Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/201

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Gen. N. B. Forrest Captures Memphis.

During the night General Smith crossed with a division of his army, and on the morning of August 10, sent 10,000 infantry against McCullouch's brigade of cavalry, 1,500 strong. The enemy closed column and moved around and in front of Chalmers, expecting evidently to overpower and capture him. Chalmers had but four guns, while the enemy used twenty. Like hungry wolves they charged the little "game cock," but were twice repulsed. When Chalmers fell back to Hurricane creek, six miles north of Oxford, the enemy did not advance further and made no attempt to pursue.

Chalmers then fell back to Oxford, where he received advice from Forrest that he had left Pontotoc with Bell's Brigade and Morton's Battery and would pick up Neeley's Brigade, hoping to reach Oxford by midnight. Chalmers was ordered to fall back slowly, and if possible draw the enemy's cavalry out south of Oxford. The federal cavalry did follow, but hearing that a Confederate force was approaching from the east, fell back on the infantry column, before Forrest reached Oxford, at 11 o'clock.

Chalmers returned with McCulloch's and Mabry's Brigade, the latter having joined him south of Oxford. The following morning Forest advanced with his entire force and drove the enemy back across Hurricane creek. Here the two forces faced each other for two days, during which time savage picket firings were going on. On the morning of the 13th the enemy attacked the left of the Confederate line, which was held by Mabry's Brigade and the Eighteenth Mississippi. It was a determined effort, and but for the promptness with which Colonel Chalmers took his regiment into action, the whole command would almost surely have been forced back in disorder. The gallantry of this brave Mississippian, whose tenacity against great odds saved the situation and won the highest encomiums from General Forrest and the undying admiration of the other regiments, should not be forgotten by the people of the south; while Mississippians of all classes and degrees should strive to perpetuate the memory of their heroic conduct. Those Mississippi boys (75 per cent, of them were under 20 years of age), held their place against ten times their number long enough for the balance of the troops to get in position.