Booneville's Historic Depot
The original depot was
burned shortly before the
battle by Union troops. The
present one is a museum. - Battle of Booneville, Mississippi - Battle of Booneville, Mississippi
Battle of Booneville
The fight at Booneville led to the promotion of
Union hero Phil Sheridan.
Battle of Booneville
Confederate troops swept
across the railroad tracks
during one of their flanking
movements during the battle.
Historical Marker
Markers like this one point out
key historic points of itnerest
in Booneville.
Cunningham House
This unique structure survived
the Battle of Booneville and
was used by Nathan Bedford
Forrest two years later on the
night before his smashing
victory at the Battle of Brices
Cross Roads.
Battle of Booneville - Booneville, Mississippi
Where Sheridan Won His Stars
On July 1, 1862, Confederate General
Braxton Bragg tested the power of his newly
reorganized army by attacking Union forces
at Booneville, Mississippi. The Battle of
Booneville would end in victory for the Union
and would lead to the promotion of "Little"
Phil Sheridan to the rank of brigadier general.

Bragg's army, then commanded by General
Albert Sidney Johnston, had been badly
battered three months earlier at the
Battle of
Shiloh, Tennessee. More chaos followed
when its next commander, General P.G.T.
Beauregard, was relieved from command in
a dispute with Richmond and Bragg was
named as his replacement.

A daring strategist with great courage under
fire, Bragg would engage in fiery disputes
with his subordinate commanders over time,
but in July of 1862 he was new to command
and anxious for another try at the Union army.

Moving north for the former Confederate base
of Corinth, now occupied by Union forces, the
Confederate general hoped to retake the vital
rail junction to secure his supply lines before
launching a full-scale offensive. As he moved
into northern Mississippi, Confederate
cavalry under General James R. Chalmers
decided to harass Union troops at Boonville.

Booneville had been occupied two days
earlier by Colonel Phil Sheridan with the
Second Michigan and Second Iowa Cavalry
Regiments. He had placed pickets on the key
roads leading into the town and on the
morning of July 1, 1862, Chalmer's force
struck the detachment from the Second
Michigan Cavalry guarding the Booneville to
Blackland Road.

Fighting a slow withdrawal, the picket forces
quickly determined that the Confederates
were advancing by two roads that intersected
on the southeast side of Booneville. Using
this information to his advantage, Sheridan
began pushing forward reinforcements to
establish a line of battle at that key junction.

As the fighting reached the intersection,
Union resistance stiffened. Chalmers
ordered a charge in hope of taking the new
position, but Sheridan's men were equipped
with Colt's revolving rifles. The weapons
allowed them to fire at a much faster rate
than Chalmer's men, who were mostly
armed with single-shot weapons, and the
initial Confederate attack was driven back.

The Confederates then tried to turn the left
flank of the Federal line, but the Union force
began falling back to a stronger position.

Seeing the Federals moving back, Chalmers
once again ordered a charge but his men
were driven back in hand to hand fighting by
Union soldiers using the butts of their
weapons as clubs. Chalmers then kept up
his effort to move around the Federal left
flank and moved across the railroad leading
into Booneville, closing in on the main Union

With the battle at its critical point, the Union
forces counter-attacked. Four companies of
Northern cavalry moved through the woods
and struck the Confederate rear with a saber
attack. At the same time more Federal troops
charged Chalmers' left flank. The tactic
worked and the Confederates began to fall

The fighting continued for a distance of about
four miles until the Confederates crossed a
dense swamp. With darkness coming on,
Sheridan ended the fight. Union losses were
reported as 1 killed, 24 wounded and 16
missing. Union officers reported that 65
Confederates were killed in the fighting, but
this number is suspect and does not seem
likely based on Chalmers' account.
Even more suspect was the estimate by the
Federals that Chalmers commanded as
many as 5,000 men and outnumbered their
force of slightly under 800 men. An order from
Bragg to Chalmers on the day before the
battle ordered the latter general to move with
a force of 1,200 to 1,500 men, not all of whom
were engaged at Booneville.

General Chalmers later said he was
"amused" by the Union accounts of the fight
at Booneville and that he used only three
regiments in the battle. He commended
Sheridan for the bravery he showed during
the war, "But, to say that he with 728 men
routed 4,000 Confederate cavalry is simply

Please click here to read both Sheridan's and
Chalmers' accounts of the Battle of

Probably the most important result of the
battle was the promotion of Phil Sheridan to
the rank of brigadier general. On July 30,
1862, Union Generals William S. Rosecrans,
C.C. Sullivan, Gordon Granger, W.L. Elliott
and Alexander Asboth penned their famous
recommendation to General Henry W.

Brigadiers are scarce. Good ones
scarcer....The undersigned respectfully beg
that you will obtain the promotion of Sheridan.
He is worth his weight in gold.

Sheridan was promoted and went on to
become one of the most famous Union
officers of the Civil War.

Booneville, Mississippi, is located on U.S.
Highway 45, 20 miles south of Corinth and 31
miles north of Tupelo. The Prentiss County
Historical Preservation Society operates the
Rails and Trails Museum in the historic train
depot in downtown Boonville. The museum is
open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. and features exhibits on the town's
Civil War history. You can learn more about
the Battle of Booneville there and receive
directions to the historical markers that note
the locations of the fighting.

Next to the museum is the unique little
Cunningham house. It was here that General
Nathan Bedford Forrest made plans for his
victory at the
Battle of Brices Cross Roads.
General Phil Sheridan
Dramatically inflated Union
accounts of the Battle of
Booneville led to Sheridan's
promotion to brigadier
Library of Congress
Photography by Justin Hall
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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