Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Battle of Selma - Selma, Alabama
The Battle of Selma was one of the events that marked the final collapse of the Confederacy and even with Forrest's military genius, the outnumbered Southern troops could not prevent the capture of the vital Alabama city and its massive military industrial complex.
Forrest knew that he could not hope to hold the extensive Selma fortifications with the troops at his disposal and had tried to prevent the Federal army of Major General James H. Wilson from reaching Selma at the Battle of Ebenezer Church the previous day. When the separated Confederate forces proved unable to converge on Ebenezer Church as Forrest had hoped, Wilson prevailed in that battle and in less than 24 hours was outside the fortifications of Selma.
The Confederates took up positions behind the Selma earthworks, but the line was so extensive that there was only a man every 10 to 15 feet. Many of these were not seasoned soldiers, but were workers and citizens of the city who took up arms in a last ditch effort to defend Selma. Wilson complicated the situation by attacking via two roads leading into the city. While one force demonstrated along the main road, a second stormed the works defending the Summerfield Road.
Once the Confederate lines were pierced, Forrest pulled back to a still incomplete inner line and briefly stalled the Union advance. In the end, though, the Federals took the city and Wilson's soldiers spent days destroying the military factories, arsenal and storehouses there. Forrest managed to cut his way out at the end of the fighting.
The Battle of Selma marked the last time that Nathan Bedford Forrest would lead troops in action in a major battle and also opened the door for the Union capture of Montgomery, the original capital of the Confederacy. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/selmabattle.