Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Battle of Collierville ~ An Unexpected Guest

Marker ID:  
Location: on Walnut Street south of West Poplar Avenue (Tennessee Highway 57), Collierville, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 2.619    W 089° 40.004
  35.04365    -89.66673333
Waymark: None


Collierville's location on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad made it strategically important throughout the Civil War. Frequently occupied by Union forces, the town found itself in the gun sights of Confederate cavalrymen intent on severing Federal lines of communication and supply.

On October 11, 1863, about 3,000 Confederate cavalrymen and artillerists under Gen. James R. Chalmers drove north and attacked Union Col. DeWitt Clinton Anthony's 600 men of the 66th Indiana Infantry, which was camped along the railroad. As the outnumbered Federals took up defensive positions, a train arrived en route from Memphis to Corinth, Mississippi. It was loaded with a battalion of the 13th U.S. Regulars, accompanied by Gen. William T. Sherman and his staff. Chalmers sent a flag of truce to Anthony, demanding his surrender. Anthony delayed his refusal while the regulars detrained and occupied the nearby fort and rifle pits. Sherman ordered the train back to the depot and Chalmers' artillery opened fire, damaging the engine but with little other effect. The Federal infantry launched a charge that drove the Confederates away from the train, which they had boarded briefly. Chalmers retired late in the afternoon as Union Gen. John M. Corse approached from Memphis with his brigade, keeping the railroad in Union hands.

"The enemy closed down on us several times, and got possession of the rear of our train, from which they succeeded in getting five of our horses, among them my favorite mare Dolly....With their artillery they knocked to pieces our locomotive and several of the cars, and set fire to the train....Colonel Audenreid, aide-de-camp, was provoked to find that his valise of nice shirts had been used to kindle the fire.... The next day we repaired damages to the railroad and locomotive, and went on to Corinth." - Gen. William T. Sherman

Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.