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The railroad bridge across the Cumberland, 1864: gates ready to be shut against the Confederates “By all means,” telegraphed Grant to Thomas, “avoid a foot-race to see which, you or Hood, can beat to the Ohio.” This was the voicing of the Union general's fear in December, 1864, that Hood would cross the Cumberland River in the vicinity of Nashville and repeat Bragg's march to the Ohio. A cavalry corps was stationed near the Louisville and Nashville Railroad fortified bridge, and a regiment of pickets kept guard along the banks of the stream, while on the water, gunboats, ironclads, and “tin-clads” kept up a constant patrol. The year before the Confederate raider, John H. Morgan, had evaded the Union guards of the Cumberland and reached the border of Pennsylvania, before he was forced to surrender. On December 8th a widespread report had the Confederates across the Cumberland, but it proved that only a small detachment had been sent out to reconnoiter — sufficient, however, to occasion Grant's telegram. Note the huge gates at the end of the bridge ready to be rushed shut in a moment.

The valley of the Cumberland, from the top of the Nashville military academy

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