Tipton’s Calvalry Soldiers, continued
“Chalmers’ Raid, Oct. 1863, Pt. I”
By ruse, Confederate Gen. James R. Chalmers convinced several Union commanders along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad that 16,000 confederates were preparing to attack at points between Corinth and Memphis. Telegraph lines were cut between Saulsbury and Corinth. Train trestles were damaged and bridges burned by confederates.Col. Fielding Hurst’s 600 men of the sixth West Tennessee U. S. Cavalry, were at Grand Junction; two more companies were at Moscow.
Gen. T. W. Sweeney commanded 1,300 federals at La Grange. He reported the rebels had 10 day’s rations of jerked beef and were discarding shotguns for Austrian rifles. Federals in Memphis believed 6,000 confederates with eight cannons under Chalmers and Ferguson were at Wyatt, Miss.
Chalmers’ 850 men departed their camp at Wyatt and marched towards Holly Springs, arriving on the fifth. His command included the 7th Tennessee cavalry, 18th Miss. cavalry battalion, 3rd Miss. state troops and one three-inch ordinance rifle of Co. C, 14th Miss. artillery battalion. The 7th Tennessee camped five miles northeast of Holly Springs.
On the fifth, Federal Col. La Fayette McCrillis, with 500 troopers of the 3rd and 9th Illinois Cavalry and 230 men of Col. Fielding Hurst’s 6th West Tennessee U. S. Cavalry, arrived at Lockhart’s Mill on the Coldwater. The 7th Illinois was 12 miles farther down the Coldwater at Quinn and Jackson’s Mill. Hurst reported Chalmers with 2,500 men at Holly Springs, eight miles from their camp. On Oct. 6, Chalmers directed Richardson’s command to move to Salem, Miss. Richardson’s troops included his under-strength West Tennessee brigade, along with the first Miss. partisan rangers and the second Missouri cavalry. That same day, Chalmers attacked the federals at Lockhart’s Mill before the 7th Illinois could unite with McCrillis’ column.
Chalmers’ plan consisted of a frontal and rear attack on the federal camp. At daybreak, he deployed the third Miss. state cavalry on his right and the 7th Tennessee on the left. The rebels were dismounted and had horse-holders had been detailed. The 18th Mississippi would assail the Federals from the rear. Before Chalmers’ dispositions were complete, the Mississippi state troops and their cannon fired a union patrol. Two companies of the Mississippians charged after the retreating patrol, thus alerting the Federal camp.
Union officers quickly prepared for a defensive action. McCrillis’ four 12-pounder mountain howitzer cannon and Sharps carbines blazed away at Maj. A. H. Chalmers’ 18th Mississippi cavalry. The 18th Mississippi attacked in column of fours twice. In each they were repulsed. The two attacks preceded Gen. James Chalmers’ planned frontal dismounted attack. Learning of Maj. Chalmers’ premature attack and repulse he ordered the seventh Tennessee, under Col. W. L. Duckworth of Brownsville, to the ford above Lockhart’s Mill. This action caused Union commander McCrillis to abandon his encampment and retreat up the road to Mt. Pleasant where he took a defensive position at the forks of the roads leading to Collierville and LaFayette (Rossville). Thus far he had suffered only three wounded men.
McCrillis and Hurst’s federal cavalry received false intelligence that 2,500 confederates were riding north to La Grange. The Yankees moved northward and arrived there at midnight. Chalmers was discouraged of his failure to trap McCrillis, but he did get to plunder the abandoned Yankee camp.
The night of the sixth, the men of the 7th Tennessee camped near Scales’ Depot and the Miss. state cavalry at Thompson’s plantation. That evening, Chalmers received reinforcements, the 2nd Missouri and the 1st Miss. partisan rangers.
Tipton’s cavalry soldiers continued