The Battle at Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee

Early in December 1862, Confederate General John C. Pemberton, Vicksburg's defender, was desperate.

To stop Grant's and Sherman's envelopment of Vicksburg, Pemberton ordered Major-General

Earl Van Dorn to lead a secret cavalry raid to destroy Grant's forward supply depot at Holly Springs,

Mississippi. At the same time, Confederate General Braxton Bragg dispatched Brigadier-General

Nathan Bedford Forrest and his 1,800-man cavalry brigade to sever Grant's rail communications

in West Tennessee. After destroying the Union railroad, Forrest made his way to Flake's Store on the

McLemoresville Road, 4 miles northwest of Parker's Crossroads, 6 miles west of Clarksburg.
 

While Forrest's Brigade had been destroying Union communications, Union Brigadier-General Jeremiah

C. Sullivan had marched from Jackson, Tennessee, sending Colonel John W. Fuller's Ohio Brigade and

Colonel Cyrus L. Dunham's Brigade northeast, to trap the Confederates.

 

Early on the morning of December 31, 1862, Colonel Dunham's brigade marched south from Clarksburg for

Parker's Crossroads, after learning that Forrest's troopers were encamped at Flake's Store. As his brigade of

1,500 men moved south, Dunham notified Sullivan, and Fuller at Huntingdon (north of Clarksburg), to join him.

Forrest began moving his 4th Alabama and 8th Tennessee troopers and Freeman's artillery down the

McLemoresville Road, heading for Parker's Crossroads. Dunham's men, led by the 50th Indiana Infantry

Regiment, marched through the crossroads and deployed into line of battle at Hick's Field, one mile northwest

of Parker's Crossroads. Forrest's artillery and dismounted cavalry went into action on the northwest perimeter

of Hick's Field, causing Dunham's men to retreat back to the Parker House. Dunham ordered the 39th Iowa

Infantry to anchor while the 122nd Illinois Infantry, 50th Indiana Infantry, a detachment of the 18th Illinois, and a

section of the 7th Wisconsin Light Artillery Battery completed the east-west line along the Huntingdon-Lexington

Road.

When Forrest's artillery and cavalry flanked Dunham's northerly line, Dunham changed the front northward and,

while making this change, suffered severe casualties from Forrest's commanding artillery. The Union line sought

refuge behind a split-rail fence. While Confederate Colonel G. G. Dibrell's 8th Tennessee, Major N. N. Cox's Battalion

 and Colonel Alonzo T. Napier's Battalion held Dunham's attention to the north, Colonel James W. Starnes' 4th

Tennessee, Colonel Jake Biffle's 9th Tennessee, Colonel Thomas Woodward's Kentucky Companies and Colonel

A. A. Russell's 4th Alabama attacked Dunham's rear. Dunham about-faced most of his brigade and charged southward

to an area near Red Mound, where his forces were surrounded.

While Forrest was parlaying with Dunham for the surrender of the Union Brigade, Colonel Fuller's entire Ohio Brigade

arrived from the north behind the Parker House. It was there that Forrest's horse holders were surprised. Almost 300

 of Dibrell's and Cox's men, whose horses had either fallen or were stampeded away, were captured. When told that he

was between two Union Brigades, Forrest's order was "Charge them both ways!" Forrest secured a scratch force of 75

 men and charged nto the left flank of the Ohio Brigade, disrupting its attack and causing General Sullivan to withdraw

into a perimeter defense. Forrest's force then withdrew from the battlefield and crossed the Tennessee River again at Clifton

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Click here to view an 1880s Photo of the Parker House. The Battle of Parker's Crossroads, Tennessee