Ever since the Battle of Memphis in June of 1862, the town had been in Union hands. This was especially galling to Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, since Memphis was his home town.
On September 10, 1864 Forrest staged a nighttime raid, hoping to free Confederate prisoners and capture two Union Generals, Washburne and Hurlburt, who were in command there. Forrest led about 1,500 men against a force of 6,000 Union soldiers. His forces arrived on Beale Street, and then split up.
Hidden beneath the tall buildings and major venues of Downtown Memphis lies General Washburn’s Escape Alley, which is home to a significant piece of Memphis history.
Union Major General C.C. Washburn was in Memphis during the Union army’s occupation of the city during the Civil War. The alley, which runs from Front Street to Autozone Park, backed-up to the General’s home.
Allen James Walker was born a slave near Germantown in 1845. During the Civil War, Walker was one of the thousands of local slaves who escaped from their bondage. Walker joined the Union Army, which raised 51 black companies from Shelby and Fayette County alone.
As a soldier in the 7th US Colored Heavy Artillery, Walker was stationed at Corinth, Mississippi and Ft. Pickering, here in Memphis, but was ultimately sent to Ft. Pillow, overlooking the Mississippi and Hatchie Rivers.
Frank and Jesse James hold a prominent place in the history of outlaws. One member of the James gang has a Memphis connection. Captain Kit Dalton, born in Logan County, Kentucky in 1848, ran away from home during the Civil War and joined Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry.
Nathan Bedford Forrest is best known for his role as a brilliant military strategist for the Confederacy during the Civil War and as one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. But there's more to Forrest's story than that.