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Franklin-Nashville Campaign

Franklin-Nashville Campaign

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The Franklin-Nashville Campaign, also known as Hood's Tennessee Campaign, was a series of battles in the Western Theater
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

, conducted from September 18 to December 27, 1864, in Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, and northwestern Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 under Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness...

 drove north from Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, threatening Maj. Gen.
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 William T. Sherman's lines of communications and central Tennessee. After a brief attempt to pursue Hood, Sherman returned to Atlanta and began his March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted around Georgia from November 15, 1864 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War...

, leaving Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 forces under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas to deal with Hood's threat.

Hood hoped to defeat the Union force under Maj. Gen. John Schofield
John Schofield
John McAllister Schofield was an American soldier who held major commands during the American Civil War. He later served as U.S. Secretary of War and Commanding General of the United States Army.-Early life:...

 before it could converge with Thomas's army and attempted to do so at the Battle of Spring Hill
Battle of Spring Hill
The Battle of Spring Hill was fought November 29, 1864, at Spring Hill, Tennessee, as part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign of the American Civil War. The Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, attacked a Union force under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield as it...

 on November 29, but poorly coordinated Confederate attacks allowed Schofield to escape. The following day, Hood launched a series of futile frontal assaults against Schofield's field fortifications in the Battle of Franklin, suffering heavy casualties; Schofield withdrew his force and successfully linked up with Thomas in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

. On December 15–16, Thomas's combined army attacked Hood's depleted army and routed it in the Battle of Nashville
Battle of Nashville
The Battle of Nashville was a two-day battle in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign that represented the end of large-scale fighting in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. It was fought at Nashville, Tennessee, on December 15–16, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Tennessee under...

, sending it in retreat to Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211...

.

Opposing forces

Principal Confederate commanders
Principal Union commanders

Confederate



Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee, at 39,000 men, constituted the second-largest remaining army of the Confederacy, ranking in strength only after Gen. Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

's Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

. The army consisted of the corps of Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham , known also as Frank, was a Tennessee aristocrat, California gold miner, and a General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, serving in many battles of the Western Theater.-Early years:Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee on a plantation...

, Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee
Stephen D. Lee
Stephen Dill Lee was an American soldier, planter, legislator, and author. He was the youngest Confederate lieutenant general during the American Civil War, and later served as the first president of Mississippi A&M College...

, and Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart
Alexander P. Stewart
Alexander Peter Stewart was a career United States Army officer, college professor, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

, and cavalry forces under Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered both as a self-educated, innovative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading southern advocate in the postwar years...

.

Union



At the beginning of the campaign, Union forces designated the Military Division of the Mississippi
Military Division of the Mississippi
The Military Division of the Mississippi was an administrative division of the United States Army during the American Civil War that controlled all military operations in the Western Theater.-History:...

 were commanded by Sherman in Atlanta, but his personal involvement in the campaign lasted only until the end of October. Reporting to Sherman was the Army of the Cumberland
Army of the Cumberland
The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

 under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas (the "Rock of Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

"), the force previously commanded by Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans. Thomas was the principal Union commander after Sherman's departure. Subordinate to him was the Army of the Ohio
Army of the Ohio
The Army of the Ohio was the name of two Union armies in the American Civil War. The first army became the Army of the Cumberland and the second army was created in 1863.-History:...

, commanded by Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield. It consisted of 34,000 men, made up of the IV Corps under Maj. Gen. David S. Stanley
David S. Stanley
David Sloane Stanley was a Union Army officer during the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Battle of Franklin.-Early life:...

, the XXIII Corps under Brig. Gen.
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 Jacob D. Cox, and a Cavalry Corps commanded by Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson
James H. Wilson
James Harrison Wilson was a United States Army topographic engineer, a Union Army Major General in the American Civil War and later wars, a railroad executive, and author.-Early life and engineering:...

. Thomas had an additional 26,000 men at Nashville and scattered around his department.

Background


At the conclusion of his successful Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

, Sherman occupied the city of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, and Hood, who was forced to evacuate the city, regrouped at Lovejoy's Station. For almost a month, the normally aggressive Sherman took little action while his men sat about idly, and many left the army at the end of their enlistments. On September 21, Hood moved his forces to Palmetto, Georgia
Palmetto, Georgia
Palmetto is a city located mostly in Fulton County and now partly in Coweta County in the U.S. state of Georgia...

, where on September 25, he was visited by Confederate President
President of the Confederate States of America
The President of the Confederate States of America was the Head of State and Head of Government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United States, thus precipitating the American Civil War. The only person to hold the...

 Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

. The two men planned their strategy, which called for Hood to move toward Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

, and operate against Sherman's lines of communications. They hoped that Sherman would follow and that Hood would be able to maneuver Sherman into a decisive battle on terrain favorable to the Confederates.

During the conference, Davis expressed his disappointment in Hood's performance during the Atlanta Campaign, losing tens of thousands of men in ill-advised frontal assaults for no significant gains, and implied that he was considering replacing Hood in command of the army. After the president's departure for Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located on the Alabama River southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764 making it the second-largest city...

, he telegraphed Hood that he had decided to retain him in command and, acceding to Hood's request, transferred Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee
William J. Hardee
William Joseph Hardee was a career U.S. Army officer, serving during the Second Seminole War and fighting in the Mexican-American War...

, one of Hood's corps commanders, out of the Army of Tennessee. He also established a new theater commander to supervise Hood and the department of Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor (general)
Richard Taylor was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was the son of United States President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret Taylor.-Early life:...

, although the officer selected for the assignment, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, was not expected to exert any real operational control of the armies in the field.

Although Sherman was planning to march east to seize the city of Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

 (the campaign that would be known as Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted around Georgia from November 15, 1864 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War...

) he was concerned about his lines of communications back to Chattanooga. One particular threat was the cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had long bedeviled Union expeditions with lightning raids into their rear areas. On September 29, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 urged Sherman to dispose of Forrest and Sherman sent Thomas to Nashville, Tennessee, to organize all of the troops in the state. Sherman sent another division, under Brig. Gen. James D. Morgan
James D. Morgan
James Dada Morgan was a merchant sailor, soldier, businessman, and a Union general during the American Civil War. He commanded a division of infantry in some of the final campaigns in the Western Theater....

, to Chattanooga.

Sherman had some advance notice of the nature of Hood's proposed campaign. In a series of speeches given at stops along his way back to Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

, President Davis rallied his listeners by predicting success for Hood, speeches that were reported in the press and read avidly by Sherman. In Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia is the state capital and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The population was 129,272 according to the 2010 census. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The city is the center of a metropolitan...

, his speech included:

Confederate attacks on Sherman's supply line


So far, the Confederate strategy was working, because Sherman was being forced to disperse his strength to maintain his lines of communications. However, Sherman was not about to fall into Hood's trap completely. He intended to provide Thomas with sufficient strength to cope with Forrest and Hood, while he completed plans to strike out for Savannah. On September 29, Hood began his advance across the Chattahoochee River
Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River flows through or along the borders of the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and emptying into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of...

, heading to the northwest with 40,000 men to threaten the Western & Atlantic Railroad, Sherman's supply line. On October 1, Hood's cavalry was intercepted by Union cavalry under Brig. Gens. Judson Kilpatrick and Kenner Garrard
Kenner Garrard
Kenner Garrard was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. A member of one of Ohio's most prominent military families, he performed well at the Battle of Gettysburg, and then led a cavalry division in the army of Major General William T. Sherman during the Atlanta...

 in a raid on the railroad near Marietta
Marietta, Georgia
Marietta is a city located in central Cobb County, Georgia, United States, and is its county seat.As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 56,579, making it one of metro Atlanta's largest suburbs...

, but Sherman was still uncertain of Hood's location. For the next three weeks, Sherman had difficulty keeping abreast of Hood's movements. Hood moved rapidly, screened his march, and maintained the initiative. The Union cavalry, which Sherman had neglected to train adequately, had a difficult time following Hood and reporting his movements.

On October 3, the day that Thomas arrived in Nashville, Stewart's corps captured Big Shanty (present-day Kennesaw
Kennesaw, Georgia
Kennesaw is a city in Cobb County, Georgia, United States. It had a population of 29,783 according to the 2010 census. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Founded in 1887, Kennesaw has a past surrounded with railroad history...

) with its garrison of 175 men, and the following day Acworth
Acworth, Georgia
Acworth is a city in Cobb County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 20,425. Acworth is located in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains along the southeastern banks of Lake Acworth and Lake Allatoona on the Etowah River.Acworth's nickname is "The...

, with an additional 250. Sherman left Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum in Atlanta and moved toward Marietta with a force of about 55,000 men. Hood split his force, sending the majority of his command to Dallas, Georgia
Dallas, Georgia
Dallas is a city in and the county seat of Paulding County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 11,544. It was named for George M. Dallas, Vice President of the United States of America under James K. Polk.-History:...

. The remainder, a division under Maj. Gen. Samuel G. French, moved along the railroad toward Allatoona
Allatoona, Georgia
Allatoona was a town located in extreme southeastern Bartow County, Georgia. Built along Allatoona Creek, it was a gold mining area later in the first U.S. gold rush, which occurred in Georgia and North Carolina. Reaching its height in the 1840s, the Georgia Gold Rush continued into the 1850s...

.

Allatoona (October 5)



The small Federal garrison at Allatoona, a partial brigade, was commanded by Col. John Tourtellotte. Before the Southern division arrived, Sherman sent a reinforcement brigade with Brig. Gen.
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 John M. Corse
John M. Corse
John Murray Corse was an American politician and soldier who served as a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

, who took command of both brigades. The Federal troops occupied strong defensive positions in two earthen redoubt
Redoubt
A redoubt is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, though others are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a...

s on each side of a 180-foot, 65 feet deep railroad cut and many of the men, including the entire 7th Illinois, were armed with Henry repeating rifles
Henry rifle
The Henry repeating rifle was a lever-action, breech-loading, tubular magazine rifle.-History:The original Henry rifle was a .44 caliber rimfire, lever-action, breech-loading rifle designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry in the late 1850s. The Henry rifle was an improved version of the earlier Volcanic...

.

French's division arrived near Allatoona at sunrise on October 5. After a two-hour artillery bombardment, French sent a demand for surrender, which Corse refused. French then launched his brigades in an attack—one from the north (against the rear of the fortifications) and two from the west. Corse's men survived the sustained two-hour attack against the main fortification, the Star Fort on the western side of the railroad cut, but were pinned down and Tourtellotte sent reinforcements from the eastern fort. Under heavy pressure, it seemed inevitable that the Federals would be forced to surrender, but by noon French received a false report from his cavalry that a strong Union force was approaching from Acworth, so he reluctantly withdrew at 2 p.m. Allatoona was a relatively small, but bloody battle with high percentages of casualties.

Resaca, Dalton, and the movement into Alabama


Hood then moved to the west and crossed the Coosa River
Coosa River
The Coosa River is a tributary of the Alabama River in the U.S. states of Alabama and Georgia. The river is about long altogether.The Coosa River is one of Alabama's most developed rivers...

 in the vicinity of Rome, Georgia
Rome, Georgia
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Rome is the largest city and the county seat of Floyd County, Georgia, United States. It is the principal city of the Rome, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Floyd County...

, near the Alabama state line. He turned north in the direction of Resaca, Georgia
Resaca, Georgia
Resaca is a city in Gordon County, Georgia, and Whitfield County, Georgia along the Oostanaula River. The population was 815 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Resaca is located at ....

, and joined with Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler was an American military commander and politician. He has the rare distinction of serving as a general during war time for two opposing forces: first as a noted cavalry general in the Confederate States Army in the 1860s during the American Civil War, and later as a general in the...

's cavalry, which had been previously raiding in Tennessee. On October 12, Hood demanded the surrender of the Union brigade stationed at Resaca and left Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee's corps there to invest the city. The 700 Union men under Col. Clark R. Weaver refused Hood's ultimatum to surrender, which warned that no prisoners would be taken. Weaver replied "In my opinion I can hold this post. If you want it, come and take it." Hood declined to attack the Union position because he believed that it would be too costly, instead bypassing the city, moving north, and continuing the destruction of the railroad.

Meanwhile, Sherman had learned of Hood's location and ordered reinforcements sent to Resaca, arriving there on October 13, too late to engage Hood in battle. Hood sent Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart
Alexander P. Stewart
Alexander Peter Stewart was a career United States Army officer, college professor, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

 as far north as Tunnel Hill
Tunnel Hill, Georgia
Tunnel Hill is a town in northwest Whitfield County, Georgia, United States,and southern Catoosa County, Georgia, United States . It is part of the Dalton, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,209 at the 2000 census.-History:...

, near the Tennessee state line, to damage the railroad as much as possible. During this operation, on October 13, Stewart captured the Federal garrison at Dalton, Georgia
Dalton, Georgia
Dalton is a city in Whitfield County, Georgia, United States. It is the county seat of Whitfield County and the principal city of the Dalton, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of both Murray and Whitfield counties. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 33,128...

, under ugly circumstances. The 751 men under Col. Lewis Johnson included a large number of African-American soldiers, a sight that enraged many in Hood's army. In surrender negotiations, Johnson insisted that his black troops be treated as prisoners of war, but Hood replied that "all slaves belonging to persons in the Confederacy" would be returned to their masters. Unable to defend the garrison, Johnson surrendered and 600 black soldiers were stripped of their shoes and some clothing and marched to the railroad, where they were forced to tear up about 2 miles of track under the supervision of Maj. Gen. William B. Bate
William B. Bate
William Brimage Bate was the governor of Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 and subsequently a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1887 until his death...

's division. Six of the Union soldiers were shot for refusing to work or being unable to keep up with the march. Col. Johnson later wrote that the abuse his men received "exceeded anything in brutality I have ever witnessed." Johnson and his white officers were paroled the following day, but some of his black soldiers were returned to slavery.

From Resaca, Hood withdrew on a six-day march to the west toward Gadsden, Alabama
Gadsden, Alabama
The city of Gadsden is the county seat of Etowah County in the U.S. state of Alabama, and it is located about 65 miles northeast of Birmingham, Alabama. It is the primary city of the Gadsden Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 103,459. Gadsden is closely associated with the...

, reaching it on October 20. He had hoped to engage Sherman in battle near LaFayette, Georgia
LaFayette, Georgia
LaFayette is a city in Walker County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2000 Census, the city population was 6,702. The city is the county seat of Walker County.LaFayette is part of the Chattanooga, TN–GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

, but his subordinate commanders convinced him that their troops' morale was not ready to risk an attack. He considered his campaign a success so far, having destroyed 24 miles of railroad, although this turned out to be a fleeting advantage to the South. Sherman deployed as many as 10,000 men in reconstruction and by October 28 regular rail service resumed between Chattanooga and Atlanta. Sherman pursued Hood only as far as Gaylesville, Alabama
Gaylesville, Alabama
Gaylesville is a town in Cherokee County, Alabama, United States. The population was 140 at the 2000 census.Gaylesville was the late 19th & early 20th century home to Isaac Knowles, born in the West Indies...

, over 30 miles short of Gadsden.

Hood began to focus his strategy. He needed to prevent Thomas's army from reuniting with Sherman and overwhelming him, and he calculated that if he moved swiftly into Tennessee, he might be able to defeat Thomas before the Union forces could be reassembled. After Thomas was eliminated, Hood planned to move into central Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and replenish his army with recruits from there and Tennessee. He hoped to accomplish all of this before Sherman could reach him. His plan was that if Sherman followed him, Hood would fight him in Kentucky; from there he planned to move eastward through the Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap
Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains region of the Appalachian Mountains, also known as the Cumberland Water Gap, at the juncture of the U.S. states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia...

 to aid Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

, who was besieged at Petersburg
Siege of Petersburg
The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War...

. On October 21, Hood's plan received the reluctant approval of Gen. Beauregard, who was concerned about the daunting logistical challenges of an invasion. Beauregard insisted that Wheeler's cavalry be detached to monitor Sherman, and assigned Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry to Hood's advance. Hood set out toward Decatur, Alabama
Decatur, Alabama
Decatur is a city in Limestone and Morgan Counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. The city, affectionately known as "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County...

, with the intention of meeting up with Forrest in the vicinity of Florence
Florence, Alabama
Florence is the county seat of Lauderdale County, Alabama, United States, in the northwestern corner of the state.According to the 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the city's population was 36,721....

, from where they would march north into Tennessee.

By this time, Sherman had received an indication from Grant that he was favorably considering the march to Savannah. He set his mind on the short-term goal of pursuing the swiftly moving Hood. He directed Thomas to come forward from Nashville to block Hood's advance. To bolster Thomas's effort, Sherman ordered the IV Corps under Stanley to Chattanooga and the XXIII Corps under Schofield to Nashville, as well as Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith's XVI Corps from Missouri to Nashville. By November 10, the remainder of Sherman's troops were en route back to Atlanta.

Forrest's West Tennessee raid (October 16 – November 16)



One of the critical Federal supply lines in Tennessee was to use the Tennessee River, offload supplies at Johnsonville
New Johnsonville, Tennessee
New Johnsonville is a city in Humphreys County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,905 at the 2000 census.-Geography:New Johnsonville is located at ....

, and then ship them by rail to Nashville. Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor (general)
Richard Taylor was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was the son of United States President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret Taylor.-Early life:...

 ordered Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on a cavalry raid through Western Tennessee to destroy that supply line. The first of Forrest's men began to ride on October 16; Forrest himself began moving north on October 24 and reached Fort Heiman on the Tennessee River on October 28, where he emplaced artillery. On October 29 and October 30, his artillery fire caused the capture of three steamers and two gunboats. Forrest repaired two of the boats, Undine and Venus, to use as a small flotilla to aid in his attack on Johnsonville. On November 2, Forrest's flotilla was challenged by two Union gunboats, Key West and Tawah, and Venus was run aground and captured. The Federals dispatched six more gunboats from Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah is the largest city in Kentucky's Jackson Purchase Region and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, halfway between the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Missouri, to the west and Nashville,...

, and on November 3 they engaged in artillery duels with strong Confederate positions on either end of Reynoldsburg Island, near Johnsonville. The Federal fleet had difficulty attempting to subdue these positions and were occupied as Forrest prepared his force for the attack on Johnsonville.

On the morning of November 4, Undine and the Confederate batteries were attacked by three Union gunboats from Johnsonville and the six Paducah gunboats. Undine was abandoned and set on fire, which caused her ammunition magazine to explode, ending Forrest's brief career as a naval commander. Despite this loss, the Confederate land artillery was completely effective in neutralizing the threat of the Federal fleets. Forrest's guns bombarded the Union supply depot and the 28 steamboats and barges positioned at the wharf. All three of the Union gunboats were disabled or destroyed. The Union garrison commander ordered that the supply vessels be burned to prevent their capture by the Confederates.

Forrest had caused enormous damage at very low cost. He reported only 2 men killed and 9 wounded. He described the Union losses as 4 gunboats, 14 transports, 20 barges, 26 pieces of artillery, $6,700,000 worth of property, and 150 prisoners. One Union officer described the monetary loss as about $2,200,000. Forrest's command, delayed by heavy rains, proceeded to Perryville, Tennessee, and eventually reached Corinth, Mississippi
Corinth, Mississippi
Corinth is a city in Alcorn County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 14,054 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Alcorn County. Its ZIP codes are 38834 and 38835.- History :...

, on November 10. During the raid, on November 3, Beauregard designated Forrest's cavalry for assignment to Hood's Army of Tennessee. Hood elected to delay his advance from Florence to Tuscumbia until Forrest was able to link up with him on November 16.

Decatur (October 26–29)



Hood departed from Gadsden on October 22, en route to Guntersville, Alabama
Guntersville, Alabama
Guntersville is a city in Marshall County, Alabama, United States and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 8,197. The city is the county seat of Marshall County. Guntersville is located in a HUBZone as identified by the...

, where he planned to cross the Tennessee River. Learning that that crossing place was strongly guarded, and concerned that Federal gunboats could destroy any pontoon bridge he might deploy, he impulsively changed his destination to Decatur, 40 miles west. When Hood arrived at Decatur on October 26, he found that a Federal infantry force of 3–5,000 men was defending an entrenched line that included two forts and 1,600 yards of rifle pits. Two Federal wooden gunboats patrolled the river. On October 28, Confederate skirmishers advanced through a dense fog to a ravine within 800 yards of the main fortifications. Around noon, a small Federal detachment drove the sharpshooters and skirmishers out of the ravine, capturing 125 men. Hood, concluding that he could not afford the casualties that would ensue from a full-scale assault, withdrew his army. He decided once again to move to the west, to attempt another crossing near Tuscumbia, Alabama
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Tuscumbia is a city in and the county seat of Colbert County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,423 and is included in The Shoals MSA....

, where Muscle Shoals
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Muscle Shoals is a city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. As of 2007, the United States Census Bureau estimated the population of the city to be 12,846. The city is included in The Shoals MSA. It is famous for its contributions to American popular music.-Geography:Muscle Shoals is located...

 would prevent interference by Federal gunboats.

Columbia (November 24–29)



Hood waited for Forrest at Tuscumbia for almost three weeks while his commissary officers attempted to provide 20 days supply of rations for the upcoming campaign. This was a difficult assignment because the supply line was tenuous, requiring transport on two railroads, followed by 15 miles on poor roads to Tuscumbia, using wagons pulled by undernourished horses and oxen. Hood transferred his headquarters to Florence on the morning of November 13 and Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham , known also as Frank, was a Tennessee aristocrat, California gold miner, and a General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, serving in many battles of the Western Theater.-Early years:Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee on a plantation...

's corps marched across the river that day with the army's supply trains and cattle following on November 14. The final corps, under Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart
Alexander P. Stewart
Alexander Peter Stewart was a career United States Army officer, college professor, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

, crossed the Tennessee on November 20.

On November 16, Hood received word that Sherman was about to depart Atlanta for his March to the Sea. Beauregard urged Hood to take immediate action in an attempt to distract Sherman's advance, emphasizing the importance of moving before Thomas could consolidate his forces. Both Sherman and Thomas considered it likely that Hood would follow Sherman through Georgia. Although Thomas received intelligence that Hood was amassing supplies for a movement north, he discounted most of it—heavy rains during November made the roads almost impassable. By November 21, however, Thomas had evidence that all three of Hood's corps were in motion and he directed Schofield to withdraw gradually to the north to protect Columbia before Hood could seize it. Schofield arrived at Pulaski on the night of November 13 and assumed command of all forces there, including the IV Corps. Thomas remained concerned that 10,000 troops from the XVI Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Smith, had not arrived as promised reinforcements from Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

.
Hood's army departed Florence on November 21, marching in three columns, with Cheatham on the left, Lee in the center, and Stewart on the right, all screened by Forrest's cavalry. Hood's plan was to consolidate at Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant, Tennessee
Mount Pleasant is a city in Maury County, Tennessee, United States. Birthplace of confederate Sam R. Watkins and formerly titled The Phosphate Capital of the World. The population was 4,491 at the 2000 census.-Geography:...

 and from there move to the east to cut off Schofield before he could reach Columbia and the Duck River. The rapid forced march 70 miles north was under miserable conditions, with freezing winds and sleet, which made progress difficult for the underfed and underclothed army. Nevertheless, Hood's men were in good spirits as they returned to Tennessee.

Because of Forrest's relentless screening, Schofield had no idea where the Confederate Army was headed. The aggressive Forrest had a considerable advantage over his Union cavalry opponents, commanded by Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson
James H. Wilson
James Harrison Wilson was a United States Army topographic engineer, a Union Army Major General in the American Civil War and later wars, a railroad executive, and author.-Early life and engineering:...

. Wilson had arrived from the Eastern Theater
Eastern Theater of the American Civil War
The Eastern Theater of the American Civil War included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina...

 in late October to reorganize and command Thomas's cavalry, but he possessed only 4,300 horsemen, scattered around the theater in numerous small units, compared to 10,000 men unified under Forrest. The Confederate cavalry advanced to Mount Pleasant by November 23. Brig. Gen. John T. Croxton
John T. Croxton
John Thomas Croxton was an attorney, a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and a postbellum U.S. diplomat.-Early life and career:...

's brigade was hopelessly outnumbered against Forrest, so Thomas reinforced him with a division under Brig. Gen. Edward Hatch
Edward Hatch
Edward Hatch was a career American soldier who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

 and a brigade under Col. Horace Capron
Horace Capron
Horace Capron was an American businessman and agriculturalist, a founder of Laurel, Maryland, a Union officer in the American Civil War, the United States Commissioner of Agriculture under U.S. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S...

.

Forrest kept up the pressure and on November 23 heavy skirmishing occurred from Henryville to the outskirts of Mount Pleasant. To the east, Forrest's divisions under Brig. Gens. Abraham Buford
Abraham Buford
Abraham Buford was a Continental Army officer during the American Revolutionary War, best known as the commanding officer of the American forces at the Battle of Waxhaws.-Biography:...

 and William H. Jackson
William Hicks Jackson
William Hicks "Red" Jackson was a cotton planter, horse breeder, and general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

 forced Hatch's division out of the Lawrenceburg
Lawrenceburg, Tennessee
Lawrenceburg is a city in Lawrence County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 10,796 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Lawrence County...

 area and drove them back toward Pulaski. Early on November 24, Schofield began marching his two infantry corps north to Columbia. Forrest pursued aggressively with the division of Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers, who occupied Mount Pleasant and hit Capron's men repeatedly as he forced them north. Buford and Jackson drove Hatch north toward Lynnville
Lynnville, Tennessee
Lynnville is a town in Giles County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 287 at the 2010 census. The name is from a local creek.-Geography:Lynnville is located at ....

 and captured a number of prisoners, but the Confederate cavalry was unable to prevent the division of Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox
Jacob Dolson Cox
Jacob Dolson Cox, was a lawyer, a Union Army general during the American Civil War, and later a Republican politician from Ohio. He served as the 28th Governor of Ohio and as United States Secretary of the Interior....

 from reaching Columbia. Stanley's corps completed a 30-mile march from Pulaski to reinforce him. Together they began constructing an arc of trenches just south of the town.

On the morning of November 24, Forrest's cavalry began probing attacks in an attempt to break through two lines of fortifications. The Confederates bombarded the lines with artillery and a number of skirmishes occurred, but it became apparent to the Union defenders that only a single infantry division with some dismounted cavalry were participating in the attacks and that Hood was merely demonstrating
Demonstration (military)
In military terminology, a demonstration is an attack or show of force on a front where a decision is not sought, made with the aim of deceiving the enemy....

, intending to cross the Duck River either upstream or downstream and cut off the Union force from Thomas, who was assembling the remainder of his force in Nashville.

On the morning of November 26, Schofield received an order from Thomas to hold the north bank of the Duck River until reinforcements under A. J. Smith could arrive from Nashville. Schofield planned to move his trains during the day and his infantry overnight, using a railroad bridge and a recently installed pontoon bridge, but heavy rains that day made approaches to the bridge impassable. That evening, the bulk of the Army of Tennessee reached the fortifications south of Columbia.

Spring Hill (November 29)


On November 28, Forrest crossed the river east of town against little resistance from the Union cavalry; the Southern cavalrymen had deceived Wilson and drawn his force to the northeast and away from the action. On the same day, Thomas directed Schofield to begin preparations for a withdrawal north to Franklin
Franklin, Tennessee
Franklin is a city within and the county seat of Williamson County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 62,487 as of the 2010 census Franklin is located approximately south of downtown Nashville.-History:...

. He was expecting (incorrectly) that A. J. Smith's arrival from Missouri was imminent and he wanted the combined force to defend against Hood on the line of the Harpeth River
Harpeth River
The Harpeth River, long, is one of the major streams of north-central Middle Tennessee and one of the major tributaries of the Cumberland River...

 at Franklin instead of the Duck River. Schofield sent his 800-wagon supply train out in front, guarded by part of the IV Corps division of Brig. Gen. George D. Wagner
George D. Wagner
George Day Wagner was an Indiana politician, farmer, and soldier, serving as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. His controversial actions at the Battle of Franklin in 1864 overshadowed his positive performance earlier in the war.-Early life and career:Wagner was born in...

.

On November 29 Hood sent Cheatham's and Stewart's corps on a flanking march north, crossing the Duck River at Davis's Ford east of Columbia while two divisions of Lee's corps and most of the army's artillery remained on the southern bank to deceive Schofield into thinking a general assault was planned against Columbia. Hood, riding near the head of the column with Cheatham's corps, planned to interpose his army between Schofield and Thomas, hoping to defeat Schofield as the Federals retreated north from Columbia. Stewart's corps followed Cheatham, and they were followed by the division of Maj. Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson
Edward Johnson (general)
Edward Johnson , also known as Allegheny Johnson , was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 (Lee's corps). The rest of Lee's corps remained south of Columbia, demonstrating
Demonstration (military)
In military terminology, a demonstration is an attack or show of force on a front where a decision is not sought, made with the aim of deceiving the enemy....

 with artillery fire against Schofield's men north of the Duck.

Cavalry skirmishing between Wilson's and Forrest's troopers continued throughout the day. Forrest's wide turning movement
Turning movement
In military tactics, a turning movement involves an attacker's forces reaching the rear of a defender's forces, separating the defender from their principal defensive positions and placing them in a pocket...

 with 4,000 troopers had forced Wilson north to Hurt's Corner, preventing the Union horsemen from interfering with Hood's infantry advance. By 10 a.m., Forrest ordered his men to turn west toward Spring Hill. Wilson sent multiple messages to Schofield warning of Hood's advance, but it was not until dawn on November 29 that Schofield believed the reports and realized the predicament he was in. He sent Stanley north with portions of the IV Corps to protect the trains, but also to hold the crossroads at Spring Hill to allow the entire army to withdraw safely to Franklin. Forrest's cavalrymen ran into pickets from the IV Corps; Stanley had moved north rapidly and formed up positions with Wagner's division that protected the village of Spring Hill on three sides. The brigade of Col. John Q. Lane rushed forward and pushed back the dismounted cavalrymen. Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne's division of Cheatham's corps arrived midafternoon on Forrest's left. The cavalrymen, low on ammunition, pulled out of the line and moved north to be ready to cover a further advance of Hood's army, or to block Schofield's withdrawal.
The first command miscommunication of the battle took place upon Hood's arrival. Cheatham had ordered his division under Maj. Gen. William B. Bate
William B. Bate
William Brimage Bate was the governor of Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 and subsequently a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1887 until his death...

 to move against Spring Hill in concert with Cleburne, forming up on the Irishman's left. Hood then personally ordered Bate to move towards the Columbia Pike and "sweep toward Columbia." Neither Bate nor Hood bothered to inform Cheatham of this change in orders. At about 5:30 p.m., Bate's lead element of sharpshooters fired on a Federal column approaching from their left—Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger
Thomas H. Ruger
Thomas Howard Ruger was an American soldier and lawyer who served as a Union general in the American Civil War. After the war, he was a superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York....

's division of the XXIII Corps, the vanguard of Schofield's main body. But before the two divisions could engage in battle, an officer from Cheatham's staff arrived to insist that Bate follow Cheatham's original orders and join Cleburne's attack. Late that night, Bate reported the contact with the Federal column, but Cheatham discounted the importance of the encounter.

Back in Columbia, Schofield became convinced at about 3 p.m. that the Confederates would not attack him there and he began marching his men to Spring Hill. As soon as the initial units departed, Stephen D. Lee coincidentally began an attack against the Union position. By the time the bulk of his two divisions were able to cross, the senior Union commander left behind at Columbia, Brig. Gen. Jacob D. Cox
Jacob Dolson Cox
Jacob Dolson Cox, was a lawyer, a Union Army general during the American Civil War, and later a Republican politician from Ohio. He served as the 28th Governor of Ohio and as United States Secretary of the Interior....

, began his withdrawal and the final troops departed up the Franklin Pike by 10 p.m.

Cleburne's 3,000 men began an attack against Bradley's brigade at about 4 p.m. Whereas Cheatham was expecting Cleburne to drive north into Spring Hill, Hood's intention was to use this formation to sweep toward the turnpike and wheel left to intercept Schofield's arriving units. Cleburne wheeled his brigades into a northern alignment against Bradley's right flank, causing Bradley and his men to flee in disorder. Cleburne's two brigades chased them vigorously, and they were stopped short of the turnpike only by heavy fire from the IV Corps artillery.

By this time, Cheatham's division under Maj. Gen. John C. Brown
John C. Brown
John Calvin Brown was a Confederate general during the American Civil War and the Governor of Tennessee from 1871 to 1875, the first Democrat to be elected to that position following the war.-Early life:...

 was moved into position for another attack on Spring Hill, on Cleburne's right. Brown did not attack, however. It was reported that there were Union troops in position on his right flank and front and that Forrest's cavalrymen, promised to protect his right flank, did not seem to be present. Brown decided to consult with his corps commander before proceeding, sending two staff officers to find Cheatham and halting his troops while he awaited a decision. By the time Cheatham and Brown were able to speak, the battlefield was in total darkness, and the two officers decided that an assault conducted then without knowing the condition of their right flank might be a disaster. Hood was furious that the attack had not proceeded as he intended and that the pike was still open. He dispatched a staff officer to find Stewart to assist Cheatham. Having been up since 3 a.m., Hood went to bed at 9 p.m., confident that whatever setbacks his army had suffered during the day, they would be able to correct them in the morning and bag Schofield.

The Battle of Spring Hill was a minor affair in terms of casualties—about 350 Union and 500 Confederate—but the result of miscommunication and simply bad military management was that during the night all of Schofield's command, including Cox, passed from Columbia through Spring Hill while the Confederate commanders slept. The passage of the army did not go unnoticed by some of the soldiers, but no concerted effort was made to block the pike. Confederate cavalry attempted to block the passage of the supply trains north of Spring Hill, at Thompson's Station, but accompanying Federal infantry drove them off. A private soldier woke up the commanding general at 2 a.m. and reported he saw the Union column moving north, but Hood did nothing beyond sending a dispatch to Cheatham to fire on passing traffic.

By 6:00 a.m. on November 30, all of Schofield's army was well north of Spring Hill and its vanguard had reached Franklin, where it began to build breastworks south of town. In the morning Hood discovered Schofield's escape, and after an angry conference with his subordinate commanders in which he blamed all but himself for the failure, ordered his army to resume its pursuit. Spring Hill had been, arguably, Hood's best chance to isolate and defeat the Union army and recriminations for the lost opportunity soon began flying. Hood believed that Cheatham was most responsible. Historians Thomas L. Connelly, Eric Jacobson, and Wiley Sword have each assigned blame to both Hood and Cheatham.

Battle of Franklin (November 30)



Schofield's advance guard arrived in Franklin at about 4:30 a.m. on November 30. Jacob Cox, a division commander temporarily commanding the XXIII Corps, immediately began preparing strong defensive positions around the deteriorated entrenchments originally constructed for a previous engagement in 1863. Schofield decided to defend at Franklin with his back to the river because he had no pontoon bridges available that would enable his men to cross the river. Schofield needed time to repair the permanent bridges spanning the river, but by mid-afternoon, nearly all the supply wagons were across the Harpeth and on the road to Nashville. By noon the Union works formed an approximate semicircle around the town. A gap in the line occurred where the Columbia Pike entered the outskirts of the town, left open to allow passage of the wagons. Just behind the center of the formidable line stood the Carter House, appropriated as Cox's headquarters. Two Union brigades from Wagner's division were positioned about a half mile forward of the main line. Wagner, perhaps misunderstanding his orders, ordered his three brigades to stop halfway to the Union line and dig in as best they could on the flat ground. Col. Emerson Opdycke considered Wagner's order to be ridiculous and refused to obey it; he marched his brigade through the Union line and into a reserve position behind the gap through which the Columbia Pike passed, leaving the brigades of Cols. John Q. Lane, and Joseph Conrad in front.

Hood's army began to arrive on Winstead Hill, two miles (3 km) south of Franklin, around 1 p.m. Hood ordered a frontal assault
Frontal assault
The military tactic of frontal assault is a direct, hostile movement of forces toward the front of an enemy force . By targeting the enemy's front, the attackers are subjecting themselves to the maximum defensive power of the enemy...

 in the dwindling afternoon light—sunset would be at 4:34 p.m. that day—against the Union force, a decision that caused dismay among his top generals. Some popular histories assert that Hood acted rashly in a fit of rage, resentful that the Federal army had slipped past his troops the night before at Spring Hill and that he wanted to discipline his army by ordering them to assault against strong odds. Recent scholarship by Eric Jacobson discounts this as unlikely, as it was not only militarily foolish, but Hood was observed to be determined, not angry, by the time he arrived in Franklin.

Regardless of Hood's personal motivations, his specific objective was to try to crush Schofield before he and his troops could escape to Nashville. The Confederates began moving forward at 4 p.m., with Cheatham's corps on the left of the assault and Stewart's on the right. Lee's corps, and almost all of the army's artillery, had not yet arrived from Columbia. Hood's attacking force, about 19–20,000 men, was arguably understrength for the mission he assigned—traversing two miles of open ground with only two batteries of artillery support and then assaulting prepared fortifications.
Hood's attack initially enveloped the 3,000 men in the two brigades under Lane and Conrad, which attempted to stand their ground behind inadequate fieldworks and without anchored flanks, but quickly collapsed under the pressure. Many of the veteran soldiers of the two brigades stampeded back on the Columbia Pike to the main breastworks, while some untried replacements were reluctant to move under fire and were captured. The fleeing troops were closely pursued by the Confederates and the two sides became so intermingled that defenders in the breastworks had to hold their fire to avoid hitting their comrades.

The Union's momentary inability to defend the opening in the works caused a weak spot in its line at the Columbia Pike from the Carter House to the cotton gin. The Confederate divisions of Cleburne, Brown, and French converged on this front and a number of their troops broke through the now not-so-solid Federal defenses on either side. In a manner of minutes, the Confederates had penetrated 50 yards through the center of the Federal line.
As the Confederates began their attack, Opdycke's brigade was in reserve. He quickly positioned his men into line of battle and ordered his brigade forward to the works. Hand-to-hand fighting around the Carter House and the pike was furious and desperate. Firing continued around the Carter house and gardens for hours. Many Confederates were driven back to the Federal earthworks, where many were pinned down for the remainder of the evening, unable to either advance or flee. Brown's division suffered significant losses, including Brown, who was wounded, and all four of his brigade commanders were casualties. Brown's brigade attack near the cotton gin was driven back from the breastworks and was then subjected to devastating cross fire from Reilly's brigade to their front and the brigade of Col. John S. Casement
John S. Casement
John Stephen "Jack" Casement was a general and brigade commander in the Union Army during the American Civil War and a noted railroad contractor. He directed the constructional phase of the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the Western United States with the East.-Early life and career:John...

, on Reilly's right. Cleburne was killed in the attack and 14 of his brigade and regimental commanders were casualties.

While fighting raged at the center of the Union line, Stewart's Corps also advanced against the Union left. Because the Harpeth River flowed in that area from southeast to northwest, the brigade found themselves moving through a space getting progressively narrower, squeezing brigades together into a compressed front, delaying their movements and reducing their unit cohesion. They were all subjected to fierce artillery fire not only from the main Union line, but also from the batteries across the river at Fort Granger. And they had significant difficulty pushing through the strong Osage-orange abatis.

Loring's division launched two attacks against the Union brigade of Col. Israel N. Stiles and both were repulsed with heavy losses. Artillery firing canister rounds directly down the railroad cut prevented any attempt to flank the Union position. Brig. Gen. John Adams attempted to rally his brigade by galloping his horse directly onto the earthworks, but he and his horse were both shot and killed. The brigade of Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Featherston
Winfield S. Featherston
Winfield Scott Featherston "Old Swet" was an antebellum two-term U.S. Representative from Mississippi and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He was later a state politician and a circuit court judge.-Early life and career:Winfield S...

 began falling back under heavy fire when its division commander, Maj. Gen. William W. Loring
William W. Loring
William Wing Loring was a soldier from North Carolina who served in the armies of the United States, the Confederacy, and Egypt.-Early life:...

, confronted them, shouting, "Great God! Do I command cowards?" He attempted to inspire his men by sitting on his horse in full view of the Federal lines for over a minute and amazingly emerged unharmed, but the brigade made no further progress. Walthall's division struck Casement's and Reilly's brigades in multiple waves of brigade assaults—probably as many as six distinct attacks. All of these assaults were turned back with heavy losses.

Maj. Gen. William B. Bate
William B. Bate
William Brimage Bate was the governor of Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 and subsequently a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1887 until his death...

's division attacked on the Union right flank. His left flank was not being protected as he expected by Chalmers's cavalry division, and they received enfilade fire. To protect the flank, Bate ordered the Florida Brigade to move from its reserve position to his left flank. This not only delayed the advance, but provided only a single line to attack the Union fortifications, leaving no reserve. Chalmers's troopers had actually engaged the Federal right by this time, fighting dismounted, but Bate was unaware of it because the two forces were separated by rolling ground and orchards. Neither Bate nor Chalmers made any progress and they withdrew. Hood was still convinced that he could pierce the Federal line. At about 7 p.m., he deployed the only division of Stephen D. Lee's corps that had arrived, commanded by Maj. Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson
Edward Johnson (general)
Edward Johnson , also known as Allegheny Johnson , was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

, to assist Cheatham's effort. They were repulsed after a single assault with heavy losses.

In addition to Chalmers's actions in the west, across the river to the east Confederate cavalry commander Forrest attempted to turn the Union left. Union cavalry commander Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson
James H. Wilson
James Harrison Wilson was a United States Army topographic engineer, a Union Army Major General in the American Civil War and later wars, a railroad executive, and author.-Early life and engineering:...

 learned at 3 p.m. that Forrest was crossing the river, he ordered his division under Brig. Gen. Edward Hatch
Edward Hatch
Edward Hatch was a career American soldier who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

 to move south from his position on the Brentwood Turnpike and attack Forrest from the front. He ordered Brig. Gen. John T. Croxton
John T. Croxton
John Thomas Croxton was an attorney, a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and a postbellum U.S. diplomat.-Early life and career:...

's brigade to move against Forrest's flank and held Col. Thomas J. Harrison's brigade in reserve. The dismounted cavalrymen of Hatch's division charged the Confederate cavalrymen, also dismounted, and drove them back across the river.

Following the failure of Johnson's assault, Hood decided to end offensive actions for the evening and began to plan for a resumed series of attacks in the morning. Schofield ordered his infantry to cross the river, starting at 11 p.m. Although there was a period in which the Union army was vulnerable, outside its works and straddling the river, Hood did not attempt to take advantage of it during the night. The Union army began entering the breastworks at Nashville at noon on December 1, with Hood's damaged army in pursuit.

The devastated Confederate force was left in control of Franklin, but its enemy had escaped again. Although he had briefly come close to breaking through in the vicinity of the Columbia Turnpike, Hood was unable to destroy Schofield or prevent his withdrawal to link up with Thomas in Nashville. And his unsuccessful result came with a frightful cost. The Confederates suffered 6,252 casualties, including 1,750 killed and 3,800 wounded. An estimated 2,000 others suffered less serious wounds and returned to duty before the Battle of Nashville
Battle of Nashville
The Battle of Nashville was a two-day battle in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign that represented the end of large-scale fighting in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. It was fought at Nashville, Tennessee, on December 15–16, 1864, between the Confederate Army of Tennessee under...

. But more importantly, the military leadership in the West was decimated, including the loss of perhaps the best division commander of either side, Patrick Cleburne
Patrick Cleburne
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was an Irish American soldier, best known for his service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, where he rose to the rank of major general....

. Fourteen Confederate generals (six killed or mortally wounded, seven wounded, and one captured) and 55 regimental commanders were casualties.

Union losses were reported as only 189 killed, 1,033 wounded, and 1,104 missing. It is possible that the number of casualties was under-reported by Schofield because of the confusion during his army's hasty nighttime evacuation of Franklin. The Union wounded were left behind in Franklin.

Pursuit to Nashville


The Army of Tennessee was all but destroyed at Franklin. Nevertheless, rather than retreat and risk the army dissolving through desertions, Hood advanced his 26,500 man force against the Union army now combined under Thomas, firmly entrenched at Nashville. This was a controversial move on Hood's part because his army was enervated and no longer ready for offensive operations. However, he believed that if he ordered a retreat, it would mean the complete disintegration of his army. Hood decided that destruction of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad
Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway
The Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway was a railway company operating in the southern United States in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia...

 and disruption of the Union army supply depot at Murfreesboro
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Murfreesboro is a city in and the county seat of Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 108,755 according to the United States Census Bureau's 2010 U.S. Census, up from 68,816 residents certified during the 2000 census. The center of population of Tennessee is located in...

 would help his cause. On December 4 he sent Forrest, with two cavalry divisions and Maj. Gen. William B. Bate
William B. Bate
William Brimage Bate was the governor of Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 and subsequently a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1887 until his death...

's infantry division, to Murfreesboro. Hood ordered Bate to destroy the railroad and blockhouses between Murfreesboro and Nashville and join Forrest for further operations.

Forrest at Murfreesboro (December 5–6)



Forrest's combined command attacked Murfreesboro but was repulsed. They destroyed railroad track, blockhouses, and some homes and generally disrupted Union operations in the area, but they did not accomplish much else. The raid on Murfreesboro was a minor irritation. Bate was recalled to Nashville, but Forrest remained near Murfreesboro and thus was absent from the battle of Nashville. In retrospect, Hood's decision to detach Forrest from his main command was a major blunder.

Battle of Nashville (December 15–16)




Under the command of Thomas, who now had a combined force of approximately 55,000 men, the 7-mile-long semicircular Union defensive line surrounded Nashville from the west to the east; the remainder of the circle, to the north, was the Cumberland River
Cumberland River
The Cumberland River is a waterway in the Southern United States. It is long. It starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland mountains, flows through southern Kentucky, crosses into northern Tennessee, and then curves back up into western Kentucky before...

, patrolled by U.S. Navy gunboats.

It took Thomas over two weeks to move, causing great anxiety in Washington, where it was anticipated that Hood was poised for an invasion of the North. General Grant pressured Thomas to move, despite a bitter ice storm that struck on December 8 and stopped much fortification on both sides. A few days later, Grant sent an aide to relieve Thomas of command, believing that Hood would slip through his fingers. On December 13, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan
John A. Logan
John Alexander Logan was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman and senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President...

 was directed to proceed to Nashville and assume command if, upon his arrival, Thomas had not yet initiated operations. He made it as far as Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

 by December 15, but on that day the Battle of Nashville had finally begun.

Thomas finally came out of his fortifications on December 15 to start a two-phase attack on the Confederates. The first, but secondary, attack was to by Steedman on the Confederate right flank. The main attack would be on the enemy's left, by Smith, Wood, and Brig. Gen. Edward Hatch
Edward Hatch
Edward Hatch was a career American soldier who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

 (commanding a dismounted cavalry brigade). Steedman's attack kept Cheatham on the Confederate right occupied for the rest of the day. The main attack wheeled left to a line parallel to the Hillsboro Pike. By noon, the main advance had reached the pike, and Wood prepared to assault the Confederate outposts on Montgomery Hill, near the center of the line. Hood became concerned about the threat on his left flank and ordered Lee to send reinforcements to Stewart. Wood's corps took Montgomery Hill in a charge by Brig. Gen. Samuel Beatty
Samuel Beatty (general)
Samuel Beatty was an American soldier, sheriff, and farmer from Ohio. He was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. In 1866, he was awarded the brevet grade of major general of volunteers....

's division.

At about 1 p.m., there was a salient in Hood's line at Stewart's front. Thomas ordered Wood to attack the salient, supported by Schofield and Wilson. By 1:30 p.m., Stewart's position along the pike became untenable; the attacking force was overwhelming. Stewart's corps broke and began to retreat toward the Granny White Turnpike. However, Hood was able to regroup his men toward nightfall in preparation for the battle the next day. The Union cavalry under Wilson had been unable to put enough force on the turnpike to hamper the Confederate movement, since many of its troopers were participating as dismounted infantry in the assault. The exhausted Confederates dug in all night, awaiting the arrival of the Federals.

It took most of the morning on December 16 for the Federals to move into position against Hood's new line, which had been reduced to about 2 miles in length. Once again, Thomas planned a two-phase attack but concentrated on Hood's left. Schofield was to drive back Cheatham, and Wilson's cavalry was to swing to the rear to block the Franklin Pike, Hood's only remaining route of withdrawal. At noon, Wood and Steedman attacked Lee on Overton's Hill, but without success. On the left, Wilson's dismounted cavalry was exerting pressure on the line.

At 4 p.m., Cheatham, on Shy's Hill, was under assault from three sides, and his corps broke and fled to the rear. Wood took this opportunity to renew his attack on Lee on Overton's Hill, and this time the momentum was overwhelming. Darkness fell, and heavy rain began. Hood collected his forces and withdrew to the south toward Franklin.

Casualties from the two-day battle were 3,061 Union (387 killed, 2,558 wounded, and 112 missing or captured) and approximately 6,000 Confederate (1,500 killed or wounded, 4,500 missing or captured). The Battle of Nashville was one of the most stunning victories achieved by the Union Army in the war. The formidable Army of Tennessee, the second largest Confederate force, was effectively destroyed as a fighting force. Hood's army entered Tennessee with over 30,000 men but left with 15–20,000.

Retreat and pursuit of Hood


The Union army set off in pursuit of Hood from Nashville. The rainy weather became an ally to the Confederates, delaying the Union cavalry pursuit, and Forrest was able to rejoin Hood on December 18, screening the retreating force. The pursuit continued until the beaten and battered Army of Tennessee recrossed the Tennessee River on December 25. On Christmas Eve, Forrest turned back Wilson's pursuing cavalry at the Battle of Anthony's Hill.

Aftermath


Although Hood blamed the entire debacle of his campaign on his subordinates and the soldiers themselves, his career was over. He retreated with his army to Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211...

, resigned his command on January 13, 1865, and was not given another field command. Forrest returned to Mississippi, but in 1865 he was driven into Alabama by James H. Wilson
James H. Wilson
James Harrison Wilson was a United States Army topographic engineer, a Union Army Major General in the American Civil War and later wars, a railroad executive, and author.-Early life and engineering:...

, and his command became dissipated and ineffective.

By the time of Hood's defeat in Nashville, Sherman's army had advanced to the outskirts of Savannah, which they captured just before Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

. Five thousand men from the Army of Tennessee were later employed under Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 against Sherman in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, but to no avail.

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