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Tipton’s calvary

continued October 1863

Following the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, the Union Army of the Cumberland was bottled up in Chattanooga. Federal troops were ordered to Chattanooga via the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.

On Oct. 2, Union generals’ William Sherman and Stephen Hurlbut were at Memphis. Sherman’s 17,000-man division was en route via the railroad for the relief of the Federals at Chattanooga. Hurlbut commanded the Memphis garrison. While there, Sherman’s nine-year old son Willie, died of fever.

Confederate generals’ Joseph E. Johnston, Stephen D. Lee and James R. Chalmers prepared to disrupt the passage of Union reinforcements and supplies along this railroad and that of the Nashville and Chattanooga line. Gen. Lee was sent with 2,500, Ferguson and Ross’s brigades, on a raid into Middle Tennessee.

To draw attention away from this raid, Gen. James Chalmers’ brigade was ordered to interrupt traffic on the Memphis and Charleston. The ensuing series of engagements known as “Chalmers’ Raid” brought together for the first time during the war, Tipton’s troopers in the seventh and 12th Tennessee regiments where they played a prominent role in the campaign.

The troopers of the seventh Tennessee including Company I of Tiptonians, were under the command of Capt. James R. Alexander of Covington.

Tipton’s men in the 12th Tennessee under Lt. Col. John U. Green were mainly in Companies’ C (Capt. John L. Payne), Co. D (Capt. James H. Hazelwood), and G (Capt. Robert Field) but some in other companies including Capt. W. A. Bell’s Co. F. from Fayette. Part of Col. Richardson’s brigade engaged the third Michigan cavalry at New Albany, Miss., Oct. 5. Col. James J. Neely commanded the brigade while Richardson was at Rocky Ford. When the third Michigan cavalry and artillery threatened New Albany, Neely sent a dispatch alerting Richardson; Neely formed the brigade for battle. Some of the Tennesseans bolted during the initial action.

The 12th Mississippi cavalry, Col. William M. Inge took position in the southern outskirts of town and screened the Tennessean’s retreat. Neely had restored order to his Tennesseans when Richardson joined the command at Campbellton near 1 p.m. Richardson reformed his line: the 12th Tennessee to the left of the 12th Mississippi; part of Col. F. M. Stewart’s regiment was posted to the right of the Mississippians; two breech-loading two-pounder cannon, Buckner’s Miss. battery, were unlimbered with Inge’s troopers; the other two rifled cannon were placed on the right.

Capt. Baylor Palmer’s Reneau battery was supported by two companies of the 12th Tennessee cavalry, were held in reserve at Campbellton.

Historian Edwin C. Bearss describes the ensuing action:

“The bluecoats hammered Inge’s Mississippians with their mountain howitzers till 4 p.m., when Richarsdson sent Capt. Baylor Palmer to the front with one (cannon). Bringing their six-pounder up at a gallop, the Rebels threw it into battery and opened fire on the foe ‘in gallant style.’ Col. Moyers (third Michigan) now determined to return to his base and recalled his guns. As soon as the Union howitizers fell silent, Richardson waived the 12th Mississippi and the 12th Tennessee forward. Dismounted butternut skirmishers trailed the Union rear guard as it pulled out of New Albany and crossed the Tallahatchie. Whereupon Capt. Palmer took his two guns forward, occupied a commanding hill, and shelled the retreating Union column. Richardson called up the horse-holders. As soon as the 12th Miss. and the 12th Tenn. mounted, they hounded the bluecoats up the Ripley road. Darkness soon checked the pursuit, and the Rebels returned to their camp.”

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