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[521] a gun, and the great and only opportunity of the campaign was lost.

Who was to blame for the blunder?

No one accuses either General Stewart or Forrest of being in any way responsible. It was either the fault of General Hood or of General Cheatham, in my opinion both were to blame, but the principal fault is at the door of General Cheatham. In giving this opinion, I know some gentlemen present whose opinions are entitled to more weight than mine, will differ with me, and I invite the fullest criticism, hoping thereby to get at the real truth of history. I know it was stated on the field on that ill-fated day that General Cheatham was ordered by General Hood to take Spring Hill and cut off Schofield, every necessary support being promised him, and that he did not do it. His command was in advance, and naturally he would bring on the engagement. It was not denied at the time by Cheatham's friends that he received such orders. It subsequently appeared in the newspapers of the South, and he was charged with being responsible for the fatal mistake, and I have never seen or heard of a denial from him. Finally, General Hood, in his book, Advance and retreat, charges the calamity on Cheatham, and brings forward strong corroborating testimony to support it, and so far as I know, General Cheatham has never denied it, or in any way questioned the correctness of General Hood's statements. But I do not think Cheatham alone to blame. The General commanding the armies was on the ground and in sight of the pike, and could clearly see the Federals retreating in confusion, and the position was such that he could not but know what Cheatham was doing. There was plenty of time, and he could have seen the order executed before dark. Again, General Hood intimates that the soldiers were unwilling to fight except behind breastworks. Those who witnessed the battle of Franklin on the next day will not allow such an imputation to be made.

Even after dark there would have been no material trouble in crossing the pike. General Hood says it got dark about 4 o'clock, which is not correct; and then he says there were so many shade trees that darkness was hastened and increased from that cause. It was a clear day and a starlight night, and while there were quite a number of trees just around Spring Hill, the battle would have been largely in a corn-field and an open piece of woodland. Schofield's command did not reach Spring Hill until 11 o'clock at night, and it would have been an easy matter to rout them even at that hour. A soldier has a mortal dread of the enemy in the rear. But we slept, and the Federals marched by without molestation. As I said before, there was not a soldier who did not realize that a golden opportunity was at hand, and every one felt

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B. F. Cheatham (8)
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