In the spring of 1864 General William Tecumseh Sherman led more that 100,000 Union soldiers into northern Georgia. His mission was to capture the city of Atlanta, a vital center of transportation and industry. The city’s fall would be a staggering blow to the already faltering southern Confederacy. To protect his army’s vulnerable supply lines, Sherman ordered Union forces at Memphis, Tennessee to march into North Mississippi. Their job was to find and, if possible, destroy Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his Confederate cavalry.
On the morning of June 10, 1864, Union and Confederate troops clashed near Baldwyn, Mississippi along the sleepy wooded lanes around Brice’s Crossroads. Forrest led elements of his cavalry corps in a bloody day-long battle against a much larger Union army commanded by Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis. Fighting in the sweltering heat, Forrest used his superior knowledge of the enemy, aggressive tactics and favorable terrain to win one of the most decisive victories of the American Civil War, completely routing Sturgis’ expeditionary force, and capturing most of their weapons and supplies.
Forrest had won a stunning victory, but it was not complete. Despite the high cost, Sherman had in fact successfully diverted Forrest away from his supply lines. The Atlanta campaign could continue.
The Battlefield Today
In 1929 Brice’s Crossroads was declared a “National Battlefield Site.” To commemorate the battle the National Park Service erected, and maintains, monuments and interpretive panels on a small one-acre plot at the crossroads. This is the spot where the Brice family house once stood.
In 1994 concerned local citizens formed the Brice’s Crossroads National Battlefield Commission, Inc. and began working to protect and preserve additional battlefield land. With assistance from the Civil War Preservation Trust (formerly the APCWS and the Civil War Trust), and the support of Federal, State and local governments, the BCNBC, Inc. has purchased for preservation over 800 acres of the original battlefield.
Today the site hosts the Agnew-Ford Group Use Area, which is available upon approval to scouts and organizations for primitive camping. The site is named for Todd Agnew and Dr. J.M. Ford. For reservations or more information contact the visitors’ center at 662-365-3969 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The modern Bethany Presbyterian Church sits on the southeast side of the crossroads. At the time of the battle this congregation’s meeting house was located further south along the Baldwyn Road. However, the Bethany Cemetery adjacent to the park Service monument site predates the Civil War. Many of the area’s earliest settlers are buried here. The graves of more than 90 Confederate soldiers killed in the battle are also located in this cemetery. Union dead from the battle were buried in common graves on the battlefield, but were later reintured in the National Cemetery at Memphis.