Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet who commanded the Department of East Tennessee ordered his troops to stop Union movements south the French Broad River. On January 26th 1864 Union Brigadier General Samuel D Sturgis positioned his cavalry watching two fords on the river. There was some minor skirmishing between cavalry that day, but nothing decisive.
On the morning of January 27th 1864 Union scouts detected Confederates assembling on the Fair Garden Road. Sturgis ordered an attack. Union Colonel Edward M McCook attacked in a heavy fog and drove Confederate Major General William T Martin’s troopers back. The fighting continued until about 4 pm when the Union men charged with sabers drawn and smashed the Confederates. The Union saw losses of about 100 men. The Confederate Cavalry casualties numbered about 165.