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[488] as if to give battle, but when our forces deployed for the attack he retired to Franklin.

From dispatches captured at Spring Hill, Hood learned that Schofield was instructed by Thomas to hold that position until Franklin could be made secure, and thus knew that it was important to attack Schofield promptly, concluding that, if he should escape at Franklin, he would gain the fortifications about Nashville. Hood reports that ‘the nature of the position was such as to render it inexpedient to attempt any other flank movement, and I therefore determined to attack him in front and without delay.’

As this was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and its results materially affected the future, before entering on an account of it I pause for some general reflections. It is not quite easy to determine what my gallant friend Hood meant by the expression, ‘the nature of the position.’ It may have referred to the probability that the enemy, if he attempted a flank movement, would retreat rapidly, as he had done from Columbia, and it is now known that a part of his troops and a large part of his train had already been sent across the Harpeth River. Thomas's dispatch indicated a purpose to hold Franklin; its relation to Murfreesboro, where a garrison was maintained, would seem to render this a probable part of a plan to maintain communication with Chattanooga. Franklin had to us, as a mere military question, no other value than that the road to Nashville led through it. Whether it would have been possible to turn the position so promptly as to strike the enemy's line of retreat is a question which no doubt General Hood considered and decided in the negative; otherwise he would surely have preferred to attack the enemy on the march rather than in his entrenchments, especially as these were so near to the town that Hood was restrained from using his artillery on account of the women and children resident in it. The position itself was favorable for defense; the Harpeth River by a short bend flows on two sides of the town, and the works in front had the center so boldly salient, their flanks resting on the river, as to enclose the town in something like a square, two sides being river and two sides entrenchment. The exterior line of defense had been recently and hastily constructed; the interior line was much stronger. Behind the town there were two bridges, one on the main road leading through it, and the other a pontoon bridge a short distance above it. Hood had served with distinction under Lee and Jackson, and his tactics were of that school. If he had, by an impetuous attack, crushed Schofield's army, without too great a loss to his own,

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