Battle of Parker's Cross Roads
Trail along Parker's Crossroads Battlefield
Parker's Crossroads Visitor Center
Map depicting movements during the battle and land preserved for the battlefield
Artist John Paul Strain's painting of Forrest at Parker's Cross Roads
Colonel Cyrus Dunham
Colonel John Fuller
General Nathan Bedford Forrest
Soldiers reenact the battle
A cannon on the battlefield
Terry James's depiction of the battle, entitled, "Charge 'em both way!"
Backstory and Context
Fighting began around 9am on December 31 as Forrest's dismounted cavalrymen attacked forces under Colonel Dunham head on, with a flanking force on its way to Dunham. This action began to go Forrest's way when his artillery pushed Dunham's forces back until Confederate forces discovered firing taking place behind them--men under Fuller attacking the Confederate rear. Although he found himself about to be surrounded, Forrest demanded that Dunham surrender. Dunham refused.
Attacked from both sides, Forrest was said to have cried, "Charge 'em both way!" Whether he truly said that or not, such a tactic did take place. His forces first attacked Fuller's men before during on Dunham's men, a force exhausted from the day's fighting. This double charge pushed both Union forces away from Forrest, which allowed him to flee south, towards Lexington, TN, the same place he had captured a couple weeks before.
Having stopped Forrest before he reached the Tennessee River and away to a secure location (along with 300 prisoners), Union forces claimed victory. At the same time, Forrest declared victory be he was able to drive off a superior enemy and avoid capture. However, claim of victory would go to the Confederates since Forrest would still cross over the Tennessee just a few days after the battle. His able to cross and harass Union forces in western Tennessee, along with the actions of another Confederate Cavalry General, Earl Van Dorn near the Mississippi River, Union General, Ulysses S. Grant was forced to abandon his designs for Vicksburg for another time.
Since the 1960s, once a highway came to and through Parker's Crossroads, efforts went underway to preserve the battlefield, which had been seen as way to boost tourism into the area. Between and 2011, Civil War Trust, a preservation and interpretation group, and the local Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Association, were able to preserve 350 acres. Since 2011, key 52 additional acres were preserved. This was deemed "key," because on those 52 acres the Confederate artillery had been located. Visitors can tour both the battlefield and visit the newly constructed visitor center.