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Battlefield History

Brigadier General Thomas L. Crittenden moved command of the Fifth Division of the Army of the Ohio to a position above the Lock and Dam #2 on the Green River at Calhoun in November 1861. This was to counter Confederate troop movement sixty miles east in Bowling Green, Kentucky's Confederate State Capital. Crittenden's troop strength included two regiments from Daviess County, a regiment from Hartford along with the 25th and 11th Kentucky Infantry, and the troops from the 31st, 42nd, 43rd and 44th Indiana Infantry. Through the heart of McLean County ran a ribbon of water that was the dividing line of a county, the Commonwealth, and of brothers. Crittenden was charged with holding that line along the Green River. Forrest was charged with breaching it.
Crittenden's formidable strength at Calhoun gave the indication of a pending advance by the Fifth Division across the Green River and toward Bowling Green. General Johnston (CSA) ordered reconnaissance to determine the military situation. On December 26th, in Hopkinsville, Lt. Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest's battalion was ordered to probe the strength of Crittenden's Army in this region. Forrest left Hopkinsville with a cavalry strength of 300 effective men and rode to Greenville. There he was joined by Lt. Col. Starne's 8th Tennessee Cavalry. Captain Merriweather's 1st Kentucky Cavalry, and Captain W.S. McLemore. His two forward scouts, Adam R. Johnson and Robert M. Martin were familiar with the area and each had brothers, whom they may now have to fight, stationed at Camp Calhoun.
Just outside the village of Sacramento, eight miles north of Greenville, on December 28th, 1861, Forrest was approached by Miss Mollie Morehead, a young Confederate sympathizer. She informed Forrest that just over the hill Federal troops were dismounted and watering their horses at a place called Garst's Pond. Mollie, in Forrest's own words, "with untied tresses floating in the breeze, on horseback, infusing nerve into my arm and kindling knightly chivalry within my heart" ignited the furry of "Forrest's First" fight. Eighteen-year-old Major Eli H. Murray of the 3rd KY Cavalry was in command of a scouting mission of about 400 men that had been dispatched from Camp Calhoun that morning. Major Murray was soon to be face-to-face with "that Devil Forrest." Mollie had given Forrest the opportunity of surprise. He pulled up his mount, grabbed a Maynard rifle from one of his men and ordered the charge!!! Major Kelly and Lt. Col. Starnes were ordered to flank left, flank right, while dismounted sharpshooters took aim at the confused Federal troops. Forrest himself rode headlong toward Major Murray's advancing cavalry, standing up in his stirrups with saber raised, and sounding that dreaded Rebel Yell!!!

The fight that began south of Sacramento became a running battle through the town for another two miles and climaxed near the little church at Union Station. Forrest, in a mass of horses and men, had just demonstrated the success of his relentless cavalry maneuver which he first used a few miles down the road and this cavalry strategy would become his trademark throughout his military career.