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Tom Leatherwood
 
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Original Depot in Collierville

The first railroad depot in Collierville was located in this vicinity adjacent to the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. A letter was discovered in the Mississippi Library Department of Archives and Special Collections regarding the completion of the original depot. It was written in 1854, from Collierville by a man representing the railroad. He was giving notice that the windows and doors must be shipped in as contracted so they could be installed in the depot. When completed, the depot was to be used by people traveling, to transport mail, and move goods and services for farmers, merchants, and citizens. However, by 1865, the Collierville depot had been destroyed. It was one of a multitude of places that would be changed by the events of the Civil War. After the fall of Memphis to Union forces in 1862, the railroad was securely held by the Union Army as an east and west supply line. During the Union Army's occupation of Collierville, the Depot was described from officer's reports and documents as being a small brick building with a telegraph and used for storage. It was a witness to many trains transporting troops and supplies during the war and the struggles to keep the rails under Union occupation. During the Battle of Collierville on October 11, 1863, the depot played an important part of the largest land battle in Shelby County. The telegraph operator came out of the depot with gun-in-hand signaling General Sherman's east bound train to stop. He warned them of the three thousand or more Confederate cavalrymen led by General James R. Chalmers preparing an attack on Collierville from the south. The train was then stopped just past the RR cut in the hill east of Mt. Pleasant Road, where General Sherman's 13th US Federal Regulars disembarked from the train and positioned themselves along the railroad cut and Mt. Pleasant Road. Then the train backed up until the rear cars were past the deport enabling Sherman and his men to enter the Union earthen fort located approximately three hundred yards northeast of the depot. A four to five hour battle ensued and the depot was utilized for covered shooting by the Union Forces comprise of no more than 500 men of the 66th Indiana and Sherman's 13th Regulars combined. A few civilians sought cover from the battle under the floor of the depot. The telegraph operator then was able to telegraph Union troops in Germantown before the telegraph lines were cut. Their arrival ended the five hour battle and Chalmers retreated back to Mississippi.