During Ulysses S. Grant’s drive from Memphis, Tennessee toward Vicksburg on the Mississippi River, after successfully assaulting the town of Oxford, Mississippi, Union forces pursued the retreating Confederates toward the town of Coffeeville.
On Friday, December 5, 1862, Confederate forces under Generals Mansfield Lovell and Lloyd Tilghman* engaged Grant’s cavalry near the Mississippi Central Railroad line. The Federals, reeling under superior fire, organized a fighting retreat and successfully withdrew. Tilghman* later admitted that "the tactics of the enemy did them great credit” as the Confederates pursed the retreating Union forces. Although both forces each suffered few casualties, the battle of Coffeeville temporarily brought Grant's movement against Vicksburg to a halt, forcing him to pull back to Oxford to regroup and reorganize his forces.