Editor's Note: This recounting of Forrest's Raid is taken from "History of Woodbury and Cannon County, Tennessee" written by Sterling Spurlock Brown in 1936. It was based upon information collected from direct descendants of witnesses to the conflict.
COL. BEDFORD FORREST'S RAID INTO MURFREESBORO
One of the most exciting moments in the history of Woodbury occurred on the night of July 12, 1862. At this time Murfreesboro was in the hands of the Federal forces, about 2,000 strong, commanded by Gen. Crittenden. His scouting parties greatly harassed the neighborhood for miles around, including Woodbury.
About five of these soldiers had been killed near Lascassas by Confederates. Crittenden, supposing that these soldiers had been killed by civilians, became greatly enraged and threatened thereafter that for very Federal soldier killed, 100 civilians should pay with their lives. Suspects from the country around were taken into custody and guarded by 200 Federal soldiers in the Courthouse at Murfreesboro.
A number of them were to be shot on Monday morning, July 13 (Forrest's birthday). Among those held as prisoners were a number from Cannon County, including Tommie Dillon (father of the late Z. T. Dillon), Col. Fed. St . John, Hiram Hall, Larkin Stewart (grandfather of W. D. Stewart), and one - Sauls. This condition of affairs was made known to Col. Forrest at Sparta (he being on his way into Kentucky) by -- some say, John Kimbro, others say Capt. Arnold (later sheriff of Rutherford County). Col. Forrest immediately turned his army of about 1,200 men toward Murfreesboro, passing through McMinnville, and arrived at Woodbury the night of the 12th.
He found the peopie in a state of terror and excitement. He was surrounded by the women of Woodbury who related to him that on the evening before a large detachment of Federal soldiers raided the town and carried off almost every man, young and old, and rushed them to prison in Murfreesboro. These ladies appealed to Col. Forrest to rescue these people, which he gallantly agreed to do, promising to have them returned before the end of the next day.
(Dr. Tom Wood is authority for the statement that Col. Forrest rested his men on Hill's Creek in front of the residence of Judge W. C. Houston for a few hours before proceeding to Murfreesboro; he retiring to the home of Dr. Wood's father, the present residence of W. J. Melton opposite the Houston home for a brief nap).
He arrived at Woodbury about midnight, finding almost every remaining citizen in the streets in dire distress. · He left in ·time to reach Murfreesboro about daylight next morning, and immediately attacked the guarded Courthouse, in which charge 25 of his men were shot and killed from the windows above, before the rescue was made.
He then attacked Crittenden's army of about 2,000 men and captured all of them, including Crittenden. The spoils included 600 horses, 40 wagons, 6 ambulances, 4 pieces of artillery and 1,200 stands of arms. These prisoners, together with the released Cannon County citizens, were brought back to Woodbury on the 13th, according to his promise to the women. The pr1soners were taken to McMinnville and paroled.
On account of this feat, President Davis three weeks later promoted him to the rank of Brigadier General.