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[680] for his great venture. At length, a dispatch from Sherman1 apprised Thomas that the former had cut loose from his base and started southward from Atlanta on his Great March ; and no sooner had the tidings reached Hood, still at Florence, Ala., where he had a pontoon bridge, with part of his force on either side of the river, than the crossing of his remaining corps commenced;2 while his van, already over, moved through Waynesboroa and Lawrenceburg on Nashville.3

Hood's army was organized in three corps, under Maj.-Gen. B. F. Cheatham, Lt.-Gens. A. P. Stewart and S. D. Lee, beside his strong cavalry corps under Forrest. Each corps was composed of three divisions: Maj.-Gens. Cleburne, Loring, Bate, E. Johnson, and Buford, being the best known of their commanders. Thomas had but five divisions of infantry at the front; but he had collected several more before the struggle was brought to a final issue.

Gen. Schofield, at Pulaski, now fell back, by order, on Columbia; where his corps was concentrated,4 as was most of Stanley's; while Gen. Granger withdrew the garrisons from Athens (Ala.), Decatur, and Huntsville, retiring on Stevenson. The force left at Johnsonville now evacuated that post, withdrawing to Clarksville. When the enemy appeared before Columbia, declining to assault, but evincing a purpose to cross Duck river above or below, Gen. Schofield withdrew5 across that stream; and on learning that the Rebels had crossed six miles above, directed Gen. Stanley to follow his trains to Spring Hill; where he arrived just in time to save them from Forrest's cavalry, which was close upon them, but which he drove off; being assailed, soon afterward, by a much stronger force, including infantry, with which he fought till dark; barely holding the road whereby Schofield must make good his retreat.

Schofield, with Ruger's division, had been kept awake all day by the enemy's efforts to cross Duck river at Columbia; repulsing, with heavy loss to them, their repeated attempts to do so. When night fell, he resumed his movement; brushing aside the Rebel cavalry who infested the road, and finding at Spring Hill the enemy bivouacking within half a mile of his line of retreat. He did not choose to have any difficulty with them just then ; but pushed on with his entire command ; and, after fighting all day and marching 25 miles during the following night, he got into position at Franklin early on the 30th. His cavalry moving on the Lewisburg pike, several miles eastward, had encountered no enemy. Time being absolutely required to save our trains, which choked the road for many miles, Schofield halted on the southern verge of the village, threw up a slight breastwork, and proposed to stop, while his train should be got over the Harpeth and fairly on its way to Nashville.

Franklin is situated in a bend of the Harpeth, which here rudely describes the north and east sides of a square, which was completed by our lines of defense. These were held

1 Dated Cartersville, Ga., Nov. 12.

2 Nov. 17.

3 Thomas says: “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.”

4 Nov. 24.

5 Nov. 27-8.

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