Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Britton Lane

Britton Lane battlefield is located near Denmark, TN, which is southwest of Jackson. I visited it alone in 2004 and had just about given up on finding it when I crested a low ridge and saw cannon and a state historical marker. Interpretation is just a small self guided walking tour. There are a few signs and monuments (actually for its size it has a pretty good amount of markers and monuments). There was no gift shop, no staff, nothing to let anyone know you'd been there. I'd love to take people there (my only visit was that 2004 trip) just so they could see how remote and difficult it is to find.

The battle is a pretty minor affair. On September 1, 1862 a Confederate cavalry force attacked a mixed Federal unit (all three branches represented). The goal was to prevent Grant (in the Corinth area) from sending men to Buell in Kentucky. After a four hour fight the Union withdrew. The marker says that the Confederates withdrew but to me it seems that the Union got the worst of the situation. The main Union force for much of the battle was the 20th Illinois which was routed near the end of the fight, but that is when the 30th Illinois appeared on the scene and prevented a rout. At that point both sides let the battle end. The Confederates could have pursued the Union towards Jackson but instead they broke off the fight.

Colonel Frank Armstrong, commanding the Confederate force, probably feared that the Union was wise to the raid and would soon have too many different units converging on them. The raid had accomplished as much as it could and now was the time to get back to their lines. As always casualties are tough to pin down. Armstrong (who had been a Union officer at First Bull Run) said that he captured 213 Federals and killed or wounded 75 more. His loss was roughly 100 total. Colonel Elias S. Dennis, commanding the Union force, put his losses as 8 killed, roughly 50 wounded and approximately 50 captured. Realistically its 100 casualties per side.

On the Big Black Creek Historical Association page you can see the battlefield marked by a red arrow. Unfortunately they do not have any other information about the battle on their site. There is a Britton Lane Battlefield Association website that has a bit of info and a map of the battlefield.

There are a number of these signs. I remember one being so weathered that no text was readable.

A monument to the 7th Tennessee Cavalry CSA.
And the detail of the monument.

One house stands on the battlefield but I do not remember any interpretation there. And in the bit I can find online about the battle I do not see any info about it.


Drew@CWBA said...

Brewer's "The Raiders of 1862" has a wonderful section dealing with Armstrong's Raid and the Britton's Lane fight. This is the best print source I've come across.

I referred to it heavily while designing my Middleburg and Britton's Lane wargaming scenario "extras" for Campaign Corinth.

Anonymous said...

In my reenacting days we did a lot of events at Britton Lane. Sort of a mixed bag. It was nice to "perform" at or near the actual battlefield. On the other hand it was a low level event which was not exactly the most authentic thing done in the hobby.