During Union General Sherman’s Meridian, Mississippi campaign, a Union flanking column under General William Smith invaded northern Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee. Smith’s troops were initially successful, destroying rail lines and stores of military foodstuffs but were actively harassed by Confederate cavalry under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
On Monday, February 22, 1864 Forrest’s cavalry attacked Smith’s force as the Federals retreated northward toward Memphis, after failing to and link up with Sherman at Meridian.
At Okolona, a five mile, running fight ensued with numerous attacks and counterattacks, many involving hand to hand combat which took the life of Jeffrey Forrest, the general’s brother. A complete victory for Forrest, it was a significant defeat for Smith’s Federals. The engagement at Okolona signaled an end to Sherman’s foray into Mississippi.