The engagement at Jackson occurred during CSA Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee, between December 11, 1862, and January 1, 1863. Forrest wished to interrupt the rail supply line to Major General Ulysses S. Grant's army, campaigning down the Mississippi Central Railroad. If he could destroy the Mobile & Ohio Railroad running south from Columbus, Kentucky, through Jackson, Grant would have to curtail or halt his operations.
Forrest's 2,100-man cavalry brigade crossed the Tennessee River on December 15-17, heading west. Major General Grant ordered a troop concentration at Jackson under Brigadier General Jeremiah C. Sullivan and sent a cavalry force out under Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, to confront Forrest. Forrest, however, smashed the Union cavalry at Lexington on December 18. As Forrest continued his advance the next day, Sullivan ordered Colonel Adolph Englemann to take a small force northeast of Jackson.
At Old Salem Cemetery, acting on the defensive, Englemann's two infantry regiments repulsed a Confederate mounted attack and then withdrew a mile closer to town. To Forrest, the fight amounted to no more than a feint and show of force intended to hold Jackson's Union defenders in place while two mounted columns destroyed railroad track north and south of the town and returned. This accomplished, Forrest withdrew from the Jackson area to attack Trenton and Humboldt.
Thus, although the Federals had checked a demonstration by a portion of Forrest's force, a major accomplishment, other Confederates had fulfilled an element of the expedition's mission.
Result(s): Confederate victory
Location: Madison County
Campaign: Forrest's Expedition into West Tennessee (1862-63)
Date(s): December 19, 1862
Principal Commanders: Colonel Adolph Englemann [US]; Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest [CS]
Forces Engaged: Two regiments from the Jackson Garrison [US]; Detachment of Forrest's Cavalry (approx. 400) [CS]
Estimated Casualties: Total unknown (US 6; CS unknown)