At 9:45 a.m. on June 10, a brigade of Benjamin H. Grierson's Union cavalry division reached Brice's Crossroads and the battle started at 10:30 a.m. when the Confederates performed a stalling operation with a brigade of their own. Forrest then ordered the rest of his cavalry to converge around the crossroads. The remainder of the Union cavalry arrived in support, but a strong Confederate assault soon pushed them back at 11:30 a.m., when the balance of Forrest's cavalry arrived on the scene. Grierson called for infantry support and Sturgis obliged. The line held until 1:30 p.m. when the first regiments of Federal infantry arrived.
The Union line, initially bolstered by the infantry, briefly seized the momentum and attacked the Confederate left flank, but Forrest launched an attack from his extreme right and left wings, before the rest of the federal infantry could take the field. In this phase of the battle, Forrest commanded his artillery to unlimber, unprotected, only yards from the Federal position, and to shell the Union line with grapeshot. The massive damage caused Sturgis to re-order the line in a tighter semicircle around the crossroads, facing east.
At 3:30, the Confederates in the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry assaulted the bridge across the Tishomingo. Although the attack failed, it caused severe confusion among the Federal troops and Sturgis ordered a general retreat. With the Tennesseans still pressing, the retreat bottlenecked at the bridge and a panicked rout developed instead. The ensuing wild flight and pursuit back to Memphis carried across six counties before the exhausted Confederates retired.