The Battle of Blackland
CROSS18.jpg (50851 bytes) Battle Flag of the 18th Alabama Infantry

By Virgil Robinson
Special to Booneville OnLine

June, 1862 

The Union army occupied Corinth and the Confederate army was beginning to reorganize at Tupelo, Guntown and Baldwyn. However, the withdrawal from Corinth was slow and stretched out over many miles. On May 30, General Beaureguard at Reinzi, having learned of the attack on Booneville had ordered the remaining troops to go via Blackland, the road through Booneville being too dangerous. The Eighteenth Alabama Infantry was bringing up the rear at Blackland.

At Farmington, on June 4th, 1862, Colonel Washington L. Elliott and Colonel Phillip H. Sheridan readied their respective units, the Second Iowa Cavalry and the Second Michigan Cavalry, the "Twin Seconds" as they were beginning to be called. With Colonel Edward Hatch commanding, the brigade with four guns from Powellís battery set out to scout the Rebelís position.

Henry Mortimer Hempstead of the Second Michigan recorded in his diary the events of the day:

"A short rest has put us in fighting trim again, and this morning our brigade with a four gun battery were ordered out, my horse being still unfit for duty not having recovered from the effects of the raid (Booneville). I borrowed one from one of our sick men.

"We passed the fortification of Corinth which appears to have been strong and passing below Reinzi leaving Booneville to the west of us we struck the enemy at or near Blackland. We drove their rear across a deep muddy creek, dismounted and deployed through a thick swamp, our battery taking a position behind the creek opened a brisk fire which was soon replied to by a battery of the enemy, which opened so near us that we thought it was our own guns but were soon undeceived and attempted to penetrate to the battery but found it supported by a force far exceeding our own and reserves constantly coming up.

"We were ordered back, on approaching the creek we found we were in some danger as the bridge was swept by their battery and we, being the last to cross, were ordered to tear up the bridge. I stopped and aided by Corporal Daníl Murdock and Henry Woodruff, we soon stripped the plank from several feet of the bridge and then fell back. 

"Two men of the Iowa Regt. were struck by a cannon shot near the bridge, one of them was not quite dead and he was put in an ambulance and carried back. The other we left for our enemies to bury. We then repaired to the place where we left our horses and I found mine lying dead with a six pound shot through his body.

"The balance of the horses with the men had gone, and after a hard run of a mile or two, I caught the command. When Capt. Dickey sent one of the men forward to the Iowa Regiment and procured the horse of one of the men who were killed, which I gladly mounted, we returned unmolested to camp with the loss of four killed, five or six wounded and two or three captured. Rumor fixes the enemyís loss at thirty killed and forty-six wounded.

"With my horse, I lost my fatigue suit, canteen, (which was struck by the shot and so large a hole made that the "commissary" whiskey which I was carrying for the company all leaked out) and my haversack with rations was also left."

Captain Marshall P. Thatcher, in his book A Hundred Battles in the West, wrote in 1885: 
"On the fourth of June we passed the still smolders fires of Booneville, and saw the ground covered with shot and unexploded shell thrown from the cars, the explosions of which it is said led the Confederates to believe that they were attacked in force, and it really did sound like a fierce engagement with artillery and musketry. Had they but known we were a mere handful; had we but know how near we were to Beaureguardís main army, how different the result might have been for the 'Twin Seconds!'
Thatcher also wrote about the Blackland battle:
"A very close call was that for Colonel Sheridan, who, when the enemy opened with shell, had his hat knocked from his head by a piece of broken shell, and as an orderly handed it up--'Rather a close call, Stephenson' -- was his only remark, and few were aware how near we came to losing our Colonel at the beginning of his career."
Reverend Edgar W. Jones in his "History of the 18th Alabama Infantry Regiment-CSA" wrote:
"Preparations were going on to vacate Corinth. The enemy had been too badly punished to push on in a hurry, hence we had considerable time to prepare for our departure. One thing we did to fool the Yankees. We got any number of small black-jack trees and put them on old wagon wheels, having blackened the ends so as to make them look like the ends of cannon.

"After everything was in readiness we started on the retreat to Saltillo and Tupelo, Miss. The enemy followed, but only once did they make an assault. This was near a small village called Blackland. The 18th was in the rear when the enemy made a dash upon our rear guard. The 18th faced about and received the enemy with a volley which caused them to retreat in confusion, leaving three or four dead and wounded. No one was hurt in the 18th.

"For this act of gallantry, the general ordered that Blackland be inscribed on our flag just under Shiloh (See photo above). The 18th had the distinction of being the only infantry engaged in the spirted little battle."

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