On February 20, some of Smith’s men skirmished with Confederates near West Point, just over 100 miles north of Meridian. The Yankee troops slowly drove the Confederates back through West Point. The next day, more skirmishing flared as the troops continued south. The Confederates were led by Jeffrey Forrest, Nathan’s younger brother. The elder Forrest waited south of West Point with the intent of drawing Smith’s force into a swampy area between two rivers. Smith caught on to the plan just before it was too late and began a retreat back through West Point. On February 22, the Yankees made a stand north of West Point and fought off a Confederate attack during which Jeffrey Forrest was killed. With the older Forrest blocking his way to Meridian, Smith retreated back to Memphis.
The Confederates suffered 144 men killed, wounded, or missing, while the Union lost 324. The engagement was significant because Sherman was forced to return to Vicksburg. The battle also lifted Confederate morale and enhanced the reputation of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had taken on a much larger Union force and won.