of town.

Old Town Creek

After the battle at Tupelo, the Confederates pursued the retreating Federals.

At Old Town creek, [Forrest] found Chalmers and Buford hotly engaged. The position of the Federal rear guard was forced by Bell and Crossland's brigades. (Porter, 1899/n.d.)

From Gen. Bell's report on the action (Official Records, I-39-1, p. 348):

About 2 o'clock in the evening [of the 15th -- rmp] General Forrest sent word that the enemy was retreating, and our division must move up in pursuit of him. ... Colonel Wilson ... was soon ordered forward at a double-quick ... Colonel Newsom was ordered by way of Tupelo ...; the other two (Barteau's and Russell's) were ordered to halt and give place to the artillery. Colonel Wilson's regiment moved forward but a short distance, coming upon the enemy's rear, when a brisk fire ensued. He charged the enemy, driving him back to Old Town Creek. By this time the Second and Fifteenth Regiments arrived, dismounted, and went forward into the fight. The regiments acted gallantly on this occasion until they were forced to retire in consequence of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy.


CWSAC Description

We ... attacked Paducah late in the evening and played hide and seek with bombs in the streets from Gun Boats till ate in the night (White questionnaire).
Drove in the pickets 3 miles from Paducah, Ky. Commenced fighting about 1 o'clock PM. Fought until after dark. Was sent with detachment of my company [E -- rmp] a part of Capt. Shane's to engage the Fort at the River side. Hot place for a while ... Our boys got great many horses and store clothes in the city (Carter diary)
While Thompson's Brigade threatened the front Russell's Regiment occupied a row of buildings near the river ... and with long range rifles poured such accurate and continuous fire into the port holes of two gunboats as to drive them under shelter of the fort (Rennolds, p. 460).
Immediately fronting and contiguous to the river, there was a row of buildings, mainly used for army purposes, and into these Forrest promptly threw detachments of Russell's Tennesseans and his own escort, with long-range rifles, which were brought to bear upon the apertures of the gunboats with an accuracy so deadly, that they were driven to seek shelter under the fort (Jordan & Pryor, p. 412).

Paris Landing and Fort Heiman

... The expedition to Fort Heiman, Paris Landing, and Johnsonville was undertaken, the Twentieth Tennessee supporting the artillery which destroyed so many vessels and such vast amounts of army stores (Rennolds, p. 263).

The Hollis diary records:

October 29, 1864 On river captured transport with more than million dollars worth of property. After night went to Hindman and worked all night.
October 30, 1864 Captured two transports and one gunboat.

Morton (1882b, p. 262) describes the emplacement of guns at Paris Landing. "The guns at these positions were supported by General Tyree H. Bell's brigade of cavalry, dismounted and deployed as skirmishers." He also reports that when the gunboat Undine arrived "Bell's sharpshooters, at once brought into requisition, fired incessantly, with vigorous effect (p. 264)".


In his veteran's questionnaire, A.J. Killebrew of Company K listed actions at Estenaula, Bolivar, and Somerville. Mathes (1902/86) describes events that would correspond to an action at Somerville at this time.

Early on the morning of the 26th the march was resumed in the direction of Somerville. Five miles from that place a Federal advance-guard was encountered. Richardson had only three hundred armed men, but made a show of fight and a display of his unarmed levies ... Forrest ... heard the firing and came to the rescue. (p. 166)
Forrest's (1880b, p. 41) report does not elaborate: "Fought the enemy again on the 26th at Somerville".


Also known as Harrisburg -- the town of Harrisburg has been absorbed by present day Tupelo.
CWSAC Description

Fighting around Harrisburg was spread over four days: the 13-16 of July 1864. Several actions were fought on the 13th. The 20th was involved in one at the Coonewah Crossroads. The actual battle of Harrisburg was fought on the 14th, and there was fighting at Old Town Creek on the 15th, and at Ellistown on the 16th.

In a report (Official Records, I-39-1, p. 347), Gen. Bell describes the events of the 14th:

My brigade was placed on the extreme left of the line, the Fifteenth Tennessee on the right, ... The officers and men acted their part well, approaching within seventy-five yards of the breast-works, and maintaining their position under a most galling fire until the ammunition was well nigh exhausted, and they were ordered to give way to another brigade, leaving a good many of our dead and wounded on the field. The place was truly a hot one, and the enemy's position strong and commanding, well selected, and well fortified. The loss of the brigade in killed and wounded, both with the officers and the men, was immense.

The 20th's casualties for the three days of fighting around Harrisburg were Capt. J.M. Fields and 11 men killed, 9 officers and 84 men wounded, Lt. T. Hawkins mortally, for an aggregate of 105 casualties. The brigade had 400 casualties, and 996 were reported for the Buford's division. (Official Records, I-39-1, p. 335). Col. Russell was among the wounded (Bearss, 1991; Mathes, 1902/86, p. 259).

Photo of Park
Visiting the Site

Tupelo National Battlefield is very small and contains not much more than a single marker. A small photo and other park information may be found on the Tupelo Home Page.

Union City

From the Report of Captain John W. Beatty, 7th Tennessee Cavalry (U.S.), on the capture of Union City, dated 12 April 1864 (O.R., I-32-1, pp. 542-544.:

I have the honor to report to you that I have made my escape from the enemy, after being surrendered, ... at Union City, Tenn., on the 24th of March, after fighting six hours and repulsing the enemy four times.

The enemy drove in our pickets at 4 a.m., 24th March, and skirmishing commenced soon after, and by sunrise our camps were entirely surrounded. Their force numbered about 1,500, commanded by Colonels Faulkner, Bell, Duckworth, Faris, Freeman, Tansil, and Russell. They first made a charge, mounted, and finding that they were losing a great many men and horses, dismounted and made three unsuccessful charges with heavy losses in killed and wounded. Finding it impossible to rout our forces from their works, fell back in great confusion, taking shelter behind fallen timber, stumps, &c., their sharpshooters keeping up a continuous fire until fifteen minutes to 11 o'clock, when they ceased firing and sent in a flag of truce, demanding an unconditional surrender of our force ..."

The Federal commander decided to surrender, apparently without much support from his subordinates. (Faulkner's command was the 12th Kentucky Cavalry, Duckworth's the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, and Faris had a company of Barteau's 22nd Tennessee Cavalry. Freeman might refer to Lt. Freeman who was in command of Co. G of the 20th at the time.)

The attack on Union City was designed to distract attention from Forrest's main effort at Paducah. Most sources (including the Hollis and Carter diaries) indicate that Russell's 20th was part of the Paducah effort, not at Union City; it appears that Capt. Beatty was mistaken.


The Hollis diary entry for February 13, 1864, reads:

Early we were ordererd towards Wiat. The enemy in force near. They commenced firing. We then went to Abbeville ... (Chester (1985), p. 92)
The action is also listed as a "skirmish" in The Civil War in Mississippi 1861-1865 (Ken Parks Associates, Bolton, MS, 1959), a booklet that tries to list all the actions fought in the state.

Jordan & Pryor (p. 386) note several skirmishes in front of Wyatt and Abbeville from the 11th to the 13th, "the most persistent of which (at Wyatt) was by Faulkner's Kentuckians during the night of the 13th." The Chronology of Mississippi Military Events on the Mississippi Civil War Information website states: "13 Sat.: Skirmish at Wyatt (Tate Co.) with the Meridian Expedition unit from Memphis, TN. Skirmishes occur between Chunky Creek and Meridian with forces of the Meridian Expedition, continuing the next day." This column is apparently separate from that of Sooy Smith, which Forrest will meet at Okolona on the 22nd.

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