Tipton's calvary soldiers
During June and July 1863, Col. Robert V. Richardson returned to West Tennessee with authority to collect the fragments of his first Tennessee partisan rangers and to recruit additional regiments. He reported that 40 new companies were recruited during this time. Richardson had succeeded in collecting about half of his partisan rangers and parts of two new regiments when Federals from La Grange, Memphis and Germantown forced him to move northward to Madison County.
Richardson escaped these columns and moved to Cotton Grove where he met with about 400 confederates under Col. Jeffrey Forrest and Andrew Wilson of Col. Phil Roddey’s cavalry. These men were well-armed while Richardson reported half of his 400 men were poorly armed, the other half had no guns. During July 29-30,1863, Richardson marched his columns south to Bolivar, Middleton, and Ripley, Miss. By Aug. 2, his 600 men had reached Okolona, and by the 10th were encamped at Pikeville.
Richardson informed his superiors that as soon as he armed his men he would return to West Tennessee and recruit his brigade up to 5,000 men:
“It will be impossible to establish camps of instruction in West Tennessee, but a suitable place can be chosen on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, in Miss. There are in West Tennessee many stragglers, absentees, and deserters from the provisional army. The Government has no transportation there. It is difficult to send them to their commands when they are arrested. Many of them are poor and have no horses. The country is pretty well exhausted of horses by the Yankees and my mounted men. It will not be safe to send them through the enemy’s line afoot. The only alternative left me is to impress horses and mules…Many of these men are good soldiers. They do not want to return to their old commands, because they have not lost all pride of character, and do not want to be pointed at by their comrades as deserters. They are anxious to join me, and would mount themselves if they were assured that they would be permitted to remain in my command. If you will allow all such who will mount themselves to remain with me, I will more than repay their old commands by conscripted recruits. It must be borne in mind that these men are wholly within the enemy’s lines, and cannot be withdrawn except by my command or other similar ones. To allow them to join me is to restore that much lost strength to the armies of the Confederacy.”
Confederate Secretary of War submitted Richardson’s request to President Jefferson Davis.
The President had the final word:
“The deserters must return to their proper commands before they come within the terms of the amnesty granted. After they have joined as above an application for transfer of such as could furnish cavalry horses might be entertained.”
Col., later Gen., Robert V. Richardson can be credited with being the first confederate officer to come into Tipton, Fayette, Haywood and other counties and successfully recruiting cavalry companies within Union lines. His initial efforts were only partially successful. His skeleton commands did form the basis for what was to become Gen. N. B. Forrest’s Cavalry Corps, winning splendid victories in late 1863 and 1864.
Tipton County's calvary continued