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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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