Also known as the Battle of Hatchie's Bridge and the Battle of Matamora, this conflict was the final battle between Union and Confederate forces during the Iuka-Corinth Campaign of 1862. The Union needed to capture the towns of Iuka and Corinth in order to control the vital Memphis & Charleston Railroad and the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. Controlling these would cut off western Confederate forces to their eastern and more southern counterparts, while allowing the Union greater access to the western and southern theaters of the war. After a brief siege around Corinth during October 3-4 ended in Union victory, Confederate forces fled west and were chased, being forced to fight at Davis Bridge on October 5th. The Confederates lost again but avoided complete destruction or capture. This battlefield is part of the Shiloh-Corinth Battlefield Park, where more can be learned and seen about Davis Bridge at the Corinth Interpretive Center just south into Mississippi. This location is where an older marker of the battlefield was erected.
After capturing Iuka, MS in the fall of 1862, Union General U.S. Grant, in command of battle operations in the western theater of the Civil War, ordered Major General William Rosecrans to take the Army of the Mississippi to capture the Mississippi railroad hub of Corinth. This hub connected the Memphis & Charleston and the Mobile & Ohio railroads. These railroads connected the Confederacy from all directions. Not only would control of the railroads cutoff and divide the Confederacy, they would provide the Union with quicker means of transporting forces deeper into the Confederacy and to help in the capture of the Mississippi River. Rosecrans arrived in Corinth on October 3rd. The Second Battle for Corinth would begin (The first battle was fought in April and May of 1862. Really a siege, Union forces were able to overcome Confederate defenses, only to lose control of the city shortly afterwards). Facing Roseceans and his army 23,000 were 22,000 Confederates led by Major Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price. Both Confederate generals dug in.
For the next two days heavy fight occurred all around the town, with Union forces making charge after charge. Union forces prevailed, but Van Dorn, Price and thousands were able to retreat and flee capture. Rosecrans sent a force of a few thousand to capture those Confederate forces. At Corinth, loses were 2,520 Union, 4,233 Confederate.
Van Dorn rested in the Davis Bridge area, which lies just north of the MS/TN border, only to find Union forces upon him on October 5th. Union forces were elements of the Army of the Tennessee (attached to the Union Army of the Mississippi) led by Major Generals Edward Ord and Stephan Hulburt. This force attacked first the men under CSA General Sterling Price. During the fighting, Ord was wounded in the ankle and Hulburt took overall command. At this time, men under Van Dorn found another escape route through the Hatchie River. Union loses were about 500, with the Confederates losing about 400.
Van Dorn was able to lead the rest of his men across the Hatchie and into Holly Springs, MS. Even with this daring accomplishment, Confederate leaders and citizens were appalled not just at losing the railroads but for the dead it cost to lose them. Van Dorn lost command of his forces (though given a smaller command) and was accused of being recklessly drunk during the fighting at Corinth. He was replaced by CSA General John C. Pemberton (who would later surrender Vicksburg) and then ordered a court of inquiry into the charges of being drunk on duty; he was exonerated but reputation was sullied. Rosecrans was reprimanded for failing to capture or destroy all of Van Dorn's men.
Thus was the final battle of the Iuke-Corinth Campaign. A huge success for the Union, it is now part of the Shiloh-Corinth Battlefield Park run by the NPS. More can be learned about this particular battle at the Corinth Interpretative Center in Corinth, MS.
Cozzens, Peter. The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997
Korn, Jerry, and the Editors of Time-Life Books. War on the Mississippi: Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1985.
Lamers, William M. The Edge of Glory: A Biography of General William S. Rosecrans, U.S.A. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1961
Woodworth, Steven E.. Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861–1865. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.
Ballard, Michael B. Civil War Mississippi: A Guide. Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2000.
Carter, Arthur B. The Tarnished Cavalier: Major General Earl Van Dorn, C.S.A. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999.
Castel, Albert (1993) [1st pub. 1968]. General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (Louisiana pbk. ed.). Baton Rouge; London: Louisiana State University Press.
Dossman, Steven Nathaniel. Campaign for Corinth: Blood in Mississippi. Abilene, TX: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2006.
Smith, Timothy B. Battle of Davis Bridge (October 5, 1862), Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture