Battle of Selma
The Battle of Selma began when Major General James H. Wilson, commanding three divisions of Union cavalry, led his men south from Gravelly Springs, Alabama, on March 22, 1865. Opposed by Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan B. Forrest, Wilson skillfully continued his march and eventually defeated him in a running battle at Ebenezer Church, on April 1. Continuing towards Selma, Wilson split his command into three columns. Although Selma was well-defended, the Union columns broke through the defenses at separate points forcing the Confederates to surrender the city, although many of the officers and men, including Forrest and Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, escaped. Selma demonstrated that even Forrest, whom some had considered invincible, could not stop the unrelenting Union movements deep into the Southern Heartland. 
Advance on Selma
The main column of the Federal raiding force, led by MG Emory Upton's division, arrived at Montevallo late on the evening of March 30th.Destruction of the Red Mountain Iron works, Cahawba Valley Mills, Bibb Iron Works and the Columbiana was completed as a portion of Forrest's made an appearance. As Upton moved his men from Montevallo at 1330 on the 31st they were confronted by "the advance of Roddy's Division" comprised of about 300 members of Crossland's Kentucky Brigade and a small party of militia under Dan Adams. BG Andrew Alexander's 2nd Brigade troops were sent forward to disperse the enemy force. Three companies of the 5th Iowa Cavalry drove the Confederate advance back, killing one man, wounding two others, and taking fifteen prisoners. The main body of enemy troopers was found posted "behind a difficult creek." Alexander dismounted his brigade and presented a strong enough front to convince the enemy to retire "after a slight skirmish."
While the Confederate troopers and militia were being pushed back, Forrest and about 275 members of his escort came on to the road behind the Union troopers chasing the retiring defenders. In charaterisitic aggressive fashion Forrest ordered a charge up the road with pistols drawn. The two forces were immediately intermingled and a close quarters fight ensued. The unexpected appearance of the enemy in their very midst from an unexpected direction broke up the Union pursuit and allowed Forrest to capture several prisoners. With the intelligence gained from these men Forrest learned the details of Wilson's approach. After a 9 mile ride to bypass the Union column Forrest arrived at randolph and hatched his plan to defend Selma.
April 1st found the Union forces, Upton again in the lead, moving toward Randolph. At this point the column was split, Upton to move east via Maplesville and then south to approach Selma from the north, while BG Eli Long continued on the established route to approach from the west. During these movements Wilson became the beneficiary of an intelligence bonanza of his own. Upton's men captured a Confederate courier with a full set of instructions for Forrest's defense contained in three messages.
With full knowledge of the whereabouts of all Confederate forces, their plan of action, and expected routes of travel Wilson developed his own plan to counter the moves. Forrest's plan was to hold the main advance (hopefully fortified by Chalmers) while Jackson's division gained their rear and caught them in a vise. Wilson identified the Jackson move as the key to the plan and acted swiftly to deny that option. BG Edward McCook was ordered to take his remaining brigade (Croxton was still off on the Tuscaloosa raid), under COL Oscar LaGrange, and seize the bridge at Centerville, garrison it heavily, and move on to cover Jackson when he attempted to make his move. McCook hoped to reunite with Croxton and if so attack Jackson before any operations could begin. Unfortunately for the Union commander Croxton was giving the Confederate forces a wide berth and his march would not reunite him with the command until April 29th. The remaining divisions of Upton and Long were ordered to press Forrest to disrupt his efforts at consolidation.
Battle of Selma
After the meeting with MG Taylor, Forrest assembled all the available troops and citizens to man the line of works around the city. He received help when Armstrong's Brigade of Chalmers Divisionmade it through the Union screen with 1432 troopers. These were placed in the works on the left, Roddey's men filled the right, and the militia and impressed men filled the center.Behind the center sat Forrest with his escort and Crossland's Kentuckians.
Long's division of Union troopers led the advance of Wilson's column on to the new position via the Summerfield Road. Upton's Division was split off to approach on the Range Line Road. Not forgetting the the possibility that Jackson or Chalmers would make a belated appearance Wilson blocked the approach with one regiment and pack train. Wilson made a careful study of the Confederate works and made a plan to begin the assault with Long's Division on the right, while Upton manuevered for a night attack on the on the left. Long kept his 4500 men concealed behind a low ridge until about 1600. When he got word that the blocking position in his rear was being assailed by Chalmers' command in an effort to reach the Confederate defense he decided to initiatethe attack without waiting for the signal gun. The line surged forward over the crest of the covering ridge. The 600 yards remaining to the works saw a "rapid and destructive fire of musketry and artillery" being trained on his line. The Union troopers returned fire with their Spencers and battled through "fences and ravine, scaling the stockade and on the works." Once the works were gained Armstrong's Confederate troopers gave way after "fighting stubbornly, many of them clubbing their guns." Despite the bitter fight the defenders were routed from the works and retreated into the city.
Hearing the premature firing on his right Upton's "division was immediately ordered forward." They struck the militia who again fled the scene leaving a sizeable gap in the line. Upton's Union troopers swarmed into the opening. Forrest, seeing the possibility of disaster, personally rushed his reserve into the gap trying to stem the tide. It was too late. The overwhelming force of the Union assault swept back the futile effort. Forrest and the remaining members of his command fought their way out of town. Selma was taken after a short fight and Forrest's command nearly wrecked. Taken were 2700 prisoners,including 150 officers, dozens of artillery pieces of all sizes and "large quantities of military stores." The arsenal and associated works were also destroyed.
Long's command paid a heavy price for their success. Although he claimed that the loss was "slight compared with the work accomplished" the numbers told a different story. Long's report of the attack claims that only 1550 of his men played a prominent role in the attack yet his division suffered 319 casualties (42K, 270W, and 7M) for the 45 minute fight. The work was done,however. The important works at Selma were lost to the Confederacy and Forrest was damaged to the point where he had no hope of contributing to the defense of Mobile.