This week’s throwback Thursday looks back to the June 15, 2004 edition of the Carroll County News-Leader. The Parker’s Crossroads Civil War battle reenactment was held the previous weekend on June 12 and 13.
By John Latham
History was brought to life on Saturday and Sunday at Parker’s Crossroads City Park, where nearly 450 people reenacted the 142nd anniversary of the December 31, 1862 Battle of Parker’s Crossroads on grounds that were part of the original battlefield.
The Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Association (PCBA) was formed in 1993 by those interested in preserving Henderson County history, and they have been reenacting the battle every even-numbered year since 1992 after originally holding it every year since 1982, according to Steve McDaniel, chairman of the event which is properly known as a Living History and Battle Reenactment.
McDaniel said they began with 29 participants in 1982, but have had as many as 900. He said 400 to 500 was average, but considering that some people shied away because of the potential bad weather, he was happy with the turnout.
“I was very pleased with how the event went overall,” said McDaniel. “We had a fair amount of the public come.”
McDaniel said that participants attended from 12 to 14 states, and that they weren’t limited to military reenactors. Some folks performed impressions, where they pretended to be citizens engaged in medical care or selling supplies.
Of course, most just attended to sit and enjoy the show, which included plenty of people in period costumes, replicas of original weaponry, horsemanship, and a narration of the battle.
“We come to at least five or six reenactments a year,” said Shirley Lambert of Elkmont, Ala.
Her husband, Mike, was performing with the 7th Tennessee D Company, which was directly under Confederate Brigadier-General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
A retired 20-year Army veteran and a history buff, Mike enjoyed the opportunity to ride his horse Shiloh in simulated battle conditions. He pointed out that even though the guns and artillery units were only firing off powder, it still takes a lot of training to keep control of your horse in such loud and busy conditions.
Mike said Forrest’s military tactics were well ahead of their time and that Hitler even sent Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to Parker’s Crossroads to study how Forrest implemented his plans at the scene.
In the original battle, Forrest and his forces fought until they managed to surround the forces of Union Colonel Cyrus L. Dunham. In addition, Confederate forces managed to capture some Union artillery pieces and turn them against the Union line.
However, before Forrest could secure total victory, Union reinforcements commanded by Colonel John W. Fuller surprised the Confederate soldiers from the opposite direction where they were engaged with Dunham.
Told that he was caught between two sets of Union forces, Forrest commanded, “Charge them both ways!”
The surprise maneuver was successful enough to disrupt the Union lines, allowing Forrest to remove his troops from the field. He escaped by traveling south and crossing the Tennessee River at Clifton.
The battle was a mixed result for both sides, with the Union army retaining the field but suffering 800-1,000 casualties to nearly 60 killed or wounded for the Confederates. The Union also took about 100 prisoners.
In addition to the reenactment, the event featured the 10th Annual Battleground Chili Cook-off.
McDaniel said all the proceeds from the weekend will go toward purchasing and preserving more of the original core battlefield, which he defined as the area where the majority of the fighting occurred.
Currently, the PCBA has 157 acres out of a total of 1,400 acres that are recognized in the national historical register.
A self-guided driving tour is already available to visitors, but McDaniel hopes that the 1-1/2 miles worth of asphalt trails that are in the process of being set into the area will encourage more walking tours.
“We would like for school groups to contact us so that we could arrange tours for them. It would be a good day trip,” said McDaniel.
One can find out more information about the battle or the PCBA by logging on to www.parkerscrossroads.com or calling 731-968-1220.