War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0132 KY., SW. VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N. GA. Chapter LI.

Search Civil War Official Records

The battle of Brice's Cross- Roads.

At 9. 455 a. m. we reached Brice's Cross- Roads, about six miles WEST of Baldwyn Station, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Here we saw the deeply marked trail of a considerable force of the enemy, and we learned that Forrest and Lee, with their whole command, had passed there during the preceding two or three days, and gone to Baldwyn; also that the cars had been running to Baldwyn quite frequently. Everything indicated that the enemy's forces had concentrated at Baldwyn. By order of the general commanding I sent out a squadron of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry, under Captain Hanson, to patrol the road, and very soon received information that they were skirmishing with quite a strong picket of the enemy. I took the Ninth and THIRD Illinois and Second new Jersey, and a section of howitzers, and went to the support of Captain Hanson, leaving a staff officer to form the remainder of my brigade in line of battle in the edge of a close thicket half a mile east of the cross- roads, facing an open field. My advance had little other good effect than that of affording an opportunity to study the character of the ground. We were immediately met by a strong advance of he enemy and were compelled to fall back to our line of battle. The disposition of my command was as follows: On the road wee placed the fur mountain howitzers of the Fourth Missouri Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Graessle, with the regiment in line, under command of Lieutenant- Colonel von Helmrich, on the left. On the left of the Fourth Missouri was stationed a squadron of the Seventh Indiana Cavalry, under Captain More. On the right of the battery were two battalions of the Seventh Indiana Cavalry, under Lieutenant- Colonel Browne, with the remainder of the regiment as a reserve. The Second New Jersey Cavalry, under Lieutenant- Colonel Kitchen, was in reserve in position to re- enforce the right wing should it be endangered. The Ninth and THIRD Illinois Cavalry, under Captain Mock, were sent to the front of the battery (on lower ground), and placed as skirmishers behind logs and trees. My entire force was dismounted, as the character of the ground would not admit of cavalry movements. This disposition was barely made when the enemy advanced in strong force from the woods opposite to us, and a heavy engagement ensued, which resulted in their repulse. Subsequently they made two other desperate attempts to take our position, one on the left and one on the right of the road. These attacks were exceedingly fierce, each consisting of a double line of skirmishers with an infantry line of battle, and a column of support behind, apparently numbering 4,000 men. The first of these assaults was repulsed; the second one, after a hand- to- hand fight, was successful, and forced back my right, although the whole Second New Jersey and reserve of the Seventh Indiana were brought into action. This was at 2. 20 p. m. (the Second Brigade had gone into position somewhat to my right, facing south at 12 m., and had been more or less heavily engaged since that time). After falling back a short distance I succeeded in forming a second line, which was held until the infantry came up and relieved my command, which was much fatigued and out of ammunition. We then fell back a quarter of a mile on the Ripley road (toward the north), and took position in an open field, from which the men were again dismounted, and sent to hold the left flank, which they succeeded in doing. At 4. 30 p. m. our entire force being engage, and the enemy evidently outnumbering us very heavily, the order was given to fall back. By order of the general commanding I formed a line between the enemy and our wagon