Ltr #60 Tupelo Battle, by H. B. Talbert
- [The following is fromHarrison B. Talbert'sCIVIL WAR DIARY.The march to Tupeloand 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 front. 12M [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 Road. Slight 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.
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