Union soldiers at Parkers Crossroads-re-enactment October 2012
By Mariann Martin - Jackson Sun

A Piece of History - " The Battle of Parkers Crossroads"
By A.J. Morris
Re-enactment 150th Anniversary Commemoration - "The Jackson Sun" November 6, 2014

This is the McPeake Log Cabin which was moved and restored at Parkers Crossroads 2008

Cannon fire and galloping horses will cause the hills of Parkers Crossroads to come alive this weekend at the Battle of Parkers Crossroads, Living History and Military Demonstration. Held every other year at Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Park at Exit 180 off Interstate 40.

Part of the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association's Living Histories series, the demonstration's main focus is to educate people on what life was like for West Tennesseans in the 1860's. What we're trying to do is to educate everyone, men, women and children, on that period in our history," said state Rep. Steve McDaniel, the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association historian. "Our hope is for everyone to have a better understanding of the sacrifices made by the people who lived in those times, especially in the South, where most of the battles were fought and where everyone was affected".

The Battle of Parkers Crossroads was the result of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his raid into West Tennessee.

One of the most prominent leaders of the Civil War, Forrest is known for implementing tactics that were far ahead of the accepted strategies of the time. Standard military doctrine of the day called for direct engagement of enemy forces with vast numbers of troops and a wall of rifle fire. This process, while mostly effective, was cumbersome and sluggish, as generals spent days and weeks simply maneuvering their forces to confront the enemy.

Forrest would be the exception to this rule. Enlisting in the Confederate States Army at the outset of the war, Forrest had only basic military training and the rank of Private before his superior officers recognized his natural leadership abilities and commissioned him as a Lieutenant Colonel.

With no prior military experience and only a rudimentary education on tactics, Forrest learned on the battlefield, adapting and tailoring his strategy after each engagement. So natural was his grasp on strategy that soon Forrest became one of the first leaders to understand the importance of mobility in combat, a concept that would become a central theme of the next century.

Leading a cavalry unit, Forrest quickly came to appreciate the importance of fast movement to stay ahead of enemy forces. Forrest would use his cavalry as later generals would use mechanized infantry, rushing his mounted troops to the battlefield and harassing the enemy with quick raids. So effective was Forrest in implementing this strategy that he became an object of dread for Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

It was this strategy of lightning-fast cavalry movement that led to the Battle of Parkers Crossroads. Having already won the Battle of Shiloh, Gen. Grant was preparing to attack Vicksburg, Miss. In order to stall Grant and buy the Confederate Army more time, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg ordered Forrest to take his cavalry into West Tennessee and raid the supply and communication lines of Grant's Union forces, the website said.

After storming through Lexington and Jackson, Forrest continued his raid all the way to Union City, destroying Union supply depots and railroad bridges along the way. So effective was the raid that only one bridge was left standing in all of West Tennessee, costing the Union Army three months of repairs.

After his raid reached Union City, Forrest began to fall back to avoid being trapped by Union forces, but was cut off outside of Parkers Crossroads. On New Year's Eve, 1862, Union forces engaged Forrest's cavalry in Hick's field, one mile northwest of Parkers Crossroads. Forrest would out-fight and out-flank Union forces, eventually forcing them to negotiate surrender before additional Union forces arrived and surrounded Forrest. Upon learning of his situation, Forrest's command would be to "Charge them both ways!" The order was carried out, disrupting the Union forces enough to allow Forrest to escape. The initial victory of Forrest and the subsequent dramatic escape of Confederate forces through the Union lines will be acted out live during the re-enactment.

For more information see the Parkers Crossroads Website

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