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Mossy Creek (1863)
 
War:   American Civil War
 
Date(s):   29 Dec 1863
 
Location:   Jefferson County, Tennessee, US
 
Outcome:   Union victory
 
Description:   Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis, USA
Maj. Gen. William T. Martin, CSA

The Union cavalry corps was supported by an infantry brigade, while the Confederate cavalry from Longstreet’s forces may have had some infantry support.

Union losses were about 150, while Confederate casualties are unknown.

Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis received a report on the night of December 28, 1863, that a brigade of enemy cavalry was in the neighborhood of Dandridge that afternoon. He assumed this meant the Rebel cavalry force was split, so he decided to meet and defeat, and possibly capture, the advanced element.

So he ordered most of his troopers out toward Dandridge along two roads. But his information was already out of date. Maj. Gen. William T. Martin, Longstreet’s cavalry commander, had concentrated his men for an attack. Soon after the Union troopers had left Martin attacked the remainder of Sturgis’s force (supported by an infantry brigade under Col. Samuel R. Mott) at Mossy Creek.

The fighting began at 9am. Sturgis’s first move was to recall his subordinates en route to Dandridge, telling them to return promptly if they found no enemy there. Meanwhile, the Confederate cavalry was driving the Federals in front of them, although Union cohesion was never lost and it never became a rout. Eventually some of the detached Union troopers returned, and in mid-afternoon fortunes changed as the Federals began driving the Confederates. By dark, the Rebels were back where they had started.

Sturgis couldn’t organize a pursuit that night, but Martin retreated anyway. After the victory at Mossy Creek, the Union held the line about Talbott’s Station for some time.


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Selected sources:
American Battlefield Protection Program, Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service.



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