The C i v i l   W a r

The Battle of Lexington, Tennessee
December 10, 1862
Written and Presented by Brandon McPeake October 5, 2013

Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest was ordered to enter West Tennessee and destroy the Mobile and Ohio Railroad that was supplying a large Union Army, located principally in Northern Mississippi from Grand Junction to below Corinth, but strung thinly along the railroad from Corinth to the Mason-Dixon Line, for the purpose of protecting this life line.

Forrest's troops started from Columbia,TN on the 14th, crossing the Tennessee River at Clifton with 2100 soldiers, 7 cannons, supply wagons and 15 valuable scouts, headed by his nephew, Captain Bill Forrest who could steal more horses than any man living, the General said. This crossing was effected on Dec. 17 but not without the knowledge of the enemy. Since federal gun boats were traveling this large stream. There purpose was largely to keep this invasion from the East from happening.

General Forrest camped on the Wiltz Buck place on Cane Creek, just 8 miles east of Lexington. The log house that Mr. Buck lived in is now sitting at Parker's Cross Roads next to the Old Cotton Patch restaurant. On the morning of the 18th, he was up at daylight and on the move. Reaching Shady Hill Road, he divided his forces by half leaving the Clifton road to the right and intersecting the Decaturville road about 1 to 2 miles from Birds Bridge on Beech River here they met there first resistance. This would be the the Old Reed Bottom now owned by John Snider a decendant of John Reed who's house still stands on the property. While this was going on, the commanding general at Jackson (Gen. J.C. Sullivan) had sent Col. Robert G. Ingersol to Lexington with about 500 men, mostly calvary and 2 field pieces. This force was joined by the 2nd. Tenn Calvary, 272 soldiers under Col. Alvin Hawkins from Huntington. It might be of interest that these federal troops, 2nd. Tenn., were enlisted from Henderson and Carroll Counties most of these were the ones that met Gen. Forrest at Birds Bridge.

It was there the Battle of Lexington really began. It might be of interest to note that the commander of this little band of soldiers became Republican Governor of Tennessee, (Col. Alvin Hawkins). A sharp fight took place at the crossing of the river and at every vantage point that the 2nd. Tenn could obtain from there to Lexington. Blood was shed. There is still several soldiers still buried on this road from this small skirmish and long forgotten. The other contingent of the Confederate army that followed Clifton road, planted there artillery on what is known as (River Hill) and immediately began shelling the federal guns on what is known as Jacobs Hill along the ridge where the Second Baptist Church is now located. While this bombardment was proceeding the confederate infantry was steadily creeping across the river valley striking from good natural breast works. Learning that the Confederates in great numbers were on the lower road which is now 412 HWY. Col. Ingersol ordered the guns to fall back with all possible dispatch gaining a new position in a wooded section just a little north of the old shirt factory. Here, the grand army of the Republic made its last stand.

Meanwhile, the 2nd TN was still engaged with the advancing Confederates from the Decaturville road, known now as the 900, but the craftiest of all generals, Forrest, ordered Capt. Frank Gurley and his 4th Alabama troops to surround this hill and advance up the valley between where the Old Rail Road bridge that use to cross over 412 HWY and the Old Scotts Feed Mill Store all of these are now gone. Completely unnoticed until they reached this position, the 2nd TN seeing that they were about to be surrounded mounted there horses and fled down what is main st. and joined the other federals where a sharp engagement was raging. This would be across the road from the now Civic Center/Senior Center. It was here that the 14th Indiana artillerymen, like brave soldiers died by there guns. Not far back from there, behind the Old Post Office Col. Ingersol, that noted lawyer, lecturer, and most effective recruiter, and well known atheist, was captured with 152 soldiers including Major. L.H. Kerr and 72 much needed horses that where promptly put back into service.

It was reported when Col. Ingersol surrendered, he inquired for Gen. Forrest and was told that he would see him soon enough, that he was mad today. That night around the campfire he entertained the Confederates soldiers royally including the Old General himself. He asked where are you going to send me? Libby or Andersonville he was told neither and was handed a parole paper to sign, which recited that he should do the Confederacy no further harm and admonished him to never get captured anymore. He further explained that he could not keep him in fear of taking his men away from him. A large part of the army got away to Jackson and some resisted in the entire campaign.

These are all accounts written by E.D. Deere in 1962 before his passing. These are all acounts from soldiers that lived in our county at the time, when it was written the war had been over for 100 years and now 50 years later the story has been updated with a better understanding as to where the events took place. I, Brandon Keith McPeake am a cousin to Mr. Ebb Deere and have researched and found the places and added them to this story to give you the reader a better idea of the area where it all played out. This is one of those battle's that needed to be brought to light so we all can share in our towns history.

The Battle of Lexington,Tenn Buried Treasure.
By Brandon McPeake
There are hundreds of untold stories about the Civil War; they do not necessarily deal with the thousands of men in uniform. The folks who stayed at home, toiled on the land and tried to exist in a mixed up world faced many hardships at the hands of roving bands of Southerners. Supposedly fighting for the South, they robbed and plundered throughout the South land. In order to protect what they had, the farmers buried their valuables. Legends have it that untold amounts of gold and silver are still hidden in the earth, possibly never to be found. This is one of those storys that ring true its not a legend. It seems December of 1862, troops commanded by Col. Robert G. Ingersol were the area northeast of Lexington, Tenn, as a part of the Federal occupation of West Tennessee. A scout rode in with the disturbing news the dreaded Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry had crossed the Tennessee River and were approaching the area where the troops where stationed. Col. Ingersol had in his possession a strong box containing many hundreds of dollars worth of gold and silver and other valuables. He knew there was no way to escape an encounter with the Confederates and, fearing the valuable box would fall into their hands, he ordered his men to bury it in the wooded place. It was dark and the troops were expecting an attack, so there was no time to mark the spot. When the war ended and the men were allowed to return to there homes. Some of the Illinois troops who had been in Henderson county and had been captured, decided to return and search for the hidden treasure. First two men came. They searched the Battlefield and dug many holes in the wooded area. After searching and found nothing they returned home. A few years later and then more came. They where easily identified as men from the North, as they still wore there blue pants from their Federal uniform. They too searched the woods and fields and found nothing. The Federals buried a heart stopping treasure 150 years ago and know one has been able to locate it but using a good metal detector or GPR could find it. Written by Brandon Keith McPeake. Researcher for the Battle of Lexington,Tenn.

Battle of Lexington

The date was 18 December 1862. This day had begun like most for the weary soldiers, one of marching. Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, cavalry leader under General Jeremiah C. Sullivan was given orders to prevent General Nathan Bedford Forrest from crossing with his troops at the Tennessee River near Clifton TN. Forrest had already forded the river and spent the night at Lexington. Colonel Ingersoll entered Lexington by the Clifton-Decaturville roads and there, near Shady Hill, Forrest charged the Federals; a fierce battle ensued.

Colonel Ingersoll and two Federal soldiers rode into Lexington on First Street, crossing Dr. J.H. Howards office on Purdy Street, and thence to Muse Street. On one side of the latter was a deep gully, in it a goodly number of women and children were crouched, having fled there when the fighting began anticipating a worse battle than actually occurred. A gallant Federal soldier ran into the gully, placed a white handkerchief on the nozzle of his gun, waving it vigorously in the air, thereby preventing bombing on the innocents.

The Federals were being defeated in good order. Colonel Ingersoll ran along the Muse Street gully and went on a long way and took refuge behind a house where he was captured. Then he was marched to the courthouse and later exchanged.

Some of the Negro slaves during this battle fled with the Federals. The old Pafford place served as a hospital for the wounded. One man recalled a dead Federal lying on the floor in that place with a bullet would in his forehead, and a generous amount of blood flowing from the same. One Confederate lieutenant fell during the heat of the battle; he had attempted to take a cannon planted at the Clifton road where it joins with the Decaturville road. This was where the battle had first started.

General Forrest had won the day. After General Sullivan learned what had happened at Lexington he wired headquarters:

Jackson, December 18, 1862 7:10 p.m.
My cavalry was whipped at Lexington today. Colonel Ingersoll taken prisoner and section of artillery captured. The enemy are reported to be from 10,000 to 20,000 and still crossing the river. They are now within 6 miles of my outposts. I will try and find their number by daylight.

Jer. C. Sullivan
Brigadier General

Battle of Lexington

December 18, 1862
Battle of Lexington, Tennessee
Confederate cavalry leader General Nathan Bedford Forrest routs a Union force under the command of Colonel Robert Ingersoll on a raid into western Tennessee, an area held by the Union. With the main Union army in the region occupying northern Mississippi, General Braxton Bragg ordered Forrest to cut the Federal supply lines in Tennessee. Forrest left Columbia, Tennessee, on December 11 and began crossing the Tennessee River on December 13. On December 16, Union General Jeremiah Sullivan dispatched Ingersoll and 200 men from Jackson to Lexington, where Ingersoll picked up 470 reinforcements. Most of the troops were raw recruits with no combat experience. On December 17, Ingersoll's scouts detected more than half of Forrest's 2,500 men approaching Lexington from the south. Ingersoll guessed that Forrest would attack along one of two main roads, Old Stage Road and Lower Road. To impede the Confederate advance, Ingersoll ordered the destruction of a bridge across Beech Creek along Lower Road. He then concentrated the bulk of his force along Old Stage Road. Forrest pulled his force up to Lexington, but did not attack until December 18.

In the morning, Forrest advanced along Lower Road. Ingersoll's scouts had failed to eliminate the bridge the day before, leaving the Confederates a clear path towards the smaller part of Ingersoll's command. The Yankees swung around to stop the attack, but it was too late. Forrest's troops overwhelmed the panicked Federals and captured 147 men, including Ingersoll. The rest of the Union force scattered into the countryside. Forrest also captured two artillery pieces, 70 horses, many rifles, and supplies. Forrest continued to Jackson, but found the city well defended. He continued his raid into Kentucky, destroying bridges and hampering supplies to the Union armies in Mississippi.

Battle of Lexington Civil War Marker
Unveiled Thursday December 18, 2008 at Civic Center
The unveiling of a historical marker commemorating the Battle of Lexington will be held Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 2 p.m. at the Lexington Civic Center. The marker identifying the Battle of Lexington is part of the Tennessee's Civil War Trails program, sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Representatives from Nashville will attend. The City of Lexington was very fortunate to receive a grant from th State of Tennessee to historically mark this epic battle," said Mayor Bobby Dyer. The Historical marker unveiling on December 18 marks the 146th anniversary to the day, of the Battle of Lexington.

Their will be a brief ceremony at the unveiling led by John Casselberry, Lexington alderman and Civil buff who was instrumental in obtaining the marker. The ceremony will include a Civil War cannon firing. Permanent directional Civil War Trail signs pointing to the location of the marker will be placed on South Broad Street and at Madison and Lewis Streets. More than 700 Civil War Sites in multiple states are marked on the Civil War Trails program. Further development of the Civil War Trails program is funded in West Virginia and Tennessee with plans for an additional 300 sites in those two states.

The Battle of Lexington occurred during a Confederate raid into West Tennessee, led by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, between Dec. 11, 1862 and Jan. 1, 1863. Forrest wished to disrupt the rail line of the Mobile & Ohio which ran through Jackson, Tennessee and south to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Forrest, with a 2,100 man cavalry brigade crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton into West Tennessee. On December 17, Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan dispatched 800 cavalrymen from Jackson under the command of Col. Robert G. Ingersoll to Lexington to impede Confederate forces. Around none, Union forces confronted rebel pickets on the Lower Road and withdrew to a bridge that crossed Beech Creek five miles southeast of Lexington. After securing the bridge and picketing the road, Col. Ingersoll retreated to within one-half mile of Lexington as night fell.

On the morning of Dec. 18, Federal forces advanced and came in contact with Confederates led by Com. James W. Starnes on the Old Stage Road and Capt. Frank B. Gurley on the Lower Road. Furious fighting led by Capt. Frank Gurley regiments crushed Federal defenses and forced them to retreat to Lexington where Ingersoll would make his last stand and surrender. Union casualties consisted of 11 killed, 124 captured and 147 missing, while Confederate casualties were three dead and five wounded. Col. Ingersoll was captured and paroled three days later only after learning the finer points of draw poker from his congenial Confederate captors. He lost his money as well as some $50.00 staked to him by a Confederate soldier which Ingersoll would repay some 30 years later after reading about the story in a Chicago newspaper.
From the Lexington Progress 17 December 2008

Battle of Parkers Cross Roads

Perhaps one of the most controversial military engagements held in West Tennessee was on the rolling farm lands at Parkers Cross Road in Henderson County, located about eight miles north of Lexington TN.

The 122nd IL Infantry arrived at Huntingdon, Carroll County, TN in the evening of 29 Dec. 1862. This group rode into Clarksburg bout noon of the next day. The Federals under Dunnovan advanced on to Parkers Cross Roads.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest had traveled around north of Huntingdon, into McLemoresville during the night of the 29th and for two days rested and then marched on to Parkers Cross Roads. Early in the morning of 1 January 1863, Gen. Forest and his forces were enjoying breakfast on the wooded lots of the Hiram Britt farm. Everyone seemed to be enjoying those precious morsels of food when about 8:30 the sentinel fired a shot from a hill situated near the Britt dwelling. Up the soldiers went, grabbed their guns, and hastened to the line of battle, north of Hicks field. The Federals under Dunnovan lined up south of Britts dwelling and toward the Trenton road. In a short time the cannon were thundering on both sides, balls ripping through ranks of men leaving them mangled and dead. The smaller arms were being constantly used and at times all that could be seen were the colored streaks made by bullets. About eleven the 39th IA Inf. halted at the battle, being among the reinforcements, situated themselves behind a fence. Twelve pieces of Confederate artillery and a battery of about 6 guns oon their right dashed them with fire. They misunderstood their orders and retreated but Col. H.J.B. Cummings ordered them to a halt. They stood their ground, then, and fought with their fellows, to the ultimate defeat of the Confederates. Forrest fought bitterly, causing the Federals to give at strategic positions. Some of the Federals were corned at Doctor Parker's house and had just begun to stack arms when Sullivans reinforcements were seen in the distance, coming at full charge. Forrest could not cope with fresh Federal troops, the days was almost spent (for prolonged battle purposes), about the hour of three, so he ordered retreat. Although in later years General Sullivan did not talk much about this battle he wired his commander, General Grant, in a burst of enthusiasm soon after the engagement; "We have achieved a glorious victory." Considering the entire battle it was hardly a "glorious victory," but the Federals did take about 400 prisoners, over 500 horses, six heavy guns, plus small arms, weapons and teams. The Confederates suffered a genuine loss, the death of Colonel Napier, one of Forrest's aides-de-camp. Captain John Rinaker, C.S.A. was slightly wounded.

Federal Losses at Parkers Cross Roads
11th IL Cav. 1 enlisted killed, 1 wounded, 1 officer & 3 enlisted missing.
18th IL Cav. 5 missing
122nd IL Inf 1 Officer/15 enlisted killed, 2 officers/48 enlisted wounded 15 enlisted missing
50th IN Inf. 1 Officer, 3 enlisted killed, 39 enlisted wounded, 2 officer & 16 enlisted missing
39th IA Inf. 3 enlisted killed, 4 officer & 29 enlisted wounded and 14 enlisted missing
27th OH Inf. 2 enlisted wounded
39th OH Inf. 0 killed, wounded or missing
63rd OH Inf. 0 killed, wounded or missing
7th Wisc. Battery 3 enlisted killed, 1 officer & 7 enlisted wounded, 12 enlisted missing

Why this battle, so hard fought and bloody has been so lightly treated in annals dealing with military engagements in the Western Department is simple in explanation. One reason being that General Forrest and his men did not like to concede defeat, Federal officer, Dunnovan, wa beaten by his foes all day and did not like to admit this, and Colonel Sullivan, despite his exuburant declaration to Gen. Grant, was not "on the spot" when he should have been.

There has remained a human interest story concerning this battle and it is worth relating. The plantation of Peter Pearson, a prominent Henderson Countian, was located only a short distance from the scene of the battle. People in the neighborhood ran for cover when the battle began, but there were three adventurous boys out to look upon a battle, tow of them were little Negro slaves, one of them was peter Pearson's son, John called "X". These boys perched themselves in a position where they could view the conflict. Very soon they had a tast of the battle. In the distance an officer saw the boys through a pair of binoculars and perhaps thinking them spies, ordered that they be fired upon. Chubby "X" and his two Negro companions ran as fast as they could away from the scene, with bullets peppering all about them. Fortunately they arrived safely home. And, to add insult to injury, at dusk as the Federals were marching past the Pearson house, thirteen year old "X" Pearson had to draw water for the thirsty "Yankees." It was a day he never forgot.

Battle of Beech Creek

From the Book - "Some Encounters with General Forest" by H.K. Smith (1959?)

Horses hoofs sounded along the dusty roads as Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll of the 11th IL Cavalry, (Federal Army) left Jackson (Madison County) TN. It was the evening of 16 December 1862. Along with Colonel Ingersoll rode a section of Captain Kidd's 14th IN Battery, led by Lt. McGuire; 200 of the 11th IL Cav, who were led by Lt. Col. Meek.

This group having traveled 28 miles arrived next at Lexington an there were joined by Col. Isaac R. Hawkins of the 2nd W. TN, with 272 men.

At noon, these combined forces marched to Beech Creek, about 5 miles east of Lexington. Halting at this place Ingersoll sent Capt. Burbridge forward with one company to obatin information and locate, if possible, the person of Capt. O'Harn who had been sent from Jackson into this area about four days before.

The sun was beginning to lose its radiance when sometime after five in the evening the Federal troops forged and spotted upon investigation, Confederate pickets. Capt. Burbridge was ordered back, slowly to Beech Creek. By then it was dark, and Col. Ingersoll ordered LT. Fox of the 2nd W. TN to destroy the bridge that spanned the creek, and to picket the road. This was one mile from Lexington. Luckily for the Fedreals 200 soldiers of the 5th OH under an Adjutant arrived on the scene. Lucky in the sense of increased numbers, unlucky in that these young men were raw recruits, many having never undergone the rigors of battle or even a thorough military drill.

There were two roads leading into Lexington, the stage road and one simply called the "lower" road. Lt. Fox destroyed the stage road bridge but left the one on the lower route. Along the pickets men sang, slept, and waited for the morning of the 18th which came after so long a time. About daylight Maj. Funke of the 11th IL advanced along the stage road. Major Funke met the enemy after about 4 miles and fought hard, the Federals placing two cannon at the crossing of the creek and Lt. McGuire commanding them opened fire on the Confederates. Both sides suffered dearly.

Col. Ingersoll left Major Kerr and Captain Woods of the 5th OH to protect the stage crossing. The Confederates were pressing their enemies in stubborn fashion at the lower road bridge. The position was eventually taken by Col. Ingersoll who sent Captain Hays of the 2nd W. TN into the Hardest fighting; the forlorn Captain and his men came back to Col. Ingersol in route. Capt. Burbridge advanced, drove the Confederates back and then the Federals had to surrender some of their conquered territory. The "Rebs" were closing in on the left and righ flanks and in desperation Col. Ingersoll tried to send forth the 2nd W. TN but they to were repelled. The Federals rallied three times, the brave Lt. McGuire shouting orders, rusing into the thick of the skirmish, displaying himself in a soldierly manner. At the third assault the Confederates broke the Federals. There were about 5000 of the Confederate troops, the soldiers of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Col. Ingersoll was captured, released later; the command fell to Col. Meek of the 11th IL. The Confederates took 124 prisoners. The IL Cavalry group lost LT. Slater and LT. Wagner with seven men killed, nine wounded, fifty-one taken prisoners. The 5th OH surrendered 51 men, and the 2nd W. TN 15, while their compatriots of the 14th IN battery lost two men killed, two wounded and 29 prisoners with their leaders, Major Kerr, Capt. Sheppard and Lt. Cornell.

Two days latter followed the Battle of Lexington.