1. George H. Thomas
2. James B. Steedman
3. James H. Wilson
4. William R. Shafter
5. Thomas J. Morgan
6. John Bell Hood
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Eastport, Miss., January 20, 1865.
On the 12th of November communication with General Sherman was severed, the last dispatch from him leaving Cartersville, Ga., at 2.25 p.m. on that date. He had started on his great expedition from Atlanta to the seaboard, leaving me to guard Tennessee or to pursue the enemy if he followed the commanding general's column. It was therefore with considerable anxiety that we watched the forces at Florence, to discover what course they would pursue with regard to General Sherman's movements, determining thereby whether the troops under my command, numbering less than half those under Hood, were to act on the defensive in Tennessee, or take the offensive in Alabama.
The enemy's position at Florence remained unchanged up to the 17th of November, when he moved Cheatham's corps to the north side of the river, with Stewart's corps preparing to follow. The same day part of the enemy's infantry, said to be Lee's corps, moved up the Lawrenceburg road to Bough's Mill, on Shoal Creek, skirmishing at that point with Hatch's cavalry, and then fell back a short distance to some bluffs, where it went into camp.
The possibility of Hood's forces following General Sherman was now at an end, and I quietly took measures to act on the defensive. Two divisions of infantry, under Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith, were reported on their way to join me, from Missouri, which, with several one-year regiments then arriving in the department, and detachments collected from points of minor importance, would swell my command, when concentrated, to an army nearly as large as that of the enemy. Had the enemy delayed his advance a week or ten days longer, I would have been ready to meet him at some point south of Duck River, but Hood commenced his advance on the 19th, moving on parallel roads from Florence toward Waynesborough, and shelled Hatch's cavalry out of Lawrenceburg on the 22d. My only resource then was to retire slowly toward my re-enforcements, delaying the enemy's progress as much as possible, to gain time for re-enforcements to arrive and concentrate.
General Schofield commenced removing the public property from Pulaski preparatory to falling back toward Columbia. Two divisions of Stanley's corps had already reached Lynnville, a point fifteen miles <ar93_33>north of Pulaski, to cover the passage of the wagons and protect the railroad. Capron's brigade of cavalry was at Mount Pleasant, covering the approach to Columbia from that direction; and, in addition to the regular garrison, there was at Columbia a brigade of Ruger's division, Twenty-third Army Corps. I directed the two remaining brigades of Rugerís division, then at Johnsonville, to move---one by railroad around through Nashville to Columbia, the other by road via Waverly to Centerville---and occupy the crossings of Duck River near Columbia, Williamsport, Gordon's Ferry, and Centerville.
Since the departure of General Sherman about 7,000 men belonging to his column had collected at Chattanooga, comprising convalescents returning to their commands and men returning from furlough. These men had been organized into brigades, to be made available at such points as they might be needed. My command had also been re-enforced by twenty new one-year regiments, most of which, however, were absorbed in replacing old regiments whose terms of service had expired.
On the 23d, in accordance with directions previously given him, General Granger commenced withdrawing the garrisons from Athens, Decatur, and Huntsville, Ala., and moved off toward Stevenson, sending five new regiments of that force to Murfreesborough, and retaining at Stevenson the original troops of his command. This movement was rapidly made by railroad, without opposition on the part of the enemy. That same night General Schofield evacuated Pulaski and moved toward Columbia, reporting himself in position at that place on the 24th. The commanding officer at Johnsonville was directed to evacuate that post, after removing all public property, and retire to Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland, and thence to Clarksville. During the 24th and 25th the enemy skirmished with General Schofield's troops at Columbia, but showed nothing but dismounted cavalry until the morning of the 26th, when his infantry came up and pressed our line strongly during that day and the 27th, but without assaulting. As the enemy's movements showed an undoubted intention to cross above or below the town, General Schofield withdrew to the north bank of Duck River during the night of the 27th and took up a new position, where the command remained during the 28th, undisturbed. Two divisions of the Twenty-third Corps were placed in line in front of the town, holding all the crossings in its vicinity, while Stanley's corps, posted in reserve on the Franklin pike, was held in readiness to repel any vigorous attempt the enemy should make to force a crossing; the cavalry, under command of Brevet Major-General Wilson, held the crossings above those guarded by the infantry. About 2 a.m. on the 29th the enemy succeeded in pressing back General Wilson's cavalry, and effected a crossing on the Lewisburg pike; at a later hour part of his infantry crossed at Huey's Mills, six miles above Columbia. Communication with the cavalry having been interrupted and the line of retreat toward Franklin being threatened, General Schofield made preparations to withdraw to Franklin. General Stanley, with one division of infantry, was sent to Spring Hill, about fifteen miles north of Columbia, to cover the trains and hold the road open for the passage of the main force, and dispositions were made preparatory to a withdrawal and to meet any attack coming from the direction of Huey's Mills. General Stanley reached Spring Hill just in time to drive off the enemy's cavalry and save the trains; but later he was attacked by the enemy's infantry and cavalry combined, who engaged him heavily and nearly succeeded in dislodging him from the position, the engagement lasting until dark. Although«3 R R---VOL XLV, PT I» <ar93_34>not attacked from the direction of Huey's Mills, General Schofield was busily occupied all day at Columbia resisting the enemy's attempts to cross Duck River, which he successfully accomplished, repulsing the enemy many times, with heavy loss. Giving directions for the withdrawal of the troops as soon as covered by the darkness, at a late hour in the afternoon General Schofield, with Ruger's division, started to the relief of General Stanley, at Spring Hill, and when near that place he came upon the enemy's cavalry, but they were easily driven off. At Spring Hill the enemy was found bivouacking within 800 yards of the road. Posting a brigade to hold the pike at this point, General Schofield with Ruger's division, pushed on to Thompson's Station, three mile's beyond, where he found the enemy's campfires still burning, a cavalry force having occupied the place at dark, but had disappeared on the arrival of our troops. General Ruger then quietly took possession of the cross-roads.
The withdrawal of the main force from in front of Columbia was safely effected after dark on the 29th; Spring Hill was passed without molestation about midnight, and making a night march of twenty-five miles, the whole command got into position at Franklin at an early hour on the morning of the 30th; the cavalry moved on the Lewisburg pike, on the right or east of the infantry.
At Franklin General Schofield formed line of battle on the southern edge of the town to await the coming of the enemy, and in the meanwhile hastened the crossing of the trains to the north side of Harpeth River.
On the evacuation of Columbia orders were sent to Major-General Milroy, at Tullahoma, to abandon that post and retire to Murfreesborough, joining forces with General Rousseau at the latter place. General Milroy was instructed, however, to maintain the garrison in the block-house at Elk River bridge. Nashville was placed in a state of defense and the fortifications manned by the garrison, re-enforced by a volunteer force, which had been previously organized into a division, under Bvt. Brig. Gen. J. L. Donaldson, from the employés of the quartermaster's and commissary departments. This latter force, aided by railroad employés, the whole under the direction of Brigadier-General Tower, worked assiduously to construct additional defenses. Major-General Steedman, with a command numbering 5,000, composed of detachments belonging to General Sherman's column, left behind at Chattanooga (of which mention has heretofore been made), and also a brigade of colored troops, started from Chattanooga by rail on the 29th of November, and reached Cowan on the morning of the 30th, where orders were sent him to proceed direct to Nashville. At an early hour on the morning of the 30th the advance of Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith's command reached Nashville by transports from Saint Louis. My infantry force was now nearly equal to that of the enemy, although he still outnumbered me very greatly in effective cavalry; but as soon as a few thousand of the latter arm could be mounted I should be in a condition to take the field offensively and dispute the possession of Tennessee with Hood's army.
The enemy followed closely after General Schofield's rear guard in the retreat to Franklin, and upon coming up with the main force, formed rapidly and advanced to assault our works, repeating attack after attack during the entire afternoon, and as late as 10 p.m. his efforts to break our line were continued. General Schofield's position was excellently chosen, with both flanks resting upon the river, and the men firmly held their ground against an overwhelming enemy, who was repulsed <ar93_35>in every assault along the whole line. Our loss, as given by General Schofield in his report transmitted herewith (and to which I respectfully refer), is, 189 killed, 1,033 wounded, and 1,104 missing, making an aggregate of 2,326. We captured and sent to Nashville 702 prisoners, including 1 general officer, and 33 stand of colors. Maj. Gen. D. S. Stanley, commanding Fourth Corps, was severely wounded at Franklin whilst engaged in rallying a portion of his command which had been temporarily overpowered by an overwhelming attack of the enemy. At the time of the battle the enemy's loss was known to be severe, and was estimated at 5,000. The exact figures were only obtained, however, on the reoccupation of Franklin by our forces, after the battles of December 15 and 16, at Brentwood Hills, near Nashville, and are given as follows: Buried upon the field, 1,750; disabled and placed in hospital at Franklin, 3,800, which, with the 702 prisoners already reported, makes an aggregate loss to Hood's army of 6,252, among whom were 6 general officers killed, 6 wounded, and I captured. The important results of the signal victory cannot be too highly appreciated, for it not only seriously checked the enemy's advance, and gave General Schofield time to remove his troops and all his property to Nashville, but it also caused deep depression among the men of Hood's army, making them doubly cautious in their subsequent movements.
Not willing to risk a renewal of the battle on the morrow, and having accomplished the object of the day's operations, viz, to cover the withdrawal of his trains, General Schofield, by my advice and direction, fell back during the night to Nashville, in front of which city line of battle was formed by noon of the 1st of December, on the heights immediately surrounding Nashville, with Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith's command occupying the right, his right resting on the Cumberland River, below the city; the Fourth Corps (Brig. Gen. T. J. Wood temporarily in command) in the center; and General Schofield's troops (Twenty-third Army Corps) on the left, extending to Nolensville pike. The cavalry, under General Wilson, was directed to take post on the left of General Schofield, which would make secure the interval between his left and the river above the city.
General Steedman's troops reached Nashville about dark on the evening of the 1st of December, taking up a position about a mile in advance of the left center of the main line, and on the left of the Nolensville pike. This position being regarded as too much exposed, was changed on the 3d, when, the cavalry having been directed to take post on the north side of the river at Edgefield, General Steedman occupied the space on the left of the line vacated by its withdrawal. During the afternoon of the 2d the enemy's cavalry, in small parties, engaged our skirmishers, but it was only on the afternoon of the 3d that his infantry made its appearance, when, crowding in our skirmishers, he commenced to establish his main line, which, on the morning of the 4th, we found he had succeeded in doing, with his salient on the summit of Montgomery Hill, within 600 yards of our center, his main line occupying the high ground on the southeast side of Brown's Creek, and extending from the Nolensville pike--his extreme right--across the Franklin and Granny White pikes, in a westerly direction, to the hills south and southwest of Richland Creek, and down that creek to the Hillsborough pike, with cavalry extending from both his flanks to the river. Artillery was opened on him from several points on the line, without eliciting any response.
The block-house at the railroad crossing of Overall's Creek, five miles north of Murfreesborough, was attacked by Bate's division, of Cheatham's <ar93_36>corps, on the 4th, but held out until assistance reached it from the garrison at Murfreesborough. The enemy used artillery to reduce the block-house, but although seventy-four shots were fired at it, no material injury was done. General Milroy coming up with three regiments of infantry, four companies of the Thirteenth Indiana Cavalry, and a section of artillery, attacked the enemy and drove him off. During the 5th, 6th, and 7th Bate's division, re-enforced by a division from Lee's corps and 2,500 of Forrest's cavalry, demonstrated heavily against Fortress Rosecrans, at Murfreesborough, garrisoned by about 8,000 men, under command of General Rousseau. The enemy showing an unwillingness to make a direct assault, General Milroy, with seven regiments of infantry, was sent out on the 8th [7th] to engage him. He was found a short distance from the place on the Wilkinson pike, posted behind rail breast-works, was attacked and routed, our troops capturing 207 prisoners and two guns, with a loss of 30 killed and 175 wounded. On the same day Buford's cavalry entered the town of Murfreesborough, after having shelled it vigorously, but he was speedily driven out by a regiment of infantry and a section of artillery.
On retiring from before Murfreesborough the enemy's cavalry moved northward to Lebanon and along the bank of the Cumberland in that vicinity, threatening to cross to the north side of the river and interrupt our railroad communication with Louisville, at that time our only source of supplies, the enemy having blockaded the river below Nashville by batteries along the shore. The Navy Department was requested to patrol the Cumberland above and below Nashville with the gun-boats then in the river, to prevent the enemy from crossing, which request was cordially and effectually complied with by Lieut. Commander Le Roy Fitch, commanding Eleventh Division, Mississippi Squadron. At the same time General Wilson sent a cavalry force to Gallatin to guard the country in that vicinity.
The position of Hood's army around Nashville remained unchanged, and, with the exception of occasional picket-firing, nothing of importance occurred from the 3d to the 15th of December. In the meanwhile I was preparing to take the offensive without delay; the cavalry was being remounted, under the direction of General Wilson, as rapidly as possible, and new transportation furnished where it was required.
During these operations in Middle Tennessee the enemy, under Breckinridge, Duke, and Vaughn, was operating in the eastern portion of the State against Generals Ammen and Gillem. On the 13th of November, at midnight, Breckinridge, with a force estimated at 3,000, attacked General Gillem near Morristown, routing him and capturing his artillery, besides taking several hundred prisoners; the remainder of the command, about 1,000 in number, escaped to Strawberry Plains, and thence to Knoxville. General Gillem's force consisted of 1,500 men, comprising three regiments of Tennessee cavalry, and six guns, belonging formerly to the Fourth Division of Cavalry, Army of the Cumberland, but had been detached from my command at the instance of Governor Andrew Johnson, and were then operating independently under Brigadier-General Gillem. From a want of cooperation between the officers directly under my control and General Gillem may be attributed, in a great measure, the cause of the latter's misfortune.
Following up his success, Breckinridge continued moving southward through Strawberry Plains to the immediate vicinity of Knoxville, but on the 18th withdrew as rapidly as he had advanced. General Am-men's troops, re-enforced by 1,500 men from Chattanooga, reoccupied Strawberry Plains on that day. <ar93_37>
About that period Major-General Stoneman (left at Louisville by General Schofield to take charge of the Department of the Ohio during his absence with the army in the field) started for Knoxville, to take general direction of affairs in that section, having previously ordered Brevet Major-General Burbridge to march with all his available force in Kentucky, by way of Cumberland Gap, to Gillem's relief. On his way through Nashville General Stoneman received instructions from me to concentrate as large a force as he could get in East Tennessee against Breckinridge, and either destroy his force or drive it into Virginia, and, if possible, destroy the salt-works at Saltville and the railroad from the Tennessee line as far into Virginia as he could go without endangering his command. November 23, General Stoneman telegraphed from Knoxville that the main force of the enemy was at New Market, eight miles north of Strawberry Plains, and General Burbridge was moving on Cumberland Gap from the interior of Kentucky, his advance expecting to reach Barboursville that night. On the 6th of December, having received information from East Tennessee that Breckinridge was falling back toward Virginia, General Stoneman was again directed to pursue him, and destroy the railroad as far across the State line as possible---say, twenty-five miles.
Leaving him to carry out these instructions, I will return to the position at Nashville.
Both armies were ice-bound for a week previous to the 14th of December, when the weather moderated. Being prepared to move, I called a meeting of the corps commanders on the afternoon of that day, and having discussed the plan of attack until thoroughly understood, the following Special Field Order, No. 342, was issued:
* * * * * * * * * *
Paragraph IV. As soon as the state of the weather will admit of offensive operations the troops will move against the enemy's position in the following order:
Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith, commanding Detachment of the Army of the Tennessee, after forming his troops on and near the Hardin pike, in front of his present position, will make a vigorous assault on the enemy's left.
Major-General Wilson, commanding the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, with three divisions, will move on and support General Smith's right, assisting, as far as possible, in carrying the left of the enemy's position, and be in readiness to throw his force upon the enemy the moment a favorable opportunity occurs. Major-General Wilson will also send one division on the Charlotte pike to clear that road of the enemy and observe in the direction of Bell's Landing, to protect our right rear until the enemy's position is fairly turned, when it will rejoin the main force.
Brig. Gen. T. J. Wood, commanding the Fourth Army Corps, after leaving a strong skirmish line in his works from Laurens' Hill to his extreme right, will form the remainder of the Fourth Corps on the Hillsborough pike, to support General Smith's left, and operate on the left and rear of the enemy's advanced position on the Montgomery Hill.
Major-General Schofield, commanding Twenty-third Army Corps, will replace Brigadier-General Kimball's division, of the Fourth Corps, with his troops, and occupy the trenches from Fort Negley to Laurens' Hill with a strong skirmish line. He will move with(*) the remainder of his force in front of the works and co-operate with General Wood, protecting the latter's left flank against an attack by the enemy.
Major-General Steedman, commanding District of the Etowah, will occupy the interior line in rear of his present position, stretching from the reservoir on the Cumberland River to Fort Negley, with a strong skirmish line, and mass the remainder of his force in its present position, to act according to the exigencies which may arise during these operations.
Brigadier-General Miller, with the troops forming the garrison of Nashville, will occupy the interior line from the battery on Hill 210 to the extreme right, including the inclosed work on the Hyde's Ferry road. <ar93_38>
The quartermaster's troops, under command of Brigadier-General Donaldson, will, if necessary, be posted on the interior line from Fort Morton to the battery on Hill 210.
The troops occupying the interior line will be under the direction of Major-Gen. Oral Steedman, who is charged with the immediate defense of Nashville during the operations around the city.
Should the weather permit the troops will be formed [in time] to commence operations at 6 a.m. on the 15th, or as soon thereafter as practicable.
On the morning of the 15th of December, the weather being favorable, the army was formed and ready at an early hour to carry out the plan of battle promulgated in the special field order of the 14th. The formation of the troops was partially concealed from the enemy by the broken nature of the ground, as also by a dense fog, which only lifted toward noon. The enemy was apparently totally unaware of any intention on our part to attack his position, and more especially did he seem not to expect any movement against his left flank. To divert his attention still further from our real intentions, Major-General Steedman had, on the evening of the 14th, received orders to make a heavy demonstration with his command against the enemy's right, east of the Nolensville pike, which he accomplished with great success and some loss, succeeding, however, in attracting the enemy's attention to that part of his lines, and inducing him to draw re-enforcements from toward his center and left. As soon as General Steedman had completed his movement, the commands of Generals Smith and Wilson moved out along the Hardin pike and commenced the grand movement of the day, by wheeling to the left and advancing against the enemy's position across the Hardin and Hillsborough pikes. A division of cavalry (Johnson's) was sent at the same time to look after a battery of the enemy's on the Cumberland River at Bell's Landing, eight miles below Nashville. General Johnson did not get into position until late in the afternoon, when, in conjunction with the gun-boats under Lieut. Commander Le Roy Fitch, the enemy's battery was engaged until after nightfall, and the place was found evacuated on the morning of the 16th. The remainder of General Wilson's command, Hatch's division leading and Knipe in reserve, moving on the right of General A. J. Smith's troops, first struck the enemy along Richland Creek, near Hardin's house, and drove him back rapidly, capturing a number of prisoners, wagons, &c., and continuing to advance, whilst slightly swinging to the left, came upon a redoubt containing four guns, which was splendidly carried by assault, at 1 p.m., by a portion of Hatch's division, dismounted, and the captured guns turned upon the enemy. A second redoubt, stronger than the first, was next assailed and carried by the same troops that captured the first position, taking 4 more guns and about 300 prisoners. The infantry, McArthur's division, of General A. J. Smith's command, on the left of the cavalry, participated in both of the assaults; and, indeed, the dismounted cavalry seemed to vie with the infantry who should first gain the works; as they reached the position nearly simultaneously, both lay claim to the artillery and prisoners captured.
Finding General Smith had not taken as much distance to the right as I expected he would have done, I directed General Schofield to move his command (the Twenty-third Corps) from the position in reserve to which it had been assigned over to the right of General Smith, enabling the cavalry thereby to operate more freely on the enemy's rear. This was rapidly accomplished by General Schofield, and his troops participated in the closing operations of the day.
The Fourth Corps, Brig. Gen. T. J. Wood commanding, formed on the left of General A, J. Smith's command, and as soon as the latter had <ar93_39>struck the enemy's flank, assaulted the Montgomery Hill, Hood's most advanced position, at 1 p.m., which was most gallantly executed by the Third [Second] Brigade, Second [Third] Division, Col: P. Sidney Post, Fifty-ninth Illinois, commanding, capturing a considerable number of prisoners. Connecting with the left of Smith's troops (Brigadier-General Garrard's division), the Fourth Corps continued to advance, and carried by assault the enemy's entire line in its front and captured several pieces of artillery, about 500 prisoners, some stands of colors, and other material. The enemy was driven out of his original line of works and forced back to a new position along the base of Harpeth Hills, still holding his line of retreat to Franklin--by the main pike, through Brentwood, and by the Granny White pike. Our line at night-fall was readjusted, running parallel to and east of the Hillsborough pike--Schofield's command on the right, Smith's in the center, and Wood's on the left, with the cavalry on the right of Schofield; Steedman holding the position he had gained early in the morning.
The total result of the day's operations was the capture of sixteen pieces of artillery and 1,200 prisoners, besides several hundred stand of small-arms and about forty wagons. The enemy had been forced back at all points, with heavy loss; our casualties were unusually light. The behavior of the troops was unsurpassed for steadiness and alacrity in every movement, and the original plan of battle, with but few alterations, strictly adhered to.
The whole command bivouacked in line of battle during the night on the ground occupied at dark, whilst preparations were made to renew the battle at an early hour on the morrow.
At 6 a.m. on the 16th Wood's corps pressed back the enemy's skirmishers across the Franklin pike to the eastward of it, and then swinging slightly to the right, advanced due south from Nashville, driving the enemy before him until he came upon his new main line of works, constructed during the night, on what is called Overton's Hill, about five miles south of the city and east of the Franklin pike. General Steedman moved out from Nashville by the Nolensville pike, and formed his command on the left of General Wood, effectually securing the latter's left flank, and made preparations to co-operate in the operations of the day. General A. J. Smith's command moved on the right of the Fourth Corps (Wood's), and establishing connection with General Wood's right, completed the new line of battle. General Schofield's troops remained in the position taken up by them at dark on the day previous, facing eastward and toward the enemy's left flank, the line of the corps running perpendicular to General Smith's troops. General Wilson's cavalry, which had rested for the night at the six-mile post on the Hillsborough pike, was dismounted and formed on the right of Schofield's command, and by noon of the 16th had succeeded in gaining the enemy's rear, and stretched across the Granny White pike, one of his two outlets toward Franklin.
As soon as the above dispositions were completed, and having visited the different commands, I gave directions that the movement against the enemy's left flank should be continued. Our entire line approached to within 600 yards of the enemy's at all points. His center was weak, as compared with either his right, at Overton's Hill, or his left, on the hills bordering the Granny White pike; still I had hopes of gaining his rear and cutting off his retreat from Franklin. About 3 p.m. Post's brigade, of Wood's corps, supported by Streight's brigade, of the same command, was ordered by General Wood to assault Overton's Hill. This intention was communicated to General Steedman, who ordered <ar93_40>the brigade of colored troops commanded by Colonel Morgan, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Troops,(*) to co-operate in the movement. The ground on which the two assaulting columns formed being open and exposed to the enemy's view, he, readily perceiving our intention, drew re-enforcements from his left and center to the threatened point. This movement of troops on the part of the enemy was communicated along the line from left to right.
The assault was made, and received by the enemy with a tremendous fire of grape and canister and musketry; our men moved steadily onward up the hill until near the crest, when the reserve of the enemy rose and poured into the assaulting column a most destructive fire, causing the men first to waver and then to fall back, leaving their dead and wounded--black and white indiscriminately mingled--lying amid the abatis, the gallant Colonel Post among the wounded. General Wood readily reformed his command in the position it had previously occupied, preparatory to a renewal of the assault.
Immediately following the effort of the Fourth Corps, Generals Smith's and Schofield's commands moved against the enemy's works in their respective fronts, carrying all before them, irreparably breaking his line in a dozen places, and capturing all his artillery and thousands of prisoners, among the latter four general officers. Our loss was remarkably small, scarcely mentionable. All of the enemy that did escape were pursued over the tops of Brentwood and Harpeth Hills.
General Wilson's cavalry, dismounted, attacked the enemy simultaneously with Schofield and Smith, striking him in reverse, and gaining firm possession of the Granny White pike, cut off his retreat by that route.
Wood's and Steedman's troops, hearing the shouts of victory coming from the right, rushed impetuously forward, renewing the assault on Overton's Hill, and although meeting a very heavy fire, the onset was irresistible, artillery and innumerable prisoners falling into our hands. The enemy, hopelessly broken, fled in confusion through the Brentwood Pass, the Fourth Corps in a close pursuit, which was continued for several miles, when darkness closed the scene and the troops rested from their labors.
As the Fourth Corps pursued the enemy on the Franklin pike, General Wilson hastily mounted Knipe's and Hatch's divisions of his command, and directed them to pursue along the Granny White pike and endeavor to reach Franklin in advance of the enemy. After proceeding about a mile they came upon the enemy's cavalry, under Chalmers, posted across the road and behind barricades. The position was charged by the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Spalding commanding, and the enemy's lines broken, scattering him in all directions and capturing quite a number of prisoners, among them Brig. Gen. E. W. Rucker.
During the two days' operations there were 4,462 prisoners captured, including 287 officers of all grades from that of major-general, 53 pieces of artillery, and thousands of small-arms. The enemy abandoned on the field all his dead and wounded.
Leaving directions for the collection of the captured property and for the care of the wounded left on the battle-field, the pursuit was continued at daylight on the 17th. The Fourth Corps pushed on toward Franklin by the direct pike, whilst the cavalry moved by the Granny White pike to its intersection with the Franklin pike, and then took the advance. <ar93_41>
Johnson's division of cavalry was sent by General Wilson direct to Harpeth River, on the Hillsborough pike, with directions to cross and move rapidly toward Franklin. The main cavalry column, with Knipe's division in advance, came up with the enemy's rear guard strongly posted at Hollow Tree Gap, four miles north of Franklin; the position was charged in front and in flank simultaneously, and handsomely carried, capturing 413 prisoners and 3 colors. The enemy then fell back rapidly to Franklin, and endeavored to defend the crossing of Harpeth River at that place; but Johnson's division coming up from below on the south side of the stream, forced him to retire from the river-bank, and our cavalry took possession of the town, capturing the enemy's hospital, containing over 2,000 wounded, of whom about 200 were our own men.
The pursuit was immediately continued, by Wilson, toward Columbia, the enemy's rear guard slowly retiring before him to a distance of about five miles south of Franklin, where the enemy made a stand in some open fields just north of West Harpeth River, and seemed to await our coming. Deploying Knipe's division as skirmishers, with Hatch's in close support, General Wilson ordered his body guard--the Fourth U. S. Cavalry, Lieutenant Hedges commanding--to charge the enemy. Forming on the pike in column of fours, the gallant little command charged, with sabers drawn, breaking the enemy's center, whilst Knipe's and Hatch's men pressed back the flanks, scattering the whole command and causing them to abandon their artillery. Darkness coming on during the engagement enabled a great many to escape, and put an end to the day's operations.
The Fourth Corps, under General Wood, followed immediately in rear of the cavalry as far as Harpeth River, where it found the bridges destroyed and too much water on the fords for infantry to cross. A trestle bridge was hastily constructed from such materials as lay at hand, but could not be made available before night-fall. General Steedman's command moved in rear of General Wood, and camped near him on the banks of the Harpeth. Generals Smith and Schofield marched with their corps along the Granny White pike, and camped for the night at the intersection with the Franklin pike. The trains moved with their respective commands, carrying ten days' supplies and 100 rounds of ammunition.
On the 18th the pursuit of the enemy was continued by General Wilson, who pushed on as far as Rutherford's Creek, three miles from Columbia. Wood's corps crossed to the south side of Harpeth River and closed up with the cavalry. The enemy did not offer to make a stand during the day. On arriving at Rutherford's Creek the stream was found to be impassable on account of high water, and running a perfect torrent. A pontoon bridge, hastily constructed at Nashville during the presence of the army at that place, was on its way to the front, but the bad condition of the roads, together with the incompleteness of the train itself, had retarded its arrived. I would here remark that the splendid pontoon train properly belonging to my command, with its trained corps of pontoniers, was absent with General Sherman.
During the 19th several unsuccessful efforts were made by the advanced troops to cross Rutherford's Creek, although General Hatch succeeded in lodging a few skirmishers on the south bank. The heavy rains of the preceding few days had inundated the whole country and rendered the roads almost impassable. Smith's and Schofield's commands crossed to the south side of Harpeth River, General Smith advancing <ar93_42>to Spring Hill, whilst General Schofield encamped at Franklin. On the morning of the 20th General Hatch constructed a floating bridge from the debris of the old railroad bridge over Rutherford's Creek, and crossing his entire division pushed out for Columbia, but found, on reaching Duck River, the enemy had succeeded the night before in getting everything across, and had already removed his pontoon bridge; Duck River was very much swollen and impassable without a bridge. During the day General Wood improvised a foot bridge over Rutherford's Creek, at the old road bridge, and by night-fall had succeeded in crossing his infantry entire, and one or two of his batteries, and moved forward to Duck River.
The pontoon train coming up to Rutherford's Creek about noon of the 21st, a bridge was laid during the afternoon and General Smith's troops were enabled to cross. The weather had changed from dismal rain to bitter cold, very materially retarding the work in laying the bridge, as the regiment of colored troops to whom that duty was intrusted seemed to become unmanned by the cold and totally unequal to the occasion. On the completion of the bridge at Rutherford's Creek sufficient material for a bridge over Duck River was hastily pushed forward to that point, and the bridge constructed in time to enable Wood to cross late in the afternoon of the 22d and get into position on the Pulaski road, about two miles south of Columbia. The water in the river fell rapidly during the construction of the bridge, necessitating frequent alterations and causing much delay. The enemy, in his hasty retreat, had thrown into the stream several fine pieces of artillery, which were rapidly becoming uncovered, and were subsequently removed.
Notwithstanding the many delays to which the command had been subjected, I determined to continue the pursuit of Hood's shattered forces; and for this purpose decided to use General Wilson's cavalry and General Wood's corps of infantry, directing the infantry to move on the pike, whilst the cavalry marched on its either flank across the fields; the remainder of the command, Smith's and Schofield's corps, to move along more leisurely, and to be used as the occasion demanded.
Forrest and his cavalry, and such other detachments as had been sent off from his main army whilst besieging Nashville, had rejoined Hood at Columbia. He had formed a powerful rear guard, made up of detachments from all his organized force, numbering about 4,000 infantry, under General Walthall, and all his available cavalry, under Forrest. With the exception of his rear guard, his army had become a disheartened and disorganized rabble of half-armed and barefooted men, who sought every opportunity to fall out by the wayside and desert their cause to put an end to their sufferings. The rear guard, however, was undaunted and firm, and did its work bravely to the last.
During the 23d General Wilson was occupied crossing his command over Duck River, but took the advance on the 24th, supported by General Wood, and came up with the enemy just south of Lynnville, and also at Buford's Station, at both of which places the enemy made a short stand, but was speedily dislodged, with a loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Our advance was so rapid as to prevent the destruction of the bridges over Richland Creek. Christmas morning, the 25th, the enemy, with our cavalry at his heels, evacuated Pulaski, and was pursued toward Lamb's Ferry over an almost impracticable road and through a country devoid of subsistence for man or beast. During the afternoon Harrison's brigade found the enemy strongly intrenched at the head of a heavily wooded and deep ravine, through which ran the <ar93_43>road, and into which Colonel Harrison drove the enemy's skirmishers; he then waited for the remainder of the cavalry to close up before attacking; but before this could be accomplished the enemy, with something of his former boldness, sallied from his breast-works and drove back Harrison's skirmishers, capturing and carrying off one gun belonging to Battery I, Fourth U.S. Artillery, which was not recovered by us, notwithstanding the ground lost was almost immediately regained. By night-fall the enemy was driven from his position, with a loss of about 50 prisoners. The cavalry had moved so rapidly as to out-distance the trains, and both men and animals were suffering greatly in consequence, although they continued uncomplainingly to pursue the enemy. General Wood's corps kept well closed up on the cavalry, camping on the night of December 25 six miles out from Pulaski, on the Lamb's Ferry road, and pursuing the same route as the cavalry, reached Lexington, Ala., thirty miles from Pulaski, on the 28th, on which date, having definitely ascertained that the enemy had made good his escape across the Tennessee at Bainbridge, I directed farther pursuit to cease. At Pulaski the enemy's hospital, containing about 200 patients, fell into our hands, and four guns were found in Richland Creek. About a mile south of the town he destroyed twenty wagons loaded with ammunition, belonging to Cheatham's corps, taking the animals belonging to the train to help pull his pontoons. The road from Pulaski to Bainbridge, and indeed back to Nashville, was strewn with abandoned wagons, limbers, small-arms, blankets, &c., showing most conclusively the disorder of the enemy's retreat.
During the foregoing operations with the advance Smith's and Schofield's troops were in motion toward the front, General Smith's command reaching Pulaski on the 27th, whilst General Schofield was directed to remain at Columbia for the time being.
On our arrival at Franklin, on the 18th, I gave directions to General Steedman to move with his command across the country from that point to Murfreesborough, on the Chattanooga railroad, from whence he was to proceed by rail to Decatur, Ala., via Stevenson, being joined at Stevenson by Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger and the troops composing the garrisons of Huntsville, Athens, and Decatur. Taking general direction of the whole force, his instructions were to reoccupy the points in Northern Alabama evacuated at the period of Hood's advance, then cross the Tennessee with the balance of his force and threaten the enemy's railroad communications west of Florence.
General Steedman reoccupied Decatur on the 27th, and proceeded to carry out the second portion of his instructions, finding, however, that the enemy had already made good his escape to the south side of the Tennessee, and any movement on his railroad would be useless.
On announcing the result of the battles to Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee, commanding Mississippi Squadron, I requested him to send as much of his force as he could spare around to Florence, on the Tennessee River, and endeavor to prevent Hood's army from crossing at that point; which request was most cordially and promptly complied with. He arrived at Chickasaw, Miss., on the 24th, destroyed there a rebel battery, and captured two guns with caissons at Florence Landing. He also announced the arrival at the latter place of several transports with provisions.
Immediately upon learning of the presence at Chickasaw, Miss., of the gun-boats and transports with provisions, I directed General Smith to march overland from Pulaski to Clifton, via Lawrenceburg and Waynesborough, and take post at Eastport, Miss. General Smith started for his destination on December 29. <ar93_44>
On the 30th of December I announced to the army the successful completion of the campaign, and gave directions for the disposition of the command, as follows: Smith's corps to take post at Eastport, Miss.; Wood's corps to be concentrated at Huntsville and Athens, Ala.; Schofield's corps to proceed to Dalton, Ga.; and Wilson's cavalry, after sending one division to Eastport, Miss., to concentrate balance at or near Huntsville. On reaching the several positions assigned to them the different commands were to go into winter quarters and recuperate for the spring campaign.
The above not meeting the views of the general-in-chief, and being notified by Major-General Halleck, chief of staff, U.S. Army, that it was not intended for the army in Tennessee to go into winter quarters, orders were issued on the 31st of December for Generals Schofield, Smith, and Wilson to concentrate their commands at Eastport, Miss., and that of General Wood at Huntsville, Ala., preparatory to a renewal of the campaign against the enemy in Mississippi and Alabama.
During the active operations of the main army in Middle Tennessee General Stoneman's forces in the northeastern portion of the State were also very actively engaged in operating against Breckinridge, Duke, and Vaughn. Having quietly concentrated the commands of Generals Burbridge and Gillem at Bean's Station, on the 12th of December General Stoneman started for Bristol, his advance under General Gillem striking the enemy, under Duke, at Kingsport, on the North Fork of the Holston River, killing, capturing, or dispersing the whole command. General Stoneman then sent General Burbridge to Bristol, where he came upon the enemy, under Vaughn, and skirmished with him until the remainder of the troops--Gillem's column--came up, when Burbridge was pushed on to Abingdon, with instructions to send a force to cut the railroad at some point between Saltville and Wytheville, in order to prevent re-enforcements coming from Lynchburg to the salt-works. Gillem also reached Abingdon on the 15th, the enemy under Vaughn following on a road running parallel to the one used by our forces. Having decided merely to make a demonstration against the salt-works and to push on with the main force after Vaughn, General Gillem struck the enemy at Marion early on the 16th, and after completely routing him, pursued him to Wytheville, Va., capturing all his artillery and trains and 198 prisoners. Wytheville, with its stores and supplies, was destroyed, as also the extensive lead-works near the town and the railroad bridges over Reedy Creek. General Stoneman then turned his attention toward Saltville, with its important salt-works. The garrison of that place, re-enforced by Giltner's, Cosby's, and Witcher's commands and the remnant of Duke's, all under the command of Breckinridge in person, followed our troops as they moved on Wytheville, and on returning General Stoneman met them at Marion, where he made preparations to give Breckinridge battle, and disposed his command so as to effectually assault the enemy in the morning, but Breckinridge retreated during the night, and was pursued a short distance into North Carolina, our troops capturing some of his wagons and caissons.
General Stoneman then moved on Saltville with his entire command, capturing at that place 8 pieces of artillery and a large amount of ammunition of all kinds, 2 locomotives, and quite a number of horses and mules. The extensive salt-works were destroyed by breaking the kettles, filling the wells with rubbish, and burning the buildings. His work accomplished, General Stoneman returned to Knoxville, accompanied by General Gillem's command, General Burbridge's proceeding <ar93_45>to Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap. The country marched over was laid waste to prevent its being used again by the enemy--all mills, factories, bridges, &c., being destroyed. The command had everything to contend with as far as the weather and roads were concerned, yet the troops bore up cheerfully throughout, and made each twenty-four hours an average march of forty-two miles and a half.
The pursuit of Hood's retreating army was discontinued by my main forces on the 29th of December, on reaching the Tennessee River; however, a force of cavalry, numbering 600 men, made up from detachments of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania, Second Michigan, Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Indiana Regiments, under command of Col. William J. Palmer, Fifteenth Pennsylvania, operating with Steedman's column, started from Decatur, Ala., in the direction of Hood's line of retreat in Mississippi. The enemy's cavalry, under Roddey, was met at Leighton, with whom Colonel Palmer skirmished and pressed back in small squads toward the mountains. Here it was ascertained that Hood's trains passed through Leighton on the 28th of December and moved off toward Columbus, Miss. Avoiding the enemy's cavalry, Colonel Palmer left Leighton on the 31st of December, moved rapidly via La Grange and Russellville and by the Cotton-gin road, and overtook the enemy's pontoon train, consisting of 200 wagons and 78 pontoon-boats, when ten miles out from Russellville. This he destroyed. Having learned of a large supply train on its way to Tuscaloosa, Colonel Palmer started on the 1st of January toward Aberdeen, Miss., with a view of cutting it off, and succeeded in surprising it about 10 p.m. on the same evening, just over the line in Mississippi. The train consisted of 110 wagons and 500 mules, the former of which were burned, and the latter sabered or shot. Returning via Toll-gate, Ala., and on the old military and Hacksburg roads, the enemy, under Roddey, Biffle, and Russell, was met near Russellville and along Bear Creek, whilst another force, under Armstrong, was reported to be in pursuit of our forces. Evading the force in his front, by moving off to the right under cover of the darkness, Colonel Palmer pushed for Moulton, coming upon Russell when within twelve miles of Moulton, and near Thorn Hill attacked him unexpectedly, utterly routing him, and capturing some prisoners, besides burning five wagons. The command then proceeded to Decatur without molestation, and reached that place on the 6th of January, after a march of over 250 miles. One hundred and fifty prisoners were captured and nearly 1,000 stand of arms destroyed. Colonel Palmer's loss was 1 killed and 2 wounded.
General Hood, while investing Nashville, had sent into Kentucky a force of cavalry numbering about 800 men and two guns, under the command of Brigadier-General Lyon, with instructions to operate against our railroad communications with Louisville. McCook's division of cavalry was detached on the 14th of December and sent to Bowling Green and Franklin to protect the road. After capturing Hopkinsville, Lyon was met by La Grange's brigade near Greensburg, and after a sharp fight was thrown into confusion, losing one gun, some prisoners, and wagons; the enemy succeeded, however, by making a wide detour via Elizabethtown and Glasgow, in reaching the Cumberland River and crossing at Burkesville, from whence General Lyon proceeded, via McMinnville and Winchester, Tenn., to Larkinsville, Ala., on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and attacked the little garrison at Scottsborough on the 10th of January. Lyon was here again repulsed and his command scattered, our troops pursuing him toward the Tennessee River, which, however, he, with about 200 of his men and his remaining <ar93_46>piece of artillery, succeeded in crossing; the rest of his command scattered in squads among the mountains. Col. W. J. Palmer, commanding Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, with 150 men, crossed the river at Paint Rock and pursued Lyon to near Red Hill, on the road from Warrenton to Tuscaloosa, at which place he surprised his camp during the night of the 14th of January, capturing Lyon himself, his one piece of artillery, and about 100 of his men, with their horses. Lyon being in bed at the time of his capture, asked his guard to permit him to dress himself, which was acceded to, when, watching his opportunity, he seized a pistol, shot the sentinel dead upon the spot, and escaped in the darkness. This was the only casualty during the expedition.
To Colonel Palmer and his command is accorded the credit of giving Hood's army the last blow of the campaign, at a distance of over 200 miles from where we first struck the enemy on the 15th of December, near Nashville.
To all of my sub-commanders--Major-Generals Schofield, Stanley, Rousseau, Steedman, Smith, and Wilson, and Brig. Gen. T. J. Wood--their officers and men, I give expression of my thanks and gratitude for their generous self-sacrifice and manly endurance under the most trying circumstances and in all instances. Too much praise cannot be accorded to an army which, hastily made up from the fragments of three separate commands, can successfully contend against a force numerically greater than itself and of more thoroughly solid organization, inflicting on it a most crushing defeat--almost an annihilation.
Receiving instructions unexpectedly from General Sherman, in September, to repair to Tennessee and assume general control of the defenses of our line of communication in the rear of the Army of the Mississippi, and not anticipating a separation from my immediate command, the greater number of my staff officers were left behind at Atlanta and did not have an opportunity to join me after General Sherman determined on making his march through Georgia, before the communications were cut. I had with me Brig. Gen. W. D. Whipple, my chief of staff; Surgeon G. E. Cooper, medical director; Capts. Henry Stone, Henry M. Cist, and Robert H. Ramsey, assistant adjutants-general; Capt. E. C. Beman, acting chief commissary; Capts. John P. Willard and S. C. Kellogg, aides-de-camp; and Lieut. M. J. Kelly, chief of couriers; all of whom rendered important services during the battles of the 15th and 16th, and during the pursuit. I cordially commend their services to favorable consideration.
There were captured from the enemy during the various actions of which the foregoing report treats, 13,189 prisoners of war, including 7 general officers and nearly 1,000 other officers of all grades, 72 pieces of serviceable artillery, and -- battle flags. During the same period over 2,000 deserters from the enemy were received, to whom the oath was administered. Our own loss will not exceed 10,000 in killed, wounded, and missing.
I have the honor to transmit herewith a consolidated return of casualties, the report of Col. J. G. Parkhurst, provost-marshal-general, and that of Capt. A. Mordecai, chief of ordnance.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, Commanding.
Lieut. Col. R. M. SAWYER, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Military Division of the Mississippi.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
Report of casualties of the Army of the Cumberland.
|Twenty-third Army Corps||Battle of Franklin
Battle of Nashville
|Fourth Army Corps (Smith)||Battle of Nashville||
|Cavalry Corps (Wilson)||Both battles||
[Inclosure No. 2.]
OFFICE PROV. MAR. GEN., DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Nashville, Tenn., February 4, 1865.
Report of prisoners of war captured from September 7, 1864, to January 20, 1865.
A Major generals. F Captains.
B Brigadier-generals. G Lieutenants.
C Colonels. H Non-commissioned officers.
D Lieutenant-colonels. I Privates.
E Majors. J Surgeons and chaplains.
Grand total, 1,857.
Report of rebel deserters received at Nashville, Tenn., from September 7, 1864, up to January 20, 1865.
A Captains. D Privates.
B Lieutenants. E Surgeons.
C Non-commissioned officers. F Chaplains.
Grand total, 1,314.
Prisoners of war exchanged during the month of September, 1864.
Commissioned officers 128
Non-commissioned officers 225
(Equivalent to 2,045 privates.)
Aggregate of prisoners of war captured from September 7, 1864, to January 20, 1865 (inclusive), 13,189.
Report of rebel deserters received outside of Nashville office from September 7, 1864, to January 20, 1865.
Grand total, 893.
Aggregate of rebel deserters to whom the oath has been administered from September 7, 1864, to January 20, 1865, 2,207.
J. G. PARKHURST, Colonel and Provost-Marshal. General.
[Inclosure No. 3.]
OFFICE CHIEF OF ORDNANCE, DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Nashville, Tenn., February 5, 1865.
Maj. Gen. G. H. THOMAS, U.S. Army, Commanding Department of the Cumberland, Eastport, Miss.:
GENERAL: In compliance with your instructions of the 20th ultimo, I have the honor to submit the following report of ordnance material captured from the enemy by the army under your command, between the 1st of October, 1864, and the 20th of January, 1865, all of which material has been received by the ordnance department:
Light 12-pounder guns, rebel model 42
Light 12-pounder guns, U. S. model 7
Light 12-pounder howitzers, U. S. model 7
3-inch rifles, rebel model 3
10-pounder Parrotts, caliber 2.9 inch, U.S. model 2
3-inch wrought-iron rifle, U. S. model 1
6-pounder smooth-bore guns, U. S. model 2
Field carriages and limbers complete 59
Field carriages and limbers without wheels 2
Field carriages, no limbers 2
Field caissons and limbers 16
Field caissons, no limbers 4
Infantry small-arms of different models, no bayonets. 3,079
Bayonets of different models 262
Cartridge-boxes, infantry 1,208
Cartridge-box plates 238
Cartridge-box belts 234
Cartridge-box belt-plates 141
Waist belts 178
Waist-belt plates 181
Bayonet scabbards 166
Cap pouches 364
Gun slings 231
Of the above, two 12-pounder guns, carriages, and limbers were captured by Major-General Milroy, at Murfreesborough, Tenn., December, 1864; one 12-pounder howitzer, carriage, and limber was captured by Colonel Palmer from the command of the rebel General Lyon, near <ar93_49>Huntsville, Ala.; two 6-pounder smooth-bore guns, carriages, and limbers were captured by Major-General Steedman, near Decatur, Ala.; three 12-pounder guns, carriages, and limbers; one 10-pounder Parrott rifle and carriage; one 3-inch wrought-iron rifle and carriage, U.S., were captured at Columbia, Tenn.
All the remaining artillery and carriages, and all the small-arms and accouterments, were captured before Nashville, on the 15th and 16th of December, 1864.
The larger number of ammunition.chests captured were filled with ammunition in good condition, and six wagons, loaded with similar ammunition, were captured before this place.
I am informed that there are, in addition to what are reported above, 4 guns and carriages now at Pulaski, Tenn., and 3 or 4 guns in the Duck River at Columbia, Tenn., all captured from the enemy or abandoned by him in his retreat to the Tennessee River.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. MORDECAI, Captain Ordnance, Chief of Ordnance, Dept. of the Cumberland.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Nashville, Tenn., April 14, 1865.
Lieut. Col. R. M. SAWYER, Assistant Adjutant-General, Military Division of the Mississippi:
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following supplementary report to my report of the operations of the troops under my command from September 7 to December 31, 1864, as an act of justice to Lieut. Col. William G. Le Duc, chief quartermaster Twentieth Army Corps, whose name was inadvertently omitted in that report.
Colonel Le Duc reaching Nashville from leave of absence too late to join his proper command, which had then left Atlanta, Ga., was assigned by me to duty temporarily as acting chief quartermaster of the troops then concentrating about Nashville. He immediately entered upon those duties with his characteristic energy and zeal, rendered important service in his department for the troops in front of Nashville under Major-General Schofield, when the army was concentrated at Nashville, and during the pursuit of the enemy. I cheerfully and cordially commend him for efficiency, intelligence, and zeal in the discharge of his duties.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U.S. Army, Commanding.
NASHVILLE, TENN., April 14, 1865.
Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U.S. Army, Washington:
An error was made in my report of the battle of Brentwood Hills, near Nashville, December 16, which I desire to correct. In the assault on Overton's Hill, at 3 p.m., Col. C. R. Thompson, Twelfth U.S. Colored Troops, led the colored brigade, and not Colonel Morgan, as reported. Please alter it on your records.
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U.S. Army.
(Copy to Lieut. Col. R. M. Sawyer, New Berne, N. C.)
«4 R R--VOL XLV, PT I» <ar93_50>
GENERAL ORDERS No. 167.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND, Near Nashville, Tenn., December 16, 1864.
The major-general commanding, with pride and pleasure, publishes the following dispatches to the army, and adds thereto his own thanks to the troops for the unsurpassed gallantry and good conduct displayed by them in the battles of yesterday and to-day.
A few more examples of devotion and courage like these, and the rebel army of the West, which you have been fighting for three years, will be no more, and you may reasonably expect an early and honorable peace:
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 16, 1864--11.30 a.m.
Please accept for yourself, officers, and men the Nation's thanks for your good work of yesterday. You made a magnificent beginning. A grand consummation is within your easy reach; do not let it slip.
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 15, 1864---midnight.
I rejoice in tendering to you and the gallant officers and soldiers of your command the thanks of this Department for the brilliant achievements of this day, and hope that it is the harbinger of a decisive victory, and will crown you and your army with honor and do much toward closing the war. We shall give you an hundred guns in the morning.
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 15, 1864--11.45 p.m.
Your dispatch of this evening, just received. I congratulate you and the army under your command for to-day's operations, and feel a conviction that to-morrow will add more fruits to your victory.
U.S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
By command of Major-General Thomas:
WM. D. WHIPPLE, Assistant Adjutant-General.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 169.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND, Pulaski, Tenn., December 29, 1864.
SOLDIERS: The major-general commanding announces to you that the rear guard of the flying and dispirited enemy was driven across the Tennessee River on the night of the 27th instant. The impassable state of the roads and consequent impossibility to supply the army compels a closing of the campaign for the present.
Although short, it has been brilliant in its achievements and unsurpassed in its results by any other of this war, and is one of which all who participated therein may be justly proud. That veteran rebel army which, though driven from position to position, opposed a stubborn resistance to much superior numbers during the whole of the Atlanta campaign, taking advantage of the absence of the largest portion of the army which had been opposed to it in Georgia, invaded Tennessee, buoyant with hope, expecting Nashville: Murfreesborough and the <ar93_51>whole of Tennessee and Kentucky to fall into its power an easy prey, and scarcely fixing a limit to its conquests, after having received the most terrible check at Franklin, on the 30th of November, that any army has received during this war, and later met with a signal repulse from the brave garrison of Murfreesborough in its attempt to capture that place, was finally attacked at Nashville, and although your forces were inferior to it in numbers, it was hurled back from the coveted prize upon which it had only been permitted to look from a distance, and finally sent flying, dismayed and disordered, whence it came, impelled by the instinct of self-preservation, and thinking only how it could relieve itself for short intervals from your persistent and harrassing pursuit, by burning the bridges over the swollen streams as it passed them, until finally it had placed the broad waters of the Tennessee River between you and its shattered, diminished, and discomfited columns, leaving its artillery and battle-flags in your victorious hands, lasting trophies of your noble daring and lasting mementoes of the enemy's disgrace and defeat.
You have diminished the forces of the rebel army, since it crossed the Tennessee River to invade the State, at the least estimate, 15,000 men, among whom were killed, wounded, or captured 18 general officers.
Your captures from the enemy, as far as reported, amount to 68 pieces of artillery, 10,000 prisoners, as many stand of small-arms, several thousand of which have been gathered in, and the remainder strew the route of the enemy's retreat, and between 30 and 40 flags, besides compelling him to destroy much ammunition and abandon many wagons, and, unless he is mad, he must forever relinquish all hope of bringing Tennessee again within the lines of the accursed rebellion.
A short time will now be given you to prepare to continue the work so nobly begun.
By command of Major-General Thomas:
WM. D. WHIPPLE, Assistant Adjutant-General.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 33.
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington, March 11, 1865.
The following resolution is published for the information of all concerned:
[PUBLIC RESOLUTION--No. 24.]
JOINT RESOLUTION of thanks to Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas and the army under his command.
Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered, to Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas and the officers and soldiers under his command for their skill and dauntless courage, by which the rebel army under General Hood was signally defeated and driven from the State of Tennessee.
Approved March 3, 1865.
* * * * * * * * * *
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE ETOWAH, Chattanooga, January 27, 1865.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the recent campaign which resulted in the defeat of the enemy before Nashville and his retreat to Alabama: In obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, my command--consisting of the Eighteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, Sixty-eighth <ar93_503>Regiment Indiana Volunteers, Sixth Indiana (dismounted) Cavalry; Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Forty-fourth U.S. Colored TroOps; detachments of the Fourteenth, Twentieth, and Seventeenth Army Corps, organized into a provisional division and commanded by Brig. Gen. Charles Cruft; and the Eighteenth Ohio and Twentieth Indiana Batteries; amounting in the aggregate to about 5,200 men--moved from Chattanooga, by railroad, on the 29th day of November, and proceeded to Cowan, Tenn., where I took my command from the cars the next morning at 8 o'clock and placed it in position. At 6 p.m. of the same day I received an order, by telegraph, from the major-general commanding to proceed as rapidly as possible with my command and report to him at Nashville, arriving at that place at 5 p.m. on the 1st day of December. By an accident to one of the trains the command of Colonel Johnson, of the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Troops, was detained until the morning of the 2d of December, when the train conveying his troops was attacked by the cavalry of the enemy five miles south of Nashville. I herewith submit Colonel Johnson's report of his encounter with the enemy.
On the 2d day of December I moved my command, by order of the major-general commanding, into position, and occupied and fortified the ridge between the Murfreesborough and Nolensville pikes, and crossing the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad on Rains' farm.
December 3, by order of Major-General Thomas, I withdrew my command from the position occupied the day previous and placed it on a line indicated near the city of Nashville, on the north side of Brown's Creek, extending from the Nolensville pike across the Murfreesborough pike, the left resting near the house of Major Lewis, a short distance from the Lebanon pike. This position was strongly fortified by my troops, and held until they were withdrawn to participate in the action on the 15th of December.
December 5 and 7, by order of Major-General Thomas, I directed a small brigade of colored troops, under the command of Col. T. J. Morgan, of the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Troops, and the Sixty-eighth Indiana Volunteers and Sixth Indiana (dismounted) Cavalry, under the command of Colonel Biddle, to reconnoiter the position of the enemy in my front. This force on both days drove the enemy from the left of the works constructed by my command on Rains' farm, which he had taken possession of after my troops abandoned them. These reconnaissances were conducted by the officers in Command with prudence, energy, and ability, and were successful in developing the enemy's position. A detailed account of the result will be found in the report of Colonel Morgan, herewith forwarded.
December 11, in compliance with the order of Major-General Thomas, I directed Brigadier-General Cruft to reconnoiter the enemy's position. This reconnaissance, made by a brigade under the command of Col. J. G. Mitchell, owing to the whole surface of the country being covered with ice, rendering it almost impossible for men or animals to move over uneven ground, and on account of the steep slopes to be ascended in approaching the position of the enemy, was a difficult duty, but it was accomplished and the position of the enemy developed.
December 13, in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, a brigade of General Cruft's troops, under the command of Col. A. G. Malloy, reconnoitered in front of my position, and felt the enemy's right. The ground being still covered with smooth ice rendered the movement tedious and hazardous, but under all the disadvantages was <ar93_504>skillfully executed, the enemy forced into his works, and the object of the reconnaissance accomplished. The movement was made under the immediate direction of General Cruft.
December 15, the weather having moderated, and the ground thawed sufficiently to enable men and animals to stand up, in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, the Provisional Division of troops, under the command of Brigadier-General Cruft, moved at 4 a.m., and relieved the troops of the Fourth and Twenty-third Army Corps, occupying their exterior line of works and picketing the front of this line from the Acklen place to Fort Negley, and commanding the approaches to the' city by the Granny White, Franklin, and Nolensville turnpikes. Brig. Gen. J. F. Miller reported his command to me at 4 a.m., and occupied the works from Fort Negley to the Lebanon pike, commanding the approaches to the city by the Murfreesborough, Chicken, and Lebanon turnpikes. Brig. Gen. J. L. Donaldson reported his command at 6 o'clock, and occupied the works from the right of General Cruft's command to the Tennessee River, commanding the approach to the city by the Hardin and Hillsborough turnpikes. Having thus disposed the troops as directed for the protection of the city--fully commanding all its approaches--and rendering the public property and supplies secure against sudden attack from either flank I moved out at 6.30 a.m., in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas--with the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and One hundredth Regiments of Colored Troops, under the command of Colonel Thompson, of the Twelfth Colored; the Fourteenth, Seventeenth, Forty-fourth, and a detachment of the Eighteenth Regiment Colored Troops, under command of Col. T. J. Morgan, of the Fourteenth Colored; the Sixty-eighth Indiana Volunteers, Eighteenth Ohio Volunteers, and the Second Battalion, Fourteenth Army Corps, under command of Lieut. Col. C. H. Grosvenor; and the Twentieth Indiana and Eighteenth Ohio Batteries--to attack the enemy's right, employ his forces at that point, and as far as possible by my movements to mislead him as to the real point of attack. The fog was very dense, and delayed somewhat movements on the entire line. A few minutes before 8, when the fog had partially cleared away and all my dispositions had been made for attack, Brig. Gen. W. D. Whipple, chief of staff' of the Department of the Cumberland, instructed me, by order of Major-General Thomas, as to the time of attack. At 8 o'clock, the time designated, the attack was made by the troops of Colonel Morgan and Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor, Colonel Morgan commanding, advancing from the Murfreesborough turnpike toward Riddle's Hill, rapidly driving in the pickets of the enemy and assaulting his line of works between the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and the Murfreesborough turnpike. In this assault the troops behaved well, carrying a portion of the enemy's works, but as they were exposed to a destructive fire, the enemy rapidly re-enforcing that part of his line, and as my object was to deceive the enemy as to the purposes of the major-general commanding, I withdrew this force, and immediately reformed it for an attack on a force occupying an earth-work east of and within short musket range of the Rains house. This attack was made at 11 a.m., and resulted in my troops getting possession of the Rains house, and other adjacent brick outbuildings, which were loopholed and held until the next morning. While these attacks were being made by the troops under Colonel Morgan, Colonel Thompson's command moved across Brown's Creek, between the Nolensville and Murfreesborough turnpikes, and attacked and carried the left of the front line of works <ar93_505>of the enemy resting on the Nolensville pike. This portion of the enemy's line was held by Colonel Thompson's command until the morn-in, of the 16th.
During the operations of my command against the enemy's right, General Cruft, holding the exterior line protecting the city, and watching vigilantly all the movements, saw an opportunity to use his artillery on a flying column of the enemy's troops, and promptly ordered the Twenty-fourth [Twenty-fifth?] Indiana Battery, Captain Sturm, to open, which he did with effect, scattering and demoralizing the force.
Darkness closed the operations of the day; all the orders I received from Major-General Thomas had been executed--his plans successful, and victory crowned our efforts. Throughout the day, and until the action closed at dark, my command behaved nobly, making the several assaults ordered with cool, steady bravery, retiring only when ordered to do so. A portion of the command suffered severely; but no troops, behaving as gallantly as they did in assaulting fortified positions, could have suffered less, or borne their losses more heroically.
December 16, at 6 a.m., in obedience to the orders of Major-General Thomas, my command moved on the enemy's works, and found that he had evacuated the right of his line in my front during the night. Rushing out my troops on the Nolensville pike, rapidly driving his cavalry, I took up a position between the Nolensville pike and the left of the Fourth Corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. T. J. Wood, my right resting on the railroad, my left refused near the Nolensville pike, and covering the entire left of our line, engaging and putting to flight a portion of the enemy's cavalry. General Cruft, as I advanced with the troops under my immediate command, uncovering the approaches to the city by way of the Murfreesborough and Nolensville turnpikes, promptly pushed forward a brigade of his troops, under the command of Col. John G. Mitchell, and occupied Riddle Hill, protecting our rear against any attempt of the enemy to use his cavalry to annoy us or interfere with our ammunition or ambulance train. At 1 p.m., in obedience to an order from Major-General Thomas, my command formed a junction with the command of General Wood, and my troops united with General Wood's in assaulting the enemy, who was strongly posted and fortified on Overton's Hill. In this assault, although unsuccessful, the troops engaged--two brigades of General Wood's, and Colonel Thompson's brigade of colored troops, and Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor's brigade from my command-- exhibited courage and steadiness that challenged the admiration of all who witnessed the charge. The concentrated fire of musketry and canister from the enemy's works forced them back, with severe loss They were immediately reformed to renew the assault, which would have been promptly made, but a division of General Wood's troops, as I was informed, on the right of the Franklin pike, taking advantage of the withdrawal by the enemy of a portion of his troops in their front to re-enforce Overton Hill, made a charge, which caused the entire line of the enemy to give way and retreat rapidly and in disorder. My troops, in conjunction with General Wood's, immediately pursued, rapidly, taking a number of prisoners. The pursuit was continued until after dark, when our exhausted troops bivouacked for the night near Brentwood.
December 17, my command, in obedience to orders, continued the pursuit, covering and protecting the left of our line, moving from Brentwood, on the Wilson pike, to a point four miles south of Brentwood, and crossing from that point by a southwest road to Franklin, where it <ar93_506>bivouacked for the night, not being able to cross the Harpeth River, which was much swollen by the heavy rain of the night and day previous, and the bridges destroyed by the enemy.
December 18, my command moved across the river and proceeded about three miles beyond Franklin, on the road to Spring Hill, when, in obedience to orders, I returned with my troops to Franklin and marched to Murfreesborough, to proceed by rail to Decatur. Moving General Cruft's troops from Nashville by the Murfreesborough pike, the whole command was concentrated at Murfreesborough on the evening of the 20th. At Murfreesborough I received dispatches from Col. A. J. Mackay, chief quartermaster of the department, informing me that the transportation necessary to move my command by rail to Decatur was on the way from Chattanooga, and transports conveying supplies would meet me at such point as I might designate. These orders and dispositions of Colonel Mackay were all perfect, but the severe cold weather, the injuries to the road, and the criminal negligence, incompetency, and indifference of a portion of the railroad employés, occasioned serious delays.
On the morning of the 22d of December my command moved from Murfreesborough, reaching the mouth of Limestone River on the evening of the 26th, where I found Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger, with his command, with four gun-boats, one armed transport (the Stone River), and five transports, with rations and forage forwarded from Chattanooga for my command.
December 27, having constructed the trestles and secured the plank necessary to bridge a lagoon, on the south side of the Tennessee River, the night previous, I moved a portion of my command, with the transports, convoyed by the gun-boats, down the river to a point three miles above Decatur, where a landing was effected, the lagoon rapidly bridged, the troops crossed, and pushed out in the direction of Decatur. The enemy attempted to check the crossing of the troops with artillery, which he posted within half a mile of where we were crossing the lagoon, but my advance having crossed before this artillery opened was rapidly pushed out and drove it off. At 3 p.m. the whole of my infantry had crossed, and at 7 p.m. was in possession of Decatur.
December 28, my artillery and cavalry was crossed; the command rationed and moved out three miles on the road to Courtland. The cavalry--the Fifteenth Pennsylvania, Colonel Palmer, and detachments of the Second Tennessee, Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Indiana, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Prosser, amounting in the aggregate to about 650 effective men, Col. William J. Palmer, of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania, commanding--moved from Decatur at 8 p.m., and pushed rapidly forward, encountering the enemy six miles from the river, on the Courtland road, and at once attacked and routed him, capturing his artillery--a section of six-pounder brass guns.
December 29, my command moved at daylight, the cavalry in advance, and went into camp at 5 o'clock within four miles of Court-land. The infantry met no opposition. The cavalry skirmished most of the day in advance of the infantry, driving the enemy rapidly toward Courtland. At Pond Spring, three miles northeast of Courtland, he made a stand, but was immediately charged and routed by my cavalry. The report of Colonel Palmer, commanding the cavalry, herewith forwarded, gives a full account of this affair.
December 30, my infantry moved to Courtland, and went into camp on the south side of the town on Big Nance Creek, the cavalry pushing on as far as Leighton, thirteen miles west of Courtland. At 5 p.m. <ar93_507>I received a dispatch from Colonel Palmer, written at Leighton, asking my permission to pursue, capture, and destroy Hood's pontoon train. I immediately gave him permission to exercise his own judgment in the matter. He decided to pursue, and in the most splendid manner not only accomplished all he proposed--the destruction of the pontoon train--but pursued, captured, and destroyed a supply train of 110 wagons. Colonel Palmer's command, in this enterprising and daring expedition, captured and destroyed upward of 300 wagons, nearly 1,000 stand of arms, a large number of mules and oxen, and captured and turned over 2 pieces of artillery, 200 prisoners, including 13 commissioned officers, and 170 serviceable mules. To support the movement of Colonel Palmer I advanced two brigades of infantry, under command of Colonel Thompson, to Town Creek, seven miles west of Courtland, and one brigade, under command of Colonel Salm, to Leighton. General Cruft's division, with the artillery, remained at Courtland.
January 3, having learned that Colonel Palmer had been successful, and receiving an order from Major-general Thomas to return with my command to Chattanooga, I moved with my infantry and artillery for Decatur, reaching that place on the evening of the 5th of January.
January 4, at 1 a.m., I moved with the artillery and sick of the command on board the transports for Chattanooga, leaving Brig. Gen. Cruft to return with the infantry by rail. General Cruft was delayed several days on his return by an order from Major-General Thomas directing him to pursue the rebel General Lyon. This portion of the campaign, owing to the heavy rains swelling all the streams out of their banks and rendering the roads almost wholly impassable, was very arduous, but was skillfully and satisfactorily conducted by General Cruft, resulting in the capture of a part of Lyon's men, and driving all who escaped out of the country utterly demoralized. The report of General Cruft, herewith forwarded, gives a detailed history of his operations in pursuit of General Lyon. January 13 General Cruft returned to Chattanooga with his command.
The following table will show the casualties of my command during the entire campaign:
O Officers. M Men.
-Killed.- Wounded Missing. --Total.--
|14th.U.S..Colored.Infantry.||....||4||....||41||....||20||....||65||Organized as1st Colored Brig., Col. T.J. Morgan|
|12th.U.S..Colored.Infantry.||3||10||3||99||....||....||6||109||Orgnzd. as 2nd Colored Brig., Col. C.Thompson|
|18th.Ohio.Infantry||2||9||2||38||....||9||4||56||Included in Prov. Div., AotC, B.-G. Cruft cmmdg.|
The larger portion of these losses, amounting in the aggregate to fully 25 per cent. of the men under my command who were taken into action, it will be observed fell upon the colored troops. The severe loss of this part of my troops was in their brilliant charge on the enemy's works on Overton Hill on Friday afternoon. I was unable to discover that color made any difference in the fighting of my troops. All, white and black, nobly did their duty as soldiers, and evinced cheerfulness and resolution such as I have never seen excelled in any campaign of the war in which I have borne a part.
In closing this brief report of the operations of my command during the campaign, I feel that justice compels me to mention several officers who distinguished themselves by their energy, courage, and unremitting efforts to secure success.
Brig. Gen. Charles Cruft performed herculean labor in organizing, arming, and equipping the detachments of recruits, drafted men, and furloughed soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee to the number of 14,000--10,000 of whom took part in the campaign, in the battles before Nashville and in guarding the railroad defenses south of the Tennessee River. Six thousand of these men were commanded by the general in person in the field from the commencement until the close of the campaign. The general deserves the thanks of the country for the able and efficient manner in which he has performed this duty.
Brig. Gen. John F. Miller, commanding post of Nashville, displayed energy, efficiency, and promptness in placing his troops in position to hold a portion of the exterior line protecting the city of Nashville.
I am much indebted to Brigadier-General Donaldson, chief quartermaster of the department, for his efficient and energetic efforts to fit out my command on its arrival at Nashville, and for the assistance he rendered with the armed men of his department in protecting the city of Nashville pending the engagement. My thanks are due Col. A. J. Mackay, chief quartermaster Army of the Cumberland, for his promptness in furnishing transportation to convey my command from Mur-freesborough to Decatur, and forwarding supplies for my troops, by transports, to the mouth of Limestone River.
Col. Felix Prince Salm, Sixty-eighth New York Veteran Volunteers, commanded a provisional brigade of my troops, and exhibited high qualities as a soldier. I respectfully recommend him for promotion.
Col. T. J. Morgan, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Troops, behaved gallantly. I respectfully recommend him for promotion.
Lieut. Col. C. H. Grosvenor, Eighteenth Ohio Volunteers, behaved nobly in leading a charge on the rebel works, on the Rains place.
The following officers of my staff accompanied me on the campaign and discharged all the duties that devolved upon them in a most satisfactory manner: Col. C. S. Cotter, First Ohio Light Artillery, chief of artillery; Maj. S. B. Moe, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. A. Mills, Eighteenth U.S. Infantry, inspector; Capt. M. Davis, Fourteenth Ohio Volunteers, aide-de-camp; Capt. W. B. Steedman, Fourteenth Ohio Volunteers, aide-de-camp; Lieut. J. G. McAdams, Sixth Kentucky Cavalry, acting commissary of subsistence. Col. H. B. Banning, One hundred and twenty-first Ohio Volunteers, served me ably as provost-marshal; Capt. A. R. Keller, assistant quartermaster, reported to me, and rendered me efficient service as quartermaster for my command.
I am deeply indebted to Maj. S. B. Moe, my assistant adjutant-general, for his efficient and gallant services on the field, as well as for the valuable aid which his large experience as a railroad man enabled him to render me in pushing through the trains conveying my troops from Chattanooga to Nashville, and from Murfreesborough to Decatur. <ar93_509>
Captain Osborne, Twentieth Indiana Battery, and Captain Aleshire, Eighteenth Ohio Battery, deserve praise for the effective and gallant manner in which they handled their respective batteries.
I am pleased to mention Mr. Stevens, superintendent of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, Mr. Talmadge, master of transportation at Chattanooga, and Mr. Bryant, assistant superintendent Nashville and Chattanooga road, as most honorable exceptions among the railroad men who have been censured by me for neglect of duty. These gentlemen did everything in their power to aid me in getting over the railroad with my command. I respectfully commend them for their efforts.
I respectfully recommend Col. William J. Palmer, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, for promotion for distinguished, gallant, and successful services in pursuing, capturing, and destroying the pontoon and supply train of the enemy.
I fully concur in all that General Cruft has said in his report in commendation of the officers of his command.
Mr. James R. Hood, of Chattanooga, accompanied me throughout the campaign, and rendered me efficient and valuable services as a volunteer aide.
JAMES B. STEEDMAN, Major-General, Commanding.
[Brig. Gen. W. D. WHIPPLE, Chief of Staff.]
HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Near Columbia, Tenn., December 21, 1864.
GENERAL: In compliance with your request of to-day, I have the honor to submit for the information of the major-general commanding the following summary of the operations of the Cavalry Corps during the recent campaign:
On the retreat of our army from Pulaski the cavalry was concentrated at Columbia, November the 24th, comprising Hatch's division, about 2,000 men, Croxton's brigade, of the First Division, 1,300, and Capron's brigade, of the Sixth Division, of 1,500 men. The corps was immediately stationed on the north side of Duck River, between Columbia and the Lewisburg pike, for the purpose of watching the movements of the enemy. On the 28th of November, about noon, the pickets gave notice of the enemy's advance at various fords and in such force as to leave no doubt of his intention. Major-General Schofield was at once notified and orders issued for the concentration of the cavalry at Hurt's Cross-Roads, on the Lewisburg pike. Capron's brigade, stationed on that road at the crossing of the river, was surrounded and attacked on all sides, but, owing to the good management, bravery, and coolness of Major Young, commanding the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, it was extricated with but slight loss. On the 29th, closely pressed by the rebel cavalry, my command fell back slowly to Mount Carmel, when the rear was assigned to Coon's brigade, of Hatch's division. The enemy attacked boldly, but were handsomely repulsed; as was afterward learned, he turned thence toward Spring Hill, molesting us no more that day. At night, joined by Hammond's brigade, of the Seventh Division, the Cavalry Corps occupied a position on the north bank of Big Harpeth River, connecting with the infantry at Franklin and watching the river as far as Triune. On the morning of the 30th, Hammond's brigade was at Triune, Hatch's division at Matthews' house, and Croxton's brigade on the Lewisburg pike, at Douglass Church; Harrison's brigade (formerly Capron's), of the Sixth Division, was held in reserve. About 2 p.m. the rebel cavalry were reported crossing directly in our front, having pressed Croxton back to within two miles and a half of Franklin. He was ordered to withdraw his force entirely to the north side of the stream, and to attack the enemy in flank; Hatch was directed to attack in front; the orders were promptly executed, and by night the rebels were driven across the river at every point. The conduct of the troops, and particularly of Generals Hatch and Croxton, was most admirable. The force of the enemy consisted of Jackson's and Buford's divisions of cavalry. On the 30th the Cavalry Corps withdrew from its position, by the various country roads between the Franklin and Nolensville pikes, to Thompson's Chapel, near Nashville. When near Brentwood, General Hammond's brigade, in the rear, had a sharp skirmish with the enemy's advance, but succeeded in reaching its position in the line at the chapel without material difficulty.
Early in the morning of December the 1st [2d] the cavalry withdrew from its exposed position on the Nolensville pike and marched through Nashville to camp, at Edgefield, on the north bank of the Cumberland River. During the ensuing ten days every effort was made to put it in an <ar93_551>efficient condition for active service. Horses were seized, arms, clothing, and equipments were issued, and the dismounted men organized into brigades. In obedience to orders from the major-general commanding, on the 12th of December, the corps marched to the south side of the river, crossing on the railroad and pontoon bridges, and massed between the Hardin and Charlotte pikes. The effective force was 12,500 men, 9,000 horses, 2,000 of which were scarcely fit for service. At 6 a.m. of the 15th of December, as had been previously ordered by Major-General Thomas, the corps was ready to move, but owing to the foggy weather and the delay of Smith's corps could not advance until about 10 a.m. The Sixth Division, Brig. Gen. R. W. Johnson commanding, formed and moved on the Charlotte pike, clearing it of the enemy as far as Davidson's house, driving a battery of artillery and a part of Chalmers' division of cavalry from their position on Richland Creek. It is reported that the navy got possession of a battery which this movement caused the enemy to abandon. Brig. Gen. E. M. McCook having been sent with two brigades of his division against the rebels under Lyon in Kentucky, the balance of the division, Brigadier-General Croxton's brigade, debouched from the fortifications near the Northwestern Railroad, and, forming on the left of the Sixth Division, between the Hardin and Charlotte pikes, advanced, as soon as its front was uncovered by McArthur's division of infantry, and crossing Richland Creek turned the enemy's position in front of Johnson's division, on the Charlotte pike. As soon as the enemy had withdrawn General Croxton moved to the left, crossed the Hardin pike, where, after night-fall, he came in contact again with the rebels, moving in a parallel direction, and, after some sharp skirmishing, drove them off. He encamped that night on the Hillsborough pike, five miles and a half from Nashville. The Fifth Division, Brig. Gen. Edward Hatch commanding, formed on the Hardin pike, its left connecting with the infantry, its right with General Croxton, advanced simultaneously with the infantry, encountered a strong force of the enemy's cavalry--Chalmers' division--well intrenched on both sides of Richland Creek. After a sharp fight the enemy was driven from his works and pushed rapidly beyond Hardin's house, near which place a part of Hatch's command, the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Spalding commanding, captured the headquarters train of General Chalmers, consisting of fourteen wagons with records, clothing, forage, and safe. In accordance with his instructions General Hatch then crossed the country from Williams' house toward the Hillsborough pike, re-established his connection with the infantry, and advancing his right flank struck the enemy's line on the flank and rear, completely enveloping it, drove it rapidly back upon the fortifications constructed upon the Brentwood Hills for its protection. Hastily forming his Second Brigade, dismounted, Col. D. E. Coon commanding, he pushed boldly forward and carried the enemy's works, capturing in the first redoubt 4 guns and 65 prisoners, and in the second, a closed work, 6 guns and 175 prisoners. The First Brigade, Col. R. R. Stewart, was thrown well round to the left and rear of the enemy, and handsomely supported the movement of the Second Brigade. This operation is one of the handsomest of the war, and although participated in by the infantry of McArthur's division, they yield the credit to the cavalry. As soon as his command could be formed General Hatch was ordered to push forward. His First Brigade and part of the Second on the right of the infantry, crossed the Hillsborough pike, and, in conjunction with a part of the Twenty-third Corps, carried the hills beyond. They claim, also, <ar93_552>to have captured the three guns which fell into our hands at that point. Darkness having intervened by this time, he was ordered into camp near the Hillsborough pike, on the extreme right of the infantry. The Seventh Division, Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Knipe commanding, formed on the Hardin pike inside of the works, and, as soon as the general movement had developed itself, moved out in the pike and held itself in readiness to support the infantry or Hatch's division. When the pikes in my front were cleared of the enemy, Knipe's division moved by the rear to the right of Hatch's division, reaching the Hillsborough pike just after the works on it were carried, near the six-mile post, crossed and turned short to the left, and pushed by a country road to the Granny White pike. Hammond's brigade, mounted, was in advance, followed by the dismounted brigade. The latter proceeded no farther than the Hillsborough pike, occupied a strong position on it, and covered the other troops from a movement of the enemy in that direction. General Hammond's pickets were all night on or near the Granny White pike, and early on the morning of the 16th began skirmishing with the enemy. The country was very unfavorable for cavalry operations. General Hammond was ordered to support his pickets by the balance of his brigade. General Hatch was ordered to move also, take position on the right of the infantry, connect with Hammond, and, in conjunction with Hammond's brigade, drive the enemy from the hills and push them as vigorously as possible in flank and rear. This order was given about 9.30 a.m. The movement began at once, and was sustained with great steadiness throughout the balance of the day. Hatch's division and Hammond's brigade, of Knipe's division, soon succeeded in establishing themselves firmly in the enemy's rear, on a line perpendicular to the Granny White pike and extending from the right of the Twenty-third Corps, a few hundred yards from the Hillsborough pike, across the Granny White pike toward the Franklin pike. The enemy was driven steadily back from hill to hill all along the line, but particularly in front of General Hatch's left. The positions occupied were heavily wooded and very difficult of ascent, but Hatch, with great labor, carried his battery into a position enfilading and taking in reverse the enemy's line. Coon's brigade charged a large hill in the enemy's rear as McArthur's division assaulted it in front. About 4.30 p.m. the enemy, pressed in front, flank, and rear, broke in disorder. Croxton's brigade, which had been held in reserve on the Hillsborough pike, as soon as the success of these dispositions had become apparent, was ordered to march rapidly across the country to the Granny White pike and beyond the right flank of Hammond's brigade, but owing to the lateness of the hour and heaviness of the road over which he was compelled to move he secured but few prisoners. Hatch was ordered to mount his division and press rapidly down the Granny White pike for the purpose of striking the enemy again at or beyond Brentwood. He had not proceeded far before he encountered Chalmers' division of cavalry, and, although it was then almost dark, attacked it with the greatest promptitude and vigor, driving it from a strong position behind rail breast-works. Brigadier-General Rucker, commanding a brigade, a number of prisoners, and the division battle-flag were captured. The night was so dark and wet, and the men and horses so jaded, that it was not deemed practicable to push the pursuit farther.
On the 17th, at 5 a.m., General Knipe, with Hammond's brigade, followed by General Croxton's brigade, moved by a county road up Richland Creek to the Franklin Pike, Croxton taking the Wilson pike at Brentwood. Hammond, pushing on in vigorous pursuit, came up <ar93_553>with the enemy just beyond Brentwood, drove him back to Hollow Tree Gap, four miles north of Franklin, where he made a stand. General Knipe attacked With the main part of the brigade, while General Hammond, with the balance, turned the position and attacked the rebels in flank. About 250 prisoners and 5 battle-flags were taken, and the enemy driven rapidly beyond the Harpeth River, at Franklin. General Knipe's command captured one gun near the river. He crossed the Harpeth near the railroad bridge. Johnson's division, with Harrison's brigade, having pushed out at 4 a.m. on the Hillsborough road and crossed, came up the south bank of the Harpeth and entered Franklin about the same time. Hatch, having struck the Franklin pike two miles south of Brentwood, pushed to the left and crossed at the ford on the Murfreesborough road. Croxton crossed at his old crossing two miles above the town. The rebels, finding Johnson on their flank, fell back to a strong position on the Columbia pike two miles south of Franklin, leaving his hospitals, about 2,000 wounded, and 10,000 rations in our hands. Hatch moved out between the Lewisburg and Columbia pikes; Knipe on the Columbia pike; and Johnson on the Carter's Creek pike. General Knipe attacked by the front, while Hatch and Johnson moved upon the enemy's flanks, and, although the rebel rear guard was composed of Stevenson's division of infantry [and] Buford's division of cavalry, it was pressed rapidly back, with heavy skirmishing, to a position just north of the West Harpeth River. At this place it had become so dark, and our troops so close upon the enemy, that it was with difficulty our troops could be distinguished from the rebels. Hammond's brigade was deployed on the extreme right, Hatch's division across the pike and through the fields to the left. The Fourth U.S. Cavalry, my escort, Lieutenant Hedges commanding, formed in column of fours on the pike. Generals Hatch and Hammond advanced rapidly and the Fourth Cavalry at the charge. The enemy's line, broken and driven back, fled in great confusion; the flanks of our lines pressed on rapidly. General Hammond's brigade, crossing West Harpeth, struck the enemy on the pike again in flank, while Coon's brigade, on the right of the road, the Fourth Cavalry on the pike, pressed close upon their rear. The enemy abandoned three 12.pounders and the carriage of a fourth. These guns can scarcely be called the capture of any particular division or regiment, though they were actually withdrawn from the field by the Fourth Cavalry, my staff, and General Hatch in person. One of them has been credited to the Fourth Cavalry and the other two to Hatch's division, though the charge of General Hammond, with the Tenth Indiana, upon the enemy's flank, a quarter of a mile beyond, had probably a greater influence in causing their abandonment than the operations of General Hatch's command.
The conduct of the troops in this affair was most admirable, particularly that of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry, the Second Iowa, and Tenth Indiana. Brigadier-General Hammond, Lieutenant-Colonel Gresham, Tenth Indiana, and Lieutenant Hedges, Fourth U.S. Cavalry, were particularly conspicuous. The good management and bravery of General Hatch, the skill, untiring energy with which he commanded his division, are worthy of the highest commendation. Night saved the enemy's rear guard from complete destruction.
The 18th the pursuit was renewed at dawn, in the same order, Johnson on the Carter's Creek pike, Hatch and Knipe on the Columbia pike, and Croxton on the Lewisburg pike. The enemy's rear guard was soon encountered by the advanced skirmishers, but, in spite of the most strenuous efforts on the part of our troops, could not be again brought <ar93_554>to a stand, though they had prepared for it at Spring Hill. The pursuit was pushed to within three miles of Rutherford's Creek, but the rain, need of rations and ammunition, compelled a halt for the trains to come forward. 19th, the pursuit was pushed to Rutherford's Creek, but it was found too high to ford--the enemy between that and Duck River; Hatch got two regiments across on the ruins of the railroad bridge, and after some skirmishing night came on, he withdrew to north side. Weather very inclement. 20th, Hammond, Croxton, and Harrison remained in camp drawing supplies; Johnson and Knipe went back with dismounted brigades to refit; Hatch crossed on lower railroad bridge; enemy gone. Hammond, Harrison, and Croxton moved to camp on Rutherford's Creek.
Summary: Captured by Hatch's division--2 redoubts, 17 guns, 2 battle-flags, 2 droves of beef-cattle, 35 wagons (including the headquarters train of Chalmers' division), I brigadier-general, 701 prisoners; Knipe's division---5 battle-flags, 350 prisoners, 1 piece artillery, 2 caissons; Johnson's division---56 prisoners; Croxton's brigade--184 prisoners; Fourth U.S. Cavalry--1 gun, 25 prisoners. In addition to this Johnson's and Knipe's divisions should be credited with the wounded taken in hospitals at Franklin.
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.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. WILSON, Brevet Major-General, Commanding.
[Brig. Gen. WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE,
Chief of Staff, Army of the Cumberland.]
HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Gravelly Springs, Ala., February 1, 1865.
I have the honor to submit the following report of operations of the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, from the date of its organization, October 24, 1864, to the present time:
Having been relieved from the command of the Third Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, on the 1st day of October, 1864, for the purpose of taking command of the cavalry forces in the armies operating under the command of Major-General Sherman, I proceeded, without delay, to join him in the field. I arrived at Gaylesville, Ala., where the army was resting after its pursuit of General Hood, on the 23d of October. On the 24th of October I was assigned, by order of General Sherman, to duty as chief of cavalry and commanding officer of all the cavalry in the Military Division of the Mississippi. By the same order the mounted forces of the Armies of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee were detached from these armies, constituted one command, and designated the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of <ar93_555>the Mississippi. Upon investigation I found that the cavalry serving with the Army of the Ohio consisted of one organized division, Stone-man's, nearly all dismounted, one brigade under Colonel Capron, sent to Louisville, Ky., for remount, the other under Col. Israel Garrard, at Atlanta, Ga. Besides this division there were five or six regiments of good cavalry and one division of one-year mounted infantry serving in Kentucky and East Tennessee. This force being for local defense, however, was not detached, and therefore forms no part of the Cavalry Corps. I found the cavalry of the Army of the Cumberland organized into four divisions, three of which were composed of fine regiments from the northwestern States, well organized, and efficiently commanded by Brigadier-Generals McCook, Garrard, and Kilpatrick, and having done very hard service during the Atlanta campaign. The Fourth Division consisted entirely of Tennessee regiments serving in Tennessee. The cavalry of the Army of the Tennessee had been organized into two divisions, by order of Major-General Howard, commanded, respectively, by Brigadier-General Hatch, U.S. Volunteers, and Colonel Wins-low, Fourth Iowa Cavalry. Both were at that time serving in West Tennessee. The divisions contained from six to ten regiments, organized into three brigades each. In the new organization the four divisions of the Army of the Cumberland were numbered, respectively, First, Second, Third, and Seventh, the two divisions of the Army of the Tennessee were designated, respectively, Fifth and Fourth, and the division of the Army of the Ohio the Sixth Division. The Tennessee troops were divided among the other divisions, so as to intermix them with troops from other States. From the lack of general and staff officers to simplify organization and to counteract a tendency to use the third brigades as reserves, each division was organized into two brigades, except the Sixth, which, for special reasons, was allowed three. The chiefs of cavalry of the different departments were relieved from duty and directed to report to their commanding generals for other assignment. In pursuance of General Sherman's instructions measures were at once taken to collect, reorganize, remount, and bring into the field the largest possible force of cavalry, in order that he might have such a preponderance in that arm as would enable him to throw the enemy on the defensive, while with his infantry he could march to the seacoast unmolested. It was thought that if Hood followed him, instead of crossing the Tennessee River into Tennessee, that in a short time my entire cavalry force could be put upon a footing to harass and annoy him beyond endurance. With this in view General Hatch was ordered to march with the Fifth Division from Clifton, Tenn., by the most direct route, to Rome, Ga.; General Grierson was designated as the commander of the Fourth Division, and directed to assemble as much of it as possible, put it in a thorough condition, and be ready to march, when orders should be sent him, through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, and join the army under General Sheridan. It soon, however, became apparent that Hood would march north instead of following General Sherman, and that operations would be forced upon us before the cavalry forces could be organized.
A reconnaissance by General Garrard, with the Second Division, toward Gadsden, on the Coosa River, on the 25th of October, and on the 27th and 28th to the south of the Coosa toward Jacksonville, revealed the fact that the rebel army under Hood had left Gadsden on the 22d of October, marching in the direction of Warrenton, on the Tennessee River. As soon as General Sherman became thoroughly convinced of this he issued orders for the concentration of his army at<ar93_556>Atlanta, and hurried his preparations for the campaign. Finding that he could wait no longer all the serviceable horses of McCook's and Garrard's divisions, and Colonel Garrard's brigade, were turned over to the Third Division, and every effort was made to put it upon a thoroughly efficient footing, while the dismounted men of the First and Second Divisions were ordered, by rail, to Louisville, Ky., for remount and re-equipment. Having made these dispositions I was ordered by General Sherman to Nashville for the purpose of completing the cavalry reorganization and assisting in the operations of General Thomas against the rebels under Hood. I arrived at Nashville on the 6th day of November and reported to Major-General Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland and the Military Division of the Mississippi.
General Croxton's brigade, of the First Division, having been recently remounted at Louisville, Colonel Capron's (now Harrison's) brigade, of the Sixth Division, and the Fifth Division, while on the march to join General Sherman, were halted by General Thomas and directed to act in conjunction with the infantry forces assembling at Pulaski, under General Stanley, to resist the march of Hood. On the 24th of October Croxton's brigade, about 1,000 strong, was stationed on the Huntsville and Florence road, at Center Star, with outposts and pickets, watching the Tennessee River from the mouth of Elk River to Florence, and a detachment of the Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee, of General Hatch's division, were stationed on Cypress Creek, at Martin's Mills, three miles from Florence, watching Pride's, Garner's, and Cheatham's Ferries, on the Tennessee River. On the 29th of October General Croxton sent a dispatch to General Thomas informing him of General Hood's proximity to the river and of his intention to cross it at Bainbridge that night. About 3 p.m. on the 30th two brigades of Lee's corps landed on the north side about three miles below Bainbridge. General Croxton concentrated his command and attempted to repel them, but was driven back. He retired to the east bank of Shoal Creek and took position near Shoal Creek bridge, where he remained reconnoitering until November 5, when he was forced to retire by the advance of Johnson's division, of Lee's corps. He reported to General Hatch at Lexington on November 6.
On the 4th of November General Hatch, in compliance with the instructions of General Stanley, moved from Pulaski toward Florence, with orders to assume command of all the cavalry in that neighborhood and watch closely the enemy's movements. In executing these orders General Hatch, the next day, opened communication with General Croxton, and, in conjunction with him, drove the enemy's cavalry pickets across Shoal Creek, and established pickets of observation along the line of that creek and the Tennessee from the mouth of Elk River. While engaged in observing the movements of the enemy frequent skirmishes were had with his cavalry. On the 9th of November a general attack was made by the small force under General Hatch. The rebel cavalry was driven back upon the infantry at Florence, a part of the unfinished works at that place captured by Colonel Coon's brigade of the Fifth Division, and the information in regard to Hood's position previously obtained verified. By great activity, watchfulness, and good judgment on the part of General Hatch, every movement of the enemy and indication of his intention were promptly reported to Generals Stanley, Schofield, and Thomas. On the 13th and 14th of November General Hatch, having become convinced that General Hood would march north at an early day, used his command in cutting trees into the roads crossing Shoal Creek, for the purpose of retarding the rebels in their <ar93_557>movement. On the morning of November 19 the enemy was reported marching north on the west side of the creek. Colonel Coon's brigade made a forced reconnaissance in that direction, captured the headquarters trains of Buford's and Chalmers' divisions, met the enemy's cavalry in force, and, after a severe engagement, discovering the march of the rebel infantry, was compelled to rejoin the main force, on the east side of the creek. General Hatch concentrated his forces, without delay, at Lexington, and on the 21st retired to Lawrenceburg, where he was attacked early the next morning by the enemy's cavalry. A severe fight ensued, in which the enemy, with twelve pieces of artillery and a large force of cavalry, fighting dismounted, made several efforts to drive the forces of General Hatch from their position, but the latter held on with great tenacity till night and then withdrew one mile toward Pulaski.
On the 23d General Hatch withdrew by that road, turning toward Campbellsville. When within nine miles of Pulaski Croxton's brigade had the rear and were attacked by the rebel cavalry at the junction of the roads leading to the two places just mentioned. It, however, resisted every attack till after dark, holding its position and retreating at leisure by night to the neighborhood of Campbellsville. On the 24th the cavalry again resumed its march, and at the latter place was again attacked by the entire rebel cavalry, supported by infantry. At first the enemy were severely repulsed by the First Brigade, Colonel Wells, Twelfth Missouri Cavalry, commanding, but in turn the enemy drove back Colonel Wells and compelled General Hatch to retire by the road to Lynnville. This road leading through a very hilly country, a small rear guard was sufficient to hold the enemy in check. The Ninth Illinois Cavalry, Captain Harper commanding, was directed to occupy a strong gorge near the turnpike and to delay the rebels as long as possible. He performed the duty assigned him with great gallantry, giving the main body of the command an opportunity to take position at Lynnville. Sharp fighting was continued at that place until after dark, when, in accordance with my order, General Hatch withdrew to Columbia. Colonel Capron's brigade, of the Sixth Division, had been sent by General Schofield toward Waynesborough to observe the movements of the enemy in that direction, while Hatch and Croxton were on Shoal Creek. Upon the advance of the rebel cavalry, Colonel Capron retired, skirmishing with the enemy, directing his march toward Mount Pleasant and Columbia. On the morning of November 25 the entire force, including the infantry, was concentrated at Columbia.
Having made all possible arrangements at Nashville for expediting the reorganization of the cavalry, in pursuance of General Thomas' instructions, I started to the front to take command of the force in the field, and on the 23d of November met General Schofield between Lynnville and Pulaski. The Fifth Division contained at this time but 2,500 men, Croxton's brigade, about 1,000, and Capron's, 800, in all about 4,300 men, to contend with three divisions estimated at not less than 10,000 men, and commanded by General Forrest, hitherto the most successful of rebel cavalry leaders. After the concentration of the forces at Columbia, and while General Schofield was making arrangements to withdraw from that place to the north side of Duck River, the cavalry crossed and was disposed of so as to watch every movement of the enemy, either to the right or left. Hatch's division and Croxton's brigade were stationed about six miles east of Columbia on the road to Shelbyville; Capron's brigade, to which had been added the Fifth Iowa Cavalry, Col. J. M. Young commanding, took position <ar93_558>at Rally Hill, on the Lewisburg turnpike; it was further strengthened after taking position by the arrival of the Seventh Ohio Cavalry, from Louisville. This brigade and Croxton's were temporarily formed into a division, under the command of Brig. Gen. R. W. Johnson. Three regiments of the First Brigade of Hatch's division, Col. R. R. Stewart, Eleventh Indiana Cavalry, commanding, were ordered to take post to the west of Columbia, for the purpose of watching the fords and crossings of the river between that place and Williamsport. General Hatch sent the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, via Chapel Hill, to Shelbyville, with directions to feel well out from that place toward Lewisburg and Cornersville, if possible, returning by the south side of the river to the crossing of the Lewisburg pike.
At noon of November 27  the pickets of Croxton's and Capron's brigades gave notice of the appearance of the rebel cavalry at the various fords between Columbia and the Lewisburg pike, particularly at Huey's Mill, eight miles above Columbia, in such force as to leave no doubt as to their intentions. The pickets in the vicinity of Huey's Mill were soon driven in and the rebels immediately began crossing. At 2 p.m. I sent a dispatch to Major-General Schofield, notifying him of the enemy's movement, informing him that I should endeavor to concentrate my force at Hurt's Cross-Roads, on the Lewisburg pike, and requesting him to send Stewart's brigade to me by the way of Spring Hill. Col. T. J. Harrison, Eighth Indiana Cavalry, had already been sent by General Johnson to the brigade at the Lewisburg crossing, with orders to hold the enemy as long as possible at the river. By 7 p.m. the entire force was concentrated at Hurt's Cross-Roads. Colonel Harrison, however, had not reached his brigade, but having been posted by Colonel Capron, it held on as long as possible. Colonel Capron himself, with a small portion of his command fell back in disorder toward Franklin. The detachments at the various fords held on bravely until night, when they were collected by Maj. J. Morris Young, Fifth Iowa Cavalry, and withdrew by the pike. The enemy, having crossed lower down, marched by the Murfreesborough road and arrived at Rally Hill before the detachments under Major Young. The latter, finding his retreat cut off, formed his own regiment with sabers drawn, dismounted others to cover the flanks, boldly charged, broke through the rebels, and brought off his command with only trifling loss. By this' time it had become evident that the entire rebel cavalry force, three divisions, had crossed and were directing their march toward the Lewisburg pike, an excellent macadamized road leading to Franklin, and at 8 p.m. I sent a dispatch by courier to General Schofield, informing him of this fact and that no part of Forrest's force up to dark had moved toward the Franklin pike. During the night several prisoners were brought in, from whom I received valuable information. At 1 a.m. [29th] I sent a dispatch to General Schofield informing him that the force which had crossed at Huey's Mill was Forrest's corps of cavalry, consisting of Chalmers', Jackson's, and Buford's divisions, and Biffle's regiment; that the rebel infantry were to have begun crossing two hours before by three pontoon bridges under construction at the same place. Believing this information to be perfectly correct, I therefore suggested that our infantry should reach Spring Hill by 10 a.m. of that day [29th]. I regarded my force too small, with Hammond's and Stewart's brigades absent, to cover the Lewisburg pike and at the same time the dirt roads leading to Spring Hill, and believing that General Schofield, with the infantry, would have plenty of time, marching by the Franklin pike, to reach Franklin or any intermediate point before the <ar93_559>enemy, marching by bad dirt roads, made worse by the heavy rains which had recently fallen, I determined to keep my entire force on the Lewisburg pike and hold the enemy as long as possible, hoping by good management to get no farther back that day than to the Ridge Meeting. House. I had previously sent orders for Colonel Stewart to join me on the Lewisburg pike, marching by the way of Spring Hill, and all night, if necessary. Similar orders were sent at the same time to Bvt. Brig. Gen. J. H. Hammond, then momentarily expected with two regiments of the Seventh Division freshly remounted. On the presumption that no general engagement would be risked till our forces were strengthened, and that the enemy's movement had become sufficiently developed, I directed General Hatch to retire slowly by the pike, following Capron's brigade, and General Croxton to cover the rear, fighting the enemy, and to fall back only when compelled to do so by movements upon his flanks. Soon after daylight [29th] the enemy attacked Croxton's pickets, but finding them strongly posted moved off the road and struck well around his flanks, causing him to withdraw. Heavy skirmishing ensued, the enemy pressing forward with the greatest celerity endeavoring to push around and strike our column in flank, as was anticipated.
At Mount Carmel Meeting-House, five miles from Hurt's Cross-Roads, a strong barricade erected by Capron's brigade was occupied by Coon's brigade, of Hatch's division, Croxton's brigade passing through it. The enemy made two determined charges upon it, but were repulsed with severe loss. From this point the enemy ceased to press upon the rear of the column. No news having come from Hammond or Stewart, it was hoped that they had arrived at Spring Hill in time enough to form a junction with the infantry and to resist any movement of the rebels in that direction. I continued to march slowly, and by the middle of the afternoon arrived at Douglass Church, four miles from Franklin. Near this place I found General Hammond, and was joined by a detachment of Stewart's brigade, from whom I learned that the latter and some of our infantry had been skirmishing with the rebel cavalry during the day near Spring Hill. I remained with Hammond's brigade to hold the road near Douglass Church and cover Franklin, while Hatch's division and Johnson's crossed to the north side of the Harpeth, at Hughes' Ford, and went into camp on the road from Franklin to Triune, at Matthews' farm, two miles and a half east of Franklin. After it was dark, a reconnaissance out the Lewisburg pike to the meeting-house revealing no enemy on that road, I withdrew General Hammond's brigade to the north side of the Harpeth, and directed him to march, via Petersburg, to the Nolensville pike at Triune, and from the latter place to watch the movements of the enemy in that direction.
Early on the morning of the 30th, by my direction, Brigadier-General Johnson sent Croxton's brigade to the south side of the river, with orders to take position at Douglass Church, cover Franklin as long as possible, and if compelled to fall back to recross the Harpeth at a ford a mile and a half above the town. General Hammond, having reported by daylight no enemy in the direction of Triune, was ordered to retire by Petersburg to Wilson's Mill, on the Wilson or Brentwood pike. At 10 a.m. the enemy's advance attacked General Croxton's position, but was handsomely repulsed. At 2 p.m. he was again attacked by infantry, but, after repulsing the enemy, the rebel cavalry moved to his left as if to cross at Hughes' Ford. This movement caused him to retire to the north side of the river by McGavock's Ford. He had scarcely reached the north bank <ar93_560>when the pickets higher up the river reported the enemy's cavalry crossing at various places. The command was immediately got under arms and dispositions made to attack and drive them back. General Croxton's brigade on the right, General Hatch's division in the center, moved promptly out and engaged the enemy, charging him with a strong line of dismounted skirmishers, while Capron's brigade, under Colonel Harrison, looked well out to the left and rear. The Fifth Iowa Cavalry was sent to the Hillsborough pike. The action had already begun when General Croxton was informed that the rebel infantry were crossing the river between his right and the town of Franklin. Leaving two regiments, the First Tennessee and Second Michigan, to assist in the attack against the rebel cavalry, he proceeded at once with the balance of his brigade to drive back the force reported to be crossing below. He soon discovered, however, that the report was false, and moved promptly against the rebel cavalry. Hatch had already attacked with vigor and begun driving them rapidly back. The men seemed inspired with the greatest courage and determination, and in a very short time had repulsed the enemy at every point. By night the whole force was driven beyond the Harpeth. The accompanying sketch(*) will show the importance of this success on the part of the cavalry over Forrest's forces, while the hard-pressed infantry were nobly repelling Hood's furious assaults against the defenses of Franklin.
General Schofield, having withdrawn the infantry to the north bank of the river during the night and determined to continue his march toward Nashville, directed me to remain with the Cavalry Corps in the position it then held till daylight on the morning of December 1, and then to retire, covering the rear and flanks of the infantry. This order was complied with, the enemy having been so severely handled the day previous as to be unable to follow until he found the road clear. Hammond's brigade, followed by Hatch, moved by a country road to the Wilson pike, near Edmonson's house; Croxton marched parallel to the Franklin pike. At Wilson's Mill Hammond was found encamped and left to bring up the rear. Stewart's brigade, of the Fifth Division, having halted to feed, Hammond was delayed longer than was intended and in withdrawing was attacked by the rebel cavalry, but succeeded, with slight loss, in repelling the enemy. From the neighborhood of Brentwood, after the infantry had halted, the whole command marched by various country roads to Thompson's Chapel, on the Nolensville pike, where it took up a strong defensive position for the night. Before daylight the next morning it marched to Nashville, and late in the evening crossed to the north side of the Cumberland River and encamped in Edgefield.
During the ensuing ten days every effort was made to put the corps in an efficient condition. Clothes were drawn for the men; the horses were shod; extra shoes were fitted; and every horse that could be drawn from the corrals of broken-down stock, or reached in Tennessee or Southern Kentucky, was taken. By these means the Cavalry Corps, exclusive of La Grange's and Watkins' brigades, of the First Division, was increased by nearly 9,000 mounted men. Besides this, two brigades of 1,500 men each were organized out of the dismounted men previously assembled at the cavalry depot near Nashville. While in camp the river was carefully watched by the Seventh Ohio Cavalry, from Nashville to the vicinity of Clarksville.
On the 2d of December Brevet Brigadier-General Hammond was ordered with his brigade to Gallatin for the purpose of watching the <ar93_561>river as far up as Carthage. Having heard from his scouts that a rebel force had taken post at Lebanon, by the assistance of gun-boats sent for that purpose, on the night of the -- he crossed the river with a strong force, well mounted, and made a reconnaissance to and beyond that place, but found no enemy.
On the 11th of December, in pursuance of instructions from Major-General Thomas, I ordered Brig. Gen. E. M. McCook to take his battery and Watkins' brigade toward Bowling Green, till he met La Grange's brigade, and with the united force go in pursuit of General Lyon, who crossed the Cumberland River below Clarksville on the 9th of December, and was supposed to be marching via Hopkinsville to destroy Green River bridge, on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. General McCook came up with the rebels on the morning of the 16th at Hopkinsville, and after a sharp fight captured two pieces of artillery and drove them from the place. They retreated rapidly toward Green River, pursued by La Grange's brigade. So closely was Lyon followed by La Grange's brigade that he was compelled to disband his conscripts and leave many of his men. With the balance he pushed on through Madisonville, Ashbysburg, and Elizabethtown, crossing Tradewater, Green River, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in his route. La Grange was greatly delayed by the muddy roads, swollen streams, and the destruction of the bridges and boats. The pursuit was relinquished at Hodgensville, Lyon's command having become reduced[to] 400 or 500 men, more bent on escaping from Kentucky than to inflict injury upon the forces sent against him. For a detailed account of the operations of General McCook's command I respectfully refer you to his report submitted herewith.(*)
On the 9th of November [December] I received orders from Major-General Thomas to move my command to the south side of the Cumberland, to take position between the Hillsborough and Hardin pikes, and to be in readiness to join in the attack against General Hood the next day. But a heavy rain setting in General Thomas delayed his operations. Snow, sleet, and intense cold followed, covering the ground so thickly with ice as to render it impossible to move cavalry not specially shod for such an occasion. In fact, neither infantry nor cavalry could have marched over a country so undulating and broken as that separating our lines from those of the enemy. On the evening of the 11th the weather changed and the ice began to melt. The Cavalry Corps, all detachments having been drawn in in the morning, began crossing, and by night was in the position assigned it, ready to move against the enemy as soon as the condition of the ground would allow it. By the night of the 14th everything seemed favorable; officers and men confident of the result that would follow a well directed attack. In the order of battle made by General Thomas the cavalry was directed to attack upon the right of the infantry, conform to its movements, drive the enemy's forces from the Charlotte and Hardin turnpikes and the banks of the Cumberland at Bell's Landing, turn and envelop the enemy's left flank and, if possible, strike them in the rear. In making arrangements to comply with these instructions 1 conferred the night before the battle with General A. J. Smith, commanding the Detachment of the Army of the Tennessee. His troops having been engaged in holding that part of the defenses from the Hillsborough pike westward to the river, it was necessary for them to assemble in such a way as not to encumber the ground upon which the cavalry was to operate. To accomplish this «36 R R--VOL XLV, PT I» <ar93_562>the general assured me he would march the division on my right to the left by roads to the rear of my command, inside of the intrenchments. The commanding officers of brigades and divisions, having personally examined the ground upon which they were to operate, were assembled at my headquarters and received their instructions verbally. To prevent any misunderstanding they were furnished with written orders to the following effect, on the night of the 14th of November [December]: The Fifth Division, Brigadier-General Hatch commanding, was directed to debouch from the fortifications at or near the Hardin pike, and move with its right flank on or near the pike, its left flank connected with the infantry of Maj. Gen. A. J. Smith to clear its own front, and as soon as Smith should carry the rebel advanced position to swing to the left, envelop and take in reverse the enemy's left flank. Croxton's brigade, of the First Division, was ordered to debouch near the Hardin pike by a dirt road between that and the Charlotte pike, to move with its left flank connecting with Hatch's division and its right following the line of the ridge between the Charlotte and Hardin pikes; after clearing Hardin pike of the enemy and crossing Richland Creek, General Croxton was directed to conform to the movements on his left. The Sixth Division, one brigade mounted, the other having no horses, Brig. Gen. R.W. Johnson commanding, was ordered to move by the Charlotte pike, clear that road of the enemy, keeping connection with Croxton by skirmishers or patrols, and to push as far as Davidson's house, eight miles from the city, so as to cover the movement of the balance of the corps from the enemy's cavalry; General Johnson was specially charged with looking out for the guns at Bell's landing and the force with them. Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Knipe, commanding the Seventh Division, one brigade mounted, the other dismounted, was directed to debouch on the Hardin pike after the movement had begun and hold himself in readiness to move in any direction. Brigade and division commanders were informed that the operations of the Cavalry Corps were designed to clear the enemy from its immediate front, cover the right of the infantry, envelop the enemy's left flank, attack him in the rear, and, if possible, force its way to the Franklin pike at or near Brentwood. The country being plowed fields or heavily timbered hills, very abrupt and difficult, they were directed to leave all wheels except those of the artillery behind.
The whole command was under arms ready to move by 6 a.m. December 15, but owing to a dense fog the attack was delayed. By 8.30 a.m. it had cleared away: but McArthur's division, not having been directed to march, as General Smith had promised, moved across the front of my command, thereby delaying the general advance till about 10 a.m. Had the enemy been specially alert this delay might have been very detrimental to the plan of attack. As soon, however, as the infantry on Hatch's left began moving he advanced, with his left touching the Hardin pike and his right extending toward the Charlotte pike. The position which the infantry held being farther to the right than was originally intended compelled a corresponding change on the part of the cavalry. Simultaneously with the advance of the infantry the cavalry forces moved as directed. Hatch's division was still further delayed after beginning in advance by McArthur's infantry, but finally, having a clear road, advanced rapidly with a strong line of skirmishers. The enemy, Ector's brigade of infantry, were found posted beyond Richland Creek, on commanding ground, well intrenched, but by a gallant charge by Stewart's brigade were driven rapidly beyond Hardin's house, with the loss of some prisoners and <ar93_563>intrenching tools. When near the latter place the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, Colonel Spalding commanding, charged the enemy, captured 43 prisoners, the headquarters train of General Chalmers, 14 wagons, containing baggage, papers, and records. Having cleared his front General Hatch marched rapidly by the left flank with his First Brigade to join the Second Brigade, which, wheeling with the infantry, found itself on the flank of a four-gun battery posted in a redoubt covering the enemy's left. Having posted his battery (I, First Illinois Light Artillery) so as to enfilade the enemy, General Hatch pushed forward Colonel Coon's brigade, dismounted, charged the rebel infantry supports, broke them, and captured the redoubt, with its guns. Lieutenant Budd, of the Second Iowa Cavalry, was the first man in the redoubt, closely followed by Lieutenant Colvin, acting assistant adjutant-general of the division. In this attack a portion of the infantry skirmish line gave assistance. The captured guns were turned upon the enemy, occupying a higher hill, strongly intrenched, still farther on. Hastily forming, the Second Brigade pushed boldly forward, the First Brigade following the movement still farther to the right. The enemy's new position was very strong. The left of their line occupied a hill still higher than the one already carried, and with steep sides. On the top of it they had constructed an irregular inclosed work of rails and earth, in which a four-gun field battery was placed. To men less brave and determined than the dismounted horsemen of Hatch's division it would have seemed like madness to attack such a position. I have seen columns of infantry hesitate to attack positions not half so strong, but Coon's brigade, armed with the Spencer carbine and in a strong line of skirmishers, at the command of General Hatch, advanced at the charge. In spite of the steep acclivity and withering fire of artillery and musketry from the rebel parapet, the redoubt was carried, with the battery of 4 guns and 250 prisoners. While the Second Brigade was collecting and forming its scattered ranks General Hatch, with the First Brigade, crossed the Hillsborough pike and again attacked the enemy on another range of hills, drove them from it, and took possession of a battery of four guns in the valley beyond. It was now almost dark; the cavalrymen having been fighting all day on foot, owing to the roughness of the country, were very much fatigued. General Hatch was ordered to bring up his horses, collect his men, and bivouac on the Hillsborough pike. The Twenty-third Corps, Major-General Schofield commanding, had moved to the right of Smith's corps and carried the hills in its front just before dark. General Hatch was directed to connect with Schofield's right and cover it from the enemy. As soon as Hatch had broken through the enemy on the Hardin pike Knipe was directed to move out and pass to Hatch's right, conform to his movements and push in upon the enemy's rear. The First Brigade, Brevet Brigadier-General Hammond commanding, advanced to the Hillsborough pike, striking it near the six-mile post, and three-quarters of a mile farther on turned up a branch of Richland Creek, and reached the Granny White pike just at dark. The dismounted brigade took position on the Hillsborough pike, covering Hatch and Hammond from an advance of the rebel cavalry on that road. Croxton's brigade and Johnson's division, having been delayed, like Hatch, by McArthur's infantry, moved promptly forward at the word and found the enemy posted beyond Richland Creek. The rebel cavalry, with four guns well posted, seemed determined to hold their ground, but strongly attacked by Harrison's brigade, of Johnson's division, in front, while Croxton pressed on their right, they were forced to give <ar93_564>way. Croxton, after following for several miles, turned to the left and crossed the Hardin pike, and marched through the country, skirmishing with Chalmers, moving in the same direction, and finally, after dark, bivouacked near the six-mile post, on the Hillsborough pike. Johnson continued his advance along the Charlotte pike, and came up with the rebels, strongly posted, beyond a small creek emptying into the Cumberland near Bell's Landing; after some sharp skirmishing General Johnson made dispositions to attack the rebel right in conjunction with Croxton, hoping thereby to drive them from the road and separate them from the main rebel army. The gun-boats dropped down and opened on their flank, while Lieutenant Smith, with Battery I, Fourth U.S. Artillery, opened upon them in front. General Croxton having, by my order, turned toward the left, General Johnson did not think himself strong enough to risk an attack upon the rebel position. Night coming on he bivouacked in their front, intending to attack before daylight the next morning. This plan was frustrated by the withdrawal of the rebels after night. The first day's operations having resulted in driving back the enemy's entire left wing four miles, with our cavalry on the left flank and rear of the enemy, orders were issued for the continuance of operations the next day.
Early on the morning of the 16th Hammond's pickets on the Granny White pike were attacked and driven in, but ordering him to strengthen them with his entire brigade, if necessary, he in turn drove the enemy back. At the same time I directed General Hatch to move on the enemy's rear, passing to Hammond's left. The country, very hilly and densely covered with timber, was entirely impracticable for mounted men; the whole force was therefore dismounted and pushed forward. Croxton moved to the front, ready to support either Hammond or Hatch, and orders were sent to Johnson to march across the country to the Hillsborough pike. By noon the skirmishers of Hatch and Hammond had formed a continuous line, stretching from the right of Schofield's corps across the Granny White pike. This line was parallel to that of the enemy and facing in the direction of Nashville. The men of the Fifth and Seventh Divisions, urged forward by their gallant officers, steadily pressed the enemy back at every point, skirmishing heavily. Having informed Generals Thomas and Schofield of the position occupied by my command and what it was doing, the infantry was ordered forward on the right, and, as they charged the front of the rebel works, Coon's brigade, of Hatch's division, attacked them in the rear. Pressed in front, flank, and, rear, about 4 p.m. the enemy broke and fled in confusion from the field. Croxton was hurried from the Hillsborough pike toward Brentwood, but could not reach the flying army before dark. Hatch and Knipe were ordered to mount their commands and pursue with all possible rapidity. As on the day before, from the difficult character of the ground and the distance traveled dismounted, considerable time was unavoidably lost before the horses could be led to the men. Hatch was directed to push down the Granny White pike, and, if possible, reach the Franklin pike that night. He had not, however, gone more than a mile when his advance encountered the enemy's cavalry, Chalmers' division, strongly posted across the road behind a barricade of rails. A portion of the command were hastily dismounted and deployed on both sides of the road. While the skirmishers were advancing the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, led by Colonel Spalding, charged the enemy, broke his lines, scattered them in all directions, and captured Brigadier-General Rucker, then in command of the division. Night having closed in the <ar93_565>enemy was enabled to make his escape. The pursuit was necessarily discontinued, men and horses being worn out and hungry. The corps bivouacked for the night--Knipe, Croxton, and Hatch on the Granny White pike, and Johnson on the Hillsborough pike near the Harpeth River. Before daylight they were in motion again--Knipe, in the advance, marched through the country to the Franklin pike; Croxton crossed and marched through the fields to its left; Hatch marched by the Granny White pike and a country road to the Franklin pike, and then followed Knipe; while Johnson pushed to the Harpeth River, forded it, and moved rapidly toward Franklin. General Knipe, with Hammond's brigade, came up with the enemy at Hollow Tree Gap, four or five miles north of Franklin. After a sharp fight, in which General Hammond with a part of his command passed around the enemy's right and struck them in flank, the position was handsomely carried. Three colors and 413 prisoners, including 2 colonels and 2 lieutenant-colonels, were captured. The rebel rear guard then fell back rapidly to Franklin, crossed the Harpeth, and prepared to defend its crossing but General Johnson, with Harrison's brigade, having marched at 4 o'clock and crossed the river on the Hillsborough pike, moved rapidly to Franklin, struck them in flank, and compelled them to retreat to a new position, south of the town. Knipe crossed by the ford and entered the town almost simultaneously with Harrison's advance; Hatch and Croxton crossed soon after at the fords above the town. At Franklin the enemy's hospital with about 2,000 wounded fell into our hands; 200 of our own wounded, left there on the retreat to Nashville, were also recovered, together with 17,000 rations. The pursuit was immediately continued, Knipe and Hatch moving in parallel columns along the Columbia pike, Johnson down the Carter's Creek pike, and Croxton on the Lewisburg pike. The flanking columns were directed to push rapidly forward and endeavor to pass round the flanks of the enemy's rear guard, composed almost entirely of infantry, while a strong force of skirmishers across the pike should press it continually and compel it to form line as frequently as possible. By these means I hoped to break up their last organized force and disperse the disorganized and flying mass they were covering. My orders were obeyed with great alacrity, but the enemy, finding his flanks so much endangered, retired as rapidly, but skirmishing heavily with Hatch and Knipe. Late in the evening, apparently exhausted with rapid marching, the rebels took a strong position in open fields about a mile north of the West Harpeth. It was then almost dark from fog and approaching night.
The men of General Hatch's advance, by their rapid movements, had become so intermingled with the sullen and disheartened enemy, he began to doubt that the force in his front were really those of the rebel rear guard. The momentary hesitation caused by this uncertainty gave the rebels an opportunity to put their battery in position and reform their line. I immediately gave orders for Hatch and Knipe to collect their men and charge both flanks of the enemy, and directed my escort, the Fourth U.S. Cavalry, about 200 strong, Lieut. Joseph Hedges commanding, to charge their center, on the pike. These orders had scarcely been given before the enemy opened a rapid fire from their battery, not over 300 yards from us. Hatch's battery promptly replied. Lieutenant Hedges, thinking that I simply wished him to ascertain the character of the force in our front, hastily moved his regiment about and to the side of the road and out of the range of the rebel guns, but, at my orders as promptly resumed his original formation, in column of fours," <ar93_566>in the road, and dashed forward at a gallop with sabers drawn, broke through the enemy's battery; Hatch's division and Hammond's brigade, dismounted, rushed forward at the same moment. The enemy, broken in the center and pressed back on both flanks, fled rapidly from the field, withdrawing his guns at a gallop. Lieutenant Hedges, outstripping his men, was captured three different times, but throwing his hat away and raising the cry "The Yankees are coming, run for your lives," succeeded in getting away. The rout was complete, and although it was then very dark everybody pressed rapidly forward, the Fourth U.S. Cavalry and General Hatch, with a handful of men, in advance on the pike, and the Fifth Division on right and left. General Hammond, with the Tenth Indiana Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Gresham commanding, fording the West Harpeth a few hundred yards to the right, again struck the rebels in the flank. Pressed in all directions the artillerymen left their guns and saved themselves as best they could; the infantry scattered in all directions; darkness alone enabled the entire command to escape. The rebel force was found to be Stevenson's division, of Lee's corps, under command of General Forrest, who had just returned from Murfreesborough. (*)
Early the next morning the Cavalry Corps, although out of rations, again renewed the pursuit--Croxton and Johnson endeavoring to strike the enemy at Spring Hill; Hatch and Knipe moving as the day before. The enemy, having encamped at Spring Hill, marched rapidly toward Columbia, but could not be again brought to a stand. The densely wooded country, muddy roads, and plowed fields, rendered almost impassable by the constant rain, made it very difficult for troops traveling on the right and left of the pike to get forward fast enough to overtake the enemy marching on the pike. Late in the afternoon the command halted seven miles north of Columbia for rations, having had nothing to eat since the day before and nothing in the country for them to take. Supplies arrived during the night, and early in the morning the pursuit was resumed, notwithstanding a heavy storm of rain and snow then prevailing. General Hatch arrived at Rutherford's Creek at an early hour, followed closely by the Fourth Corps. Owing to the inclemency of the weather, by order of General Thomas, the balance of the Cavalry Corps remained in bivouac. Rutherford's Creek, swollen by the rains and having steep and abrupt banks, could not be forded. The pontoon train was behind, and did not arrive till the next day. The enemy occupied a strong position commanding the site of the old bridge. General Hatch succeeded in crossing a few skirmishers on the ruins of the upper railroad bridge, about a mile from the pike, but, after some skirmishing, withdrew them to the north bank after dark.
The morning of the 20th General Hatch constructed a floating bridge out of the debris of the lower railroad bridge and crossed his entire command, but the enemy had succeeded in getting everything across Duck River the night before. This stream, being also much swollen, could not be crossed until the pontoon bridge was laid. Brigadier-Generals Johnson and Knipe were sent to Nashville to remount their dismounted brigades on the 20th.
On the 24th of December the whole corps, having crossed Duck River, resumed the pursuit, but General Hood had improved his opportunity and reformed his rear guard by selecting all of the well-armed infantry in his command; they were organized into eight brigades, <ar93_567>of about 500 men each; the available cavalry that could be controlled were also used; all under command of Lieutenant-General Forrest. The trains and body of the army were hurried toward the Tennessee River, marching to Pulaski, and thence by the dirt roads to Bainbridge. The rear guard had thus a clear road and when pressed could fall back rapidly. The country on the right and left of the pike, very broken and densely timbered, was almost impassable; the pike itself, passing through the gorges of the hills, was advantageous for the enemy; with a few men he could compel the pursuing force to develop a front almost anywhere. In the vicinity of Lynnville, the country being open, the enemy was driven rapidly back, and at Buford Station, near Richland Creek, while Hatch was-pressing them on the pike Croxton struck them in flank and drove them in confusion beyond Richland Creek. In this affair one flag and a number of prisoners were captured and the rebel General Buford wounded through the leg. The rebels retreated that night to the vicinity of Pulaski, but the next day were driven through that place, closely pressed by Harrison's brigade. The bridges across Richland Creek were saved by the celerity and good management with which Colonel Harrison handled his command, so that, without delaying, he continued the pursuit, and by 2 p.m. came up with the enemy strongly intrenched at the head of a heavily wooded and deep ravine, through which ran the road. The country was so difficult and broken that the men of Harrison's brigade were necessarily in weak order, but nothing daunted, they pursued the enemy's skirmishers back to their fortified position. Here they were compelled to halt, and while the troops of Hatch's, Croxton's, and Hammond's commands were marching through the woods to their support, a few hundred of the enemy's infantry, for the first time since the battles about Nashville, sallied from their breast-works and drove back Harrison's attenuated skirmish line and captured one gun of Smith's battery (I, Fourth U.S. Artillery). They were promptly driven back, but had succeeded in getting the captured gun off. Hammond, Croxton, and Hatch moving on the flanks of their position they abandoned it hastily just before night, leaving about fifty prisoners in our hands.
On the 26th the pursuit was continued to the Sugar Creek, the enemy falling back and making but slight resistance. At the latter place they took up a strong position and held it until General Hammond had developed his forces and got ready to attack. Hastily withdrawing, they continued their march throughout the night. It had now become evident that no effort on the part of my command could bring again Forrest to risk another engagement. Having neither rations nor forage, and learning that the main body of the rebels had already reached the south side of the Tennessee, I directed the corps to halt, and the next morning I sent Colonel Spalding, of the Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, with 500 picked men, after the enemy, with directions to continue the pursuit until he had reached the Tennessee River. He reached the river, at Bainbridge, early on the morning of the 28th, the last of the enemy having crossed and taken up the bridge during the night.
The road from Pulaski to Bainbridge was as bad as it could possibly be the country through which it runs almost entirely denuded of forage and army supplies. Both men and horses suffered greatly. Hood having effected his escape, the corps was ordered to Eastport for the purpose of refitting and resting. Before this order was received, however, Hatch, Hammond, and Harrison had marched to Athens, on the road to Huntsville, in pursuance of previous instructions from General Thomas. <ar93_568>
The reports of the provost-marshal show that during these operations the cavalry captured from enemy 32 guns, 11 caissons, 12 colors, 3,232 prisoners (including 1 general officer), and compelled them to abandon or destroy over 100 wagons, 8 ambulances, and 1,348 mules.
Detachments of the Sixth and Seventh Divisions accompanied the movements of Major-General Steedman south of the Tennessee, and burned the rebel pontoon and a large supply train; in all, 80 pontoons, 125 wagons.
Our losses were: I gun; 122 officers and men killed, 521 wounded, and 259 missing.
For the details of these operations and acts of special gallantry I respectfully refer to the reports of Generals McCook, Hatch, Hammond, Johnson, and Croxton, which I submit herewith. Reports of other commanders will be sent forward as soon as obtained. The operations of the Third Division, extending from Atlanta to Savannah, are fully detailed in the reports of General Kilpatrick and his subordinate officers, transmitted herewith.(*)
General Kilpatrick and his gallant command are specially worthy of praise for the admirable manner in which they co-operated with the movements of the infantry in their long and tiresome march, as well as for the confidence and bravery with which they attacked and defeated at various times the superior numbers of the rebel cavalry under General Wheeler.
The officers of my staff have performed their duties most efficiently throughout the entire campaign, but I am particularly indebted to Lieut. Col. A. J. Alexander, assistant adjutant-general, Seventeenth Corps, chief of staff; Maj. E. B. Beaumont, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. E. B. Carling, chief quartermaster; and Capt. J. C. Read, chief commissary. These officers have fully earned the promotion for which they have already been recommended to the War Department.
It is with great pleasure I mention the services of Maj. William P. Chambliss and Capt. John Green, U.S. Army, special inspectors of cavalry. In furnishing remounts, arms, and preparing troops for the field, they have done more than all other persons toward promoting the efficiency of the cavalry service in this military division.
Before closing this report it may not be improper to say that throughout the entire campaign the bravery and steadiness of the cavalry troops, new and old, were most conspicuous. Nothing could have been more admirable than their conduct on the Harpeth, in the two days' battle at Nashville, in the affair on the West Harpeth, or in the pursuit which followed. -I know of no battles in the war where the influence of cavalry was more potent, nor of any pursuit sustained so long and well.
The results of campaign, added to those following the same policy in the Army of the Potomac, clearly demonstrate the wisdom of massing the cavalry of an army, and it is to be hoped will obtain from the War Department a recognition of the corps already organized.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. WILSON, Brevet Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.
Brig. Gen. WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE, Asst. Adjt. Gen. and Chief of Staff, Hdqrs. Dept. of the Cumberland.
GENERAL FIELD ORDERS No. 1.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Granny White Pike, December 17, 1864.
The brevet major-general commanding takes great pleasure in communicating to the cavalry the generous commendations and thanks of Major-General Thomas for their success, good conduct, and dashing gallantry displayed throughout the recent engagements near Nashville. Guns, prisoners, and battle-flags are the sure evidences of victory. It is with great pleasure that the brevet major-general commanding states no corps in the army can show more of them than the cavalry.
By order of Brevet Major-General Wilson:
E. B. BEAUMONT, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
SPECIAL FIELD ORDERS No. 16.
BLUE WATER, December 30, 1864.
It gives the brevet major-general great pleasure to transmit the following complimentary notice of the operations of the Cavalry Corps, and to assure the officers and soldiers of his command that he fully indorses the declaration of Major-General Thomas:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Pulaski, Tenn., December 29, 1864.
Maj. Gen. J. H. WILSON, Commanding Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: The major-general commanding tenders his thanks to yourself, officers and men for the vigor, skill, bravery, and endurance displayed by your corps in this long and toilsome pursuit of the retreating rebel army.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. D. WHIPPLE, Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.
By order of Brevet Major-General Wilson:
E. B. BEAUMONT, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 18.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
MILITARY DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Gravelly Springs, February 24, 1865.
The brevet major-general commanding takes great pleasure in commending the gallant and meritorious conduct of the following-named officers and enlisted men of the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, during the recent campaign: Col. George Spalding, Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, for gallantry in charging the enemy's works in front of Nashville on the 15th and 16th of December, 1864; Col. Thomas J. Harrison, commanding brigade, Sixth Division, for gallantry and energetic discharge of his duties; Lieutenant-Colonel Gresham, Tenth Indiana Cavalry, for gallantry in the night fight on the West Harpeth; Capt. Joseph C. Boyer, Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, for gallantry in hand-to-hand fight on the night of the 16th of December, 1864, resulting in the capture of his opponent, Brigadier-General Rucker, of the Confederate army; Captain Davis, Tenth Tennessee Cavalry, for <ar93_570>behaving with great gallantry; Capt. Norman M. Smith, Nineteenth Pennsylvania, for attention to duty at all times, bravery at Hollow-Tree Gap (December 17), Anthony's Hill (December 25), Sugar Creek (December 26, 1864); Capt. George R. Mitchell, Company K, Tenth Indiana Cavalry, for gallantry in leading a charge against the enemy at Indian Creek, December 22, 1864; Capt. William Mead and Lieut. George S. Snook, Tenth Indiana Cavalry, with eighty men of Companies D and K, of the same regiment, charged through the rebels, 300 strong, killing and wounding many and capturing twenty-five prisoners; First Lieut. Thomas Claiborn, Tenth Indiana Cavalry, for attention to duty at all times and bravery at Hollow-Tree Gap, December 17, 1864; Lieut. Hervey A. Colvin, Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, and Lieutenant Budd, Second Iowa Cavalry, for gallantry during the charge on first redoubt, stormed by the Second Brigade, Fifth Division, in front of Nashville; First Lieut. Joseph Hedges, Fourth U.S. Cavalry, for gallantry in fight on the Little Harpeth River, December 18 , 1864, charging a strong line of rebel infantry with his regiment mounted, charge resulting in the capture of three guns from the enemy; Sergt. George G. Chism, Company A, Ninth Indiana Cavalry, for charging with fifteen men and capturing twenty rebels at Franklin December 17,1864; Sergt. Martin G. Rossmalier, Company H Fourth U.S. Cavalry for bravery during the action at Little Harpeth River; Corpl. Harrison Collins,(*) Company A, First Tennessee Cavalry, for capturing a rebel battle-flag from Chalmers' division December 24, 1864; Private Simpson B. Gaston, for gallantry in leading the charge on Reynolds' Hill, December 25, 1864.
The gallantry of the troops of the Cavalry Corps has receives the commendation of the major-general commanding the department. It is regretted that the brevet major-general commanding cannot mention more from the host of meritorious soldiers who were distinguished for their gallantry. The division and brigade commanders having been mentioned in the report of operations, on that account are not mentioned in general orders.
By command of Brevet Major-General Wilson:
E. B. BEAUMONT, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.
Consolidated report of prisoners of war captured and Confederate deserters taken by Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, commanded by Breret Major-General Wilson, during the campaign from November 30, 1864, to December 31, 1864.
Troops. Prisoners of war. Rebel deserters. Prisoners of war. Rebel deserters.
First Division 7 357 3
Third Division 13 229
Fourth Division 2 43
Fifth Division 17 1,669
Seventh Division. 47 848
Total 86 3,146 3
Disposition of prisoners of war and deserters.
Prisoners of war, including officers and deserters,
To Colonel Parkhurst, provost-marshal-general Department of the Cumberland 517
To provost-marshal Army of the Tennessee, Eastport, Miss 36
To Captain Sparks, Forty-fifth Ohio Volunteers 10
To General Granger, Huntsville, Ala 95
To Fourth Army Corps, Department of the Cumberland 296
To Captain Dugger, One hundred and twenty-second Illinois Infantry 7
To General Kimball 8
At Franklin, Tenn 12
Remainder transferred to infantry officers during the fighting; no receipts taken for the same.
I certify that the above report is correct.
G. H. KNEELAND, Captain and Acting Provost-Marshal.
Consolidated report of property captured by Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, commanded Brevet Major-General Wilson, during the campaign from November 30, 1864, to December 31, 1864.
A Division E 6-pounder James rifles. I Small-arms. M Wagons.
B Brigade. F 6-pounder Napoleons. J Sabers. N Ambulances.
C Regimental. G K Locomotives. O Pontoon wagons.
D 12-pounder howitzers. H Caissons. L Hand cars. P Mules.
I certify that the above report is correct.
G. H. KNEELAND, Captain and Acting Provost-Marshal.
HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
PROVOST-MARSHAL'S OFFICE, Gravelly Springs, February 6, 1865.
HDQRS. SEVENTEENTH REGT. U.S. COLORED INFANTRY, Nashville, Tenn., January 30, 1865.
COLONEL: In obedience to your instructions, I have the honor to report the part taken by the Seventeenth U.S. Colored Infantry in the battle of Nashville, December 15, 1864, as follows:
On the morning of December 15 I reported to you for duty with my regiment, in pursuance of orders from Brigadier-General Miller, commanding <ar93_539>post of Nashville, and was by you assigned to the First Provisional Brigade. At about 7 a.m. I marched out on the Murfreesborough pike about one mile from the city, and formed line of battle to the right of and parallel with the pike, the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry forming on my left, that regiment being our extreme left. Skirmishers from the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry reporting the enemy as too strong for them, my regiment, with the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, was ordered to advance and drive the enemy from his rifle-pits, which was at once done, the two regiments charging to the railroad, but were prevented from going farther by a deep cut, known as Rains' Cut. At that time we were at least 100 yards beyond and to the rear of the enemy's earth-works near Rains' house, and had we been well supported on our right I think the work could have been taken. As it was, we were soon obliged to fall back, which was done in rather a disorderly manner. As soon, however, as we were out of range of the enemy's canister we reformed and were soon afterward moved around to the right of the enemy's earth-work and took a second position near Rains' house, where we kept up a sharp skirmish with the enemy till night, when he withdrew from our immediate front.
The conduct of all my officers was all that I desire, and from the fact that it was the first time the men had ever been under fire I think they, too, did well I am satisfied that with practice they would make good fighters.
My loss was: Commissioned officers, killed, 2; mortally wounded, 1; badly wounded, 3. Enlisted men, killed, 14; wounded, 64; missing, none; many of the wounded have since died.
I inclose complete list of killed and wounded.(*)
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. R. SHAFTER, Colonel Seventeenth U. S. Colored Infantry, Commanding.
Col. THOMAS J. MORGAN,
Fourteenth U. S. Colored Infantry.
CHATTANOOGA, TENN., January 16, 1865.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the forces under my command in the recent campaign:
On November 29, 1864, by order of Major-General Steedman I assumed command of the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, the Sixteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Col. William B. Gaw, <ar93_535>and the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, Col. L. Johnson, at Chattanooga, Tenn., and proceeded by railroad to Cowan, Tenn., and thence by railroad to Nashville, Tenn., reaching there with the Sixteenth and the main portion of the Fourteenth Regiments U.S. Colored Infantry on the 1st day of December, 1864. Col. L. Johnson, with the Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, and Capt. C. W. Baker, with Companies A and D of the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, occupied the rear section of the train which was transporting General Steedman's command to Nashville, Tenn. Seven miles north of Murfreesborough a train containing artillery and horses ran off the track and stopped the progress of the rear train, which, for some reason unexplained, was taken back to Murfreesborough with troops on board, a guard being left with the wrecked cars. During the night a construction train from Nashville removed the wreck and brought the remaining cars, horses, artillery, and guard, at an early hour on the 2d ultimo, to Nashville. At 8 a.m. 2d ultimo Colonel Johnson again started for Nashville, but when near Mill Creek he was attacked by a rebel cavalry command under General Forrest. The fight that ensued was quite creditable to the forces under Colonel Johnson. Colonel Johnson and Captain Baker are entitled to credit for the skill with which they fought and baffled the enemy and brought out their commands. I append the reports of those officers concerning this affair, marked A, B.(*) During the 2d ultimo the portion of the brigade with me, conforming to the movements of General Cruft, occupied the extreme left of the first line of battle, formed near house of Robert Rains, and constructed in its front, hastily, a line of defense, a breast-work of rails and earth with a light palisade in front. On the 3d this line was abandoned and a new line established nearer the city, where the brigade, increased by the return of Colonel Johnson and Captain Baker and the addition of a battalion of the Eighteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, under Major L. D. Joy, took position near the residence of Maj. William B. Lewis. On December 5 and 7 reconnaissances were made by the brigade, in conjunction with other troops, and the enemy were found to occupy the first line of works built by General Steedman near Rains' house; each day the enemy was driven from the left of their works, with slight loss to us. On the 5th one lieutenant and seven enlisted men of the enemy were captured by this brigade. A citizen living near the Murfreesborough pike was killed by a member of Company B, Sixteenth U.S. Colored Infantry. The report of Colonel Gaw concerning this is inclosed, marked C.(+) The conduct of officers and men on those occasions, save the misconduct of Colonel Gaw, which was reported at the time, was, so far as came under my observation, good. The coolness of the enlisted men under fire was especially gratifying to me.
On the night of the 14th of December orders were received to move at daybreak to make a demonstration upon the left, to occupy our first line of works, near Rains' house, if practicable, and to strongly menace the enemy's right to prevent the moving of his troops to resist the advance of the right of [the] Federal army when the main attack was to be made. On the evening of the 14th Colonel Gaw, by un soldierly process, succeeded in getting his regiment taken from the First Brigade and ordered to a safer place in the rear. An excellent regiment, the Seventeenth U.S. Colored Infantry, under a brave and gallant officer, Colonel Shafter, reported to me instead of the Sixteenth. Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor, commanding brigade of white troops, reported to me, and remained with me during the two days' battle. I inclose Colonel <ar93_536>Grosvenor's report of the part taken by his command.(*) A section of artillery from Captain Osborne's (Twentieth Indiana) battery likewise was put under my charge. In company with my adjutant-general, during the night of the 14th ultimo, I visited the picket-line near the enemy's work, which it was designed to attack on morning of the 15th. The Murfreesborough pike at this point runs a little east of south, nearly parallel with Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. The line of works was built almost at right angles with these roads. We ascertained from the pickets that the rebels had been at work actively during the afternoon with the spade, and their line of fires extended well toward the south. I concluded that a curtain had been built to protect the flank of the work, and that a line of rifle.pits had been made on the ground marked by the fires, and that if these rifle-pits could be carried and a column pushed well to the rear, the works near Rains' house would become untenable and the ground east of Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad be given up to us with little loss. Accordingly, on the morning of the 15th, when the fog, which lay like a winding sheet over the two armies, began to disappear, I moved my command out upon the Murfreesborough pike and disposed it as follows: The Fourteenth Colored Infantry was deployed in front as skirmishers; the Seventeenth and Forty-fourth Colored Infantry were formed in line of battle in rear of Fourteenth, and given in charge of Colonel Shafter, of the Seventeenth; the section of Captain Osborne's (Twentieth Indiana) battery was supported by the battalion Eighteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Maj. L. D. Joy; Colonel Grosvenor was directed to send one battalion of his command to guard the left flank and to hold the remainder of his command in rear of Colonel Shafter. The artillery then opened upon the enemy, and the lines moved forward. The Fourteenth advanced until they drew a severe fire, when Colonel Shafter was ordered to carry the rifle-pits, which he did handsomely, killing, wounding, capturing, or driving away the enemy from his front. He pushed forward until he reached the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, when he was met by a destructive fire at short range from a battery planted on the opposite side of a deep cut made by railroad. Seeing that Colonel Shafter had carried the line in his front, and that the enemy still held their position on his right, I ordered up to his support the reserve of Colonel Grosvenor. This command carried a portion of the line, but was quickly compelled to return, with severe loss, by reason of musketry fire on its right flank. What I had thought to be a mere curtain, proved to be a rude but strong lunette, with ditch in front and heavy head-logs on top of parapet, forming a very safe cover for Granbury's brigade, which occupied it. About the time of the repulse of Colonel Grosvenor Colonel Shafter was compelled to withdraw his line from the range of the artillery. The entire command was then withdrawn, by order of General Steedman, and moved to the north of Rains' house. A strong skirmish line, connecting on the right, at the railroad, with Colonel Thompson's command, advanced very close to the enemy's line. Sharpshooters loop-holed a dwelling-house and outbuildings and silenced the enemy. Thus the day wore away; the general's purpose, as communicated to me the night previous, had been accomplished; the enemy had been deceived, and, in expectation of a real advance upon his right, had detained his troops there, while his left was being disastrously driven back. 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 <ar93_537>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.
On the 16th my command, by order of General Steedman, crossed the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, the Nolensville pike, and the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad, skirmishing with and driving the enemy. At an early hour in the afternoon the command joined the left of Colonel Thompson and confronted Overton Hill. Colonel Grosvenor was ordered to join the left of Second Colored Brigade and conform to its movements. He thus took part in the first assault upon Overton Hill. Colonel Shafter, with Seventeenth, was in echelon to rear of Grosvenor; Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, with Fourteenth, was directed to support and protect the artillery; Colonel Johnson, Forty-fourth, was directed to guard the left. Captain Osborne's (Twentieth Indiana) battery and Captain Aleshire's (Eighteenth Ohio) battery kept up an incessant fire upon the enemy, and did excellent work. Subsequently the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry was deployed as skirmishers in front of the artillery and directly facing the enemy's works, where they kept and received a brisk fire. When the first assault upon the hill failed the assaulting column retired in disorder, passing through my skirmish line without shaking it. At one time I thought and so reported that the line was being forced back, but it was not true. The line remained; did its work amid the confusion that followed the repulse. When the Sixty-eighth Indiana struck this line they asked what regiment. Being answered, Fourteenth, they cried, "Bully for you; we'll stay with you," and they did. I assisted Colonel Thompson in reforming his broken lines. When the final assault was being made upon Overton Hill the forces under me moved forward and joined in the pursuit of the enemy, which followed as far as Franklin, Tenn. Subsequently the First Colored Brigade, as part of Second Provisional Division, accompanied the expedition toward Tuscumbia, Ala., going as far as Leighton, Ala. On its return it joined General Cruft's forces in the fruitless chase after General Lyon's rebel cavalry. The brigade was disbanded January 12, 1865.
Colonel Shafter, Seventeenth, acquitted himself well, is cool and brave, and a good disciplinarian. Lieutenant-Colonel Corbin, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, does not possess sufficient courage to command brave men.(*) Captain Baker in reality commanded the Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry in the battle of the 15th and 16th, and acquitted himself with great credit. He is brave, cool, untiring, and deserves promotion. Lieutenant-Colonel Grosvenor obeyed every order with promptness, and is a good soldier. To each member of my staff, Lieutenants Cleland and Hall, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, Wadsworth and Dickinson, Sixteenth U.S. Colored infantry, and Wyrill, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry, I am indebted for the promptness with which they carried out my desires, exposing themselves cheerfully to necessary danger. The wounded of the First Colored Brigade were faithfully cared for by Surgeon Clemons, Seventeenth U.S. Colored Infantry, Surgeon Strong, Forty-fourth U.S. Colored Infantry, and Assistant Surgeon Oleson, Fourteenth U.S. Colored Infantry. <ar93_538>
I have as yet received no reports from battalion commanders and no lists of casualties; these will be forwarded as soon as received.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. J. MORGAN,
Colonel Fourteenth U. S. Colored Infantry.
Maj. S. B. MOE,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., District of the Etowah.
RICHMOND, VA., February 15, 1865.
Forrest's cavalry joined me on the 21st of November and the movement began, Major-General Cheatham's corps taking the road toward Waynesborough, and the other two corps moving on roads somewhat parallel with this, but more to the eastward, with the cavalry under General Forrest in the advance and upon their right flank. The enemy's forces at this time were concentrated at Pulaski, with some force also at Lawrenceburg. I hoped to be able to place the army between these forces of the enemy and Nashville; but he evacuated Pulaski upon the 23d, hearing of our advance (our cavalry having furiously driven off their forces at Lawrenceburg), and moved rapidly by the turnpike and railroad to Columbia.
The want of a good map of the country, and the deep mud through which the army marched, prevented our overtaking the enemy before he reached Columbia, but on the evening of the 27th of November our army was placed in position in front of his works at that place. During the night, however, he evacuated the town, taking position on the opposite side of the river about a mile and a half from the town, which was considered quite strong in front.
Late in the evening of the 28th of November General Forrest, with most of his command, crossed Duck River a few miles above Columbia, and I followed early in the morning of the 29th with Stewart's and Cheatham's corps, and Johnson's division, of Lee's corps, leaving the other divisions of Lee's corps in the enemy's front at Columbia. The troops moved in light marching order, with only a battery to the corps, my object being to turn the enemy's flank, by marching rapidly on roads parallel to the Columbia and Franklin pike, at or near Spring Hill, and to cut off that portion of the enemy at or near Columbia. When I had gotten well on his flank the enemy discovered my intention and began to retreat on the pike toward Spring Hill. The cavalry became engaged near that place about midday, but his trains were so strongly guarded that they were unable to break through them. About 4 p.m. our infantry forces, Major-General Cheatham in the advance, commenced to come in contact with the enemy about two miles from Spring Hill, through which place the Columbia and Franklin pike runs. The enemy was at this time moving rapidly along the pike, with some of his troops formed on the flank of his column to protect it. Major-General Cheatham was ordered to attack the enemy at once vigorously and get possession of this pike, and, although these orders were frequently and earnestly repeated, he made but a feeble and partial attack, failing to reach the point indicated. Had my instructions been carried out there is no doubt that we should have possessed ourselves of this road. Stewart's corps and Johnson's division were arriving upon the field to support the attack. Though the golden opportunity had passed with daylight, I did not at dark abandon the hope of dealing the enemy a heavy blow. Accordingly, Lieutenant-General Stewart was furnished a guide and ordered to move his corps beyond Cheatham's and place it across the road beyond Spring Hill. Shortly after this General Cheatham came to my <ar93_653>headquarters, and when I informed him of Stewart's movement, he said that Stewart ought to form on his right. I asked if that would throw Stewart across the pike. He replied that it would, and a mile beyond. Accordingly, one of Cheatham's staff officers was sent to show Stewart where his (Cheatham's) right rested. In the dark and confusion he did not succeed in getting the position desired, but about 11 p.m. went into bivouac. About 12 p.m., ascertaining that the enemy was moving in great confusion, artillery, wagons, and troops intermixed, I sent instructions to General Cheatham to advance a heavy line of skirmishers against him and still further impede and confuse his march. This was not accomplished. The enemy continued to move along the road in hurry and confusion, within hearing nearly all the night. Thus was lost a great opportunity of striking the enemy for which we had labored so long--the greatest this campaign had offered, and one of the greatest during the war.
Lieutenant-General Lee, left in front of the enemy at Columbia, was instructed to press the enemy the moment he abandoned his position at that point. The enemy did not abandon his works at that place till dark, showing that his trains obstructed the road for fifteen miles during the day and a great part of the night.
At daylight we followed as fast as possible toward Franklin, Lieuten-ant-General Stewart in the advance, Major-General Cheatham following, and General Lee, with the trains, moving from Columbia on the same road. We pursued the enemy rapidly and compelled him to burn a number of his wagons. He made a feint as if to give battle on the hills about four miles south of Franklin, but as soon as our forces began to deploy for the attack and to flank him on his left he retired slowly to Franklin.
I learned from dispatches captured at Spring Hill, from Thomas to Schofield, that the latter was instructed to hold that place till the position at Franklin could be made secure, indicating the intention of Thomas to hold Franklin and his strong works at Murfreesborough. Thus I knew that it was all important to attack Schofield before he could make himself strong, and if he should escape at Franklin he would gain his works about Nashville. The nature of the position was such as to render it inexpedient to attempt any further flank movement, and I therefore determined to attack him in front, and without delay.
On the 30th of November Stewart's corps was placed in position on the right, Cheatham's on the left, and the cavalry on either flank, the main body of the cavalry on the right, under Forrest. Johnson's division, of Lee's corps, also became engaged on the left during the engagement. The line advanced at 4 p.m., with orders to drive the enemy into or across the Big Harpeth River, while General Forrest, if successful, was to cross the river and attack and destroy his trains and broken columns. The troops moved forward most gallantly to the attack. We carried the enemy's first line of hastily constructed works handsomely. We then advanced against his interior line, and succeeded in carrying it also in some places. Here the engagement was of the fiercest possible character. Our men possessed themselves of the exterior of the works, while the enemy held the interior. Many of our men were killed entirely inside the works. The brave men captured were taken inside his works in the edge of the town. The struggle lasted till near midnight, when the enemy abandoned his works and crossed the river, leaving his dead and wounded in our possession. Never did troops fight more gallantly. The works of the enemy were so hastily constructed that while he had a slight abatis in front of a part of his line there was none on his extreme right. During the day I was restrained from using my artillery <ar93_654>on account of the women and children remaining in the town. At night it was massed ready to continue the action in the morning, but the enemy retired.
We captured about 1,000 prisoners and several stand of colors. Our loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was 4,500. Among the killed was Maj. Gen. P. R. Cleburne, Brigadier-Generals Gist, John Adams, Strahl, and Granbury. Major-General Brown, Brigadier-Generals Carter, Manigault, Quarles, Cockrell, and Scott were wounded, and Brigadier-General Gordon captured.
The number of dead left by the enemy on the field indicated that his loss was equal or near our own.
The next morning at daylight, the wounded being cared for and the dead buried, we moved forward toward Nashville, Forrest with his cavalry pursuing the enemy vigorously.
On the 2d of December the army took position in front of Nashville, about two miles from the city. Lieutenant-General Lee's corps constituted our center, resting upon the Franklin pike, with Cheatham's corps upon the right and Stewart's on the left, and the cavalry on either flank, extending to the river. I was causing strong detached works to be built to cover our flanks, intending to make them inclosed works, so as to defeat any attempt of the enemy should he undertake offensive movements against our flank and rear. The enemy still held Murfreesborough with about 6,000 men, strongly fortified; he also held small forces at Chattanooga and Knoxville. It was apparent that he would soon have to take the offensive to relieve his garrisons at those points or cause them to be evacuated, in which case I hoped to capture the forces at Murfreesborough, and should then be able to open communication with Georgia and Virginia. Should he attack me in position I felt that I could defeat him, and thus gain possession of Nashville with abundant supplies for the army. This would give me possession of Tennessee. Necessary steps were taken to furnish the army with supplies, which the people were ready and willing to furnish. Shoe-shops were in operation in each brigade. We had captured sufficient railroad stock to use the road to Pulaski, and it was already in successful operation. Having possession of the State, we should have gained largely in recruits, and could at an early day have moved forward to the Ohio, which would have frustrated the plans of the enemy, as developed in his campaign toward the Atlantic coast.
I had sent Major-General Forrest, with the greatest part of his cavalry and Bate's division of infantry, to Murfreesborough, to ascertain if it was possible to take the place. After a careful examination and reconnaissance in force, in which, I am sorry to say, the infantry behaved badly, it was determined that nothing could be accomplished by assault. Bate's division was then withdrawn, leaving Forrest with Jackson's and Buford's divisions of cavalry in observation. Mercer's and Palmer's brigades of infantry were sent to replace Bate's division. Shortly afterward Buford's division was withdrawn and ordered to the right of the army, on the Cumberland River.
Nothing of importance occurred until the morning of the 15th of December when the enemy, having received heavy re-enforcements, attacked simultaneously both our flanks. On our right he was handsomely repulsed, with heavy loss, but on our left, toward evening, he carried some partially completed redoubts of those before mentioned.
During the night of the 15th our whole line was shortened and strengthened; our left was also thrown back; dispositions were made to meet any renewed attack. The corps of Major-General Cheatham was transferred from our right to our left, leaving Lieutenant-General Lee <ar93_655>on our right, who had been previously in the center, and placing Lieutenant-General Stewart's corps in the center, which had been previously the left.
Early on the 16th of December the enemy made a general attack on our lines, accompanied by a heavy fire of artillery. All his assaults were repulsed with heavy loss till 3.30 p.m., when a portion of our line to the left of the center, occupied by Bate's division, suddenly gave way. Up to this time no battle ever progressed more favorably; the troops in excellent spirits, waving their colors and bidding defiance to the enemy. The position gained by the enemy being such as to enfilade our line caused in a few moments our entire line to give way and our troops to retreat rapidly down the pike in the direction of Franklin, most of them, I regret to say, in great confusion, all efforts to reform them being fruitless. Our loss in artillery was heavy--54 guns. Thinking it impossible for the enemy to break our line, the horses were sent to the rear for safety, and the giving way of the line was so sudden that it was not possible to bring forward the horses to move the guns which had been placed in position. Our loss in killed and wounded was small. At Brentwood, some four miles from our line of battle, the troops were somewhat collected, and Lieutenant-General Lee took command of the rear guard, encamping for the night in the vicinity. On leaving the field I sent a staff officer to inform General Forrest of our defeat, and to direct him to rejoin the army with as little delay as possible to protect its rear, but owing to the swollen condition of the creeks, caused by the heavy rain then falling, he was unable to join us until we reached Columbia, with the exception of a portion of his command, which reached us while the enemy was moving from Franklin to Spring Hill.
On the 17th we continued the retreat toward Columbia, encamping for the night at Spring Hill. During this day's march the enemy's cavalry pressed with great boldness and activity, charging our infantry repeatedly with the saber, and at times penetrating our lines. The country being open was favorable to their operations. I regret to say that also on this day Lieutenant-General Lee, commanding the covering force, was severely wounded in the foot. We continued our retreat across Duck River to Columbia, the corps alternating as rear guards to the army. Lieutenant-General Lee and the corps commanded by him deserve great credit.
After the fight at Nashville I at first hoped to be able to remain in Tennessee, on the line of Duck River; but after arriving at Columbia I became convinced that the condition of the army made it necessary to recross the Tennessee without delay; and on the 21st the army resumed its march for Pulaski, leaving Major General Walthall, with Ector's, Strahl's, Maney's, Granbury's, and Palmer's infantry brigades,(*) at Columbia as a rear guard, under General Forrest. From Pulaski I moved by the most direct road to the Bainbridge crossing on the Tennessee River, which was reached on the 25th, where the army crossed without interruption, completing the crossing on the 27th, including our rear guard, which the enemy followed with all his cavalry and three corps of infantry to Pulaski, and with cavalry between Pulaski and the Tennessee River. After crossing the river the army moved by easy marches to Tupelo, Miss. Our pontoon and supply trains were ordered at once to the vicinity of Columbus, Miss., by the most direct route, that the animals might be more easily foraged, and while on the march there were pursued by a small body of the enemy's cavalry, and owing to the neglect of Brigadier General Roddey's cavalry were overtaken <ar93_656>and the pontoon train and a small portion of the supply train destroyed. Here, finding so much dissatisfaction throughout the country as in my judgment to greatly impair, if not destroy, my usefulness and counteract my exertions, and with no desire but to serve my country, I asked to be relieved, with the hope that another might be assigned to the command who might do more than I could hope to accomplish. Accordingly, I was so relieved on the 23d of January by authority of the President.(*)
My reasons for undertaking the movement into Tennessee have, I think, been sufficiently stated already. Had I not made the movement I am fully persuaded that Sherman would have been upon General Lee's communication in October, instead of at this time.
From Palmetto to Spring Hill the campaign was all that I could have desired. The fruits ought to have been gathered at that point. At Nashville, had it not have been for an unfortunate event which could not justly have been anticipated, I think we would have gained a complete victory. At any time it was in the power of the army to retire from Tennessee in the event of failure, as is established by the leisurely retreat which was made under the most difficult and embarrassing circumstances. It is my firm conviction that, notwithstanding that disaster, I left the army in better spirits and with more confidence in itself than it had at the opening of the campaign. The official records will show that my losses, including prisoners, during the entire campaign do not exceed 10,000 men. Were I again placed in such circumstances I should make the same marches and fight the same battles, trusting that the same unforseen and unavoidable accident would not again occur to change into disaster a victory which had been already won.
In support of the statement touching the strength and losses of the army, I respectfully tender the official records of the assistant adjutant-general (Maj. Kinloch Falconer), alike on duty with General Johnston and myself. Those who have seen much service in the field during this war will at once understand why it was that desertion, which had been so frequent on the retreat from Dalton to Atlanta, almost entirely ceased as soon as the army assumed the offensive and took a step forward. I did not know of a desertion on the march from Palmetto to Dalton or from Dalton to Florence. I am informed that the provost-marshal general of the Army of Tennessee reports less than 300 desertions during the whole Tennessee campaign. The Tennessee troops entered the State with high hopes as they approached their homes; when the fortunes of war were against us the same faithful soldiers remained true to their flag, and, with rare exceptions, followed it in retreat as they had borne it in advance.
But few of the subordinate reports have reached me. I am, consequently, unable, without risk of injustice, to describe the instances of individual skill and gallantry.
I invite special attention to the report of Maj. Gen. G. W. Smith of the operations of the Georgia militia in the vicinity of Atlanta, (+) the reports of Lieutenant-General Stewart and his subordinate officers, herewith submitted. Maps of the campaign accompany this report.(++)
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOOD,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Near Nashville, Tenn., December 11, 1864.
SIR: On the 21st of November, after a delay of three weeks, caused by the bad condition of the railroad from Okolona to Cherokee, and of the dirt road from the latter point to Florence, and also by the absence of Major-General Forrest's command, this army moved forward from Florence, Major-General Cheatham's corps taking the road leading toward Waynesborough and the other two corps moving on roads somewhat parallel to this, but more to the eastward, with the cavalry, under General Forrest, in their advance and upon their right flank. The enemy's forces were concentrated at this time at Pulaski, with some force also at Lawrenceburg. I hoped to be able to place our army between these forces of the enemy and Nashville; but they evacuated Pulaski upon the 23d, hearing of our advance (our cavalry having previously driven off their forces at Lawrenceburg), and moved rapidly by the turnpike and the railroad to Columbia.
The want of a good map of the country, and the deep mud through which the army marched, prevented our coming up with the enemy before they reached Columbia, but on the evening of the 27th of November our army was placed in position in front of the enemy's works at Columbia. During the night, however, they evacuated the town, taking position on the opposite side of the river about a mile and a half from the town, which was considered quite strong in front.
Therefore, late in the evening of the 28th of November, General Forrest, with most of his command, crossed Duck River a few miles above Columbia, and I followed early in the morning of the 29th with Stewart's and Cheatham's corps and Johnson's division, of Lee's corps, leaving the other divisions of Lee's corps in the enemy's front at Columbia. The troops moved in light marching order, with only one battery to the corps, my object being to make a rapid march on roads parallel to the Columbia and Franklin pike, and by placing the troops across this pike at or near Spring Hill to cut off that portion of the enemy. The cavalry engaged the enemy near Spring Hill about midday, but their trains were so strongly guarded that they were unable to break through them. About 4 p.m. our infantry forces, Major-General Cheatham in the advance, commenced to come in contact with the enemy about two miles from Spring Hill, through which the Columbia and Franklin pike passes. The enemy were at this time moving along this pike, with some of their troops formed on the flank of their column to protect it. Major-General Cheatham was ordered at once to attack the enemy vigorously and get possession of this pike, and, although these orders were frequently and earnestly repeated, he made but a feeble and partial attack, failing to reach the point indicated. Darkness soon came on, and to our mortification the enemy continued moving along this road, almost in ear-shot, in hurry and confusion, nearly the entire night.
Thus was lost the opportunity for striking the enemy for which we had labored so long--the best which this campaign has offered, and one of the best afforded us during the war. Major-General Cheatham has frankly confessed the great error of which he was guilty, and attaches all blame to himself. While his error lost so much to the country, it has been a severe lesson to him, by which he will profit in the future. In consideration of this and of his previous conduct I think that it is best that he should retain for the present the command he now holds.
Before daylight next morning (30th of November) the entire column of the enemy had passed us, retreating rapidly toward Franklin, burning «42 R R---VOL XLV, PT I» <ar93_658>many of their wagons. We followed as fast as possible, moving by the Columbia and Franklin pike, Lieutenant-General Lee, with the two divisions and trains and artillery, moving from Columbia by the same road. The enemy made a feint of making a stand on the hills about four miles from Franklin in the direction of Spring Hill, but as soon as our forces commenced deploying to attack them, and extending to outflank them on their left, they retired slowly to Franklin. This created a delay of some hours. We, however, commenced advancing on Franklin, and attacked the place about 4 p.m. with the corps of Generals Stewart and Cheatham, Johnson's division, of Lee's corps, becoming engaged later. We carried the enemy's outer lines of temporary works, but failed to carry the interior line. During the night I had our artillery brought forward and placed in position to open upon them in the morning, when the attack should be renewed, but the enemy retreated rapidly during the night on Nashville, leaving their dead and wounded in our hands. We captured about 1,000 prisoners and several stand of colors. Our loss in officers was severe. The names of the general officers I have already given by telegraph. Our entire loss was about 4,500.
We continued our march toward Nashville, and on the 2d of December our army took its present position, in front and about two miles from the city. Lieutenant-General Lee's corps, which constitutes our center, rests upon the Franklin pike, with General Cheatham upon his right and General Stewart upon his left. Our line is strongly intrenched, and all the available positions upon our flanks and in rear of them are now being fortified with strong, self-supporting, detached works, so that they may easily be defended should the enemy move out upon us.
The enemy still have some 6,000 troops strongly intrenched at Mur-freesborough. This force is entirely isolated, and I now have the larger part of the cavalry under General Forrest, with two brigades of infantry, in observation of these forces, and to prevent the foraging on the country. Should this force attempt to leave Murfreesborough, or should the enemy attempt to re-enforce it, I hope to be able to defeat them.
I think the position of this army is now such as to force the enemy to take the initiative. Middle Tennessee, although much injured by the enemy, will furnish an abundance of commissary stores, but ordnance and certain quartermaster's stores will have to come from the rear, and therefore it is very important that the railroad should be repaired at once from Cherokee to Decatur. The cars can now run from here to Pulaski on the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad, and we have sufficient rolling-stock captured from the enemy to answer our purposes. I will endeavor to put this road in order from Pulaski to Decatur as soon as possible.
As yet I have not had time to adopt any general system of conscription, but [hope] soon to do so, and to bring into the army all men liable to military duty. Some 15,000 of the enemy's Trans-Mississippi troops are reported to be moving to re-enforce the enemy here. I hope this will enable us to obtain some of our troops from that side in time for the spring campaign, if not sooner.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOOD,
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Tupelo, Miss., January 9, 1865.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit an outline of the movements and operations of the army from its leaving Palmetto to the present time.
The army left its bivouac near Palmetto, Ga., on the 29th of September last, with Jackson's cavalry in its front, Brigadier-General Iverson with his command being left in observation of the enemy in and around Atlanta, and moving first on the prolongation of its left flank to the westward, we crossed the Chattahoochee the same day on pontoon bridges at Pumpkin Town and Phillips' Ferry, while our supplies, which we brought by wagon trains from Newnan, Ga., crossed at Moore's Ferry, where we had constructed a temporary trestle bridge. As soon as we crossed the river the army moved at once to the immediate vicinity of Lost Mountain, reaching there on the 3d of October, our cavalry during the march watching the enemy from our front and right flank, and occasionally skirmishing with his cavalry along the banks of Sweet Water Creek.
On the 4th [3d] of October Lieutenant-General Stewart's corps, in obedience to my orders, struck the enemy's railroad at Acworth and Big Shanty, capturing the garrisons at both places, consisting of some 400 prisoners, with some animals and stores. Hearing that the enemy had a quantity of stores at Allatoona, I desired, if possible, to destroy the bridge over the Etowah River, and directed Lieutenant-General Stewart to send a division also to Allatoona, instructing the officer in command to destroy the railroad there and take possession of the place, if in his judgment, when he reached there, he deemed it practicable. Accordingly Major-General French was sent, who attacked the place early on the morning of the 5th of October, and quickly carried the enemy's outer line of works, driving him into a redoubt and taking possession of the place, with this exception, that just at this critical juncture he (General French) received information, which he considered correct (but which subsequently proved false), that a large body of the enemy were moving to cut him off from the remainder of the army, and he immediately withdrew his command from the place without having accomplished the desired object. Lieutenant-General Stewart's command succeeded in destroying completely some ten miles of the railroad. These operations caused the enemy to move his army, with the exception of one corps, from Atlanta to Marietta, threatening an advance in the direction of our position at Lost Mountain; but not deeming our army in condition for a general engagement, I withdrew it on the 6th of October to the westward, continuing to march daily, and crossed the Coosa River near Coosaville and moved up the west bank of the Oostenaula, striking the railroad again between Resaca and Mill Creek Gap, just above Dalton, on the 13th of October, destroying the railroad from Resaca to Tunnel Hill, capturing the enemy's posts at Tilton, Dalton, and Mill Creek Gap, with about 1,000 prisoners and some stores, after which I again withdrew the army from the railroad, moving to the southwest toward Gadsden, Ala., the enemy following and skirmishing constantly with our cavalry, then under command of Major-General Wheeler, who joined the army on the march just before it crossed the Coosa River.
The army reached Gadsden, Ala., on the 20th of October, and remained there a day to issue supplies, which had met us there, having been sent via Selma and Jacksonville. As soon, however, as these supplies were issued the army took up the line of march for the Tennessee River, <ar93_660>and I hoped to have crossed at or near Gunter's Landing; but not having a sufficient force of cavalry with me, and learning that Major-General Forrest was not then in Middle Tennessee, our march was continued to Tuscumbia, Ala., that the supplies necessary to subsist the army till it should reach the rich portion of Tennessee might be obtained, and also to effect a junction with the cavalry under Major-General Forrest. We reached Tuscumbia on the 31st of October, and, for the reasons mentioned in my letter to you of December 11,(*) we were not able to commence the movement into Tennessee until the 21st of November. For a report of operations of the army from that time till the 11th of December, I respectfully refer to my letter of the latter date, a copy of which is inclosed.(*)
Our army took its position in front of Nashville on the 2d of December, but the enemy still holding Murfreesborough with some 6,000 troops, Major-General Forrest, with the larger portion of the cavalry and Bate's division of infantry, was sent there to see if it was practicable to take the place. But after an examination and reconnaissance, during which, I am pained to say, our infantry behaved badly, Major-General Forrest reported that nothing could be done with the place by assault. Accordingly Bate's division was withdrawn, leaving General Forrest, with Jackson's and Buford's divisions of cavalry, in observation of the place, together with Mercer's and Palmer's infantry brigades, which were ordered there as Bate's division was withdrawn. I hoped thus to isolate the enemy's force at Murfreesborough and prevent them from foraging on the country or obtaining fuel, and if they should attempt to leave the place to have attacked them on their march.
Nothing of importance occurred till the morning of the 15th of December, when the enemy attacked simultaneously both our flanks. On our right he was handsomely repulsed, with heavy loss, but on our left he succeeded in driving in our flank, and toward evening carried some partially completed works which were in process of erection for the protection of this flank. Our line being necessarily very extended, a series of works had been commenced on each flank for their protection. During the night of the 15th our whole line was shortened and our left thrown back, and dispositions were made to meet any renewed attack. The corps of Major-General Cheatham was passed from our right to our left, leaving Lieutenant-General Lee on our right, who had been previously in the center, and placing Lieutenant-General Stewart's corps in the center, which had been previously the left.
Early on the 16th of December the enemy made a general attack on our lines, accompanied by a very heavy fire of artillery. All his assaults were repulsed with great loss till 3.30 p.m., when a portion of our line to the left of the center, occupied by Bate's division, suddenly gave way. In a few moments our entire line was broken, our troops retreating rapidly down the pike in the direction of Franklin, most of them, I regret to say, in great confusion, and all efforts to reform them were fruitless. Our loss in artillery was heavy, the giving way of the lines being so sudden that it was impossible to bring away the guns that had been placed in position. Our loss in killed and wounded was small. Our exact loss in prisoners I have not been able to ascertain, but do not think it great. I regret to say that among them were Maj. Gen. Ed. Johnson and Brig. Gens. H. R. Jackson and T. B. Smith. At Brentwood, some four miles from our line of battle, the troops were <ar93_661>somewhat collected, and Lieutenant-General Lee took command of the rear guard, camping for the night in that vicinity. On leaving the field I sent a staff officer to inform General Forrest of our defeat and to direct him to rejoin the army, with as little delay as possible, to protect its rear; but owing to the swollen condition of the creeks, caused by the heavy rain then falling, he was unable to join until we reached Columbia, with the exception of a portion of his command which joined while the army was moving from Franklin to Spring Hill.
On the 17th we continued our retreat toward Columbia, camping for the night on Spring Hill. During this day's march the enemy's cavalry pressed with great boldness and activity, charging our infantry repeatedly with the saber, and a few times going through our lines. The country, being open, was favorable for their operations. I regret to say, also, on this day, that Lieutenant-General Lee was [wounded] severely in the foot. We continued our retreat across the Duck River to Columbia, the corps alternating as rear guards to the army. While at Columbia Major-General Forrest rejoined.
After the fight at Nashville I at first hoped to have been able to remain in Tennessee on the line of the Duck River; but after arriving at Columbia I became convinced that the condition of the army made it necessary to recross the Tennessee River without delay; and on the 21st the army resumed the march for Pulaski, leaving Major-General Forrest, with the cavalry, and Major-General Walthall, with Ector's, Strahl's, Maney's, Granbury's, and Palmer's infantry brigades, at Columbia as a rear guard.(*) From Pulaski I moved by the most direct route to the Bainbridge crossing on the Tennessee River, which we reached on the 25th of December, and our pontoon was completed at daylight on the 26th, when the army crossed as rapidly as possible, the whole having crossed on the 27th, including the rear guard, which the enemy followed with all his cavalry and three corps of infantry to Pulaski, but only with cavalry between Pulaski and the Tennessee River. Since crossing the river I have moved the army by easy marches to this place. After recrossing the Tennessee our pontoon and supply trains were ordered at once to the vicinity of Columbus, Miss., by the most direct route, that the animals might be more easily foraged, and while on the march they were pressed by a small body of the enemy's cavalry, and owing to the inefficiency of Brigadier-General Roddey's cavalry were overtaken and the pontoon train and a small portion of the supply train destroyed.
My reasons for having made the campaign are as follows: After the fall of Atlanta this army was, consequent therefrom, in position upon the plains, all the mountain fastnesses having been given up from Dalton to the Chattahoochee River. I did not feel able to keep General Sherman from advancing to Macon or Augusta and continuing his line of blockhouses as a thorough protection to his communications, and feeling that the morale of the army was such as to require some change of position, I resolved to move to his rear and force him to fall back with his entire army to Chattanooga, or divide his forces and attempt to move with one wing to the Atlantic and the other to Tennessee, thereby giving me the chance of crushing one part of his army. General Sherman did divide his army, and moved upon Savannah with four corps, and Thomas with the remainder to Tennessee. I hoped and expected our people to have harassed, and in a great measure destroyed, <ar93_662>that portion moving to the coast, while I attempted to destroy Thomas and gain Nashville, and thereby large re-enforcements and all kinds of supplies for the army. Sherman, however, succeeded in marching to Savannah with but little annoyance, and we failed to gain Nashville, and have been forced to fall back to the prairies of Mississippi. I regard, however, our situation far better in having the grand army of the Federals divided, with one wing in Tennessee and one in Savannah, than to have had their entire force now lying in the heart of Georgia upon the great railroad, to us, running from the east to the west, with the Army of Tennessee in line of battle, with their backs upon the cane-brake country of Alabama in order to subsist, and General Sherman and the army now under Thomas between General Lee and myself.
I have not as yet required the reports of subordinate commanders; will forward them as soon as received.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOOD,
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Commanding Military Division of the West.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE WEST,
Montgomery, Ala., January 9, 1865.
Respectfully forwarded to the War Department for its information. The plan of campaign into Middle Tennessee was correct as originally designed by General Hood, and if carried out without modification would have compelled General Sherman to return to Middle Tennessee to protect and repair his lines of communication before he could have collected enough supplies to march his army from Atlanta to the seacoast. But instead of crossing the Tennessee River at Guntersville, as General Hood intended at Gadsden, he changed his course while on the march and repaired to Tuscumbia and Florence, where the want of supplies, due to the bad condition of the Mobile and Ohio and Memphis and Charleston Railroads, and the non-arrival of additional cavalry, delayed his offensive movement three weeks, thereby enabling General Sherman to repair the damages done to the Atlanta and Chattanooga Railroad and to collect sufficient supplies for his march across Georgia. This report being only a synopsis of the operations of the Army of Tennessee, unaccompanied by any sub-reports, I am unable yet to express my opinion as to the causes of its failure. It is clear to my mind, however, that after the great loss of life at Franklin the army was no longer in a condition to make a successful attack on Nashville--a strongly fortified city, defended by an army nearly as strong as our own, and which was being re-enforced constantly by river and railroads. From Franklin General Hood should have marched, not on Nashville, but on Murfreesborough, which could doubtless have been captured, with its garrison of about 8,000 men; and after having destroyed the railroad bridges across Duck and Elk Rivers, which would doubtless have caused the evacuation of Bridgeport and Chattanooga, he could have retired, with the prestige of success, into winter quarters behind the Duck or Tennessee Rivers, as circumstances might have dictated.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Strength of the Army of Tennessee on the 6th of November and loth of December, 1864.(*)
-------------Present.-------------- [Present] and absent.
Effective. Total. Aggregate. Total. Aggregate.
November 6, 1864:
Infantry 25,889 34,559 38,119 79,997 87,016
Cavalry 2,306 3,258 3,532 4,778 5,148
Artillery 2,405 2,913 3,068 4,018 4,203
Total 30,600 40,730 44,719 88,793 96,367
December 10, 1864:
Infantry 18,342 27,222 29,826 71,329 77,631
Cavalry. 2,306 3,258 3,532 4,778 5,148
Artillery. 2,405 2,913 3,068 4,018 4,203
Total 23,053 33,393 36,426 80,125 86,982
A. P. MASON,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
RICHMOND, VA., March 10, 1865.
General J. B. HOOD,
GENERAL: In compliance with your request, made a few days since, in reference to the strength of the Army of the Tennessee at the time you left Tupelo, Miss., I respectfully submit that, according to my recollection of a field return of the army which was being made at that time, and finished a day or two after your departure, the effective total of the infantry and artillery was about 15,000--perhaps a few hundred less. This return was made after the West Tennessee regiments of Major-General Cheatham's corps had been furloughed, as well as some men furloughed under an order published at Tupelo, and some small organizations also furloughed at Tupelo. I cannot form any estimate of the numbers of men thus furloughed, because you will remember that all the organization furloughs were given by the corps commanders, your sanction having been previously obtained; consequently the strength of such organizations at the time they were furloughed was not furnished the assistant adjutant-general's office at army headquarters.
The field return above referred to was sent to Colonel Brent, and was in his office in Augusta when I passed there a few weeks since.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. P. MASON,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
Crossed Tennessee, November 21, 30,600 men.
Abstract from inspection report of the Army of Tennessee, for January 20, 1865.
O Officers. A Number of guns.
M Men. B Aggregate present.
P Present for duty. C Aggregate present and absent.
for the field.-----
--------P--------- ----Infantry.---- Cavalry -Artillery.-
Command. O M A B C O M O M O M
Stewart's corps(*) (Stewart) 477 4,273 .... 6,833 22,367 510 4,371 .... .... .... ....
Cheatham's corps(+) (Cheatham). 519 5,001 .... 7,368 25,709 513 5,197 5 55 .... ....
Lee's corps (+) (Stevenson). 698 5,573 .... 8,317 25,248 638 5,302 .... .... .... ....
Artillery, Army of Tennessee (Elzey). 101 2,066 67 2,535 4,042 .... .... .... .... 88 2,063
Three divisions of cavalry (Forrest)(++) .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... ....
Grand total 1,795 16,913 67 25,053 77,366 1,661 14,870 5 55 88 2,06