Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Hell on the Hatchie

Marker ID:  
Location: at the bank of the Hatchie River at the present (2012) end of a trail which starts at Essary Springs Road. The marker is a 1500 foot walk from the road.
County: Hardeman
Coordinates: N 35° 1.7    W 088° 47.701
  35.02833333    -88.79501666
Waymark: None


Hell on the Hatchie
Engagement at Davis Bridge
— October 5, 1862 —

Here along the Hatchie River, Confederate and Union forces fought a short but brutal battle. Repulsed with devastating losses from an unsuccessful attempt to retake Corinth, the Confederates discovered their retreat blocked when Union troops from Bolivar, Tennessee, successfully contested their crossing of Davis Bridge. The aggressive Federals charged across the bridge, only to find themselves bottled up in a dense thicket. Southern artillery and musketry blasted the river bend, and heavy casualties ensued.

Eventually, the Federals seized the heights dominating the bend, but there fighting ceased. The Confederates, content with simply delaying the enemy, escaped south into Mississippi along another road. As darkness fell the exhausted Union troops tended to the wounded and buried the dead from one more bitter military action in the continuing bloody campaign for control of the Mississippi Valley.

The commander of the Confederate forces, General Earl Van Dorn, was headstrong and impulsive. Troops under his leadership incurred serious defeats at both Pea Ridge and Corinth. Better suited to cavalry tactics, he conducted the daring raid on the Union supply depot at Holly Springs in December 1862, which helped thwart General U.S. Grant's first attempt to capture Vicksburg. The caption for General Ord reads: General E.O.C. Ord, commander of the Union troops, was wounded at Davis Bridge and referred to it as "the miserable bridge." After recovering from his wounds, Ord returned to active duty during the Siege of Vicksburg. He served under General U.S. Grant through the remainder of the War and in 1865 commanded the Army of the James, directing it with great skill at both Petersburg and Appomattox.

Erected by National Park Service - Shiloh National Military Park.


More information:
Tennessee Encyclopedia: Battle of Davis Bridge
CWT: Battle of Davis Bridge