Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Running Eleven Mile Fight

The Battle of Okolona was fought February 22nd 1864 in Chickasaw County, Mississippi.

Union General William Sooy Smith left Memphis, Tennessee with about 7,000 men to connect with the Union army stationed at Meridian, Mississippi under the command of Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman. Meridian was a railroad center. After delaying his march by ten days Smith ran into Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest’s cavalry on February 21st 1864. A fight between the two forces began on the prairie south of Okolona, on February 22nd 1864. The Union troops constructed barriers around their positions. Forest made frontal and flanking attacks, cutting gaps in the Union line. When Forest received reinforcements the Union troops were routed with five cannons being left behind. Union forces made a stand on a ridge, bringing on a series of attacks, at which time Forest’s brother Jeffrey Forest was shot and killed. Smith’s Union soldiers began a running fight of eleven miles.

Forest ordered an end to the pursuit because he was running low on ammunition. Smith’s soldiers escaped over the state line back into Tennessee at Collierville on February 26th 1864, where he was criticized for screwing up Sherman’s Meridian Expedition. Smith resigned from the army and returned to his civilian life. There were about a 150 casualties, about 100 for the Union and 50 for the Confederates.

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