Tupelo, MS

Date(s): July 14-15, 1864

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Tupelo, Mississippi, United States

Campaign: Forrest’s Defense of Mississippi [June-August 1864]

Battles in Campaign:



  • Union: Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith

  • Confederate: Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee and Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 1st and 3rd Infantry Divisions and Cavalry Division, XVI Army Corps, and 1st Brigade, U.S. Colored Troops (14,000)

  • Confederate: Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana


  • Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith, commanding a combined force of more than 14,000 men, left LaGrange, Tennessee, on July 5, 1864, and advanced south.

  • Smith’s mission was to insure that Maj. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest and his cavalry did not raid Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s railroad lifeline in Middle Tennessee and, thereby, prevent supplies from reaching him in his campaign against Atlanta.

  • Laying waste to the countryside as he advanced, Smith reached Pontotoc, Mississippi, on July 11th.

  • Forrest was in nearby Okolona with about 6,000 men, but his commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, told him he could not attack until he was reinforced.

  • Two days later, Smith, fearing an ambush, moved east toward Tupelo.

  • On the previous day, Lee arrived near Pontotoc with 2,000 additional men and, under his command, the entire Confederate force engaged Smith.

  • Within two miles of the Federals, on the night of the 13th, Lee ordered an attack for the next morning.

  • Lee attacked at 7:30 am the next morning in a number of uncoordinated assaults which the Union beat back, causing heavy casualties. Lee halted the fighting after a few hours.

  • Short on rations, Smith did not pursue but started back to Memphis on the 15th.

  • Criticized for not destroying Forrest’s command, Smith had caused much damage and had fulfilled his mission of insuring Sherman’s supply lines.

Photo Gallery2

Tupelo National Battlefield Tupelo Monument Confederate Monument Tupelo Monument



Map of the Western Campaign


Battle of Tupelo Map



Slide Presentation: None [Battlefield Lost Integrity]

Classification3: B


  • Union: 648

  • Confederate: 1,300

Results: Union Victory Miniature Union Victory

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Mississippi Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 National Park Service summary.

2 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of civil-war-journeys.org."

3 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

4 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 09/07/2012