The Battle of Brices Cross Roads occurred on June 10, 1864. Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis and 8,100 Union troops moved from Memphis into northern Mississippi to stop the Confederate troops (3,500) led by Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. A Confederate patrol was routed by Sturgis’ men and the battle began.
By 5 pm, the Union forces were in retreat. It was a brilliant tactical victory by Forrest for the South. He was a native of TN with no formal military training, but proved to be one of the leading cavalry commanders of the Civil War. On the Union side, USCT (United States Colored Troops) played a critical role in the battle saving many lives and helping to secure advantageous positioning for the Battle of Tupelo on July 14-15.
There are several monuments in the one-acre area that memorialize the battle.
After seeing the large sign, we walked to the Bethany Historic Cemetery (established 1853), where those who fell in battle were buried.
The military graves are at the rear of the cemetery. It is always hard to believe how many Americans died fighting each other during the Civil War.
We drove south on the Natchez Trace Parkway toward Tupelo National Battlefield, and came upon the the Parkway Visitor Center and Headquarters (mile 266.0).
Exhibits inside provide insight into the many points of interest along the Natchez scenic trail and parkway, historical timeline and artifacts of Native Americans in the area, and stories of the Trace in the early 1800s.
At the Old Town Overlook (mile 263.9), we went for a short hike on the Natchez Scenic Trail with our sweet doggies, Sadie.
This area was the homeland of the Chickasaw people since the 1500s. Exhibits provide insight into the village that was once here (mile 261.8)
During the winter, the Chickasaw built round houses using vertical posts interwoven with cane and plastered with mud for warmth. A low, curved narrow entrance helped keep out the cold. Rectangular houses where built in the warmer months with thatched roofs. Archeological excavations have identified the location of several at this site as well as a storage structure.
Tupelo National Battlefield is a mile east from the Parkway (mile 259.7) on Main Street.
There were multiple squirmishes from July 14-15, 1864, with heavy losses on both sides, but neither side could declare a complete victory.
The site is marked with a monument that is very similar to the one at Brices Crossing (except for the dates, of course). A small number of graves and burial markers can be seen here as well.
We continued south on the Natchez Trace Parkway stopping at Black Belt Overlook (large prairie with rick, black soil); Chickasaw Council House (the site of Chickasaw Nation capital, Pontatok, in the 1820s); Tockshish (midway point in the early 1800s on the National Post Road); Monroe Mission (Christianity introduced to the Chickasaw here); Hernando de Soto site (spent the winter of 1540-41 nearby).
The Owl Creek Mounds Archeological Site is 2.5 miles from Natchez Trace Parkway (mile 243.1) in the Tombigbee National Forest.
Farming people of the Mississippian culture built the mounds here between AD 1000 to 1500. Excavations conducted in 1991-1992, uncovered remains of a ceremonial temple (or elite residence) on top of the primary mound. Structural remains were also found on two more nearby mounds. Wooden steps lead to the top of Mound 1. Sadie enjoyed exploring the site as much as we did! I snapped a photo of the second mound from atop the first.
Our last stop for the day was Lake Davis National Recreation Area.
Picnicking (sheltered sites with grills), swimming (roped off area), boating and fishing, camping, and hiking are popular activities here. Sadie really enjoyed a swim!
We enjoyed seeing the battlefields (love history) and exploring the area. Normally, I plan exactly what we are going to do. I am getting better at just going with the flow and stopping to see interesting sites along the way. John is easy-going and has always been fine with that approach.
For additional information about Natchez Trace Parkway, go to www.nps.gov/natr; Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield, www.nps.gov/brcr; Tupelo National Battlefield, www.nps.gov/tupe; Tombigbee National Forest, www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mississippi/about-forest/districts/?cid=stelprdb5209591.