Exploring the PARKER'S CROSSROADS Battlefield

The seven-stop self-guided driving tour provides a complete view of the Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield, from Hicks’ Field, where the two forces clashed in the early morning hours of December 31, to the site where the Union soldiers who lost their lives at Parker’s Crossroads were buried. Enhance your driving tour with a 60-minute audiocassette featuring narration and period music, available at the Tourist Information Center on SR 22 south of Interstate 40.

Next, experience the battlefield first-hand on the two interpreted walking trails. Reconstructed battlefield features and panels illustrated with maps, photographs and drawings present an in-depth look at the battle. Relive the bravery, fear, anguish and fortitude of the soldiers that fought at the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads through their own words.

 Driving Tour

Begin your tour at Parker’s Crossroads City Park, located one-quarter mile north of I-40 on SR 22. Look for the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads Driving Tour directional signs as you follow the tour route. Your cooperation in respecting private property and observing traffic laws while following the tour is greatly appreciated. Please drive safely and take special care when entering or leaving stops along the road.

1- Parkers Crossroads City Park   As you face south, toward I-40, note the line of trees to your left. These trees mark the edge of the original Lexington-Huntingdon Road. Colonel Cyrus Dunham’s Union troops marched south along this road to the crossroads and then deployed to the west, moving up the McLemoresville road to meet General Forrest’s cavalry at Hicks’ Field. To the south is the site of the Dr. John Parker house.

From Tour Stop 1, you may follow the signs to the beginning of the north loop walking trail.

 To continue the driving tour, from the City Park, head south on SR 22 .2 mile. Turn right on Rock Springs Road. Take the next right on Cecil Walls Road and travel about 1.6 miles to Hicks’ Field.

2 - Hicks’ Field   This stop marks the approximate location of an old sunken road that ran eastward to intersect the Lexington-Huntingdon Road and which Forrest used to run his artillery into place. It was here that the first shots of the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads were fired. Members of the 50th Indiana and 18th Illinois marched up the McLemoresville Road into a crossfire of dismounted troopers from the 8th Tennessee and 4th Alabama cavalry. Forrest’s men pushed the Union forces back to the crossroads.

Turn south on Cecil Walls Road, retracing your route to SR 22 and following Dunham’s retreat and Forrest’s flanking movement.

At the intersection of Cecil Wall and Rock Springs roads, on the hill to your right, was the Williams house, which was used as a hospital after the battle.

Follow the Rock Springs Road through the intersection of SR 22 onto the Wildersville Road. Turn left into the First Bank parking lot. 

3 - The Old Crossroads   You are now at the site of the original crossroads. The Parker house was in front of you and to the left. After leaving Hicks’ Field, Dunham’s forces established a line of defense parallel to the Lexington-Huntingdon Road, stretching from just south of the Parker house to the community of Red Mound. Meanwhile, Forrest’s troops took up positions to the east. It was in the Parker orchard, which has been replanted, that Colonel John W. Fuller’s Ohio Brigade surprised Forrest’s horse-holders later in the day.

Continue along Wildersville Road to Jones Cemetery, approximately .6 miles on the left.

4 - Jones Cemetery and the Old Well   Jones Cemetery contains the graves of  John A. Parker and his wife, Rebecca. At the time of the battle, Parker was a Republican and a Union sympathizer. However, when Union artillerists positioned their cannon in his front yard during the battle, Parker, fearing damage to his property from the Confederate counter-fire, demanded that the guns be removed. The Union officer hotly inquired, “What is more important – the Union cause or your house?” Parker emphatically replied, “My house!” When Parker died in 1864, his last wish was that he be buried with his feet to the north and his head to the south so that when the Angel Gabriel sounded his trumpet, Parker could rise and “kick the Yankees back North!” As you can see, the Parker graves are positioned north-south while the other graves in the cemetery are aligned east-west, as was traditional.

As Forrest’s men deployed east along the Wildersville Road, some stopped to fill their canteens and water their horses at the old well.

Continue along Wildersville Road for .8 mile, crossing Interstate-40 and coming to the intersection of Expressway Church Road. Turn right onto Expressway Church Road and continue .8 mile.

5 - Attack on Dunham’s Rear   While Dunham’s men were behind the split-rail fence, facing the Confederate forces to the north, Forrest’s 4th Alabama and 8th Tennessee worked their way around the Union rear using the hollow in front of you and to your right as cover. They then launched a surprise attack on the Union rear, capturing the Union wagon train. Immediately, portions of the 122nd Illinois and the 50th Indiana turned and charged the Confederates, who melted into the woods. Following, the Union troops found themselves near Red Mound, where they were again surrounded.

Meanwhile, the Union troops still near the split-rail fence to the north began to show flags of truce. Forrest’s aid delivered a demand for surrender to Dunham near Red Mound, which Dunham adamantly refused. While flags of truce were passing back and forth, Colonel John W. Fuller’s Ohio Brigade appeared over the hill north of the crossroads and began engaging Forrest.

Follow Expressway Church Road west to SR 22. Turn left onto SR 22, continue south about .3 mile to Tour Stop 6, on the right.

6 - Red Mound   By early afternoon on December 31, Colonel Dunham’s brigade was dispersed into two battle groups. Dunham, with one group, was in this area. The other was at the split-rail fence ¾ mile north. While Dunham was refusing to surrender his troops, Fuller began his attack from behind the Parker house.

Turn left onto SR 22, toward Interstate 40. Continue approximately one mile, turn right onto Federal Lane, located just before the entry ramp to Interstate-40, and continue to the parking area.

7 - The Split-rail Fence and Union Burial Site   In front of you is the reconstructed split-rail fence. The Union forces, pushed south by the unrelenting Confederate artillery fire, sought cover behind the fence. While in this position, Forrest’s artillery fired upon them from three sides. Shells struck the brittle rails, which became deadly shrapnel. Their attention focused on the artillery, the Union troops were unaware that part of Forrest’s cavalry was making its way around their rear. A result of the surprise attack, the Union force was split in two.

After the battle, the Union dead were buried in a small plot near the east end of the Union line. In 1867, in accordance with government policy, the remains were exhumed and reburied at the National Cemetery at Corinth, Mississippi, 65 miles south.

 From Tour Stop 7, you may proceed to the south loop walking trail, which begins at the kiosk in front of you.

Walking Trails

The North Loop Trail begins at a kiosk adjacent to the old Lexington-Huntingdon Road at the south edge of Parkers Crossroads City Park. The kiosk at the trailhead presents an overview of the Civil War up to December 1862, Forrest’s West Tennessee Raid, and the Battle itself. The 13 station, ½ mile long trail takes you past the site of the Parker house and through the Parker orchard, which was replanted in the spring of 2005. The trail features Union and Confederate artillery emplacements and an excellent view of the hill over which Colonel John W. Fuller’s Ohio brigade approached the battlefield. An optional spur, 225 yards long, leads to the Confederate artillery position manned by a portion of Captain Samuel Freeman’s Battery. [The North Loop Trail is moderately difficult. There is a short but relatively steep hill. A short portion of the trail is shaded.]

The South Loop Trail begins at the kiosk adjacent to Driving Tour Stop 7, on the south side of Interstate 40. The kiosk highlights the life and military career of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who led the Confederate forces at the Battle of Parker’s Crossroads. The 20-station trail is one mile. Those preferring a shorter route may take the ½ mile northern loop of the trail which features 11 stations. An optional 270 yard spur trail leads to a small knoll where Confederate artillery was placed so as to be able to enfilade the Union line behind the split rail fence. The reconstructed split-rail fence graphically illustrates the lack of shelter it afforded Dunham’s beleaguered Union forces. The trail winds through open and wooded areas and interprets the actions that took place on and near this part of the battlefield, including the Union withdrawal to the split-rail fence, the Confederate advance on the Union rear and the hollow where the Union wagons were captured, as well as other topics that place the battle in context. [The South Loop Trail is relatively easy. There are no hills on the main trail. The south loop is partially shaded. The optional spur trail covers some uneven ground and ends in short climb to the top of a small knoll.]

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