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Tipton County and the Civil War

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Tipton’s cavalry in Chalmers’ raid, part IV.

“The enemy (Confederates) attacked Collierville this morning and captured the place; also a special train containing Gen. Sherman and staff….Col. Anthony is reported having surrendered!”

Gen. T. W. Sweeney, La Grange,10 a.m., Oct. 11, 1863. 

At 3 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11, 1863, Col. Robert V. Richardson received an order from Gen. James R. Chalmers, to move on Collierville at 4 a.m., and “capture it with a dash.”  Richardson’s cavalry left Byhalia as ordered, but lost an hour in repairing the bridge over Coldwater Creek.  

Richardson’s attack force consisted of the following regiments and batteries:

• 12th  Tennessee, Lt. Col. John U. Green of Covington

• 14th  Tennessee, Col. James J. Neely of Bolivar

• 15th Tennessee, Lt. Col. Francis M. Stewart

• 3d Miss. State Cavalry, Col. John McGuirk

• 12th Mississippi, Col. William Inge

• Reneau West Tenn. Battery, one section, 2 six-pounders, Capt. Baylor Palmer

• Buckner’s Miss. Battery, 4 two-pounders, Lt. H. C. Holt

The first phase of Chalmers’ attack would take place by four detached battalions of approximately 100 men each with instructions to “tear up the Memphis and Charleston railroad and destroy the telegraph wire, so as to prevent the passage of troops or intelligence.” 

The battalions of Maj. Mitchell, 18th Mississippi Battalion and Maj. Couzens, 2d Missouri, were to operate along the road east of Collierville. These detachments were successful in their operations.  

The task of disrupting Federal communications west of Collierville was given to Maj. Reuben Burrow leading Companies’ A, C, E, F, and K of the 12th Tennessee, 116 men, (Co. C was composed of all Tiptonians as well a portion of Co. K) and 43 men under Lt. Col. Marshall of the 14th Tennessee.    

A company of Federal infantry was at White’s Station. After daylight, Burrows’ and Marshall’s column was on the Memphis and Charleston where they met about 50 Union cavalry “half way between Germantown and White’s Station.” 

Burrow succeeded in driving a Federal patrol away, “burning one trestle, tore up the railroad…destroyed…500 yards of telegraph wire; captured one Yankee, one horse and gun, one negro in Yankee uniform at the picket post.”  

Lt. Col. Green added:  “…(Burrow) lost nothing. Officers and men acted bravely and acquitted themselves with honor.”  

Notwithstanding their zeal and dash, Burrow and Marshall’s men failed. Gen. Chalmers wrote: “…owing to the greater distance they had to travel, (they) were not able to damage the road as to prevent the passage of trains…(on the 13th).”

Richardson’s brigade, less the detached battalions, made the 15-mile march to Collierville arriving as early as 9 a.m. Col. Richardson described the town:

“The place was protected by a strong earth work near the railroad depot, which is itself of brick and loop-holed, and by a line of rifle-pits which cover all approaches. East and west of the fort there are open woods…on the east and south of it and not more than 600 yards distant, is a ridge which overlooks it, while upon the north the hill upon which the town stands also overlooks it and the houses afforded a protection from its fire.”

The plan called for the 2d Missouri, 7th and 14th Tennessee regiments to attack from the west; Richardson’s brigade from the east; the artillery was placed in the center on the ridge 600 yards south from the depot, supported by the 18th Miss. battalion; the 3d Miss. state cavalry and 1st Miss. partisan rangers were to attack from the north.

To be continued next week.

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