Riding Through Scotts Hill
— 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 G. 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. Forrest's success forced Grant to switch his supply base to Memphis.
Scotts Hill, located on the Decatur-Henderson County line on the stage road from the Tennessee River to West Tennessee, was a popular stop for travelers. Although the town and surrounding area escaped much of the Civil War's destruction, in 1862 Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry brigade swept by on a raid against Federal supply lines.
After crossing the Tennessee River at Clifton on December 15, Forrest's brigade rode several miles northwest on the stage road (present-day Route 114) before camping at the foot of McCorkle Hill near Bath Springs, about ten miles southeast of here. He and his men passed through Scotts Hill en route to Lexington and points west.
He escaped disaster on the return march at Parker's Crossroads on December 31, having succeeded in disrupting Union supply lines. Forrest passed through Scotts Hill again on January 1, 1863, fought a brief action at McCorkle Hill, and then crossed the Tennessee River the next day at Clifton.
On the raid, Forrest and his men rode about 300 miles through rain, sleet, and snow, averaging 20 miles a day. They destroyed 50 bridges on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, burning trestles and tearing up rails.
Forrest's First West Tennessee Raid, Dec. 15, 1862—Jan. 3, 1863
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
Gen. Braxton Bragg
All photos courtesy Library of Congress
Union blockhouse, Tennessee River