“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Parkers Crossroads in Henderson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Napier's Assault on the 39th Iowa

Napier's Assault on the 39th Iowa Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Shane Oliver, April 11, 2021
1. Napier's Assault on the 39th Iowa Marker
Fresh Recruits Join Forrest
A few days before the battle, Lieut. Colonel Alonzo Napier's 430-man battalion joined General Nathan B. Forrest's command. Captured after the Battle of Fort Donelson in February 1862, Napier escaped while being transported to a prison camp in the north. He returned to West Tennessee, where he recruited cavalry for the Confederacy.

Napier joined Forrest as the West Tennessee raid was drawing to a conclusion. The addition of his battalion, which had two 12-pounder mountain howitzers, gave Forrest more artillery and fresh soldiers to send against Colonel Cyrus Dunham.

On the Union Left
Napier's battalion occupied a rise just south of the crossroads, with cannon placed in front of their position. His troops and artillery formed the western segment of the Confederate arc around the Union line. Facing Napier's dismounted troopers was the inexperienced 39th Iowa Infantry. The regiment had been rushed to the front shortly after being mustered in on November 24. They arrived in Jackson just in time to help repel Forrest's attack on the city.

Cannon Fire Rakes
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the Union Line

Colonel Henry J.B. Cummings' 450 Iowans faced equal numbers, but Napier was supported by artillery. The "murderous fire" unleashed on the Union left punished Cummings' men. They were not alone. Confederate artillery fired across the entire Union line, inflicting heavy casualties from one end to the other.

The Iowans Hold
The Confederate attack squeezed both ends of the Union line, folding it in. Forrest planned to send his men around both ends of the line, flank the Federals, and force them to retreat. On the west end of the Union line, Napier's battalion pushed the 39th Iowans, but they fought for every inch of ground. Though forced to fall back, they kept fighting.

Napier's battalion was armed with two 12-pounder mountain howitzers like the one above, which is shown hooked to a limber carrying an ammunition chest.
The inexperienced 39th Iowa fought desperately to hold their ground but were forced to fall back under punishing fire from Col. Alonzo Napier's artillery.
Col. Henry J.B. Cummings, 39th Iowa Infantry
Erected 2015 by Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Association.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is December 31, 1862.
Location. 35° 47.428′ N, 88° 
Napier's Assault on the 39th Iowa Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, July 24, 2021
2. Napier's Assault on the 39th Iowa Marker
23.283′ W. Marker is in Parkers Crossroads, Tennessee, in Henderson County. Marker can be reached from Wildersville Road, 0.2 miles Tennessee Route 22, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located along the North Battlefield Trail Extension, south of Wildersville Road. The North Battlefield Trail begins at the Parker's Crossroads City Park: Auto Tour Stop No. 1 of the Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Auto Tour. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wildersville TN 38388, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dunham Takes the Offensive (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Forrest's Artillery Leads the Attack (about 700 feet away); Dunham's Artillery is Forced to Withdraw (about 700 feet away); A Panicked Stampede (about 700 feet away); Dibrell's Position (about 700 feet away); Battle of Parker's Crossroads (about 800 feet away); 122nd Illinois Infantry Regiment (about 800 feet away); Three Desperate Charges (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Parkers Crossroads.
Also see . . .  Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Association. (Submitted on June 4, 2021.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 216 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on May 29, 2021, by Shane Oliver of Richmond, Virginia.   2. submitted on July 24, 2021, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 24, 2024