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Ltr #60 Tupelo Battle, by H. B. Talbert

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  • Jack Hultquist
    [The following is from Harrison B. Talbert s CIVIL WAR DIARY. The march to Tupelo and the Battle. Captain Cockefair and the furloughed veterans were not
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2003
      [The following is from
      Harrison B. Talbert's
      The march to Tupelo
      and the Battle.
      Captain Cockefair and the furloughed veterans were not present for the fight against Forrest at Tupelo.  This left Lt. Burns in command and short of experienced artillerymen.]

      Tuesday   June 21rst 1864 Camp Memphis, Tenn.  Cloudy & rains off & on all day, preparing for march [to Tupelo].


      Thursday   June 23rd 1864   Received marching orders; leave 8 A.M., march 9 miles.  Camp at Whites Station on the R. R. [railroad] leading to Corinth Miss.  The infantry gets aboard the [railroad] cars.  Warm day, rains a little.


      Friday   June 24th 1864   March 28 miles.  Pass through the town of Germantown & Coliersville, [Tenn.].  Very Hot day.  In evening rains one shower.


      Saturday   June 25th 1864   March 3 miles & camp on Wolf River near Moscow [Tenn.]; here we join our brigade & division repairing R. R. as fast as possible. Very warm day.



      Sunday   June 26th 1864   Camp near Moscow on Wolf River Tenn.   Review of 3rd Division.   Very hot day. Repairing R. R. bridge across Wolf River.


      Monday   June 27th 1864   March 10 miles Camp near LaGrange Tenn. [Railroad] cars arrive before we get into camp.  Very hot day.  A great many men were sun struck and several died from the effects.


      Thursday   June 30th 1864   Camp near La Grange on Wolf River Tenn.   Muster [assemble] for pay.  Clear & hot.


      Saturday   July 2ond 1864   Camp near La Grange on Wolf River Tenn.  A.M. nice breeze.  P.M. rains nice shower.  Frank Talbert is sent to hospital, Memphis Tenn.



      Monday   July 4th 1864   Camp near LaGrange Tenn. Clear and warm, nothing uncommon going on [in] camp.  A national [4th of July] salute fired at the meridian of the sun.

      [On Tuesday  July 5, 1864, Union cavalry moved out of La Grange, Tennessee and headed for northern Mississippi. They were attempting to bring Forrest to bay before he could do serious damage to Sherman’s lengthening supply line.]

      Tuesday   July 5th 1864   Very pleasant day.  4 P.M. resume our march S.E., march 4 miles, dry weather, [rain] shower in afternoon.


      Wednesday   July 6th 1864   March 12 miles, camp early in P.M., very hot day, and a great many straglers.


      Thursday   July 7th 1864   Revielle at 2 A.M.  March near 12 miles over broken country, direction S.E.  Timber intermixed, oak & pine.  Advance [troops] skirmish over this ground.  Country thinly settled and the few houses nearly all deserted.


      Friday   July 8th 1864   March near 10 miles.  Slight skirmishing in front12M [morning/noon] pass through the town of Ripley Miss.  Very hot day, country broken.


      Saturday   July 9th 1864   March 13 miles 2nd Brigade 3rd Div. in advance.  Camp 12M [noon] at New Albany on Tallehassee River.  Continues very warm, this evening rains a nice shower.



      Sunday   July 10th 1864   On this march it has been the general rule to have revielle at 2 A.M. & the advance moves out at 4 A.M.  March near 10 miles direction S.E. on the Pontatoach Road.  Very hot day.


      Monday   July 11th 1864   Arrive at Pontotoc 12M [noon].  Considerable skirmishing in entering town. Drove some 4000 away and camped upon their ground close to town.  March 7 miles, very warm, P.M. rains very hard.


      Tuesday   July 12th 1864   Camp Pontotoc Miss. Clear & very warm day.  Cavalry advanced 3 miles and find the enemy posted behind breastworks.  They [Union] fall back to Pontotoc.


      [July 13, 1864 Harrison had only 29 days of service remaining before he could head north for home.


      Wednesday July 13, 1864, The Confederates moved to the attack, and made harassing forays against Smith during the day.  Late in the day Smith's Union force of some 14,000 arrived at Harrisburg, Mississippi, a mile or so west of Tupelo, and took up a strong position on a low, open ridge.]



      Wednesday   July 13th 1864   Our Div. & Brigade in advance early move out on the Tupulo RoadSlight skirmishing in front.  March 20 m[iles].  Bivouac near Tupulo.  Pretty hard fighting in the rear.  Rebs attack the train and are twice handsomely repulsed with considerable loss.  Today I seen ripe peaches, water melons, & roasten ears.  A.M. cloudy, P.M. clear & hot.



      [July 14, 1864 BATTLE OF TUPELO or Harrisburg, Mississippi.  On July 14th, Harrison was in great danger when he wrote, "Rebs advance in line and appear bent upon destruction, or our defeat"]



      Thursday   July 14th 1864   Early in morning our line is formed in the shape of a Horse Shoe.  Skirmishing commences early in day.  8 A.M. Rebs advance in line and appear bent upon destruction, or our defeat: but They are repulsed with heavy loss after near 3 h [hour] hard fighting.  Our Battery was in front & had one Gun dismounted and a second disabled [6 pounder James rifles].  Lay Bivouaced with lines unchanged.  9 P.M. attack our left but are handsomely repulsed.  Clear & hot.



      [Below is part of Second Brigade Commander Colonel James Gilbert’s report about the July 14th Tupelo battle.  Official Records, Volume 39, Part 1.

      "..... The officers and men throughout the entire command conducted themselves in a highly creditable manner.  I desire especially to mention the excellent service of the Third Indiana Battery. Lieutenant Burns with his command, consisting of four guns (two 12-pounder Napoleons and two 6-pounder James rifled), were posted in front of the First Brigade, Third Division.  About 6 o’clock in the morning, when the enemy first appeared in heavy force, the battery shelled them with much effect.  Soon afterward one gun, a 6-pounder James rifled, under charge of Lieutenant Philip McPherson, was ordered into position upon the right of the First Brigade.  The enemy now advanced in strong force and charged our lines in that part of the field, when all four pieces from the battery opened upon them with great rapidity, and as the field proves, with telling effect. Lieutenant McPherson was seriously wounded whilst performing his duty at his post.  Lieutenant Burns, commanding the battery, cannot receive too much praise for his good conduct on the field. ...."]


      [Then on the next day, July 15, 1864, the Union Army of A. J. Smith stood its ground at Tupelo until afternoon when it began a move back to LaGrange and then Memphis, Tenn.  The announced reason for the slow retreat was low supplies.  The Tupelo battle was hailed a Union victory.  Union and Confederate killed or wounded were about 2,000.  The withdrawing Union troops did keep Forrest occupied and thus protected the Nashville to Chattanooga lines of Sherman's Georgia forces.]



      Friday   July 15th 1864   Lay in line of Battle until 8 A.M. Giving the Enemy a chance to attack but they will not, then we move out on the New Albany road on our return to Lagrange.  The rear is again attacked, but the Enemy are handsomely repulsed.   6 P.M. They Shell our Camp and another fight & a drubbing for the Rebs is the consequence.  March 5 miles.  Clear & hot. Yes; our Gun is Detached to the 10th Mo" Batter[y].


      Saturday   July 16th 1864   The advance moves out at 2 A.M.  Our Brigade & Division in rear, march 13 mile[s and] camp on Isle Creek.  Considerable skirmishing in our rear but nothing more.  Clear & hot.  No forage for horse or man & not more than 1/5 rations issued to us.



      [Available to the first 100 e-mail respondents who include their mailing address.  FREE CD that includes a quality scanned copy of each letter in Harrison B. Talbert's collection plus enlightening historical data and CW memorabilia graphics.  If you use Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator and enjoyed any portion of these letters, you will enjoy the CD.  Send request and mailing address to jahultqu@...


      A couple nice comments


      I really like the way you have laid things out, and the delicate touch your editing approach provides.  I have read many published and unpublished diary and letter transcriptions, but your inclusion of photos of the original letters is a great addition. (message # 14299)


      I received the CD today.  It is wonderful.  I cannot quit looking at it.  You have done a great job in putting everything together.
      Please excuse the extended delay in sending you a heartfelt thank you for the Civil War Letters CD you sent me much earlier this year.  I hadn't really had time to look at it in depth before some much needed time off for the holidays recently.  The CD is simply wonderful!!  I enjoyed spending time reading from it immensely.
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