Thomas won the most complete victory on the field of the Civil
War in spite of Grant's attempt to derail
him and Schofield's attempt to supplant him. The rock moved and became a sledge, and a fast one at that.
After the battles for Atlanta, Hood threatened Sherman's railroad communications with
Chattanooga. Sherman pursued as far as Rome, Ga., but couldn't quite
catch Hood, so Sherman gave up and hung around Rome for a while. While
Hood refitted in Alabama, Sherman the visionary made plans to
foreshadow 20th century warfare against civilians and make Georgia
howl. He divided up his forces, taking the pick of the crop, including Thomas's prized 14th corps (the one which
Sherman had said was so slow before Kennesaw that it would stop to
intrench in front of a "plowed furrow"), and sent the discarded troops
back to Thomas who had arrived in Nashville on 3 Nov. 1864 with orders
to deal with Forrest. True, after it became apparent that Hood intended
to invade Tennessee Thomas was given the 4th corps under Stanley as a
nucleus, then the gifted cavalry commander from Galena, Illinois,
James H. Wilson, and finally the less gifted departmental commander
(Army of the Ohio) Schofield. Sherman then blithely bid Hood good speed
in his quest to reach the Ohio and beyond and, on 12 Nov. 64, cut his
telegraph wire and began his cakewalk or, in Wilson's words
"picnic excursion," or in Piatt's words "militia march", or in
Sherman's words "winter excursion" to the sea against no military
Schofield's position in Thomas's forces in Tennessee requires
explanation. In Missouri he had first been a staff officer without
battlefield command responsibility (Wilson's Creek), and then a brigade
(?) commander who successfully or fortuitously avoided engagement (Pea
Ridge, Prairie Grove). We can
safely disregard the
Congressional Medal of Honor the then Commander-in-chief of the Army
was awarded in 1892 for allegedly having led a charge at the battle of
Creek (he didn't). In February 1884 he was brought to Knoxville to
and thus was elevated to command of almost a real army and department.
Sherman then, through his brother the senator John Sherman, lobbied
Congress to have Schofield confirmed in the command. On 9 April, after
only 2 months there, he and his Army of the Ohio were assigned to
Sherman's army group for the drive to capture Atlanta. During the
battles for Atlanta proper, he became involved in a manufactured
dispute with Stanley concerning Stanley's prior date of commission as
major general giving him precedence over Schofield. I say manfactured,
because the record shows that Sherman knew the question would come up
before he issued his instructions. When it indeed did come up, Sherman
put on a show of impartiality and sided with Stanley so that Halleck
then could later overrule him and officially establish Schofield's
precedence over Stanley. Sherman himself gives this away when he wrote
that, after having communicated his decision, "General Schofield
cheerfully acquiesced, but at my instance he has made the
point, that I might submit it for adjudication" [italics
mine]. To peruse the whole sorry paper trail, insofar as it is
still present in the Official Records, click here.
As a result, when Stanley and Schofield were sent to Thomas,
Schofield automatically became Thomas' second in command over Stanley.
According to Van Horne, Thomas' first biographer, Thomas knew right
away that there was something dubious about Schofield's assignment to
"Shortly after the close of the war, General Thomas said to the writer, that he had felt that he would have an enemy in his command, when first he heard that General Schofield with his corps would join him from Georgia, instead of the Fourteenth corps, for which he had previously made application. ("The Life of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas," pg. 439)
The significance of these machinations will become apparent below
when we consider the final weeks leading up to the battle of Nashville
when Grant began a campaign to oust Thomas.
Meanwhile, Hood led his lean and mean army, along with Forrest,
across the Tennessee River on 20 Nov. 64. Nominally in charge of that
theater, Beauregard was excluded from Hood's camp so as to keep him in
the dark. Not even Davis was consulted for, learning of Hood's plans
after the fact, he confessed: "I consider this movement into Tennessee
ill-advised." At first Hood's intentions weren't clear to Thomas
either, so he had to scatter his limited forces in small, vulnerable
units to act as a 100 mile wide picket system. He coordinated this
system by means of telegrams, of which
hundreds a day were sent back and forth prior to the final battle - in
itself a major innovation in military science. Schofield's assigned
part in this strategy was to delay Hood as much as possible without
risking the loss of his and Stanley's corps. Schofield thus established
himself at Columbia on the Duck river. On 29 Nov. Wilson warned
Schofield (and Thomas) that Hood was about to cross upriver and
outflank him, but Schofield, in spite of direct orders from Thomas to
retreat, decided to first find out for himself
where Hood was, thus losing 12 hours. However, he didn't have a minute
to lose in carrying out Thomas's order, and therefore found Hood all
right - between him and Franklin on the road to Nashville. Schofield
writes in his memoirs that he never received this order. These two
telegrams - the one from Thomas to Schofield, and Schofield's
answer - demonstrate that Schofield lied:
NASHVILLE, November 29, 1864--3.30 a.m.
Major-General SCHOFIELD, Near Columbia:
Your dispatches of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. yesterday are received. I have directed General Hammond to halt his command at Spring Hill and report to you for orders, if he cannot communicate with General Wilson, and also instructing him to keep you well advised of the enemy's movements. I desire you to fall back from Columbia and to take up your position at Franklin [emphasis added], leaving a sufficient force at Spring Hill to contest the enemy's progress until you are securely lasted at Franklin. The troops at the fords below Williamsport, &c., will be withdrawn and take up a position behind Franklin. General A. J. Smith's command has not yet reached Nashville; as soon as he arrives I will make immediate disposition of his troops and notify you of the same. Please send me a report as to how matters stand upon your receipt of this.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE OHIO, Franklin Pike, Tenn., November 29, 1864---8.20 a.m.
Major-General THOMAS, Nashville:
The enemy's cavalry has crossed in force on the Lewisburg pike, and General Wilson reports the infantry crossing above Huey's Mills, about five miles from this place. I have sent an infantry reconnaissance to learn the fact. If it prove true I will act according to your instructions received this morning[emphasis added]. Please send orders to General Cooper, via Johnsonville; it may be doubtful whether my messenger from here will reach him.
J. M. SCHOFIELD, Major-General.
In his Memoirs Schofield further states that he had the whole matter well in hand. He didn't. Schofield's behavior during the entire Nashville campaign is difficult to explain, unless you postulate that he thought he should have been in command instead of Thomas.
On the afternoon of 29 Nov. Stanley reached Spring Hill and,
although outnumbered, held it against units of Forrest and Cleburne,
thus keeping the road open to Franklin. That night Schofield's
troops passed on the main road and within sight of the Confederate
campfires north of Spring Hill, while Hood slept. Some Union soldiers
even wandered into the Confederate encampment, but no alarm was raised.
Most authors write that Hood's subordinates tried to wake him, but
couldn't, and nobody dared take action without orders. Many authors
assert that Cheatham was off partying at the time, and that Hood had
drunk alcohol, potent in combination with the opium-based medicine he
took for the pain from his war wounds (amputated leg, maimed arm). For
whatever reason, Schofield squeaked through. The next morning, when
Hood discovered that Schofield had escaped, he raged and blamed his
officers. "You disobeyed my orders, damn you," he shouted at his
assembled generals. Starting at 4 that afternoon, while Hood lay down
to rest, he ordered his army to make a spine stiffening frontal assault
without reconnaissance on Schofield's works south
of Franklin. Moreover, the rear guard with most of Hood's artillery had
not yet arrived. When one of Stephen Lee's divisions arrived at about 9
PM, Hood sent it in too. At Gettysburg on 3 July 63, Lee had the sense
to call it off after one charge and blame himself for the failure. At
Franklin Hood kept it up until well after 10 PM: six hours and more of
utter madness. Hood's losses that day were about 25% of his army,
including 6 generals killed, among them the best battle commander the
war had produced for the Confederacy - Irish born Patrick Cleburne.
The Confederates did achieve a temporary success thanks
to three poorly placed brigades under Wagner. His troops were
isolated about a quarter-mile in front of the Union lines, and in
the confusion caused by their retreat into their lines (the defenders
had to hold their fire), some
Confederate units were able to pierce the center. If Schofield had
taken the trouble to inspect his lines, he would have corrected the
obvious error, but it appears that Schofield was in such a state of
discomposure and panic that he was in no condition to inspect lines as
he hurriedly repaired to Ft. Granger on the other side of the river. He
apparenly did have time to order Wagner to position himself in advance
in order to dely the advancing Confederates. No written order to that
effect is present in the Official Records, and there is no confirmation
of a verbal order other than Wagner's assertion. Later he was accused
of having been drunk, and his career and reputation were destroyed.
However, the well-timed and heroic
counter-attack of Col. Emerson Opdycke and the personal intervention of
Maj. Gen. Stanley (who was severely wounded thereby) closed the
breach. Schofield watched the battle from the safety of an observation
tower on the north side of town. During the battle Schofield got his
wagon trains on the road, and then in the evening he abandoned the
field to Hood. The next morning, Hood's General Field
Orders No. 38 were read to the incredulous survivors:
"The commanding general congratulates the army upon the success achieved yesterday over our enemy by their heroic and determined courage. The enemy have been sent in disorder and confusion to Nashville, and while we lament the fall of many gallant officers and brave men, we have shown to our countrymen that we can carry any position occupied by our enemy."
A couple of days later Hood telegraphed to Richmond that he had
won the battle, albeit with...ahem...many losses (ar94_643).
Just to show that Hood could lie with best of them I quote from his
report of 14 Nov.:
"During the day I was restrained from using my artillery on account of the women and children remaining in the town."
The estimated ratio of forces engaged to casualties sums it up succinctly: (US 27,939:2326, CS 26,897:6252). A footnote: To the east of Franklin, Wilson's outnumbered cavalry fought Forrest to a standstill, thus keeping the road to Nashville free. Later at Selma, Wilson would beat Forrest at his own game.
After such losses Hood, when he arrived at Nashville the next day, was not in a position to seek battle with Thomas and went into a sort of winter camp just in front of the Nashville works. In any case, it would not have been advisable to attack the Nashville fortifications as they were the most extensive Federal works before any city in the South throughout the entire war. Hood hoped for reinforcements which never arrived, thanks in part to the efforts of Canby in sealing off the Mississippi to major Confederate troop crossings, and for recruits from the local population whose males fled into Nashville by the thousands to avoid conscription. The bushwackers who attacked his wagon trains offered further clues to the peril of his situation. His best chance lay in a premature attack on the part of the Federals which, indeed, would have taken place had Grant gotten his way. Hood had come so far, couldn't go further, couldn't go back. As he wrote later in his memoirs Attack and Retreat: "…the troops would, I believed, return better satisfied even after defeat if, in grasping at the last straw, they felt that a brave and vigorous effort had been made to save the country from disaster." This statement by a survivor needs no comment.
So he waited, and, while the ordinary Confederate soldiers froze and hungered, the festivities in Hood's headquarters at the well-stocked mansion of John Overton 6 miles south of Nashville continued unabated. Hood even sent Forrest and some infantry off to attack Murfreesboro (a move which puzzles nearly all writers on this battle), while Thomas had been reinforced by militia, commissary troops formed into combat units, a provisional division under Steedman (whom Thomas considered to be one of his finest commanders) including colored units, and 3 divisions of A. J. Smith's Missouri command who had arrived in Nashville at about the same time as Schofield from Franklin. The story of the trek of Smith's troops from the Kansas border to Nashville is a saga in itself. He was an energetic commander and one of the few who had ever defeated Forrest (Tupelo 13-15 July 64). Things were looking up for Thomas.
Thomas, however, had some problems. His plan was to deal with Hood's army once and for all, that is not conduct just another of the Civil War's countless indecisive battles. For this he needed horses in order to re-equip the cavalry of "boy wonder" James H. Wilson, at Chattanooga an adjutant on Grant's staff, but now a major general. Without an effective cavalry there could be no pursuit after the battle and therefore no decisive conclusion to it. However, horses were in very short supply, and Wilson was forced to impress all of the civilian owned horses in that part of Tennessee, causing hardship and eliciting protest. To give a good example Governor Johnson gave up his carriage horses. Another problem was the weather which worsened into an ice storm which lasted for 5 days and did not let up until the 14th.
Still another problem was Grant
himself. Already on 2 Dec. he began a telegram campaign to get Thomas
to attack Hood immediately. According to several commentators, he was
abetted in this by the ambitious Schofield who was sending false
reports to Grant about Thomas' situation. Steedman, one of Thomas'
corps commanders at Nashville, stated that on 12 Dec. he showed Thomas
a hand-written telegram from Schofield to Grant reporting:
"Many officers here are of the opinion that
Thomas is certainly too slow in his movements." (Wilbur
Thomas, p. 565, Cleaves, pg. 259)
According to Steedman, Thomas recognized Schofield's handwriting.
Now, as the battle of Nashville approached, Grant was cashing in
his chips. He wanted Hood's army further damaged at any cost in order
to prevent any blame from falling on him because of Sherman's lopsided
partitioning of the forces after Atlanta (which Grant had approved).
Furthermore, Grant did not want Thomas to win another impressive
victory which would further enhance Thomas's reputation. And finally,
if Grant could get Thomas to step down under the pressure, or if he
could get Stanton, Halleck, or Lincoln to remove Thomas (Grant
preferred that someone else beside himself do this), then so much the
better. He twice had orders written for Thomas' replacement by
Schofield, but he needed more time to work up the courage and/or
support to actually send them. All of this activity served also
to distract from his own lack of progress in the siege of Petersburg
where he had sat for 7 months although outnumbering Lee by
three to one. So he dangled promotion in front of Schofield in order to
get help fabricating the grounds for Thomas' removal. To paraphrase
Aesop, any excuse will serve a tyrant, but an excuse there must be.
Things did not work out the way Grant planned. The evening of 15
Dec., just as Grant was leaving Washington for Nashville in order to
"take charge" there, the telegrams began arriving. Thomas had attacked
and driven Hood back, another attack was planned for the morrow.
General Logan, whom Grant had sent on ahead with the third set of
orders to Thomas to turn over command to Schofield, was in Louisville,
one day's travel from Nashville. Grant recalled Logan, canceled his own
trip, sent an insultingly worded telegram of conditional
congratulations to Thomas,* and reverted to his
proven strategy of correcting history in its written form. For one of
the best contemporary evaluations of this situation, see the excerpts
below from Wilson's memoirs "Under the Old Flag."
In their book "Life of Lincoln" (Vol. X, pg. 29), Nicolas and Hay,
Lincoln's secretaries, wrote the following which probably expressed
Lincoln's opinion at the time:
Thomas nowhere appears to greater advantage, not even on the
hills of Chickamauga, opposing his indomitable spirit to the surging
tide of disaster and defeat, than he does during this week, opposing
his sense of duty to the will of his omnipotent superior, and refusing
to move one hour before he thought the interests of the country
permitted it, even under the threat of removal and discrace."
Poor Lincoln, sensing the political vacuum growing around
him, knowing he was also about to be thrown to the wolves, could do no
more than slow Grant down.
Back to the military part of the battle: On the 15th Wood, Smith, and Wilson attacked Hood's left. Schofield was held in reserve. The secondary attack with Steedman's provisional division (including colored troops)** was to divert Confederate attention from Wood and Smith by attacking on Hood's right. And divert it did. Cheatham's shock troops, formerly under Cleburne who had died at Franklin, fought so ferociously against the colored troops that some sight was lost of what was happening on the other flank which Thomas hit with almost everything else that he had. By the way, this was the only major Union battle in the entire war in which colored troops played or even were allowed to play a significant combat role (see my article George H. Thomas - Practitioner of Emancipation). That evening Hood pulled his line back two miles and shortened it, switching Cheatham in the evening to his left in order to counter the main blow which was now obviously going to be directed there.
The next morning Wilson's refitted cavalry group consisting of 9000 men (out of 12,000 effectives, 3000 of them couldn't be horsed) rode around Hood's left flank while Schofield's corps took Wilson's place in the line. Wilson's men were equipped with the Spencer repeating carbine (shorter version of Wilder's Spencer rifle), thus having the firepower of an entire infantry corps. Once behind Hood, they dismounted and set up on one of Hood's two escape routes. While Wilson struck from behind,*** the attack was renewed against Hood's entire line. Steedman continued on the left, and Wood and Smith on the right. Despite repeated orders to attack, Schofield on Thomas's right hesitated, and did not move until Smith on his left and Wilson on his right already had broken Hood's left flank. The effect was the disintegration of Hood's line which retreated in disorder along the other road back to Franklin and beyond. The rout would perhaps have been total, that is Hood's escape route along Franklin Pike might have also been closed off if Schofield had vigorously attacked when ordered to. That evening, Captain Van Duzer in Nashville telegraphed to his boss Major Eckert, head of Stanton's telegraph service, a short report which finished with the words: "Everybody, white and black, did splendidly" (ar94_213).
Out of about 50,000 troops engaged the Federals had 3000 casualties. Out of 23,000 to 38,000 Confederates (depending on the source) there were about 6000 casualties including thousands of deserters and captured. Do the math. Wherever Thomas was really in command, there were relatively few casualties on either side. He was more interested in mass disorganization than mass distruction.
Wilson's cavalry pursued the remnants of Hood's army for the rest of December despite horrendous weather conditions. He was also hampered by lack of forage for his horses (they go on strike if not fed). Steedman then pursued by rail, and the cavalry continued after that as far as Mississippi. Thomas himself came south to organize the pursuit, setting up headquarters in Pulaski, Tenn. and then, for the last 2 weeks of Jan. 1865, in Eastport, Mississippi. It was the longest pursuit after a battle in the Civil War, lasting a month and a half and covering more than 200 miles. Hood ended up with about 13,000 troops, of which about 5000 reported to Johnston in N. Carolina. This was the only time in the Civil War when an army was practically destroyed on an open field of battle, unless you want to include Thomas' victory at the battle of Mill Springs, the first major Union victory of the war.
On 30 Dec. 64 Thomas was named major general of the regular army,
albeit with enough delay to put his date of promotion subsequent to
that of Meade, Sheridan, and Sherman to the same rank. Grant had a hand
in this delay, as is shown in this dispatch to Stanton of 20 Dec. 1864:
"I think Thomas has won the major-generalcy, but I would wait a few days before giving it, to see the extent of damages done."
When informed of his promotion Thomas couldn't help remarking:
"I suppose it is better late than never, but it is too late
to be appreciated. I earned this at Chickamauga." (O'Conner, "Rock of
Chickamauga", pg. 327)
Meanwhile the War Department began dismanteling his army. Schofield applied secretly to Grant to be sent to Sherman and joined him in North Carolina, and Stanley was sent to New Orleans. Thomas did, however, organize Wilson's raid which resulted in the defeat of Forrest at Selma and the capture of Jefferson Davis in southern Georgia, and Stoneman's forays into and western Virginia and North Carolina which closed off any escape on Lee's part into the mountains. However, Thomas held no more battlefield command in the war. Grant's campaign for the presidential election of 1868 had already begun, and Thomas was in the way.
Afterward, Grant and Sherman, aided by Schofield, took the position that Thomas was too slow in attacking and not vigorous enough in pursuit. From this Grant professed to conclude that Thomas was too inert to mount an offensive, saying: "Thomas is too slow to move and too brave to run away." To damn with faint praise, as Shakespeare used to say. The problem is, Grant was just getting started with the character assassination of Thomas, but that is the story of another battle.
* Grant to Thomas: "I was just on
my way to Nashville, but receiving a dispatch from Van Duzer, detailing
your splendid success of to-day, I shall go no farther. Push the enemy
now, and give him no rest until he is entirely destroyed. Your army
will cheerfully suffer many privations to break up Hood's army and
render it useless for future operations. Do not stop for trains or
supplies, but take them from the country, as the enemy have done. Much
is now expected." <ar94_195>
** Col Thomas J. Morgan, cmdr. 14th Colored Brigade: "The troops under my command have, as a whole, behaved well, and if they failed to accomplish all I expected it was my fault, not theirs; I was deceived as to the character of the work built by the enemy on the 14th. Could I have known the exact nature of the work, the troops would have carried it by a direct assault from the north side, with perhaps less loss than was sustained. During the night of the 15th the enemy retired from our front." <ar93_536, 537>
*** Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson: "In concluding this report permit me to say that, if the operations just described have been of any avail in the recent campaign, it is due entirely to the concentration of the cavalry and its reorganization as a separate corps. I have, therefore, to request that the credit awarded it may be used to secure from the War Department the recognition of its separate existence as a corps, and an official approval of the measures already inaugurated for its efficiency. With an opportunity to complete its organization, a full supply of Spencer carbines for the entire command, and we can take the field next spring with a force of cavalry fully competent to perform any work that may be assigned it."<>Battle reports:
Other articles on this battle:
1. George H. Thomas - Practitioner of Emancipation by Bob Redman
2. Thomas Van Horne on the battle of Nashville and background, taken from his 1882 biography "Life of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas"
3. Excerpt from Repelling Hood's Invasion of Tennessee by Henry Stone, brevet Col., USV, member of the staff of General Thomas
4. Excerpts from Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson's memoirs Unter the Old Flag. Wilson was perhaps the
best placed officer to judge both Thomas and Grant. He came up in
Grant's staff from the rank of lieutenant to that of brigadier general,
was made a made a major general and placed in charge of the Union
Cavalry Bureau at Grant's behest, and then performed an essential role
under Thomas at the battles of Franklin and Nashville, and afterwards
under Thomas's direction in the Selma campaign and the capture of
5. "Was Thomas Slow at Nashville" by Dan Hughes - historical reenactor of George H. Thomas. Presentation he gave to the Sons of Union Veterans in Nashville about the hurdles Thomas overcame while preparing for battle. Click here to view his accompanying Powerpoint slide show.
An excellent museum dealing
with the preliminary phases of the battle of Nashville is the Carter House located in
Franklin, Tenn. For more information visit its website at http://www.carter-house.org or
send E-mail to the director Thomas
Cartwright. In Franklin you will find also a thriving downtown
business section, a classic version of an American small town.
On the first day of December General Thomas had in hand at Nashville all the troops available for battle, except a part: of his cavalry that had been sent north to be remounted. He then felt secure against attack but not prepared for offense, His purpose was to crush his foe, and this intention was one cause -- perhaps the dominant one -- for his delay of a few days against a pressure of suggestions and positive orders, which might have moved a weaker man to fight the enemy regardless of consequences. But he preferred the loss of command to fighting before he had made preparations to crush Hood's army. He had three corps of infantry from as many military departments, together with mounted and dismounted cavalry, a large element of raw troops, convalescents from the four corps with General Sherman, and six regiments of negro troops, and he requested permission to delay a week, that he might give the semblance of unity to this heterogeneous mass, remount his cavalry, and provide transportation for the pursuit of the enemy, in the event of victory,
These forces did not constitute an army according to any proper
ideal of such a body - one with established relations running through
all its units great and small, and with corresponding sentiment and esprit-du-corps.
It was not an army as compared with the Army of the Cumberland. That
army comprised three fighting corps of infantry - the Fourth,
Fourteenth and Twentieth - and a body of cavalry, having commander's
and soldiers bound together by battle-wrought sympathies and fixed
Page 300 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
General Thomas did not distrust the troops thus loosely connected, but he would have preferred his own army, cemented by the traditions of oft-repeated battle, and the spirit and discipline that result from long-continued relations and service. He did not propose, however, to give perfected compactness to his forces, but only to take time enough to drill his raw troops, remount his cavalry and provide the necessary transportation.
In the following despatch to General Halleck, Thomas described the situation at Nashville, and made known his plans:
NASHVILLE, December 1st, 1864, 9.30 P. M.
MAJOR-GENERAL HALLECK, Washington, D. C.
After General Schofield's fight of yesterday, feeling convinced that the enemy very far outnumbered him, both in infantry and cavalry, I determined to retire to the fortifications around Nashville, until General. Wilson can get his cavalry equipped. He has now about one-fourth the number of the enemy, and consequently is no match for him. I have two iron-clads here, with several gunboats, and Commodore Fitch assures me that Hood can neither cross the Cumberland, nor blockade it. I therefore think it best to wait here until Wilson can equip all his cavalry, If Hood attacks me here, he will be more seriously damaged than he was yesterday, If he remains until Wilson gets equipped, I can whip him, and will move against him at once. I have Murfreesboro' strongly held, and therefore feel easy in regard to its safety. Chattanooga, Bridgeport, Stevenson, and Elk River bridges have strong garrisons.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General U. S. V. Commanding.
His expressed intention to postpone battle for a. few days to
remount his cavalry, produced intense solicitude at Washington, and
greatly disturbed the equanimity of General Grant. The lieutenant
general having been called
Page 301 - URGED TO FIGHT
upon by his superiors at Washington to consider the situation at Nashville, entered upon this service with an energy that had no parallel in the war. He opened a series of despatches suggestive, hortatory and mandatory, which would have unwisely deprived General Thomas of the independence that had been accorded to army commanders from the beginning of the war. The President, it is true, had ordered such commanders to enter upon campaigns, but in no case had such a general been entirely restricted in his discretion, or overruled in his judgment as to adequate preparations.
General Grant's attention was called to the situation at Nashville by the following despatch:
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, Dec. 3,10.30.A. M.
LIEUT -GENERAL GRANT, City Point:
The President feels solicitous about the disposition of Thomas to lay in fortifications for an indefinite period, "until Wilson gets equipments." This looks like the McClellan and Rosecrans strategy of do nothing, and let the enemy raid the country. The President wishes you to consider the matter.
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
Immediately upon receipt of this despatch Grant telegraphed to Thomas:
If Hood is permitted to remain quietly about Nashville, we will lose all the roads back to Chattanooga, and possibly have to abandon the line of the Tennessee River, should he attack you it is all well, but if he does not, you should attack him before he fortifies. Arm and put in the trenches your quartermaster's employees, citizens, etc.
Ninety minutes after the foregoing, a despatch of the same general purport, but more specific in instructions, was sent:
With your citizen employees armed you can move out
of Nashville with all your army, and force the enemy to retire or fight
upon ground of your own choosing. After the repulse of Hood at Franklin
Page 302 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
it looks to me that instead of falling back to Nashville, we should have taken the offensive against the enemy, but at this distance may err, as to the method of dealing with the enemy. You will suffer incalculable injury upon your railroads if Hood is not speedily disposed of. Put forth, therefore, every possible exertion to attain this end. Should you get him to retreating give him no peace.
In reply to this despatch Thomas sent the following at 10 P.M., the same day:
Your two telegrams of 11 A. M. and 1.30 P.M., to-day are received. At the time Hood was whipped at Franklin I had at this place but about five thousand men of General Smith's command, which added to the force under General Schofield, would not have given me more than twenty-five thousand men. Besides, General Schofield felt convinced that he could not hold the enemy at Franklin until the five thousand could reach him. As General Wilson's cavalry force also numbered only about one-fourth that of Forrest, I thought it best to draw the troops back to Nashville, and await the arrival of the remainder of General Smith's force, and also a force of about five thousand commanded by General Steedman, which I had ordered up from Chattanooga. The division of General Smith arrived yesterday morning, and General Steedman's troops arrived last night. I now have infantry enough to assume the offensive, if I had more cavalry; and will take the field any how as soon as the remainder of General McCook's cavalry reaches here, which I hope it will in two or three days. We can neither get reenforcements nor equipments at this great distance from the North very easily, and it must be remembered that my command was made up of the two weakest corps of General Sherman's army, and all the dismounted cavalry except one brigade, and the task of reorganizing and equipping has met with many delays, which have enabled Hood to take advantage of of my crippled condition. I earnestly hope, however, in a few more days I shall be able to give him a fight.
It will be observed that General Thomas did not intend a long delay.
He wished to call to him the cavalry then in Kentucky, obtaining horses
and equipments. He explained the necessity of withdrawing his army from
Franklin, and mentioned his embarrassments with marked
Page 303 - GRANT STILL URGES ATTACK
particularity. He probably did not put much faith in General Grant's statement, that he could move out against the enemy, and either force him to retire, or choose for him a field of battle, since the general on the defensive has choice of ground, especially, when his army covers its communications and line of retreat.
On the 5th, Grant with greater emphasis, urged Thomas to attack, and suggested the danger of delay. In answer General Thomas stated that he hoped in three days to mount a sufficient force of cavalry.
The next day, December 6th, Thomas was ordered peremptorily to attack and wait no longer for a remount of cavalry. Grant said:
"There is great danger in delay resulting in a campaign back to the Ohio."
"I will make the necessary disposition, and attack Hood at once, agreeably to your orders, though I believe it will be hazardous with the small force of cavalry now at my service."
In the effort to fulfil this promise, he met with obstacles that convinced him that he could not then fight a battle with such results as he desired, and consequently he resolved, though with the consciousness of great personal hazard, to wait until the 9th or 10th.
On the 8th, Grant said to General Halleck: "If Thomas has not struck yet, he ought to be ordered to hand over his command to Schofield. There is no better man to repel an attack than Thomas, but I fear he is too cautious to take the initiative."
In reply Halleck said, "If you wish General Thomas
relieved give the order. No one here will, I think, interfere. The
responsibility, however, will be yours, as no one here, so far as I am
informed, wishes General Thomas removed.
Page 304 - THE LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
Before issuing an order relieving Thomas, Grant again urged him to attack. Late on the 8th, he telegraphed :
It looks to me evidently the enemy are trying to cross the Cumberland, and are scattered. Why not attack at once ? By all means
I can only say in. further extenuation, why I have not attacked Hood, that I could not concentrate my troops, and get their transportation in order, in shorter time than it has been done, and am satisfied that I have made every effort that was possible to complete the task.
On the 9th Grant directed that Thomas should be ordered to turn over his command to Schofield, but on the same day suspended the order.
CITY POINT. VA., December 9, 1864 11 A. M.
Page 305 - THOMAS UNMOVED BY THREATS
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, December 9, 1864 -- 4 P. M.
CITY POINT, VA December 9, 1864 - 5.30 P. M.
"I regret that General Grant should feel dissatisfaction at my delay in attacking the enemy. I feel conscious that I have done everything in my power to prepare, and that the troops could not have been gotten ready before this. And if he should order me to be relieved I will submit without a murmur."
In the same despatch he also stated that a terrible storm of freezing rain, then prevailing, rendered an attack impossible until it should cease.
On that day he also telegraphed to Grant :
"I have nearly completed my preparations to attack
the enemy tomorrow morning, but a terrible storm of-freezing rain has
come on to-day, which ml make it impossible for our men to fight to any
advantage. I am, therefore, compelled to wait for the storm to break
and make the attack immediately after. Admiral Lee is
Page 306 - THE LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
patrolling the river above and below the city and I believe will be able to prevent the enemy from crossing. * * * . * Major-General Halleck informs me that you are very much dissatisfied with my delay in attacking. I can only say, I have done all in my power to prepare, and if you should deem it necessary to relieve me I shall submit without a murmur."
General Grant replied:
"I have as much confidence in your conducting the battle rightly as I have in any other officer, but it has seemed to me you have been slow, and I have had no explanation of affairs to convince me otherwise. Receiving your despatch to Major-General Halleck of 2 P. M., before I did the first to me, I telegraphed to suspend the order relieving you until we should hear further. I hope most sincerely that there will be no necessity of repeating the order, and that the facts will show that you have been right all the time."
The impossibility of attacking the enemy while the hills were covered with ice, still further complicated the case. Late on the 11th, General Grant said :
"If you delay attacking longer, the mortifying spectacle will be witnessed of a rebel army moving for the Ohio, and you will be forced to act, accepting such weather as you find. Let there be no further delay. Hood cannot stand even a drawn battle so far from his supplies of ordnance stores. If he retreats and you follow, he must lose his material and most of his army. I am in hopes of receiving a despatch from you to-day announcing that you have moved. Delay no longer, for weather and reenforcements."
General Thomas was not then waiting for reenforcements. He had announced his readiness for battle on the 10th and was only waiting for the melting of the ice. In his reply to this peremptory order he said:
"I will obey the order as promptly as possible,
however much I may regret it, as the attack will have to be made under
every disadvantage. The whole country is covered with a perfect sheet
of ice and sleet, and it is with difficulty the troops are able to move
about on level ground. It was my intention to attack Hood as soon as
the ice melted, and would have done so yesterday had it not been for
Page 307 - THOMAS AND HOOD STORM BOUND
He subsequently called his corps commanders together, consulted them in reference to his peremptory orders, made effort to move his army into position for attack, but found that it was utterly impossible to fight a battle until the ice should melt, and on the 12th so reported to General Halleck .
"I have the troop's ready to make the attack on the enemy as soon as the sleet, which now covers the ground, has melted sufficiently to enable the men to march. As the whole country is now covered with a sheet of ice so hard and slippery, it is utterly impossible for troops to ascend the slopes or even move on level, ground, in anything like order. It has taken the entire day to place my cavalry in position, and it has only been finally effected with imminent risk and many serious accidents resulting from the numbers of horses falling with their riders on the road. Under these circumstances I believe that an attack at this time would only result in a useless sacrifice of life."
And again on the 13th;
"There is no change in the weather, and as soon as there is, I shall move against the enemy, as everything is ready and prepared to assume the offensive."
Thomas had previously resolved to abandon all efforts to attack the enemy until the ice should melt, since the barrier to his own action, also kept the enemy quiet in his camp.
Badeau referring to the movement of the enemy's cavalry under Lyon into Kentucky, and the operations against Murfreesboro', states:
"Thus Hood had become bold enough to throw large
detachments of infantry and cavalry both to the north and south of
Nashville, and in spite of the storms and ice that held Thomas fast,
the rebel troops were in constant motion."*
* Mil. Hist. U. S. Grant, Vol. III. p. 247.
Page 308 - THE LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
This historian must have failed to look at the dates of these movements. Hood's forces operated against Murfreesboro' on the 5th, 6th and 7th, and on the 8th, General Milroy sallied from his defenses and routed the enemy. General Lyon with a small force crossed the Cumberland River into Kentucky, near Clarksville, on the day the storm began. Both movements preceded the ice blockade that held Thomas and Hood fast in their camps. Lyon was promptly followed by the National cavalry and closely pressed till he was driven back to Tennessee.
But the impossibility of attacking the enemy, of which General Grant had been repeatedly advised, did not change his view of the situation, and on the 13th, he ordered Major-General John A. Logan to proceed to Nashville and take command of the army, provided that on his arrival, Thomas had still made no advance; and on the 15th, General Grant left City Point, Va., for the same destination, Both generals were arrested on the way, by the news of the battle of the 15th, Logan at Louisville and Grant at Washington.
Several interesting thoughts are suggested by Grant's despatches in
relation to Thomas and the situation at Nashville. Grant's
recommendation to Halleck to call upon the Governors of States to send
a force of sixty thousand men into Louisville to meet the enemy, should
he cross the Cumberland River, and his instructions to Thomas to arm
the employes of the quartermaster's department, gave proof of
an emergency in the West which had not been anticipated, and for which
no adequate provision had been made in the distribution of our veteran
forces. It is evident that the equilibrium of distribution, East and
West, which had been maintained from the beginning of the war, had been
overthrown at the culmination of the second great plan of the enemy for
offensive operations in the West. It was not a new measure to call out
the militia, and to arm civilians in the employ of the government. This
had been done repeatedly to meet emergencies. Soldiers for one hundred
days had been enrolled to hold the rear of the two great
Page 309 - GRANT’S MISAPPREHENSION
National armies in the spring of 1864. The citizen employes of the government had been thrown into the entrenchments at Washington, when a Confederate army had come into the rear of the Army of the Potomac, and menaced the National Capital during the summer of that year. Other emergencies had called forth similar efforts. But when such measures were considered imperative in December 1864, there was an emergency in the West, where, a short time before, there had been a vast preponderance of National forces, and the situation at Nashville pointed to the immense army, marching to the sea through the vacant interior of the Southern Confederacy. The withdrawal of this veteran army had destroyed the equilibrium of the National forces.
Grant's declaration, that Thomas had at Nashville "one of the fairest opportunities"
to destroy an army of the enemy, that had ever been presented, was made
when Grant was proposing such defensive measures as only threatening
emergencies justify. In forecasting a battle at Nashville, or the
probable invasion of Kentucky, in face of the belief which Grant
entertained in common with Thomas and other generals, that Hood entered
Tennessee with an army of fifty thousand men, it was a stretch of the
imagination, to regard the opportunity for the destruction of that army
as one of the fairest ever presented. The precedents of the war,
certainly, did not support such a hope. In view of the supposed or
actual strength of Hood's army, the situation at Nashville was not as
promising for the complete overthrow of the enemy as other situations
in other campaigns had been. One hundred thousand men had been
repeatedly hurled against forty or fifty thousand, without destroying
the inferior army. History presents few instances, if any, in which one
army of slightly superior numerical strength, and of equal morale, has
destroyed another army when the latter has had freedom of motion. But
history does give instances without number
Page 310 - THE LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
which armies with communications open to the rear have maintained existence and gathered a fair share of results, in defense, against armies of far greater strength. Our own civil war, prior to December, 1864, was not wanting in such cases. If, therefore, there was ground for the prophecy of disastrous results from Hood's threatening attitude before Nashville, there was no ground for the assumption that the opportunity to crush his army was "one of the fairest opportunities ever presented." On the supposition that it was possible for Hood, with an army at his back, to advance still further from his base, it certainly was possible for him to retreat from Nashville.
It is evident, also, that there were reasons for Grant's urgency for an immediate attack, which were foreign to the situation in Nashville. December 14th Halleck telegraphed to Thomas:
It has been seriously apprehended, that while Hood, with a part of his forces, held you in check near Nashville, he would have time to cooperate against other important points left only partially protected. Hence, Lieutenant-General Grant was anxious that you should attack the rebel forces in your front, and expresses great dissatisfaction that his order has not been carried out. Moreover, so long as Hood occupies a threatening position In Tennessee, General Canby is obliged to keep large forces on the Mississippi River to protect its navigation and to hold Memphis, Vicksburg, etc, although General Grant had directed a. part of these forces to cooperate with Sherman.
Every day's delay on. your part, therefore, seriously interferes with General Grant's plans.
It is evident from in this despatch, that Thomas was urged to engage Hood's army under forbidding circumstances, because it was feared that Hood, if not compelled to fight immediately at Nashville, would detach forces to menace remote cities, and because the postponement of battle would prevent Canby's cooperation with Sherman.
For the continuation of Van Horne's treatment of the battle of
Nashville, go to Part 3 of the "Life of
Originally published in 1887 by Robert Underwood Johnson and
Clough Buell, editors of the "The Century Magazine".
[scanned, reformatted and corrected; illustrations and maps ommitted]
excerpt from REPELLING HOOD'S INVASION OF
BY HENRY STONE, BREVET COLONEL, U. S. V., MEMBER OF THE STAFF OF GENERAL THOMAS.
ON September 28th, 1864, less than four weeks from the day the Union forces occupied Atlanta, General Sherman, who found his' still unconquered enemy, General Hood, threatening his communications in Georgia, and that formidable raider, General Forrest, playing the mischief in west Tennessee, sent to the latter State two divisions - General Newton's of the Fourth Corps, and General J. D. Morgan's of the Fourteenth - to aid in destroying, if possible, that intrepid dragoon. To make assurance doubly sure, the next day he ordered General George H. Thomas, his most capable and experienced lieutenant, and the commander of more than three-fifths of his grand army, "back to Stevenson and Decherd... to look to Tennessee."
No order could have been more unwelcome to General Thomas. It removed him from the command of his own thoroughly organized and harmonious army of sixty thousand veterans, whom he knew and trusted, and who knew and loved him, and relegated him to the position of supervisor of communications. It also sent him to the rear just when great preparations were making for an advance. But, as often happens, what seemed an adverse fate opened the door to great, unforeseen opportunity. The task of expelling Forrest and reopening the broken communications was speedily completed, and on the 17th of October Thomas wrote to General Sherman, "I hope to Join you very soon." Sherman, however, had other views, and the hoped-for junction was never made. On the 19th he wrote to General Thomas:
"I will send back to Tennessee the Fourth Corps, all dismounted cavalry, all sick and wounded, and all incumbrances whatever except what I can haul in our wagons.... I want you to remain in Tennessee and take command of all my [military] division not actually
present with me. Hood's army may be set down at forty thousand (40,000) of all arms, fit for duty.... If you can defend the line of the Tennessee in my absence of three (3) months, it is all I ask."
With such orders, and under such circumstances, General Thomas was left to play his part in the new campaign.
General Hood, after a series of daring adventures which baffled all Sherman's calculations ("he can turn and twist like a fox " said Sherman" and, wear out my army in pursuit"), concentrated his entire force, except Forrest's cavalry, at Gadsden Alabama on the 22d of October while General,, Sherman established his headquarters at Gaylesville,- a "position," as he wrote to General Halleck, "very good to watch the enemy." In spite of this "watch," Hood suddenly appeared on the 26th at Decatur on the Tennessee River, seventy-five miles north-west of Gadsden. This move was a complete surprise, and evidently "meant business." The Fourth Corps, numbering about twelve thousand men, commanded by Major-General D. S. Stanley, was at once ordered from Gaylesville, to report to General Thomas. On the 1st of November its leading division reached Pulaski, Tennessee, a small town on the railroad, about forty miles north of Decatur, where it was joined four days later by the other two.
Making a slight though somewhat lengthened demonstration against Decatur General Hood pushed on to Tuscumbia, forty-five miles west. Here he expected to find -what he had weeks before ordered -ample supplies, and the railroad in operation to Corinth. But he was doomed to disappointment. Instead of being in condition to make the rapid and triumphant march with which he had inflamed the ardor of his troops, he was detained three weeks, a delay fatal to his far-reaching hopes. Placing one corps on the north side of the river at Florence, he waited for supplies and for Forrest, who had been playing havoc throughout west Tennessee from the line of the Mississippi border, northward to Kentuckyorders to Join him.
Convinced now of Hood's serious intentions, General Sherman also ordered the Twenty-third Corps, ten thousand men, under command of Major-General V J. M. Schofield, to report to General Thomas. Reaching Pulaski, with one division, on the 14th of November, General Schofield, though inferior in rank to Stanley, assumed command by virtue of being a department commander. The whole force gathered there was less than 18 000 men; while in front were some 5000 cavalry, consisting of a brigade of about 1500, under General Croxton, and a division of some 3500, under General Edward Hatch, the latter being fortunately intercepted while on his way to join Sherman.
The Confederate army in three corps (S. D. Lee's, A. P. Stewart's, and B. F. Cheatham's) began its northward march from Florence on the 19th of November, in weather of great severity. It rained and snowed and hailed and froze, and the roads were almost impassable. Forrest had come up, with about six thousand cavalry, and led the advance with indomitable energy. Hatch and Croxton made such resistance as they could; but on the 22d the head of Hood's column was at Lawrenceburg, some 16 miles due west of Pulaski Tennessee and on a road running direct to Columbia, where the railroad and turn-pike
to Nashville cross Duck River, and where there were less than 800 men to guard the bridges. The situation at Pulaski, with an enemy nearly three times as large fairly on the flank, was anything but cheering. Warned by the reports from General Hatch, and by the orders of General Thomas, who, on the 20th, had directed General Schofield to prepare to fall back to Columbia, the two divisions of General J. D. Cox and General George D. Wagner (the latter Newton's old division) were ordered to march to Lynnville-about half-way
to Columbia -- on the 22d. On the 23d the other two divisions, under General Stanley, were to follow with the wagon-trains. It was not a moment too soon. On the morning of the 24th General Cox, who had pushed on to within nine miles of Columbia, was roused by sounds of conflict away to the west. Taking a cross-road, leading south of Columbia, he reached the Mount Pleasant pike just in time to interpose his infantry between Forrest's cavalry and a hapless brigade, under command of Colonel Capron, which was being handled most unceremoniously.* In another hour Forrest would have been in possession of the crossings of Duck River, and the only line of communication with Nashville would have been in the hands of the enemy. General Stanley, who had left Pulaski in the afternoon of the 23d, reached Lynnville after dark. Rousing his command at 1 o'clock in the morning, by 9 o'clock the head of his column connected with Cox in front of Columbia--having marched thirty miles since 2 o'clock of the preceding afternoon. These timely movements saved the little army from utter destruction.
When General Sherman had finally deter mined on his march to the sea, he requested General Rosecrans, in Missouri, to send to General Thomas two divisions, under General A. J. Smith, which had been lent to General Banks for the Red River expedition, and were now repellingPrice into Missouri. As they were not immediately forthcoming, General Grant had order ed General Rawlins, his chief-of-staff, to St. Louis, to direct, in person, their speedy embarkation. Thence, on the 7th of November, two weeks before Hood began his advance from Florence, General Rawlins wrote to General Thomas that Smith's command, aggregating nearly 14,000, would begin to leave that place as early as the 10th. No news was ever more anxiously awaited or more eagerly welcomed than this. But the promise could not be fulfilled. Smith had to march entirely across the State of Missouri; and instead of leaving St. Louis on the 10th, he did not arrive there until the 24th. Had he come at the proposed time, it was General Thomas's intention to place him at Eastport, on the Tennessee River, so as to threaten Hood's flank and rear if the latter advanced. With such disposition, the battles of Franklin and Nashville would have been relegated to the category of "events which never come to pass." But when Smith reached St. Louis Hood was threatening Columbia; and it was an open question whether he would not reach Nashville before the reenforcements from Missouri.
* Major Henry C. Connelly, of the 14th Illinois cavalry, on August 8th, 1887, wrote to the editors as follows: "when General Hood advanced from the Tennessee River, General Capron's brigade was on the extreme right of our army, and from the 19th of November until the 24th, the day Columbia was reached, we fought Forrest's cavalry. I was with the rear-guard on the occasion referred to; it fell back and found the brigade in good position in line of battle. I rode to General Capron and expressed the opinion that he could not hold his position a moment against the troops pressing us in the rear and on the flanks, which we could easily see advancing rapidly to attack us. General Capron replied that he had been ordered to make a decided stand if it sacrificed every man in his brigade; that we must hold the advancing forces in check to enable the infantry to arrive and get in position. I replied, 'we are destroyed and captured if we remain here.' At this moment General Capron gave the order to retire. While passing through a long lane south of Columbia, Forrest's forces charged the brigade in rear and on both flanks with intrepid courage. Our command was confined to a narrow lane, with men and horses in the highest state of excitement. we were armed with Springfield rifles, which after the first volley were about as serviceable to a cavalryman thus hemmed in as a good club. The men could not reload while mounted, in the excitement of horses as well as soldiers. The only thing that could be done was to get out as promptly as possible, and before Forrest's forces should close in and capture the command.
"This was done successfully. The brigade was
composed of the 14th and 16th Illinois cavalry and the 8th Michigan
As fast as the Union troops arrived at Columbia, in their hurried retreat from Pulaski, works were thrown up, covering the approaches from the south, and the trains were sent across the river. But the line was found to be longer than the small force could hold; and the river could easily be crossed, above or below the town. Orders were given to withdraw to the north side on the night of the 26th, but a heavy storm prevented. The next night the crossing was made, the railroad bridge was burned, and the pontoon boats were scuttled. This was an all-night job, the last of the pickets crossing at 5 in the morning. It was now the fifth day since the retreat from Pulaski began, and the little army had been exposed day and night to all sorts of weather except sunshine, and had been almost continually on the move. From deserters it was learned that Hood's infantry numbered 40,000, and his cavalry, under Forrest, 10,000 or 12,000. But the Union army was slowly increasing by concentration and the arrival of recruits. It now numbered at Columbia about 23,000 e 5000 cavalry -- of whom only 3500 were mounted. General James H. Wilson, who had been ordered by General Grant to report to General Sherman,--and of whom General Grant wrote, "I believe he will add fifty per-cent to the effectiveness of our cavalry,"-- had taken command personally of all General Thomas's cavalry, which was trying. to hold the fords east and west of Columbia. [See article by General Wilson, to follow.]
In spite of every opposition, Forrest succeeded in placing one of his divisions on the north side of Duck River before noon of the 28th, and forced back the Union cavalry on roads leading toward Spring Hill and Franklin. At 1 o'clock on the morning of the 20th General Wilson became convinced that the enemy's infantry would begin crossing at daylight, and advised General Schofield to fall back to Franklin. At 3: 30 the same morning General Thomas sent hi m similar orders. Daylight revealed the correctness of Wilson's information. Before sunrise Cheatham's corps, headed by Cleburne's division, --a division unsurpassed for courage, energy, and endurance by any in the Confederate army,-- was making its way over Duck River at Davis's Ford, about five miles east of Columbia. The weather had cleared, and it was a bright autumn morning, the air full of invigorating life. General Hood in person accompanied the advance.
When General Schofield was informed that the Confederate infantry
were crossing, he sent a brigade,
under Colonel P. Sidney Post, on a reconnaissance along the river-bank, to learn if the report was true. He also ordered General Stanley to march with two divisions, Wagner's and Kimball's, to Spring Hill, taking the trains and all the reserve Artillery. In less than half an hour after receiving the order, Stanley was on the way. On reaching the point where Rutherford Creek crosses the Franklin Pike, Kimball's division was halted, by order of General Schofield, and faced to the east to cover the crossing against a possible attack from that quarter. In this position Kimball remained all day. Stanley, with the other division, pushed on to Spring Hill. Just before noon, as the head of his column was approaching that place, he met "a cavalry soldier who seemed to be badly scared," who reported that Buford's division of Forrest's cavalry was approaching from
the east. The troops were at once double-quicked into the town, and the leading brigade, deploying as it advanced, drove off the enemy just as they were expecting, unmolested, to occupy the place. As the other brigades came up, they also were deployed, forming nearly a semicircle,--Opdycke's brigade stretching in a thin line from the railroad station north of the village to a point some distance east, and Lane's from Opdycke's right to the pike below. Bradley was sent to the front to occupy a knoll some three-fourths of a mile east, commanding all the approaches from that direction. Most of the Artillery was placed on a rise south of the town. The trains were parked within the semicircle.
From Spring Hill roads radiate to all points, the turnpike between Columbia and Franklin being there intersected by turnpikes from Rally Hill and Mount Carmel, as well as by numerous country roads leading to the neighboring towns. Possession of that point would not only shut out the Union army from the road to Nashville, but it would effectually bar the way in every direction. Stanley's arrival was not a moment too soon for the safety of the army, and his prompt dispositions and steady courage, as well as his vigorous hold of all the ground he occupied, gave his little command all the moral fruits of a victory.
Hardly had the three brigades, numbering, all told, less than four thousand men, reached the positions assigned them, when Bradley was assailed by a force which the men declared fought too well to be dismounted cavalry. At the same time, at Thompson's Station three miles north an attack was made 9 on a small wagon train heading for Franklin; and a dash was made by a detachment of the Confederate cavalry on the Spring Hill station, north-west of the town. It seemed as if the little band, attacked from all points, was threatened with destruction. Bradley's brigade was twice assaulted but held, its own, though with considerable loss, and only a single regiment could be spared to reenforce him. The third assault was more successful, and he was
driven back to the edge of the village, Bradley himself receiving a disabling wound in rallying his men. While attempting to follow up this temporary advantage, the enemy, in crossing a wide corn-field, was opened upon with spherical case-shot from eight guns posted on the knoll, and soon scattered in considerable confusion. These attacks undoubtedly came from Cleburne's division, and were made under the eye of the corps commander, General Cheatham, and the army commander, General Hood. That they were not successful, especially as the other two divisions of the same corps, Brown's and Bate's, were close at hand, and Stewart's corps not far off, seems unaccountable. Except this one small division deployed in a long thin line to cover the wagons, there were no Union troops within striking distance; the cavalry were about Mount Carmel, five miles east, fully occupied in keeping Forrest away from Franklin and the Harpeth River crossings. The nearest aid was Kimball's division seven miles south, at Rutherford Creek. The other three divisions of infantry which made up Schofield's force --Wood's, Cox's, and Ruger's (in part) --were still at Duck River. Thus night closed down upon the solitary division, on whose boldness of action devolved the safety of' the whole force which Sherman had spared from his march to the sea to breast the tide of Hood's invasion. When night carne, the danger increased rather than diminished. A single Confederate brigade, like Adams's or Cockrell's or Maney's,-- veterans since Shiloh,-- planted squarely across the pike, either south or north of Spring Hill, would have effectually prevented Schofield's retreat, and daylight would have found his whole force cut off from every avenue of escape by more than twice its numbers, to assault whom would have been madness, and to avoid whom would have been impossible.
Why Cleburne and Brown failed to drive away Stanley's one division before dark; why Bate failed to possess himself of the pike south of the town; why Stewart failed to lead his troops to the pike at the north; why Forrest, with his audacious temper and his enterprising cavalry, did not fully hold Thompson's Station or the crossing of the West Harpeth, half-way to Franklin: these are to this day disputed questions among the Confederate commanders; and it is not proposed to discuss them here. The afternoon and night of November 29th, 1864, may well be set down in the calender of
lost opportunities. The heroic valor of the same troops the next day, and their frightful losses as they attempted to retrieve their mistake, show what might have been.
By 8 o'clock at night -- two hours only after sunset, on a moonless night-- at least two corps of Hood's army were in line of battle facing the turnpike, and not half a mile away. The long line of Confederate camp-fires burned bright, and the men could be seen standing around them or sauntering about in groups. Now and then a few would come almost to the pike and fire at a passing Union squad, but without provoking a reply. General Schofield who had remained at Duck River all day, reached Spring Hill about 7 P.M., with Ruger's division and Whitaker's brigade. Leaving the latter to cover a cross-road a mile or two below the town, he started with Ruger about 9 P. M. to force a passage at 'Thompson's Station supposed to be in the hands of the enemy. At 11 P. M. General Cox arrived with his division and soon after Schofield returned to Spring Hill with the welcome news that the way was open. From Thompson's Station he sent his engineer officer, Captain William J. Twining, to Franklin, to telegraph the situation to General Thomas, all communication with whom had been cut off since early morning. Captain Twining's dispatch shows most clearly the critical condition of affairs: "The general says he will not be able to get farther than Thompson's Station to-night.... He regards his situation as extremely perilous.... Thinking the troops under A. J. Smith's command had reached Franklin General Schofield directed me to have them pushed down to Spring Hill by daylight to-morrow." This was Tuesday. The day before, General Thomas had telegraphed to General Schofield that Smith had not yet arrived, but would be at Nashville in three days -- that is, Thursday. The expectation of finding him at Franklin, therefore, was like a drowning man's catching at a straw.
Just before midnight Cox started from Spring Hill for Franklin, and was ordered to pick up Ruger at Thompson's Station. At 1 A. M. he was on the road and the train, over five miles long, was drawn out. At the very outset it had to n single file. So difficult was this whole movement, that it was 5 o'clock in the morning before the wagons were fairly under way. As the head of the train passed Thompson's Station, it was attacked by the Confederate cavalry, and for a while there was great consternation. Wood's division, which had followed Cox from Duck River, was marched along to the east of the pike, to protect the train, and the enemy were speedily driven off. It was near daybreak when the last wagon left Spring Hill. Kimball's division
followed Wood's, and at 4 o'clock Wagner drew in his lines, his skirmishers remaining till it was fairly daylight. The rear-guard was commanded by Colonel Emerson Opdycke, who was prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice the last man to secure the safety of the main body. So efficiently did his admirable brigade do its work, that, though surrounded by a cloud of the enemy's cavalry, which made frequent dashes at its lines, not a straggler nor a wagon was left behind. The ground was strewn with knapsacks cut from the shoulders of a lot of raw recruits weighed down with their unaccustomed burden.
The head of the column, under General Cox, reached the outskirts of Franklin about the same hour that the rear-guard was leaving Spring Hill. Here the tired, sleepy, hungry men, who had fought and marched, day and night, for nearly a week, threw up a line of earth-works on a slight eminence which guards the southern approach to the town, even before they made their coffee. Then they gladly dropped anywhere for the much-needed "forty winks." Slowly the rest of the weary column, regiment after regiment of worn-out men, filed into the works, and continued the line, till a complete bridge-head, from the river-bank above to the river-bank below, encircled the town. By noon of the 30th all the troops had come up, and the wagons were crossing the river, which was already fordable, notwithstanding the recent heavy rainfalls. The rear-guard was still out, having an occasional bout with the enemy. [See map of the field, p. 430.]
The Columbia Pike bisected the works, which at that point were built just in front of the Carter house, a one-story brick dwelling west of the pike, and a large gin-house on the east side. Between the gin-house and the river the works were partly protected in front by a hedge of Osage orange, and on the knoll, near the railroad cut close to the bank, were two batteries belonging to the Fourth Corps. Near the Carter house was a considerable thicket of locust trees. Except these obstructions, the whole ground in front was entirely
unobstructed and fenceless, and, from the works, every part of it was in plain sight. General Cox's division of three brigades, commanded that day, in order from left to right, by Colonels Stiles and Casement and General Reilly, occupied the ground between the Columbia Pike and the river above the town. The front line consisted of eight regiments, three in the works and one in reserve for each of the brigades of Stiles and Casement, while Reilly's brigade near est the pike hents in the works, and two in a second line, with still another regiment behind that. West of the pike, reaching to a ravine through which passes a road branching from the Carter's Creek Pike, was Ruger's division of two brigades -- the third, under General Cooper, not having come up from Johnsonville. Strickland's brigade, of four regiments, had two in the works and two in reserve. Two off these regiments, the 72d Illinois and 44th Missouri, belonged to A. J. Smith's corps, and had reported to General Schofield only the day before. A third, which was in reserve, the 183d Ohio, was a large and entirely new regiment, having been mustered into service only three weeks before, and having joined the army for the first time on the 28th. Moore's brigade, of six regiments, had four in the works and two in reserve. Beyond Ruger, reaching from the ravine to the river below, was Kimball's division of the Fourth Corps,-- all veterans,-- consisting of three brigades commanded by Generals William Grose and Walter C. Whitaker and Colonel Isaac M. Kirby. All the troops in the works were ordered to report to General Cox, to whom was assigned the command of the defenses.* General Wood's division of the Fourth Corps had gone over the river with the trains; and two brigades of Wagner's division, which had so valiantly stood their ground at Spring Hill and covered the rear since, were halted on a slope about half a mile to the front. Opdycke had brought his brigade within the works, and held them massed, near the pike, behind the Carter house. Besides the guns on the knoll, near the railroad cut, there were six pieces in Reilly's works; four on Strickland's left; two on Moore's left, and four on Grose's left-in all twenty-six guns in that part of the works, facing south, and twelve more in reserve, on or near the Columbia Pike.
As the bright autumn day, hazy with the golden light of an Indian summer atmosphere, wore away, the troops that had worked so hard looked hopefully forward to a prospect of ending it in peace and rest, preparatory either to a night march to Nashville, or to a reenforcement by Smith's corps and General Thomas. But about 2 o'clock, some suspicious movements on the hills a mile or two away--the waving of signal flags and the deployment of the enemy in line of battle--caused General Wagner to send his adjutant general, from the advanced position where his two brigades had halted, to his commanding general, with the information that Hood seemed to be preparing for attack. In a very short time the whole Confederate line could be
* General D. S. Stanley, who commanded the Fourth Corps, takes exception to this statement. Some of his troops as they arrived were assigned to positions by General Cox. General Stanley, in the performance of his duty, went with General Schofield to the north side of the river, but returned when the firing began and assisted in rallying Wagner's brigades, of his corps, during which he was wounded. General Schofield said in his report of December 31st, 1864: "The troops were placed in position and intrenched under his [Cox's] immediate direction, and the greater portion of the line engaged was under his command during the battle."--Editors.
seen, stretching in battle array, from the dark fringe of chestnuts
along the river-bank, far across the Columbia Pike, the colors gayly
fluttering and the muskets gleaming brightly, and advancing steadily,
in perfect order, dressed on the center, straight for the works.
Meantime General Schofield had retired to the fort, on a high bluff on
the other side of the river; some two miles away, by the road, and had
taken General Stanley with him. From the fort the whole field of
operations, was plainly visible. Notwithstanding all these
demonstrations the two brigades of Wagner were left on the knoll where
they had been halted, and, with scarcely an apology for works to
protect them, had waited until it was too
late to retreat without danger of degenerating into a rout.
On came the enemy, as steady and resistless as a tidal wave. A couple of guns, in the advance line, gave them a shot and galloped back to the works. A volley from a thin skirmish-line was sent into their ranks but without, causing any delay to the massive array. A moment more, and with that wild "rebel yell" which, once heard, is never forgotten, the great human wave swept along, and seemed to insult the little force that had so sturdily awaited it.
The first shock came, of course, upon the two misplaced brigades of Wager's division, which, through some one's blunder had remained in their false position until too late to retire without disaster. They had no tools to throw up works; and when struck by the resistless sweep of Cleburne's and Brown's divisions, they had only to make their way, as best they could, back to the works. In that wild rush, in which friend and foe were intermingled, and the piercing "rebel yell" rose high above the "Yankee cheer," nearly seven hundred were made prisoners. But worst of all for the Union side,, the men of Reilly's and Strickland's brigades dared not fire, lest they should shoot down their own comrades, and the guns, loaded with grape and canister, stood silent in the embrasures. With loud shouts of "Let's go into the
works with them," the triumphant Confederates, now more like a wild howling mob than an organized army, swept on to the very works, with hardly a check from any quarter. So fierce was the rush that a number of the fleeing soldiers--officers and men--dropped exhausted into the ditch, and lay there while the terrific contest raged over their heads, till, under cover of darkness, they could crawl safely inside the intrenchments.
On Strickland's left close to the Columbia Pike, was posted one of the new infantry regiments. The tremendous onset, the wild yells, the whole infernal din of the strife, were too much for such an undisciplined body. As they saw the line rushing to the rear, they too turned and fled. The contagion spread, and in a few minutes a disorderly stream was pouring down the pike past the Carter house toward the town. The guns, posted on each side the Columbia Pike were abandoned, and the works, for the space of more than a regimental front both, east and west of the pike, were deserted. Into the gap thus made, without an instant's delay, swarmed the jubilant Confederates, urged on by Cleburne and Brown, and took possession of both works and guns. For a moment it looked as though these two enterprising divisions, backed by the mass of troops converging toward the pike, would sweep down the works in both directions, and, taking Strickland and Reilly on the flank, drive them out, or capture them. Fortunately, there were at hand reserves of brave men who were not demoralized by the momentary panic. Colonel Emerson Opdycke, of Wagner's division, as already stated, had brought his brigade inside the works, and they were now massed near the Carter house, ready for any contingency. Two regiments of Reilly's brigade, the 12th and 16th Kentucky, which had reached Franklin about noon, had taken position a little in rear of the rest of the brigade, and thrown up works. As soon as the break was made in the lines all these reserves rushed to the front, and, after a terrific struggle, succeeded in regaining the works. Opdycke's brigade, deploying as it advanced, was involved in as fierce a hand-to-hand encounter as ever soldiers engaged in. The two Kentucky regiments joined in the fight with equal ardor and bravery. A large part of Conrad's and Lane's men, as they came in, though wholly disorganized, turned about and gave the enemy a hot reception. Opdycke's horse was shot under him, and he fought on foot at the head of his brigade. General Cox was everywhere present, encouraging and cheering on his men. General Stanley, who, from the fort where he had gone with General Schofield, had seen the opening clash, galloped to the front as soon as possible and did all that a brave man could until he was painfully wounded. Some of Opdycke's men manned the abandoned guns in Reilly's works; others filled the gap in Strickland's line. These timely movements first checked and then
repulsed the assaulting foe, and soon the entire line of works was reoccupied, the enemy sullenly giving up the prize which was so nearly won. Stewart's corps, which was on Cheatham's right, filling the space to the river, kept abreast of its valiant companion, and, meeting no obstacle, reached the works near the Union left before Cheatham made the breach at the Columbia Pike. Owing to the peculiar formation of the field, the left of Stewart's line was thrown upon the same ground with the right of Cheatham's the two commands there became much intermingled. This accounts for so many of General Stewart's officers and men being killed in front of Reilly's and Casement's regiments.
Where there was nothing to hinder the Union fire, the muskets of Stiles's and Casement's brigades made fearful havoc while the batteries at the railroad cut plowed furrows through the ranks of the advancing foe. Time after time they came up to the very works, but they never crossed them except as prisoners. More than one color-bearer was shot down on the parapet. It is impossible to exaggerate the fierce energy with which the Confederate soldiers, that short November afternoon, threw themselves against the works, fighting with what seemed the very madness of despair. There was not a breath of wind, and the dense smoke settled down upon the field, so that, after the first assault, it was impossible to see at any distance. Through this blinding medium, assault after assault was made, several of the Union officers declaring in their reports that their lines received as many as thirteen distinct attacks. Between the gin-house and the Columbia Pike the fighting was fiercest, and the Confederate losses the greatest. Here tell most of the Confederate generals, who, that fateful afternoon, madly gave up their lives; Adams of' Stewart's corps--his horse astride the works, and himself within a few feet of them. Cockrell and Quarles, of the same corps, were severely wounded. In Cheatham's corps, Cleburne and Granbury were killed near the pike. On the west of the pike Strahl and Gist were killed, and Brown was severely wounded. General G. W. Gordon was captured by Opdycke's brigade, inside the works. The heaviest loss in all the Union regiments was in the 44th Missouri, the advance guard of Smith's long-expected reenforcement, which had been sent to Columbia on the 27th, and was here stationed on the right of the raw regiment that broke and ran at the first onset of the enemy. Quickly changing front, the 44th held its ground, but with a loss of 34 killed, 37 wounded, and 92 missing, many of the latter being wounded. In the 72d Illinois, its companion, every field-officer was wounded, and the entire color-guard, of one sergeant and eight corporals, was shot down. Its losses were 10 killed, 66 wounded and 75 missing.
While this infantry battle was going on, Forrest had crossed the river with his cavalry some distance east of the town, with the evident purpose of getting at Schofield's wagons. But he reckoned without his host. Hatch and Croxton, by General Wilson's direction, fell upon him with such vigor that he returned to the south side and gave our forces no further trouble. At nightfall the victory was complete on every part of the Union lines. But here and there on the Confederate side desultory firing was kept up till long after dark, though with little result.
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon as the Confederate lines were forming for, their great assault, General Schofield, W reply to a telegram from General Thomas, asking him if he could "hold Hood at Franklin for three days longer," replied, "I do not think I can.... It appears to me I ought to take position at Brentwood at once." Accordingly General Thomas, at 3:30, directed him to retire to Brentwood, which he did that night, bringing away all the wagons and other property in safety. Among the spoils of war were thirty-three Confederate colors, captured by our men from the enemy. The morning found the entire infantry force safe within the friendly shelter of the works at Nashville, where they also welcomed the veterans of A. J. Smith, who were just arriving from Missouri. Soon after, a body of about five thousand men came in from Chattanooga, chiefly of General Sherman's army, too late for their proper commands. These were organized into a provisional division under General J. B. Steedman, and were posted between the Murfreesboro Pike and the river. Cooper's brigade also came in after a narrow escape from capture, as well as several regiments of colored troops from the railroad between Nashville and Johnsonville. Their arrival completed the force on which General Thomas was to rely for the task he now placed before himself --the destruction of Hood's army. It was an ill-assorted and heterogeneous mass, not yet welded into an army, and lacking a great proportion of' the outfit with which to undertake an aggressive campaign. Horses, wagons, mules, pontoons, everything needed to mobilize an army, had to be obtained. At that time they did not exist at Nashville. [See map, p. 434.]
The next day Hood's columns appeared before the town and took up their positions on a line of hills nearly parallel to those occupied by the Union army, and speedily threw up works and prepared to defend their ground.
Probably no commander ever underwent two weeks of greater anxiety and distress of mind than General Thomas during the interval between Hood's arrival and his precipitate departure from the vicinity of Nashville. The story is too painful to dwell upon, even after the lapse of twenty-three years. From the 2d of December until the battle was fought on the 15th, the general-in-chief did not cease, day or night, to send him from the headquarters at City Point, Va., most urgent and often most uncalled-for orders in regard to his operations, culminating in an order on the 9th relieving him, and directing him to turn over his command to General Schofield, who was assigned to his place --an order which, had it not been revoked, the great captain would have obeyed with loyal single-heartedness. This order, though made out at the Adjutant-General's office in Washington, was not sent to General Thomas, and he did not know of its existence until told of it some years later by General Halleck, at San Francisco. He felt, however, that something of the kind was impending. General Halleck dispatched to him, on morning of the 9th: "Lieutenant-General Grant expresses much dissatisfaction at your delay in attacking the enemy." His reply shows how entirely he understood the situation: "I feel conscious I have done everything in my power, and that the troops could not have been gotten ready before this. If General Grant should order me to be relieved I will submit without a murmur." As he
was writing this, -- 2 o'clock in the afternoon on December 9th, -- a terrible storm of freezing rain had been pouring down since daylight, and it kept on pouring and freezing all that day and a part of the next. That night General Grant notified him that the order relieving him--which he had divined--was suspended. But he did not know who had been designated as his successor. With this threat hanging over him; with the utter impossibility, in that weather, of making any movement; with the prospect that the labors of his whole life were about to end in disappointment, if not disaster,-- he never, for an instant, abated his energy or his work of preparation. Not an hour, day and night, was he idle. Nobody -- not even his most trusted staff-officers -- knew the contents of the telegrams that came to him. But it was very evident that something greatly troubled him. While the rain was falling and the fields and roads were ice-bound, he would sometimes sit by the window for an hour or more, not speaking a word, gazing steadily out upon the forbidding prospect, as if he were trying to will the storm away. It was curious and interesting to see how, in this gloomy interval, his time was occupied by matters not strictly military. Now, it was a visit from a delegation of the city government, in regard to some municipal regulation; again, somebody whose one horse had been seized and put into the cavalry; then a committee of citizens, begging that wood might be furnished, to keep some poor families from freezing; and, of evenings, Governor Andrew Johnson--then Vice-President elect--would unfold to him, with much iteration, his fierce views concerning secession, rebels, and reconstruction. To all he gave a patient and kindly hearing, and he often astonished Governor Johnson by his knowledge of constitutional and international law. But under, neath all, it was plain to see that General Grant's dissatisfaction keenly affected him, and that only by the proof which a successful battle would furnish could he hope to regain the confidence of the general-in-chief.
So when, at 8 o'clock on the evening of December 14th after having laid his plans before his corps commanders, and dismissed them, he dictated to General Halleck the telegram, "The ice having melted away to-day, the enemy will be attacked to-morrow morning," he drew a deep sigh of relief and for the first time for a week showed again something of his natural buoyancy and cheerfulness. He moved about more briskly; he put in order all the little last things that remained to be done; he signed his name where it was needed in the letter-book, and then, giving orders to his staff-officers to be ready at 5 o'clock the next morning, went gladly to bed.
The ice had not melted a day too soon; for, while he was writing the telegram to General Halleck, General Logan was speeding his way to Nashville, with orders from General Grant that would have placed him in command
of all the Union forces there assembled. General Thomas, fortunately, did not then learn this second proof of General Grant's lack of confidence and; General Logan, on reaching Louisville, found that the work intended for him was already done-- and came no farther. At the very time when these orders were made out at Washington, in obedience to General Grant's directions, a large part of the cavalry was unmounted; two divisions were absent securing horses and proper outfit; wagons were unfinished and mules lacking or unbroken; pontoons unmade and pontoniers untrained; the ground was covered with a glare of ice which made all the fields: and hillsides impassable for horses and scarcely passable for foot-men. The natives declared that the Yankees brought their weather as well as their army with them. Every corps commander in the army protested that a movement under such conditions would be little short of madness, and certain to result in disaster.
A very considerable reorganization of the army also took place during this enforced delay. General Stanley, still suffering from his wound, went North, and General T. J. Wood, who had been with it from the beginning, succeeded to the command of the Fourth Corps. General Ruger, who had commanded a division in the Twenty-third Corps, was also disabled by sickness, and was succeeded by General D. N. Couch, formerly a corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, and who had recently been assigned to duty in the Department of the Cumberland.* General Wagner was retired from command of his division, and was succeeded by General W. L. Elliott, who had been chief of cavalry on General Thomas's staff in the Atlanta campaign. General Kenner Garrard, who had commanded a cavalry division during the Atlas assigned to an infantry division in Smith's corps. In all these cases, except in that of General Wood succeeding to the command of the Fourth Corps, the newly assigned officers were entire strangers to the troops over whom they were placed.
On the afternoon of the 14th of December General Thomas summoned his corps commanders, and, delivering to each a written order containing a
* General Couch was in command of the Department of the Susquehanna from June 11th, 1863, to December 1st, 1864. On December 8th, 1864, he took command of the Second Division of the 'twenty-third Corps.- Editors.
detailed plan of the battle, went with them carefully and thoroughly over the whole ground, answering all questions and explaining all doubts. Never had a commander a more loyal corps of subordinates or a more devoted army. The feeling in the ranks was one of absolute and enthusiastic confidence in their general. Some had served with him since his opening triumph at Mill Springs; some had never seen his face till two weeks before. But there was that in his bearing, as well as in the confidence of his old soldiers, which inspired the new-comers with as absolute a sense of reliance upon him as was felt by the oldest of his veterans.
The plan, in general terms, was for General Steedman, on the extreme left to move out early in the morning, threatening the rebel right, while the cavalry, which had been placed on the extreme right, and A. J. Smith's corps were to make a grand left wheel with the entire right wing, assaulting and, if possible, overlapping the left of Hood's position. Wood was to form the pivot for this wheel, and to threaten and perhaps attack Montgomery Hill while General Schofield was to be held in reserve, near the left center, for such use as the exigency might develop.
It was not daylight, on the morning of the 15th of December, when the army began to move. In most of the camps reveille had been sounded at 4 o'clock, and by 6 everything was ready. It turned out a warm, sunny, winter morning. A dense fog at first hung. over the valleys and completely hid all movements, but by 9 o'clock this had cleared away. General Steedman, on the extreme left, was the first to draw out of the defenses, and to assail the enemy at their works between the Nolensville and Murfreesboro' pikes. It was not intended as a real attack, though it had that effect. Two of Steedman's brigades, chiefly colored troops, kept two divisions of Cheatham's corps constantly busy, while his third was held in reserve; thus one Confederate corps was disposed of. S. D. Lee's corps, next on Cheatham's left, after sending two brigades to the assistance of Stewart on the Confederate left, was held, in place by the threatening position of the garrison troops, and did not fire a shot during the day. Indeed, both Cheatham's and Lee's corps were held, as in a vise, between Steedman and Wood. Lee's corps was unable to move or to fight. Steedman maintained the ground he occupied till the next morning, with no very heavy loss.
When, about 9 o'clock, the sun began to burn away the fog, the sight from General Thomas's position was inspiring. A little to the left, on Montgomery Hill, the salient of the Confederate lines, and not more than six hundred yards distant from Wood's salient on Lawrens Hill, could be seen the advance line of works, behind which an unknown force of the enemy lay in wait. Beyond, and along the Hillsboro' Pike, were stretches of stone wall, with here and there a detached earth-work, through whose embrasures peeped the threatening Artillery. To the right, along the valley of Richland Creek, the dark line of Wilson's advancing cavalry could be seen slowly making its difficult way across the wet, swampy, stumpy ground. Close in front, and at the foot of the hill, its right joining Wilson's left, was A. J. Smith's corps, full of cheer and enterprise, and glad to be once more in the open field. Then
came the Fourth Corps, whose left, bending back toward the north, was hidden behind Lawrens Hill. Already the skirmishers were engaged, the Confederates slowly falling back before the determined and steady pressure of Smith and Wood.
By the time that Wilson's and Smith's lines were fully extended and brought up to within striking distance of the Confederate works, along the Hillsboro' Pike, it was noon. Post's brigade of Wood's old division (now commanded by General Sam Beatty), which lay at the foot of Montgomery Hill, full of dash and spirit, had since morning been regarding the works at the summit with covetous eyes. At Post's suggestion, it was determined to see which party wanted them most. Accordingly, a charge was ordered -- and in a moment the brigade was swarming up the hillside, straight for the enemy's advanced works. For almost the first time since the grand assault on Missionary Ridge, a year before, here was an open field where everything could be seen. From General Thomas's headquarters everybody looked on with breathless suspense, as the blue line, broken and irregular, but with steady persistence, made its way up the steep hillside against a fierce storm of musketry and Artillery. Most of the shots, however, passed over the men's heads.
It was a struggle to keep up with the color s, and, as they neared the top, only the strongest were at the front. Without a moment's pause the color, bearers and those who had kept up with them, Post himself at the head, leaped the parapet. As the color s waved from the summit, the whole line swept forward and was over the works in a twinkling, gathering in prisoners and guns. Indeed, so large was the mass of the prisoners that a few minutes later was seen heading toward our own lines, that a number of officers at General Thomas's headquarters feared the assault had failed and the prisoners were Confederate reserves who had rallied and retaken the works. But the fear was only momentary; for the wild outburst of cheers that rang across the valley told the story of complete success.
Meanwhile, farther to the right, as the opposing lines neared each other, the sound of battle grew louder and louder, and the smoke thicker and thicker, until the whole valley was filled with the haze. It was now past noon, and, at every point the two armies were so near together that an assault was inevitable. Hatch's division of Wilson's cavalry, at the extreme right of the continuous line, was confronted by one of the detached works which Hood had intended to be "impregnable"; and the right of McArthur's division of A. J. Smith's infantry was also within striking distance of it. Coon's cavalry brigade was dismounted and ordered to assault the work, while Hill's infantry brigade received similar orders. The two commanders moved forward at the same time, and entered the work together, Colonel Hill falling dead at the head of his command. In a moment the whole Confederate force in that quarter was routed and fled to the rear, while the captured guns were turned on them.
With the view of extending the operations of Wilson's cavalry still farther to the right, and if possible gaining the rear of the enemy's left, the two divisions of the Twenty-third Corps that had been in reserve near Lawrens Hill were ordered to Smith's right, while orders were sent to Wilson to gain, if possible, a lodgment on the Granny White Pike. These orders were promptly obeyed, and Cooper's brigade on reaching its new position got into a handsome fight, in which its losses were more than the losses of the rest of the Twenty-third Corps during the two days' battle.
But though the enemy's left was thus rudely driven from its fancied security, the salient at the center, being an angle formed by the line along Hillsboro' Pike and that stretching toward the east, was still firmly held. Post's successful assault had merely driven out or captured the advance forces; the main line was intactd came of the successful assault on the right, General Thomas sent orders to General Wood, commanding the Fourth Corps, to prepare to attack the salient. The staff-officer by whom this order was sent did not at first find General Wood; but seeing the two division commanders whose troops would be called upon for the work, gave them the instructions. As he was riding along the line he met one of the brigade commanders -- an officer with a reputation for exceptional courage and gallantry -- who, in reply to the direction to prepare for the expected assault said, "You don't mean that we've got to go in here and
attack the works on that hill?" "Those are the orders," was the answer. Looking earnestly across the open valley, and at the steep hill beyond, from which the enemy's guns were throwing shot and shell with uncomfortable frequency and nearness, he said, "Why, it would be suicide, sir; perfect suicide." "Nevertheless, those are the orders," said the officer; and he rode on to complete his work. Before he could rejoin General Thomas the assault was made, and the enemy were driven out with a loss of guns, colors, and prisoners, and their whole line was forced to abandon the works along the Hillsboro' Pike and fall back to the Granny White Pike. The retreating line was followed by the entire Fourth Corps (Wood's), as well as by the cavalry and Smith's troops; but night soon fell, and the whole army went into bivouac in the open fields wherever they chanced to be.
At dark, Hood, who at 12 o'clock had held an unbroken fortified line from the Murfreesboro to the Hillsboro Pike, with an advanced post Montgomery Hill and five strong redoubts along the Hillsboro Pike, barely maintained his hold of a line from the Murfreesboro Pike to the Granny White Pike, near which on two large hills the left of his army had taken refuge when driven out of their redoubts by Smith and Wilson. These hills were more than two miles to the rear position. It was to that point that Bate, who had started from Hood's right when the assault was first delivered on the redoubts, now made his way amidst, as he says, " streams of stragglers, and artillerists, and horses, without guns or caissons -- the sure indications of defeat."
General Hood, not daunted by the reverses which had befallen him, at once set to work to prepare for the next day's struggle. As soon as it was dusk Cheatham's whole corps was moved from his right to his left; Stewart's was retired some two miles and became the center; Lee's also was withdrawn and became the right. The new line extended along the base of a range of hills two miles south of that occupied during the day, and was only about half as long as that from which he had been driven. During the night the Confederates threw up works along their entire front, and the hills on their flanks were strongly fortified. The flanks were also further secured by return works, which prevented them from being left "in the air." Altogether, the position was naturally far more formidable than that just abandoned.
At early dawn the divisions of the Fourth Corps moved forward, driving out the opposing skirmishers. The men entered upon the work with such ardor that the advance soon quickened into a run, and the run almost into a
charge. They took up their positions in front of the enemy's new line, at one point coming within 250 yards of the salient at Overton's Hill. Here they were halted, and threw up works, while the Artillery on both sides kept up a steady and accurate fire. Steedman also moved forward and about noon joined his right to Wood's left, thus completing the alignment.
On his way to the front General Thomas heard the cannonading, and,
as was his custom, rode straight
for the spot where the action seemed heaviest.
As he was passing a large, old-fashioned house, his attention was attracted by the noise of a window closing with a slam. Tur cause, he was greeted by a look from a young lady whose expression at the moment was the reverse of angelic. With an amused smile, the general rode on, and soon forgot the incident in the excitement of battle. But this trifling event had a sequel. The young lady, in process of time, became the wife of an officer then serving in General Thomas's army,--though he did not happen to be a witness of this episode.
The ground between the two armies for the greater part of the way from the Franklin to the Granny White Pike is low, open, and crossed by frequent streams running in ever y direction, and most of the fields were either newly plowed or old corn-fields, and were heavy, wet, and muddy from the recent storms. Over ton's Hill, Hood's right, is a well-rounded slope, the top of which was amply fortified, while hills held by the left of his line just west of the Granny White Pike are so steep that it is difficult to climb them, and their summits were crowned with formidable barricades, in front of which
were abatis and masses of fallen trees. Between these extremities the works in many places consisted of stone walls covered with earth, with head-logs on the top. To their rear were ample woods, sufficiently open to enable troops to move through them, but thick enough to afford good shelter. Artillery was also posted at every available spot, and good use was made of it.
The morning was consumed in moving to new positions. Wilson's cavalry, by a wide detour, had passed beyond the extreme Confederate left, and secured a lodgment on the Granny White Pike. But one avenue of escape was now open for Hood--the Franklin Pike. General Thomas hoped that a vigorous assault by Schofield's corps against Hood's left would break the line there, and thus enable the cavalry, relieved from the necessity of operating against the rebel flank, to gallop down the Granny White Pike to its junction with the Franklin, some six or eight miles below, and plant itself square across the only remaining line of retreat. If this scheme could be carried out, nothing but capture or surrender awaited Hood's whole army.
Meantime, on the National left, Colonel Post, who had so gallantly carried Montgomery Hill the morning before, had made a careful reconnaissance of Overton's Hill, the strong position on Hood's right. As the result of his observation, he reported to General Wood, his corps commander, that an assault would cost dear, but he believed it could be made successfully; at any rate he was ready to try it. The order was accordingly given, and everything prepared. The brigade was to be supported on either side by fresh troops to be held in readiness to rush for the works the moment Post should gain the parapet. The bugles had not finished sounding the charge, when Post's brigade, preceded by a strong line of skirmishers, moved forward, in perfect silence, with orders to halt for nothing, but to gain the works at a run. The men dashed on, Post leading, with all speed through a shower of shot and shell. A few of the skirmishers reached the parapet; the main line came within twenty steps of the works, when, by a concentrated fire of musketry and Artillery from every available point of the enemy's line, the advance was momentarily checked, and, in another instant, Post was brought down by a wound, at first reported as mortal. This slight hesitation and the disabling of Post were fatal to the success of the assault. The leader and animating spirit gone, the line slowly drifted back to its original position, losing in those few minutes nearly 300 men; while the supporting brigade on its left lost 250.
Steedman had promised to cooperate in this assault, and accordingly Thompson's brigade of colored troops was ordered to make a demonstration at the moment Post's advance began. These troops had never before been in action and were now to test their mettle. There had been no time for a reconnaissance, when this order was given, else it is likely a way would have been found to turn the enemy's extreme right flank. The colored brigade moved forward against the works east of the Franklin Pike and nearly parallel to it. As they advanced, they became excited, and what was intended merely as a demonstration was unintentionally converted into an actual assault.
Thompson, finding his men rushing forward at the double-quick, gallantly led them to the very slope of the intrenchments. But, in their advance across
the open field, the continuity of his line was broken by a large fallen tree. As the men separated to pass it, the enemy opened an enfilading fire on the exposed flanks of the gap thus created, with telling effect. In consequence, at the very moment when a firm and compact order was most needed, the line came up ragged and broken. Meantime Post's assault was repulsed, and the fire which had been concentrated on him was turned against Thompson. Nothing was left, therefore, but to withdraw as soon as possible to the original position. This was done without panic or confusion, after a loss of 467 men from the three regiments composing the brigade.
When it was seen that a heavy assault on his right, at Overton's Hill, was threatened, Hood ordered Cleburne's old division to be sent over to the exposed point, from the extreme left, in front of Schofield. About the same time General Couch, commanding one of the divisions of the Twenty-third Corps, told General Schofield that he believed he could carry the hill in his front, but doubted if he could hold it without assistance. The ground in front of General Cox, on Couch's right, and opportunities for a successful assault. Meantime the cavalry, on Cox's right, had made its way beyond the extreme left flank of the enemy, and was moving northward over the wooded hills direct to the rear of the extreme rebel left.
General Thomas, who had been making a reconnaissance, had no sooner reached Schofield's front than General McArthur who commanded one of Smith's divisions, impatient at the long waiting, and not wanting to spend the second night on the rocky hill he was occupying, told Smith that he could carry the high hill in front of Couch,--the same that Couch himself had told Schofield he could carry,--and would undertake it unless forbidden. Smith silently acquiesced, and McArthur set to work. Withdrawing McMillen's (his right) brigade from the trenches, he marched it by the flank in front of General Couch's position, and with orders to the men to fix bayonets, not to fire a shot and neither to halt nor to cheer until they had gained the enemy's works, the charge was sounded. The gallant brigade, which had served and fought in every part of the South-west, moved swiftly down the slope, across the narrow valley, and began scrambling up the steep hillside, on the top of which was the redoubt, held by Bate's division and mounted also with Whitworth guns. The bravest onlookers held their breath as these gallant men steadily and silently approached the summit amid the crash of musketry and the boom of the Artillery. In almost the time it has taken to tell the story they gained the works, their flags were wildly waving from the parapet, and the unmistakable cheer "the voice of the American people," as, General Thomas called it, rent the air. It was an exultant moment; but this was only a part of the heroic work of that afternoon. While McMillen's brigade was preparing for this wonderful charge, Hatch's division of cavalry, dismounted, had also pushed its way through the woods, and had gained the tops of two hills that commanded the rear of the enemy's work. Here, with incredible labor, they had dragged, by hand, two pieces of Artillery, and, just as McMillen began his charge, these opened on the hill where Bate was, up the opposite slope of which the infantry were scrambling. At the same time
Coon's brigade of Hatch's division with resounding cheers charged upon the enemy and poured such volleys of musketry from their repeating-rifles as I have never heard equaled. Thus beset on both sides, Bate's people broke out of the works, and ran down the hill toward their right and rear as fast as their legs could carry them. It was more like a scene in a spectacular drama than a real incident in war. The hillside in front, still green, dotted with the boys in blue swarming up the slope; the dark background of high hills beyond; the lowering clouds; the waving flags; the smoke slowly rising through the leafless tree-tops and drifting across the valleys; the wonderful outburst of musketry; the ecstatic cheers; the multitude racing for life down into the valley below,-- so exciting was it all, that the lookers-on instinctively clapped their hands, as at a brilliant and successful transformation scene, as indeed it was. For, in those few minutes, an army was changed into a mob, and the whole structure of the rebellion in the South-west, with all its possibilities, was utterly overthrown. As soon as the other divisions farther to the left saw and hear d the doings on their right, they did not wait for orders. Everywhere, by a common impulse, they charged the works in front, and carried them in a twinkling. General Edward Johnson and nearly all his division and his Artillery were captured. Over the very ground where, but a little while before, Post's assault had been repulsed, the same troops now charged with resistless force, capturing fourteen guns and one thousand prisoners. Steedman's colored brigades also rallied and brought in their share of prisoners and other spoils of war. Everywhere the success was complete.
Foremost among the rejoicing victors was General Steedman, under
whose command were the colored troops. Steedman had been a life-long
Democrat and was one of the delegates, in 1860, to the Charleston
convention, at which ultimately Breckinridge was nominated for
President. As he rode over the field, immediately after the rout of the
enemy, he asked, with a grim smile, as he pointed to the fleeing hosts,
"I wonder what my Democratic friends over there would think of me if
they knew I was fighting them with 'nigger' troops?" I have not space
to tell the story of the pursuit, which only ended, ten days later, at
the Tennessee River. About a month before, General Hood had
triumphantly begun his northward movement. Now, in his disastrous
retreat, he was leaving behind him, as prisoners or deserters, a larger
number of men than General Thomas had been able to place at Pulaski to
hinder his advance --to say nothing of his terrific losses in killed at
Franklin. The loss to the Union army, in all its fighting,-- from the
Tennessee River to Nashville and back again,-- was less than six
thousand killed, wounded, and missing. At so small a cost, counting the
chances of war, the whole Northwest was saved from an invasion that, if
Hood had succeeded, would have more than neutralized all Sherman's
successes in Georgia and the Carolinas; saved by the steadfast labors,
the untiring energy, the rapid combinations, the skillful evolutions,
the heroic courage and the tremendous force of one man, whose name will
yet rank among the great captains of all time.
THE OPPOSING FORCES AT NASHVILLE, DEC. 15 - 16, 1864.
THE UNION ARMY, Major-General George H. Thomas.
FOURTH ARMY CORPS, Brig.-Gen. Thomas J. Wood.
First Division, Brig.-Gen. Nathan Kimball.
First Brigade, Col. Isaac M. Kirby: 21st Ill., Capt. William H. Jamison; 38th Ill., Capt. Andrew M. Pollard; 31st Ind., Col. John T. Smith; 81st Ind., Maj. Edward G. Mathey; 90th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Samuel N. Yeoman; 101st Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Bedan B. McDanald.
Brigade loss: k, 20; w, 100 = 120.,Second Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Walter C. Whitaker: 96th Ill., Maj. George Hicks; 115th III., Col. Jesse H. Moore; 35th Ind., Lieut: Col. Augustus G. Tassin; 21st Ky., Col. James C. Evans; 23d Ky., Lieut.-Col. George W. Northup; 45th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. John H. Humphrey; 51st Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Charles H. Wood. Brigade loss: k, 10; w, 38; m, 1 = 49.
Third Brigade, Brig.-Gen. William Grose: 75th Ill., Col. John E. Bennett; 80th Ill., Capt. James Cunningham; 84th Ill., Lieut.-Col. Charles H. Morton; 9th Ind., Col. Isaac C. B. Suman; 30th Ind., Capt. Henry W. Lawton; 36th Ind. (1 co.), Lieut. John P. Swisher; 84th Ind., Maj. John C. Taylor; 77th Pa., Lieut.-Col. Thomas E. Rose. Brigade loss: k, 6; w, 75; m, 1 = 82.
Second Division, Brig.-Gen. Washington L. Elliott.
First Brigade, Col. Emerson Opdycke: 36th Ill., Maj. Levi P. Holden; 44th Ill., Capt. Alonzo W. Clark; 73d Ill., Capt. Wilson Burroughs; 74th and 88th Ill., Lieut. Col. George W. Smith; 125th Ohio, Maj. Joseph Bruff; 24th Wis., Capt. William Kennedy. Brigade loss: k, 8; w, 39; m, 4 = 51. Second Brigade, Col. John Q. Lane: 100th Ill., Lieut.-Col. Charles M. Hammond; 40th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Henry Leaming; 57th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Willis Blanch;. 28th Ky., Lieut.-Col. J. Rowan Boone; 26th Ohio, Capt. William Clark; 97th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Milton Barnes. Brigade loss: k, 4; w, 57; m, 1 = 62. Third Brigade, Col. Joseph Conrad: 42d Ill., Lieut.-Col. Edgar D. Swain; 51st Ill., Capt. Albert M. Tilton; 79th Ill., Col. Allen Buckner; 15th Mo., Capt. George Ernst; 64th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Robert C. Brown; Orlow Smith. Brigade loss: k, 8; w, 47; m, 2 = 57.
THIRD Division, Brig.-Gen. Samuel Beatty.
First Brigade, Col. Abel D. Streight: 89th Ill., Lieut. Col. William D. Williams; 51st Ind., Capt. William W. Scearce; 8th Kan., Lieut.-Col. John Conover; 15th Ohio, Col. Frank Askew, Lieut.-Col. John McClenahan; 49th Ohio, Maj. Luther M. Strong, Capt. Daniel Hartsough. Brigade loss: k, 40; w, 204 = 244. Second Brigade, Col. P. Sidney Post, Lieut.-Col. Robert L. Kimberly: 59th Ill., Maj. James M. Stookey; 41st Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Robert L. Kimberly, Capt. Ezra Dunham; 71st Ohio, Lieut.-Col. James H. Hart, Capt. William H. McClure; 93d Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Daniel Bowman; 124th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. James Pickands. Brigade loss: k, 36; w, 263; m, 13 = 312. Third Brigade, Col. Frederick Knefler: 79th Ind., Lieut.-Col. George W. Parker; 86th Ind., Col. George F. Dick; 13th Ohio (4 co's), Maj. Joseph T. Snider; 19th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Henry G. Stratton. Brigade loss: k, 1; w, 7 = 8. Maj. Wilbur F. Goodspeed: 25th Ind., Capt. Frederick C. Sturm; 1st Ky., Capt. T. S. Thomasson; E, 1st Mich., Capt. Peter De Vries; G, 1st Ohio, Capt. Alexander Marshall; 6th Ohio, Lieut. Aaron P. Baldwin; B, Pa., Capt. Jacob Ziegler; M, 4th U. S., Lieut. Samuel Canby. Artillery loss: k, 2; w, 4=6.
TWENTY-THIRD ARMY CORPS, Maj.-Gen. John M. Schofield.
Second Division, Maj.-Gen. Darius N. Couch.
First Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Joseph A. Cooper: 130th Ind., Col. Charles S. Parrish; 26th Ky., Col. Cicero Maxwell; 25th Mich., Capt. Samuel L. Demarest; 99th Ohio, Lieut. Col. John E. Cummins; 3d Tenn., Col. William Cross; 6th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. Edward Maynard. Brigade loss: k, 7; w, 82 = 89. Second Brigade, Col. Orlando H. Moore: 107th Ill., Capt. John W. Wood; 80th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Alfred D. Owen; 129th Ind., Col. Charles A. Zollinger; 23d Mich., Col. Oliver L. Spaulding; 111th Ohio, Col. Isaac R. Sherwood; 118th Ohio, Maj. Edgar Sowers. Brigade loss: k, 2; w, 34 = 36. Third Brigade, Col. John Mehringer: 91st Ind., Lieut.-Col. Charles H. Butterfield; 123d Ind., Col. John C. McQuiston; 50th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Hamilton S. Gillespie; 183d Ohio, Col. George W. Hoge. Brigade loss: k, 2; w, 20=22. Artillery: 15th Ind., Capt. Alonzo D. Harvey; 19th Ohio, Capt. Frank Wilson.
Third Division, Brig.-Gen. Jacob D. Cox.
First Brigade, Col. Charles C. Doolittle: 12th Ky., Col. Laurence H. Rousseau; 16th Ky., Capt. Jacob Miller; 100th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Edwin L. Hayes; 104th Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Oscar W. Sterl; 8th Tenn., Capt. James W. Berry. Brigade loss w, 5. Second Brigade, Col. John S. Casement: 65th III., Lieut.-Col. W. Scott Stewart; 65th Ind., Lieut.-Col. John W. Hammond; 124th Ind., Col. John M. Orr; 103d Ohio, Capt.ds; 5th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. Nathaniel Witt. Brigade loss: w, 9. Third Brigade, Col. Israel N. Stiles: 112th Ill., Maj. Tristam T. Dow; 63d Ind., Lieut.-Col. Daniel Morris; 120th Ind., Maj. John M. Barcus; 128th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Jasper Packard. Brigade loss: w, 3. Artillery: 23d Ind., Lieut. Aaron A. Wilber; D, ist Ohio, Capt. Giles J. Cockerill.
ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE (Detachment), Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith.
FIRST Division, Brig.-Gen. John McArthur.
First Brigade, Col. William L. McMillen: 114th III., Capt. John M. Johnson; 93d Ind., Col. De Witt C. Thomas, Capt. Charles A. Hubbard; lOth Minn., Lieut. Col. Samuel P. Jennison, Capt. Edwin C. Sanders; 72d Ohio, Lieut.-Col. Charles G. Eaton; 95th Ohio, Lieut: Col. Jefferson Brumback; Ill. Battery (Cogswell's), Lieut. B. H. McClaury. Brigade loss: k, 22; w, 96 = 118.
Second Brigade, Col. Lucius F. Hubbard: 5th Minn., Lieut.-Col. William B. Gere; 9th Minn., Col. Josiah F. Marsh; 11th Mo., Lieut.-Col. Eli Bowyer, Maj. Modesta J. Green; 8th Wis., Lieut.-Col. William B. Britton; 2d Iowa Battery, Capt. Joseph R. Reed. Brigade loss: k, 33; w, 281; m, 1 = 315. Third Brigade, Col. Sylvester G. Hill, Col. William R. Marshall: 12th Iowa, Lieut.-Col. John H. Stibbs ; 35th Iowa, Maj. William Dill, Capt. Abraham N. Snyder; 7th Minn., Col. William R. Marshall, Lieut.-Col. George Bradley; 33d Mo., Lieut.-Col. William H. Heath; I, 2d Mo. Art'y, Capt. Stephen H. Julian. Brigade loss: k, 12; w, 133 = 145
Second Division, Brig.-Gen. Kenner Garrard.
First Brigade, Col. David Moore: 119th III., Col. Thomas J. Kinney; 122d Ill., Lieut.-Col. James F. Drish; 89th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Hervey Craven; 21st Mo. (detachment 24th Mo. attached), Lieut.-Col. Edwin Moore; 9th Ind. Battery, Lieut. Samuel G. Calfee. Brigade loss: k, 2; w, 47=49. Second Brigade, Col. James I. Gilbert: 58th Ill., Maj. Robert W. Healy; 27th Iowa, Lieut.-Col. Jed. Lake; 32d Iowa:, Lieut.-Col. Gustavus A. Eberhart; 10th Kan. (4 co's), Capt. William C. Jones; 3d Ind. Bhomas J. Ginn. Brigade loss: k, 1; w, 62 = 63. Third Brigade, Col. Edward H. Wolfe: 49th Ill., Col. Phineas Pease; 117th Ill., Lieut.-Col. Jonathan Merriam; 52d Ind., Lieut.-Col. Zalmon S. Main; 178th N. Y., Capt. John B. Gandolfo; G, 2d Ill. Art'y, Capt. John W. Lowell. Brigade loss: k, 5; W, 46; m, 1 = 52:
Third Division, Col. Jonathan B. Moore.
First Brigade, Col. Lyman M. Ward: 72d Ill., Capt. James A. Sexton; 40th Mo., Col. Samuel A. Holmes; 14th Wis., Maj. Eddy F. Ferris; 33d W is., Lieut.-Col. Frederick S. Lovell. Brigade loss: w, 3. Second Brigade, Col. Leander Blanden: 81st. Ill., Lieut.-Col. Andrew W. Rogers; 95th Ill., Lieut.-Col. William Avery; 44th Mo., Lieut.-Col. Andrew J. Barr. Brigade loss: w, 1. Artillery: 14th Ind., Capt. Francis W. Morse; A, 2d Mo., Lieut. John Zepp. Artillery loss: k, 1.
PROVISIONAL DETACHMENT, Maj.-Gen. James B. Steedman.
Provisional Division, (1) Brig.-Gen. Charles Cruft.
First Brigade, Col. Benjamin Harrison. Second Brigade, Col. John G. Mitchell. Third Brigade, Lieut.-Col. Charles H. Grosvenor. Loss in these three brigades: k, 19; w, 68; m, 32 = 119. Second Brigade (Army Tenn.), Col. A. G. Malloy. Miscellaneous: 68th Ind. (attached to Third Brigade), Lieut.-Col. H. J. Espy; 18th Ohio, Capt. Ebenezer Grosvenor, Capt. J. M. Benedict, Lieut. Chas. Grant. Loss: k, 12; w, 47; m, 9 = 68. Artillery: 20th Ind., Capt. M. A. Osborne; 18th Ohio, Capt. Chas. C. Aleshire. Artillery loss: w, 8. First Colored Brigade, Col. Thos. J. Morgan: 14th U. S. C. T., Lieut.-Col. H. C. Corbin; 16th LT. T. C. T., Col. William B. Gaw.; 17th U. S. C. T., Col. Wm. R. Shafter; 18th U. S. C. T. (battalion), Maj. Lewis D. Joy; 44th U. S. C. T., Col. Lewis Johnson.
Brigade loss: k, 21; w, 118; m, 23=162. Second Colored Brigade, Col. Chas. R. Thompson: 12th U. S. C. T., Lieut.-Col. Wm. R. Sellon, Capt. Henry Hegner; 13th U. S. C. T., Col. J. A. Hottenstein; 100th U. S. C. T., Maj. Collin Ford; 1st Kan. Battery, Capt. Marcus D. Tenney, Brigade loss: k, 77; W, 390; m, 1 =468. POST OF NASHVILLE, Brig.-Gen. John F. Miller.
Second Brigade, Fourth Division, Twentieth Corps, Col. Edwin C. Mason: 142d Ind., Col. John M. Comparet; 45th N. Y., Col. Adolphus Dobke; 176th Ohio, Lieut.Col. William B. Nesbitt; 179th Ohio, Col. Harley H. Bage; 182d Ohio, Col. Lewis Butler. Unattached: 3d Ky.__, 28th Mich., Col. William W. Wheeler; 173d Ohio, Col. John R. Hurd; 78th Pa. (detachment), Lieut.Col. Henry W. Torbett; Veteran Reserve Corps, Col. Frank P. Cahill; 44th Wis. (battalion), Lieut.-Col. Oliver C. Bissell; 45th Wis. (battalion), -.
GARRISON ARTILLERY, Maj. John J. Ely: 2d Ind., Capt. James S. Whicher; 4th Ind., Capt. Benjamin F. Johnson; 12th Ind., Capt. James E. White; 21st Ind., Capt. Abram P. Andrew; 22d Ind.. Capt. Edward W. Nicholson; 24th Ind., Lieut. Hiram Allen; F, 1st Mich., Capt. Byron D. Paddock; E, 1st Ohio, Liekard; 20th Ohio, Capt. William Backus; C, 1st Tenn., Lieut. Joseph Grigsby; D, 1st Tenn., Capt. Samuel D. Leinart; A, 2d U. S. Colored, Capt. Josiah V. Meigs.
Quartermaster's Division (composed of quartermaster's employees), Col. James L. Donaldson.
CAVALRY CORPS, Brig.-Gen. James H. Wilson.
Escort: 4th U. S., Lieut. Joseph Hedges.
First Division (Second and Third Brigades, under Brig.Gen. E. M. McCook, absent in western Kentucky).
First Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Jolin T. Croxton: 8th Iowa, Col. Joseph B. Dorr; 4th Ky. (mounted infantry), Col. Robert M. Kelly; 2d Mich.; Lieut.-Col. Benjamin Smith; 1st Tenn, Lieut.-Col. Calvin M. Dyer; Ill. Battery, Capt. George I. Robinson. Brigade loss: w, 2.
Fifth Division, Brig.-Gen. Edward Hatch.
First Brigade, Col. Robert R. Stewart: 3d Ill., Lieut.Col. Robert H. Carnahan; 11th Ind., Lieut.-Col. Abram Sharra; 12th Mo., Col. Oliver Wells; 10th Tenn., Maj. William P. Story, Maj. James T. Abernathy. Brigade loss: k, 14; w, 108=122. Second Brigade, Col. Datus E. Coon: 6th Ill., Lieut.-Col. John Lynch; 7th Ill., Maj. Jolin M. Graham; 9th Ill., Capt. Joseph W. Harper; 2d Iowa, Maj. Charles C. Horton; 12th Tenn., Col. George Spalding; I, 1st Ill. Art'y, Lieut. Joseph A. McCartney. Brigade loss: k, 14; w, 98; m, 1 = 113.
Sixth Division, Brig.-Gen. Richard W. Johnson.
First Brigade, Col. Thomas J. Harrison: 16th Ill., Maj. Charles H. Beeres; 5th Iowa, Lieut.-Col. Harlon Baird; 7th Ohio, Col. Israel Garrard. Brigade loss: k, 2; w, 9; m, 9 = 20.,Second Brigade, Col. James Biddle: 14th Ill., Maj. Haviland Tompkins; 6th Ind., Maj. Jacob S. Stephens; 8th Mich., Col. Elisha Mix; 3d Tenn., Maj. Benjamin Cunningham. Brigade loss: w, 7; m, 1 = 8, Artillery: I, 4th U. S., Lieut. Frank G. Smith.
Seventh Division, Brig.-Gen. Joseph F. Knipe.
First Brigade, Brevet Brig.-Gen. John H. Hammond: 9th Ind., Col. George W. Jackson; 10th Ind., Lieut.-Col. B. Q. A. Gresham; 19th Pa., Lieut.-Col. Joseph C. Hess; 2d Tenn., Lieut.-Col. William R. Cookut.Col. Jacob M. Thornburgh. Brigade loss: k, o; w, 42; m, 10 = 57. Second Brigade, Col. Gilbert M. L. Johnson: 12th Ind., Col. Edward Anderson; 13th Ind., Lieut.-Col. William T. Pepper; 6th Tenn., Col. Fielding Hurst. Brigade loss: k, 1; xv, 4; m, 2 = 7. Artillery: 14th Ohio, Capt. William C. Myers.
Total Union loss: killed, 387; wounded, 2558; captured or missing, 112 = 3057. The casualties at Franklin, November 30th, amounted to 189 killed; 1033 wounded; and 1104 captured or missing= 2326. General Thomas reported that the losses of his army in the entire campaign did not exceed 10,000 in killed, wounded, and missing. According to official returns the effective force of Thomas's whole command was as follows: October 31st, 53,415; November 20th, 59,534; November 30th, 71,452; December 10th, 70,272. In his official report, General Thomas says that his effective force early in November "consisted of the Fourth Corps, about 12,000, under General D. S. Stanley; the Twenty-third Corps, about 10,000, under General J. M. Schofield; Hatch's division of cavalry, about 4000; Croxton's brigade, 2500, and Capron's brigade of about 1200 [total, 29,700]. The balance of my force was distributed along the railroad, and posted at Murfreesboro', Stevenson Bridgeport, Huntsville, Decatur, and Chattanooga, to keep open our communications and hold the posts above named, if attacked, until they could be reenforced, as up to this time it was impossible to determine which course Hood would take-advance on Nashville, or turn toward Huntsville." It is estimated that tho available Union force of all arms in and about Nashville on December 15th aggregated at least 55,000. Col. Henry Stone, of General Thomas's staff, furnishes the following estimate of the number of Union troops actually engaged in the battle (not including the garrison force and dismounted cavalry), viz.: Fourth Corps, 13,350; Twenty-third Corps, 8890; Detachment Army of the Tennessee, 9210; Steedman's Detachment, 5270; Cavalry Corps (mounted men), 6600, or an aggregate, including Artillery, of 43,260. General J. H. Wilson says the cavalry numbered 12,000.
THE CONFEDERATE ARMY.
ARMY OF TENNESSEE.-General John B. Hood.
LEE'S CORPS (Hood's), Lieut.-Gen. S. D. Lee.
Johnson's Division, Maj.-Gen. Edward Johnson.
Deas's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Z. C. Deas: 19th Ala., Lieut.Col. R. Kimbrough; 22d Ala., Capt. H. W. Henry; 25th Ala., Capt. N. B. Rouse; 39th Ala., Lieut.-Col. W. C. Clifton; 50th Ala., Col. J. G. Coltart.
Manigault's Brigade, Lieut.-Col. W. L. Butler: 24th Ala., Capt. T. J. Kimball; 28th Ala., Capt. W. M. Nabors; 34th Ala., Lieut.-Col. J. C. Carter; 10th S. C., Lieut.-Col. C. Irvin Walker; 19th S. C., Capt. T. W. Getzen.
Sharp's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. J. H. Sharp: 7th and 9th Miss., Maj. H. Pope; 10th and 44th Miss., and 9th Miss. Batt'n Sharp shooters, Capt. R. A. Bell; 41st Miss., Capt. J. M. Hicks.
Brantly's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. W. F. Brantly: 24th and 34th Miss., Capt. C. Dancy; 27th Miss., Capt. S. M. Pegg; 29th and 30th Miss., Capt. R. W. Williamson; Dismounted Cavalry, Capt. D. W. Alexander.
ARTILLERY, Lieut.-Col. L. Hoxton (Chief Corps Art'y).
Courtney's Battalion, Capt. J. P. Douglas: Ala. Battery, Capt. S. H. Dent; Ala. Battery, Lieut. H. Ferrell; Tex. Battery, Lieut. Ben. Hardin.
Stevenson's Division, Maj.-Gen. C. L. Stevenson.
Cumming's Brigade, Col. E. P. Watkins: 34th Ga., Capt. R. A. Jones; 36th Ga., Col. Charles E. Broyles; 39th Ga.,
(1) Composed mainly of detachments belonging to the 14th, 15th, 17th, and 20th corps, which had been unable to rejoin their proper commands, serving with Sherman's army on the march through Georgia.
Capt. W. P. Milton; 56th Ga., Capt. B. T. Spearman.
Pettus's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. E. W. Pettus: 20th Ala., Gol. J. N. Dedman; 23d Ala., Lieut.-Col. J. B. Bibb; 30th Ala., Lieut.-Col. J. R. Elliott; 31st Ala., Lieut.-Col. T. M. Arrington; 46th Ala., Capt. G. E. Brewer. Artillery Battalion (Johnston's), Capt. J. B. Rowan: Ga. Bat'y, Lieut. W. S. Hoge; Ga. Bat'y, Lieut. W. L. Ritter. Clayton's Division, Maj.-Gen. H. D. Clayton.
Stovall's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. M. A. Stovall: 40th Ga., Col. A. Johnson; 41st Ga., Capt. J. E. Stallings ; 42d Ga., Col. R. J. Henderson; 43d Ga., Col. H. C. Kellogg; 52d Ga., Capt. R. R. Asbury.
Gibson's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Randall L. Gibson: 1st La., Capt. J. C. Stafford; 4th La., Col. S. E. Hunter; 13th La., Col. F. L. Campbell; 16th La., Lieut.-Col. R. H. Lindsay; 19th La., Maj. C. Flournoy; 20th La., Capt. A. Dresel; 25th La., Col. F. C. Zacharie; 30th La., Maj. A. Picolet; 4th La. Battalion, Capt. T. A. Bisland; 14th La. Battalion Sharp-shooters, Lieut. A. T. Martin.
Holtzclaw's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. J. T. Holtzclaw: 18th Ala., Lieut.-Col. P. F. Hunley; 32d and 58th Ala., Col. Bushrod Jones; 36th Ala., Capt. N. M. Carpenter; 38th Ala., Capt. C. E. Bussey. Artillery Battalion (Eldridge's), Capt. C. E. Fenner: Ala. Battery, Capt. W. J. McKenzie; Miss. Bat'y, Lieut. J. S. McCall.
STEWART'S CORPS (Polk's), Lieut.-Gen. A. P. Stewart.
Loring Division, Maj.-Gen. W. W. Loring.
Featherston's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. W. S. Featherston: 1st Miss., Capt. O. D. Hughes; 3d Miss., Capt. O. H. Johnston; 22d Miss., Maj. M. A. Oatis; 31st Miss., Capt. R. A. Collins; 33d Miss., Capt. T. L. Cooper; 40th Miss., Col. W. B. Colbert; 1st Miss. Batt'n, Maj. J. M. Stigler.
Adams's Brigade, Col. Robert Lowry: 6th Miss., Lieut.Col. Thomas J. Borden; 14th Miss., Col. W. L. Doss; 15th Miss., Lieut.-Col. J. R. Binford; 20th Miss., Maj. Thomas B. Graham; 23d Miss., Maj. G. W. B. Garrett; 43d Miss., Col. Richard Ha, Col. John Snodgrass: 55th Ala., Maj. J. B. Dickey; 57th Ala., Maj. J. H. Wiley; 27th, 35th, and 49th Ala., Lieut.-Col. J. D. Weeden; 12th La., Capt. J. T. Davis.
Artillery, Lieut.-Col. S. C. Williams (Chief Corps Art'y). Myrick;'s Battalion: La. Battery (Bouanchaud's); Miss. Battery (Cowan's); Miss. Battery (Darden's).
French's Division (temporarily attached to Walthall's division).
Sears's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. C. W. Sears: 4th Miss ___; 35th Miss.,___; 36th Miss.,___; 39th Miss.,___; 46th Miss.,___; 7th Miss. Battalion,____.
Ector's Brigade, Col. D. Coleman: 29th N. C., Maj. E. H. Hampton; 39th N. C., Capt. J. G. Crawford; 9th Texas, Maj. J. H. McReynolds; 10th Tex. (dismounted cavalry ), Col. C. R. Earp; 14th Tex. (dismounted cavalry), Capt. R. H. Harkey; 32d Texas (dismounted cavalry), Maj. W. E. Estes. Artillery Battalion (Storrs's): Ala. Battery (Kolb's); Miss. Battery (Hoskins's); Mo. Bat'y (Guibor's).
WALTHALL'S DIVISION, Maj.-Gen. E. C. Walthall.
Quarles's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. George D. Johnston: 1st Ala., Lieut. C. M. McRae; 42d, 46th, 49th, 53d, and 55th Tenn., Capt. A. M. Duncan; 48th Tenn., Col. W. M. Voorhies.
Cantey's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. C. M. Shelley: 17th Ala., Capt. John Bolling; 26th Ala., Capt. D. M. Gideon; 29th Ala., Capt. S. Abernathy; 37th Miss., Maj. S. H. Terral.
Reynolds's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. D. H. Reynolds: 1st Ark. Mounted Rifles (dismounted), Capt. R. P. Parks; 2d Ark. Mounted Rifles (dismounted), Maj. J. P. Eagle; 4th Ark., Maj. J. A. Ross; 9th Ark., Capt. W. L. Phefer; 25th Ark., Lieut. T. J. Edwards. Artillery Battalion (Truehart's): Ala. Battery (Lumsden's); Ala. Battery (Selden's); Ala. Battery (Tarrant's).
CHEATHAM'S CORPS (formerly Hardee's), Lieut. Gen. B. F. Cheatham.
Gist's Brigade, Lieut.-Col. Z. L. Walters: 46th Ga., Capt. Malcolm Gillis; 65th Ga. and 8th Ga. Battalion, Capt. W. W. Grant; 2d Ga. Battalion Sharp-shooters, Capt. William H. Brown; 16th S. C., Capt. J. W. Boling; 24th S. C., Capt. W. C. Griffith.
Maney's Brigade, Col. H. R. Feild: 4th Confed., and 6th, 9th, and 50th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. G. W. Pease; 1st and 27th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. J. L. House; 8th, 16th, and 28th Tenn., Col. J. H. Anderson. Strahl's Brigade, Col. A. J. Kellar: 4th, 5th, 31st, 33d, and 38th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. L. W. Finlay; 19th, 24th, and 41st Tenn., Capt. D. A. Kennedy.
Vaughan's Brigade, Col. W.and 29th Tenn., Maj. J. E. Burns; 12th and 47th Tenn., Capt. C. N. Wade; 13th, 51st, 52d, and 154th Tenn., Maj. J. F. Williamson.
Artillery, Col. Mclancthon Smith (Chief Corps Art'y).
Artillery Battalion: Ala. Battery (Phelan's); Fla. Battery (Perry's); Miss. Battery (Turner's).
Cleburne's Division, Brig.-Gen. J. A. Smith.
Lowrey's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. DZ. P. Lowrey: 16th, 33d, and 45th
Ala., Lieut.-Col. R. H.
Abercrombie; 5th Miss. and 3d Miss. Battalion, Capt. F. M. Woodward; 8th and 32d Miss., Maj. A. E. Moody.
Govan's Brigade, Brig.Gen. D. C. Govan, Col. Peter V. Green: 1st, 2d, 5th, 13th, 15th, and 24th Ark., Col. Peter V. Green; 6th and 7th Ark., Lieut.-Col. P. Snyder; 8th and 29th Ark.. Maj. D. H. Hamiter.
Granbury's Brigade, Capt. E. T. Broughton: 35th Tenn.,____; 6th and 15th Tex., Capt. B. R. Tyus; 7th Tex., Capt. O. P. Forrest; 10th Tex., Capt. R. D. Kennedy; 17th and 18th Tex. (dismounted cavalry), Capt. F. L. McKnight; 24th and 25th Texas (dismounted cavalry), Capt. J. F. Matthews; La. Cav. Co., Capt. L. M. Nutt. Artillery Battalion (Hotchkiss's): Ala. Battery (Goldthwaite's); Ark. Battery (Key's); Mo. Battery (Bledsoe's).
Bates Division, Maj.-Gen. William B. Bate. Escort, Capt. J. H. Buck.
Tyler's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. T. B. Smith: 37th Ga., Capt. J. A. Sanders; 4th Ga. Battalion Sharp-shooters, Maj. T. D. Caswell; 2d, 10th, 15th, 20th, 30th, and 37th Tenn., Col. W. M. Shy, Maj. H. C. Lucas.
Finley's Brigade, Maj. CT. A. Ball: 1st and 3d Fla., Capt. Di. H. Strain; 6th Fla., Capt. A. M. Williams; 7th Fla., Capt. R B. Smith; 1st Fla. Cav. (dismounted) and 4th Fla., Maj. Jacob A. Lash.
Jackson's Brigade, Brig.-Gen. H. R. Jackson: 1st Ga. (Confed.) and 66th Ga., Lieut.-Col. J. C. Gordon; 25th Ga:, Capt. J. E. Fulton; 29th and 30th Ga.,Col. W.D. Mitchell; 1st Ga. Battalion Sharp-shooters, Lieut. R. C. King. Artillery Battalion, Capt. R. T. Beauregard: La. Battery (Slocomb's); S. C. Battery (Ferguson's); Tenn. Battery (Mcbane's).
Escort, Capt. C. T. Smith.
Rucker's Brigade, Col. E. W. Rucker, Lieut.-Col. T. R. White: 7th Ala,.,____; 5th Miss.,____; 7th Tenn.,____; 14th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. R. R White; 15th Tenn.,___; 26th Tenn. Battalion,____.
Biffle's Brigade, Col. J. B. Biffle: 9th Tenn.,____; 10th Tenn.,____.
At the time of the battle of Nashville, Forrest, with Jackson's and
Buford's divisions of cavalry- and Mercer's and Palmer's brigades of
infantry, was detached from the main army and operating on its flanks.
Hood reported that he began the campaign With "an `effective total' of
40,403." On November 6th his strength was 44,729. By the arrival of
Forrest's cavalry, on November 15th, the army aggregated 53,938.
Exclusive of Palmer's brigade of Lee's corps, Mercer's brigade of
Cheatham's corps, and Sears's and Cockrell's brigades of Stewart's
corps, and Forrest's cavalry (not included in Hood's return), the
"present for duty" on December 10th was 26,877. These omitted commands
probably numbered 12,000, which would give Hood an aggregate effective
force at that date of nearly 39,000. But Col. Henry Stone estimates
that Hood's army at Nashville numbered 37,937, including some who were
reported as on "extra duty," but who he (Stone) claims were with their
commands, and (Hood being on the defensive) were, as occasion required,
put in the ranks to fight. According to Hood's official report his loss
at Franklin in killed, wounded, and prisoners was 4500. The loss at
Nashville is not stated. He reached Tupelo, at the close of the
campaign, with about 21,000. General Hood reported officially: "Losses,
including prisoners, during the entire campaign do not exceed 10,000
men." On the other hand, General Thomas states in his official report
that during the campaign he "captured 13,189 prisoners of war," and
that "during the same period over 2000 deserters from the enemy were
He [Sherman] had selected the flower of his three armies, amounting to about sixty thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry, with plenty of artillery, all under his favorite leaders, for his own column, but strangely enough, when we began our conversation, his mind had not yet settled on the route he should take.
And it is now well known that he met with no effective resistance, but had a picnic excursion, living off the fat of the land, going to Brunswick first, and finally to Savannah, In this he lost much valuable time, which the enemy improved by collecting the remnants of Hood's defeated army from Tennessee, and, uniting it with all the other Confederate troops they could find outside of Lee's army, confronted the invaders in the Carolinas with a perfection of strategy and boldness which, like Hood's movement against Nashville, lacked nothing but weight to give it a complete success.
As the campaign developed, the places in which there seemed to be the greatest doubt as to the actual condition of affairs, accompanied by the least hope of a favorable outcome, were the War Department and Grant's headquarters. While Sherman' s columns were lost to view, in the Georgia lowlands, and Grant's own army was at a deadlock with Lee's, both Grant and Stanton became filled with undue anxiety and impatience as to Thomas and his movements. They thought him slow, and did not hesitate first to criticize and then to issue positive and ill-considered orders to fight, when conditions were still highly unfavorable.
It soon became evident, from the caution with which he moved, that Hood would not throw his main force against Columbia, but, using the fords above, would strike across the country toward Spring Hill and Franklin on the railroad in the rear. Communication with Thomas at Nashville was slow and uncertain and Schofield alleges that this was partly due to the fact that his cipher telegraph operator had deserted and gone back to Franklin. Be this as it may, I took the precaution to send a courier to Thomas with a copy of every dispatch, sent directly to Schofield. In this the Generalissimo was fully informed of all important movements at the front.
Schofield, the actual commander at the front, many years afterward wrote an elaborate justification of his own course and a sharp crtiticism of Thomas's. He blamed the latter for not making his headquarters with the troops in the field, for not concentrating his available forces more rapidly, for not bridging the Harpeth River in the rear, and for leaving him without positive instructions as to the course he should pursue. The truth is that Thomas did exactly right in remaining in Nashville till his entire army was concentrated and ready to assume the offensive...Whatever may have been Thomas's orders or suggestions, it was clearly Schofield's first duty, while impeding the progress of Hood as much as possible, to incur no great risk and to accept no general engagements, except from behind fortifications, till Thomas could either take the field with all
his reënforcements or till Schofield himself should be forced back to Nashville. In violating these fundamental principles in face of full information, Schofield lost at least twelve hours in getting out of Columbia after he knew that Hood had crossed Duck River above and was marching on Spring Hill. In endeavoring to justify this loss of time, both he and Cox made elaborate explanations which did not explain. (1)
(1) Schofield's "Forty-six Years in the Army", pp. 170-225; "The March to the Sea, Franklin and Nashville", by Jacob D. Cox, pp. 66-80; "The Battle of Franklin", by Jacob D. Cox, pp. 21 et seq.
It is an interesting circumstance, however, that when I returned to the neighborhood [of Spring Hill] a few weeks later, I received what seemed to be reliable information that Cheatham, for a part of the night at least, was absent from his headquarters in the company of ladies at a nearby country house and did not hear of Hood's written order till after the great opportunity on which it was based had passed. (1)
(1) OR Serial No. 93, p. 652, General Hood's Official Report to
General S. Cooper; also p. 657, General Hood to Seddon, Confederate
Secretary of War.
It was customary in both the Confederate and Federal armies after his [Hood's] advancement to decry both his performances and his abilities, and this may account in some degree for the failure of his bold undertakings, but it has always seemed to me that they were ably planned and needed nothing but heavier battalions, greater resources, and better subordinates to make them successful.
The record now clearly shows, contrary to Grant’s belief, that Hood was intent on hanging on for the winter there where he was, capturing Murfreesboro, if possible, and that he had no present design of marching to the Ohio. (1) This assurance was made doubly sure by the further important fact that there was a fleet of iron-clads and gun-boats on the Cumberland under command of Tear Admiral S.P. Lee, patrolling the river from its mouth to Carthage, above Nashville, in coöperation with my outlying cavalry forces. (2) All were especially on the alert to prevent Hoods’ crossing to the north side of the Cumberland. Upon other and stronger grounds, however, such a movement
(1) OR Serial 94, pp. 121, 143, 153, 666, 670
(2) Ibid., pp. 3, 4, 85, 97
was highly improbable, if not impossible. He was already far from his base at Florence [Alabama]. It was winter and the roads, whenever heavily used, were soon almost impassable. The territory between the Cumberland and the Ohio had been foraged more than once by both sides. Besides, Hood was without resources with which to repair and operate the railroads, and it was beyond the waning power of the Confederacy to supply them. To use them at all he must first wrest them from our possession, and this could not be done without the defeat of Thomas’s entrenched army and the capture of Nashville. That army, concentrated in comparative security behind the fortifications of Nashville, well fed, well clothed, daily growing stronger and more confident under a leader that it loved and trusted and whom it knew familiarly under the fond and expressive name of “Old Pap,” was resolutely and vigorously making ready for its spring upon the foe. Under these conditions it must be conceded that the possibility of Hood’s marching around Nashville or getting away from Thomas in the effort to cross the Cumberland for a winter march into Kentucky and to the Ohio was not only reduced to a minimum, but was about the wildest and the most desperate and hopeless military undertaking possible to imagine. (1) Here, if at any time during the war, Grant lost his head and failed to act with his usual sound sense. It is, of course, impossible to say with certainty how far the alarm of the President and his advisors, Stanton and Halleck, may have contributed to this, or how far Grant’s judgement may have been disturbed by
(1) OR Serial No. 94, pp. 96, 87
his fear that Thomas would fail to hold Hood, and that this would condemn both himself and Sherman for stripping Thomas and leaving him with widely dispersed forces to contend against Hood’s compact veteran army. And yet, Lincoln, Stanton, Halleck, and Grant, although a thousand miles from the scene of conflict, concurred in assuming to understand the situation better than the level-headed Thomas in fearing that Hood would drop him and get away on this wild march. Each in turn sought to impose on Thomas his own views as to the management of the campaign and united in harassing him beyond all patience and reason into fighting a battle against his own tried and well-seasoned judgement before preparations which he deemed essential to success were complete. He was twitted with being slow. He was threatened with removal. Orders, indeed were drafted to that end, and, as if to spare him no humiliation, it was proposed that he should turn over his command to Schofield, his inferior in rank, and report to him for duty. Not satisfied with this, Grant ordered Logan from City Point to Nashville. And then, as the crowning evidence of lost equipoise, of confusion in counsel, and of want of confidence either in Thomas, Schofield or Logan, or in all of them, Grant himself left his army in Lee’s front at Petersburg and got as far a Washington on his way to Nashville. (1) Grant’s telegrams of this fortnight show that he had a good memory for injuries, real or fancied, with an utter lack of sympathy or active friendship for Thomas, dating possibly as far back as Grant’s unhappy days after Shiloh, or Thomas’s coldness and inhospitality
(1) OR Serial No. 94, p. 195
at Chattanooga. They also disclose a willingness, if not a settled
purpose, on Grant’s part to cause Thomas’s removal and downfall,
provided the authorities at Washington could be induced to take the
responsibility for such radical action. When told plainly by Halleck
that if he wished Thomas removed he would have to do it himself and
take the sole responsibility, he hesitated and, to that end, but,
fortunately for Thomas and the country, they were not sent.
Why Thomas did not receive the benefit of this well-known and most salutary rule will, as far as the official records disclose, always remain a mystery. The inference that Grant never quite forgave Thomas for his cold reception at Chattanooga, elsewhere described, and for Halleck’s preference of Thomas to Grant following Shiloh and during the advance on Corinth, seems to be the most probable explanation. In any view, and for whatever reason, it is certain that Grant refused Thomas as an independent commander that considerate and kindly trust and confidence freely accorded to others, to which the facts of record fully entitled him.
Nowhere, and never, perhaps, in Grant’s life can be found an episode which better illustrates that trait in his character which Mrs. Grant had in mind when she said: “My husband is a very obstinate man,” a quality which, when rightly directed, as it always was in battle, helped to make him great, but which, in this instance, was wholly misdirected and came perilously near to involving him in an act of cruel injustice and a great and harmful mistake. He had, however, met his match even in that quality, and, having been fought to a standstill by the equal or greater obstinacy of Thomas, ceased to urge him further to an act which was against his [Thomas’s] judgement, and, without confessing his [Grant’s] defeat, relentlessly turned to other expedients.
Under the circumstances, which were well known to the entire army, it was hard for Thomas, who was conceded to be a better technical soldier and organizer than either Grant [or Halleck], to understand why he should be censured and lectured by either of them. Both were far away, as well as more or less ignorant of the actual condition of affairs in our front, and both more or less responsible for the perils with which we were surrounded. Thomas felt all this most keenly, but, with a reticence which was one of his greatest characteristics, he contented himself with recounting it to me, possibly with the hope that I might use it in some way for his justification, though he did not intimate that I should use it then or at any future time. He knew my intimacy with Grant and his staff, and evidently had confidence in my judgement, and therefore, contented himself with the final declaration that the authorities might relieve him from command and put someone else in his place, in which case he would do all in his power to help him out, but that in no case would he fight against his own judgement, or till local conditions should become more favorable. For the adoption of this course, the events which followed were a full justification, but it is a curious circumstance that, although Grant afterward went so far as to admit that he was wrong and Thomas was right in not fighting till the weather had moderated and the thaw had come, neither he nor Sherman ever fully or fairly withdrew the charge that Thomas was slow at Nashville. (1)
(1) On this interesting topic the critical reader should consult General Boynton’s little book: “Was General Thomas Slow at Nashville?” &c. Frances P. Harper, New York, 1896.
After some days of hesitation and delay on Grant's part, he finally consented to Thomas's well deserved promotion to be major general in the regular army. He was, however, apparently still disposed to be exacting as to the troops and refused his consent to winter quarters and greatly needed rest, both of which were imperitive for Thomas's army, but instead marked out for them an almost impossible further winter campaign in pursuit of Hood. Thomas did not hesitate to declare it impracticable and had his way, but was pnished by seeing his invincible army broken up and scattered, thereby reducing him to a comparatively unimportant rôle for the remainder of the war. I do not know on what authority David Homer Bates makes the statement that President Johnson offered, in 1868, to make Thomas lieutenant general over Sherman and Sheridan. No doubt the offer was really made and it was like this patient, high-minded man to refuse. His telegram refusing on grounds most creditable to him is quoted. Who could have blamed him if he had accepted? It is safe to say that neither of his great rivals would, under like circumstances, have declined. (1)
(1) "Lincoln in the Telegraph Office", p. 321
Edward Hatch of Iowa commanded our Fifth Division. He was a
lumberman who perhaps had never seen a company of uniformed soldiers
till he entered the army as a volunteer. Rising rapidly through all the
grades, he won his brigadier's stars before he fell under my control.
He was a yound man, still in his lower thirties, of splendid
constitution and striking figure. It was his good fortune and mine that
he came to our assistance against Hood in middle Tennessee with a well
mounted and well seasoned division, and to him more than to anyone else
was due the early and exact knowledge which we obtained of Hood's
movements from the time he left the Tennessee till he sat down in front
of Nashville. Hatch more than anyone else should have credit for the
active and aggressive advance of the Cavalry against Hood's left in
front of Nashville. It was under his dashing leadership that Ector's
brigade was broken and driven back and that Chalmer's headquarters and
ammunistion trains were captured. It was largely due to him that the
principal success of both the first and second days in front of
Nashville was due.He was brave, energetic, and aggressive, and needed
only to be told what he was to do and then attended to the rest
himself. He had only one fault. He was so ardent and active on the
fighting line and in pursuit, that he always said "yes" to every
suggestion and always declared himself ready without reference to food,
forage, or ammunition. He always took the chances of getting them from
the enemy or from the general trains and seemed to fear nothing but
that he and his command might not do their full share of work, or get
their full share of the glory. It was a supreme pleasure to command
such a man and to look out for the comfort and needs of such troops.
Although Hatch was talkative and somewhat given to harmless gasconade, he never committed himslef to any enterprise or adventure, however difficult or despearte, which he was not willing to undertake or which he did not throw himself into with absolute fearlessness. Shortly after reaching our cantonments of the Tennessee, he fell sick, doubtless from exposure and oever-exertion, whereupon I ordered him on twenty days' leave of absence, suggesting that if well enough he might visit Sheridan in the Valley of Virginia and see how the cavalry of that incomparable leader was being organized and handled. He siezed the opportunity with avidity and made the visit before he was fully well. Shortly after his return, he was giving us the account of his observations, concluding with the remark that he would be willing to die if he could "have the command of Sheridan's cavalry for just day." One of his staff, bolder and perhaps more impudent than the rest, broke in with the inquiry: "But, General, wouldn't you like to live just another day to brag about it?" The shot was a good one and brought a laugh to the party in which Hatch joined cheerfully with the rest.
As our work at Gravelly Springs was drawing to a close Thomas paid me a visit for the purpose
of looking over my command and conferring with me about future operations. General Grant had directed him, after sending my Seventh Division to Canby, to detach me with a force of "say five thousand men to make a demonstration on Tuscaloosa and Selma". Evidently both Grant and the War Department, although doing but little in Virginia, intended that Thomas and his army should make no pause, but continue their operations indefinitely through the winter. They apparently did not understand that, although the weather was generally milder in the country south of the Tennessee than farther north, the streams would be swollen and the roads impassible till the winter rains were over and the roads had measurably dried out. Just what they counted upon or expected from Thomas, whom they had promoted to a major general of the regular army and who fallen heir to the fragmentary command Sherman had left behind him, they never made clear. They sent Schofield with one army corps to the east, Smith with another to the north-western corner of Alabama, and Wood to Huntsville. In other words, they scattered their infantry as well as the splendid body of cavalry I had got together with so much trouble. Fortunately, however, in passing seventeen thousand troopers in review before Thomas, I convinced him that a "demonstration" in any direction would be a useless waste of strength and, if permitted to go with my whole available force into central Alabama, I would not only defeat Forrest and such other troops as I might encounter, but would capture Tuscaloosa, Selma, Montgomery, and Columbus, and destroy the Confederacy's last depots of manufacture and supply
and break up its last interior line of railway communications.[*]
Thomas, with sound judgement, heartily agreed to my representations, telegraphed Grant, fully approving them, and earnestly requested that I should be permitted to carry them into effect. Grant not only gave his consent at once, but directed that I should be allowed all "the latitude of an independent commander"... It was the great opportunity of my life and, with the hearty support of my officers of all grades, I felt perfectly certain of success.
[Most commentators report that Thomas originated the concept.]
Mr. Davis [after his captureon 13 May 65] called alone and without
escort, and we had an informal and firendly interview lasting something
over an hour...He spoke both freely and feelingly of Lee's character
and deeds, declaring him to be the ablest, most courageous, and most
aggressive, as well as the best beloved of all of his generals. On the
expression of some surprise at his ascription of an aggressive temper
to Lee, he not only repeated his high praise but went on to say that
Lee was the only Confederate commander of the first rank whose
aggressiveness amounted to rashness, and whose bold advice and policies
he had felt compelled more than once to restrain. He also commended
<p. 327> Bragg, Hardee, Taylor, and several others for high
qualities and leadership, but, as might have been expected, he spoke
slightingly of Johnston, charging him with timidity and
insubordination. He condemned Beauregard's military pedantry and
deprecated Hood's heroic rashness.
On the other hand he expressed surprise at Grant's skill and persistancy, admiration for Sherman's brillancy, and repect for Thomas's solid qualities. He did not hesitate to say that he had expected more from McClellan, Buell, and Fitz-John Porter than they had performed. His comments and criticisms were clothed in excellent language and delivered with felicity and grace, while his manners were stately and dignified without being frigid or repellent.
During our conversation, without the slightest suggestion on my part, he referred to Mr. Lincoln and his untimely death. Speaking of him and his public services in terms of respect and kindness, he seemed to regard the martyred president as having been a worthy if not a brillant member of Congress and a concientious president. He did not hesitate to express his sorrow that a man of so much sensibility and kindliness had been succeeded in the presidency by Andrew Johnson, for whom he made but little if any effort to conceal his dislike, and whom he seemed to fear would be governed by a vindictive and unforgiving temper toward the Southern people.