Early in November 1863, Union Gen. William T. Sherman was moving east to relieve the Union army at Chattanooga. Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston ordered Gen. James H. Chalmers to "harass [Sherman's] rear and break the railroad behind him." Chalmers decided to make a demonstration either at Collierville or Germantown, five miles west of here, to distract Federal cavalry and allow Col. Robert V. Richardson's brigade to destroy track between La Grange and Corinth.
When Chalmer's scouts reported that only one Union regiment defended the Memphis and Charleston Railroad at Collierville, he decided to attack the garrison and approached from the south on November 3. The garrison, however, was larger and better armed than the scouts reported. Union Col. Edward Hatch's cavalry brigade posted at Collierville and Germantown was supported by artillery. At least one unit--the 2nd Iowa Cavalry--was armed with Colt revolving rifles, giving it superior firepower. When Hatch learned of the Confederate advance, he telegraphed Collierville's defenders and then rode quickly from Germantown with reinforcements. He struck the Confederates on the flanks shortly after Chalmers began his attack. When Chalmers counterattacked on one flank, the 2nd Iowa Cavalry used its revolving rifles with deadly effect. Chalmers then ordered a retreat, and Hatch pursued the Confederates eight miles to the Coldwater River in Mississippi. The Memphis and Charleston Railroad remained open to Tuscumbia, Alabama, for Union troop movements.