The Battle of Sulphur Branch Trestle Fort
September 25, 1864 in Elkmont, Alabama
Col. ?? Lathrop
Confederate Forces Commanded by:
Lt. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest
*Killed, Wounded and Captured
Conclusion: Confederate Victory
The Sulphur Branch Trestle Fort was originally constructed by the Union Army to defend the strategic trestle bridge across Sulphur Branch Creek on the vital Alabama & Tennessee Railroad. This railway was a
critical Union line of communication for the transportation of logistics and troops. The fort consisted of prominent earthworks for exterior defense, with 2 blockhouses built in the fort’s interior to provide a secondary means of defense.
On September 25, after defeating Union forces at the Battle of Athens, Confederate cavalry forces under Lt. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest continued a campaign to severely disrupt Union supplies in North Alabama. He attacked the Sulphur Branch Trestle Fort, first engaging Union advance troops. This initial encounter was followed by a sharp artillery barrage against the fort’s interior. During the Confederate artillery assault, the fort’s commander, Col. ?? Lathrop, was killed. The fort’s remaining defenses were eventually overwhelmed, and the remaining defenders surrendered.
After the surrender of the fort, Forrest reported the capture of several hundred troops and 2 artillery pieces. The fort, its 2 blockhouses, and the trestle bridge were burned.
After the engagement at Sulphur Branch Trestle, Forrest continued his campaign of destroying and disrupting other import railway bridges along the Alabama and Tennessee Railroad. Many of the white Union soldiers captured here were sent to Castle Morgan. The black Union soldiers captured were put to work on the continued construction of Mobile’s defensive earthworks.