Forrest's Artillery Position
— Forrest's First West Tennessee Raid —
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest led his cavalry brigade on a raid through West Tennessee, Dec. 15, 1862 - Jan. 3, 1863, destroying railroads and severing Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's supply line between Columbus, Kentucky and Vicksburg, Mississippi. Forrest crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton, defeated Union Col. Robert C. Ingersoll's cavalry at Lexington, captured Trenton and Union City, and ranged briefly into Kentucky. He raided back through Tennessee, evaded defeat at Parker's Cross Roads, and crossed the river again at Clifton. Grant changed his supply base to Memphis.
Gen. Nathan B Forrest placed his artillery here during the attack on Trenton on December 20, 1862. Union Col. Jacob Fry, commanding a unit of about 250 hastily assembled convalescents and other soldiers, occupied the area around the Mobile and Ohio Railroad depot about eight blocks in front of you. He had earlier fortified the high ground here, but had been ordered to send his regular troops to Jackson, and therefore could only defend a small area within the town. Federal sharpshooters stopped Forrest's initial charge, but the Confederates surrounded the Union position and shelled him from this hill. Fry soon surrendered.
In 1895, a monument was erected to honor nine Confederate soldiers (six known and three unknown) buried here. Local residents interred here include Col. Thomas J. Freeman and Col. Munson R. Hill. Hill moved to Trenton in 1849, and during the war he commanded the 47th Tennessee Infantry. He and his men arrived at the Battle of Shiloh on April 7, 1862, the only reinforcements the Confederates received. Hill died in 1863. Freeman was born near Trenton in 1827 and commanded the 22nd Tennessee Infantry during the war. The unit fought in several battles including Shiloh and Belmont, Missouri. Freeman later served with Forrest. He died in 1891.
"They planted a battery of six guns on an elevated position southeast of the stockade. Two of these guns were inside of our own earthworks, one howitzer on the southwest and one on the north, and commenced shelling our position. Sixteen shells were fired, one passing through the depot, near a large quantity of ammunition, but did not explode."
— Col. Jacob Fry
"I dashed into town and attacked the enemy at Trenton. They were fortified at the depot, but were without artillery. After a short engagement between their sharpshooters and our cavalry out battery opened on them, and on the third fire from the battery, they surrendered."
— Gen. Nathan B. Forrest
(lower left) Forrest's First West Tennessee Raid, Dec. 15, 1862-Jan. 2, 1863
(center) Shelling Trenton - Courtesy Tennessee State Library and Archives
(lower right) Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Courtesy Library of Congress