Tupelo National Battlefield marks where those Union forces marched into Tupelo. The Confederate troops were disorganized, but they managed to recover from their initial state and neither side could claim a victory from the battle in conventional terms. However, the battle thwarted rebel movements and kept Confederate soldiers away from Union railroads. The railroad in question, the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, was necessary for moving troops into Atlanta, a city General Sherman wanted to occupy during his March to the Sea.
The March to the Sea was an effort to destroy the Confederate army by separating the South. General Sherman planned to invade the south and bisect it, taking his troops from Chattanooga, Tennessee to the coast of Savannah, Georgia. On the way, Sherman planned to occupy Atlanta, Georgia, a move that would require large numbers of troops. This need for troops made the Union railroad lines into Atlanta a necessity, as they could be used for moving both troops and supplies into the area. Because of this, the Union forces sought to protect the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, a rail line that connected area controlled by the Union with Atlanta.
The Battle of Tupelo was fought on July 14th and 15th in 1864. It began at approximately 7:30 am on July 14th when the Confederates attempted to charge the Union forces. The Confederates made several attacks throughout the day and into the night, each one having little effect on the Union forces. On July 15th, the Union troops began marching north toward Memphis, crossing over Old Town Creek before the Confederates attacked. Around 5 pm, Confederate soldiers surprised the Union forces, initiating a fight that ultimately ended the Battle of Tupelo. The Confederates were forced to retreat to Harrisburg, keeping them away from the Union-controlled railroads.