The Battle of Tupelo
Little remains of the battlefield
today, but its significance is
commemorated at Tupelo
National Battlefield.
Map of the Battle of Tupelo
An interpretive panel at the
park helps visitors visualize
troop movements during the
battle. - Tupelo National Battlefield, Mississippi - Tupelo National Battlefield, Mississippi
Tupelo National Battlefield - Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo National Battlefield
This small national park preserves the site of the
Battle of Tupelo, a critical Civil War engagement.
The Battle of Tupelo, Mississippi
On July 14-15, 1864, Union and Confederate
forces clashed at the Battle of Tupelo,

Fought within the limits of the modern city of
Tupelo, the critical engagement helped
assure the success of Sherman's Atlanta
Campaign by diverting the attention of the
Confederacy's "Wizard of the Saddle," Nathan
Bedford Forrest.

Much of the battlefield has been lost to time
and development, but the National Park
Service maintains a small one acre tract near
the point where Confederate attacks struck
Union defensive lines.

The Battle of Tupelo took place after General
William Tecumseh Sherman ordered his
subordinate, Major General A.J. Smith, to
march south from Memphis and "follow
Forrest to the death, if it costs 10,000 lives
and breaks the Treasury."

Major General Nathan Bedford Forest had
already smashed one Union army at nearby
Brices Cross Roads and Sherman feared
that he might move into Tennessee and cut
the supply lines of the Union army then
fighting its way into Georgia.

After maneuvering for several days, Smith
found himself confronted at Tupelo by Forrest
and his commanding officer, Major General
Stephen D. Lee. Fully aware of the danger of
fighting the creative Forrest on an open field,
Smith ordered his men to dig in and wait for
the Confederates to attack.

Left with no choice but to assault the
Federals in their strongly prepared positions,
Forrest and Lee unleashed a series of
vicious attacks against the Union lines.

Although both Forrest and Lee were highly
competent and battle-tested commanders,
their tactics at Tupelo were out of character.
The attacks were uncoordinated and the
assault points poorly selected. The Southern
army was badly bloodied. Forrest himself
was wounded in the fighting.

Uncoordinated or not, the ferocious charges
of the Conrederate troops convinced Smith
that he was in a precarious position. After
fighting for two days at Tupelo, he withdrew
back to Memphis. He had not exactly followed
the Confederates " to the death," but he had
battered the Southern forces in Mississippi,
severely damaging Forrest's ability to move
on Sherman's supply lines.

The Battle of Tupelo contributed significantly
to the success of Sherman's Atlanta
Campaign and may have played as big a role
in the fall of the important Georgia city as any
of the battles actually fought by Sherman.
Maintained by the National Park Service, the
Tupelo National Battlefield features a
commemorative monument, interpretive
panels and two cannon. Although most of the
battlefield is now covered by commercial and
residential development, the park provides a
view of much of the scene.

Tupelo National Battlefield is located at the
intersection of Monument Drive and West
Main Street in Tupelo. If you are exiting the
Natchez Trace Parkway, turn east on West
Main Street (just follow the signs) and then
turn right onto Monument Drive. The park is
immediately at the intersection.

A word of caution, traffic can be heavy around
the park so please be careful. There are no
facilities at the battlefield, but additional
information is available at the Natchez Trace
Parkway visitor center just north of Tupelo.

Also of interest nearby is
Brices Cross
Roads National Battlefield, the scene of
another key battle involving the troops of
Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The Battlefield at Tupelo
Development now covers
much of the battlefield, as can
be seen in this view taken
from the national park.
Natchez Trace in Winter
Tupelo National Battlefield is
located on Main Street off the
Natchez Trace Parkway.
Brices Cross Roads
A second major battle was
fought just north of Tupelo at
Brices Cross Roads.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.