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Tom Leatherwood
 
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Battle of Collierville

On Sunday October 11, 1863, the Confederate forces of Brigadier General James R. Chalmers, consisting of the 7th, 12th, 13th, and 14th Tennessee Cavalry, the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 12th and 18th Mississippi Cavalry and the 2nd Missouri Cavalry, along with the Buckner Battery attacked the Union garrison at Collierville. Union forces commanded by Colonel D.C. Anthony of the 66th Indiana infantry defended the garrison from a 15-acre fort with 8-foot high earthwork walls surrounded by a ditch and by a line of rifle-pits. General Chalmers' plan was to approach from Mt. Pleasant and Sycamore roads, cut the telegraph lines, burn the railroad trestles and surround the fort. The 7th and 13th Tennessee and 2nd Missouri Cavalries were to attack from the west, while Colonel Richardson's brigade consisting of the 12th, 13th, and 14th Tennessee and the 12th Mississippi Cavalry attacked from the east. The artillery, supported by the 18th Mississippi Battalion, was placed on a ridge in the center within 600 yards of the fort and depot. Colonel McGuirk's 3rd Mississippi Cavalry and 1st Mississippi Partisans were sent to attack the fort from the north and gain possession of the town. Colonel Anthony sent companies I and G, 200 yards to the south and parallel with the railroad and left Companies B and C in the rifle-pits protecting the rear of the Union fort. Company D and E were placed northwest of and perpendicular to the railroad to guard against a flanking move. At about 12 noon, a train containing Major General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived from Memphis with the 13th U.S. Infantry, which brought the total number of men fighting in the battle to about 4,000. The 13th was ordered left of the 66th Indiana into the woods. Moving north, Colonel McGuirk's command came upon a 40 acre Union cavalry camp at Fletcher Road and Lancelot. After routing the 7th Illinois Cavalry into the Wolf River bottoms and capturing 105 prisoners and 5 stand of colors, McGuirk's men loaded 18 wagons of supplies and destroyed an additional 30 wagons. Because of this delay, Colonel McGuirk was unable to attack the fort from the north as planned. The battle raged around the fort and depot, and eventually the Confederates drove all the Union forces into the fort, the depot or railroad cuts for protection. Neither side was able to gain control of the battle. Fearing reinforcements from Germantown, the Confederates withdrew without taking the fort. The battle lasted 5 hours. Union losses were 164 killed, wounded or missing and Confederate losses were 128 killed, wounded or missing. General Sherman narrowly escaped capture and went on to implement his plan to wage total war against the citizens of the South with his "scorched earth warfare." The Union dead were buried in what is now the parking lot of the old Baptist church but later were removed to the National Cemetery in Memphis. One Confederate unknown soldier is buried in Magnolia Cemetery.