The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – Addendum to December 29, 1864, to January 4, 1865

William Jackson Palmer was a good man to have on your side.

William Jackson Palmer was a good man to have on your side.

Upate, January 7, 2014: While working on next week’s Civil War post, in which US cavalry commander James Wilson worries at CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest, I came across online information from the Talladega County American History & Genealogy Project about a fight that happened in the first week of January, shortly after US General Thomas called off the pursuit of Hood’s army. Apparently US Colonel William Palmer and his cavalry were still in a fighting mood, so they took off…well, you’ll see below.

I know this timeline is very spotty. So very much happened that has been missed here. I don’t try to be comprehensive – that is what the Official Records and all the other Civil War blogs, timelines, regimental history and other official websites are for.

Philip Dale Roddey

Philip Dale Roddey

However, the events of the winter of 1864-1865 in central Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama almost unknown among people like me who have no long family memory of Civil War events in those states, and I am trying to throw a little bit more light on the events, without minimizing Sherman’s marching to and along the East Coast, Grant’s persistence at Richmond, and so forth.

Enough already. Here is the addendum; it’s the same source throughout – I will include it as a number in future timeline posts, starting next week. This addendum is also in the original post now, but if you have already read that one, then this will just update you on the events, so next week’s post will make a little more sense.

December 29

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: General Forrest leaves a brigade to watch for enemy crossings of the Tennessee River and moves the rest of his force to Corinth, while Hood remains in Tuscumbia. (3, 8) [Edit, January 7, 2015: I missed the the following until today:] US General Thomas calls off the pursuit of Hood, but US cavalry under Colonel William Palmer start out from Decatur along the line of Hood’s retreat in Mississippi. He skirmishes with one of Forrest’s subordinates, General Philip Dale Roddey, at Leighton and drives Roddey’s brigade back to the mountains. (Source)

In the Civil War, US army pontoons traveled in wagon trains, not on choos-choos.  (Source)

In the Civil War, Confederate and US army pontoons traveled in wagon trains, not on choo-choo’s. (Source)

December 31

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: In Leighton, Alabama, US cavalry commander Colonel Palmer learns that General Hood passed through there three days earlier and is on his way to Columbus Mississippi. Palmer avoids General Roddey and sets off after Hood, moving “rapidly via LaGrange and Russellville and by the Cotton-gin road, and over[takes] [Hood]’s pontoon train, consisting of 200 wagons and 78 pontoon boats, when ten miles out from Russellville.” (Same source as for December 29th and January 1st, including quote)

January 1

Battles: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Per this source,

Having learned of a large supply train on its way to Tuscaloosa, Colonel Palmer started on the 1st of January (1865), toward Aberdeen, Miss., with a view of cutting it off, and succeeded in surprising it about 10 p.m. on the same evening, just over the line in Mississippi. The train consisted of 110 wagons and 500 mules, the former of with were burned and the latter sabered or shot. Returning via Toll-gate, Ala. and on the old military and Hackleburg roads, the enemy, under Roddy, Biffle, and Russell, was met near Russellville and along Bear Creek, whilst another force under Armstrong, was reported to be in pursuit of our forces. Evading the force in his front, by moving off to the right under cover of the darkness, Colonel Palmer pushed for Moulton, coming upon Russell when within twelve miles of Moulton, and near Thorn Hill, attacked him unexpectedly, utterly routing him, and capturing some prisoners, besides burning five wagons. The command then proceeded to Decatur without molestation, reaching the place on 6th of January, after a march of over 250 miles. One hundred and fifty prisoners were captured and nearly 1000 stands of arms destroyed. Colonel Palmer’s loss was 1 killed and 2 wounded.

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: General Hood, unaware of Palmer’s attack, begins to shift his infantry force by rail to Tupelo, Mississippi. (3)

Categories: American Civil War

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