Forrest's command to charge both ways bought the Confederate commander some time. He ordered his men to remount and to head for the Lexington-Huntingdon Road, Forrest himself, unwilling to abandon his artillery, led about 75 men toward the guns. In spite of these efforts, the Federals captured three of Forrest's brass cannons and eight limbers. Forrest's rear guard, under heavy fire from Fuller's cannon west of the Lexington-Huntingdon Road, covered the retreat of the remainder of the Confederate artillery.
General Jeremiah Sullivan, commander of the District of Jackson, Tennessee, arrived at Parker's Crossroads shortly after Fuller and, as the highest ranking Union officer, assumed command. While he was preparing for an anticipated assault by Forrest, the Confederates were withdrawing from the battlefield, riding with all due haste south toward Lexington.
Forrest's brigade rendezvoused that evening at Lexington, where the men were given rations and the horses fed. At 2:00 a.m. on New Year's Day, the brigade saddled up and rode toward the Tennessee River. At daybreak, some ten miles east of Lexington, Forrest paroled the more than 300 prisoners taken since December 23.
Meanwhile, Forrest received word that Brigadier General Grenville M. Dodge was en route from Corinth, Mississippi, with a force sufficient to destroy the brigade. About noon, Forrest learned that the 6th Tennessee (Union) Cavalry was blocking the road in front with orders to delay and harass the Confederates. A vigorous assault by Dibrell crushed the Union roadblock, the Federals falling back with severe losses.
The brigade reached the Tennessee River about 12:30. Forrest crossed four of his guns first positioning them to cover the crossing. The horses and mules were forced to swim the river. The men and equipment crossed aboard the two flatboats that had been hidden after the crossing made two weeks earlier, as well as on an assortment of hastily constructed rafts. By 9:00 p.m. five pieces of artillery, six caissons, 60 wagons, four ambulances, and over 2,000 men and horses were on the opposite side of the Tennessee. Forrest had once again eluded his pursuers.
General Dodge's Report on Forrest's Escape
Head Quarters District of Corinth
Department of the Tennessee
Corinth, Miss., January 3, 1863
(To) Major General Ulysses S. Grant
General: Forrest escaped across the river at Clifton at 7 a.m. January 1, having traveled all the time since his fight, and immediately attacked my cavalry. They kept him from the river until night, when they found they were surrounded by a very heavy force and two pieces of artillery. They cut their way out down river and got into his rear next morning. Forrest commenced crossing that night, his men on rafts, his horses swam. The cavalry attacked again the 2d (of January), and this morning he had everything across by 10 o'clock. - G.M. Dodge
Photo Inset is captioned Brigadier General Grenville M. Dodge, Commander of the District of Corinth, Department of the Tennessee