Brice’s Crossroads is a great battlefield. When I first visited the park had just been expanded from a small one acre parcel preserved likeTupelo into the battlefield we have today. The visitor’s center was very new, I think we were there during its first summer. I know that land has been added since that year but its somewhat hard to tell because the surrounding area is still rural and not a series of strip malls and houses. I’ve been back a few times since then, I think the battle is interesting and the park is nice to visit. Plus its relatively close to Shiloh so its an easy side trip to make.
Forrest achieved a stunning victory. He used the thick woods to his advantage to hide his inferiority in numbers. He was aggressive. And he also benefited from the heat and the incompetence of GeneralSturgis. I recently read Grierson’s memoirs and he says he urgedSturgis many times to not fight there, to fight somewhere to the rear. But Sturgis did not believe there were many Confederates in front of him or that he’d fight them before Tupelo. Once Sturgis did commit his infantry to the fight at Brice’s Crossroads his men had to double time march to the fight and the sweltering heat helped sap their strength. A worn out foe faced a relatively fresh foe.
The lines formed semi circles around the crossroads. When Forrest did break the Union lines they had a small bridge to cross to safety. This choke point quickly became Forrest’s next goal and he quickly gained that. The rout was on. Many Union soldiers were captured and the rest continued to flee back to Memphis. Forrest continued to chase them until his men dropped from their saddles asleep. Forrest was outnumbered more than 2 to 1, about 8500 to 3200. He caused casualties of 2600, which included about 1500 men captured, and lost just under 500. He also captured 16 cannon. Sturgis would never hold an important command in the Civil War again. Rumors that he was intoxicated soon spread but apparently those are untrue. Grierson did say that Sturgis campaigned with a significant supply of alcohol but that he was not drunk that day.
As you travel west from the visitor’s center in Baldwyn you pass several markers that explain the June 10, 1864 battle. Here are the markers in order as you find them coming west.
Looking back towards the crossroads.
[img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vlzUSHFA6P0/SgH-np4Kh3I/AAAAAAAAEp4/5uilnidj79U/s400/scan0038.jpg[/img]Union perspective of the bridge from the high ground.[img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vlzUSHFA6P0/SgH-nYAPx9I/AAAAAAAAEpw/nZsbmJHe4Xg/s400/scan0039.jpg[/img]
Here are the NPS‘ plaques. They are very similar to the ones atTupelo.
I was last there when I went to see the unveiling of the Tennessee state monument at Shiloh. Unknown to us Brice’s Crossroads wasunveiling a new monument around that same time. It ended up being a few days after we left but we did get this photo of the monument. It leaves a lot to the imagination but its the best we could do.