rapidity and impetuosity of Hood
's advance and assault add to that probability.
It is interesting to consider what would probably have been the march of events if we had retreated from Duck River
in the night of November 28, upon first learning that Hood
had forced the crossing of that river.
We would have reached Franklin
early on the 29th, could have rebuilt the bridges and crossed the Harpeth
that day and night, and Hood
could not have got up in time to make any serious attack that day. So far as our little army was concerned, for the moment all would have been well.
would have been in front of Franklin
, with his whole army, artillery, and ammunition-trains, by dawn of day on the 30th; he could have forced the crossing of the Harpeth
early that day, compelled us to retire to Nashville
, and interposed his cavalry between Nashville
and Murfreesboroa that night or early on December 1.
's remaining reinforcements from the south and east would have been cut off, and he might have been attacked in Nashville
, not later than December 2, with several thousand fewer men than he finally had there, a large part of his army—A. J. Smith
's three divisions—not fully ready for battle, and with fewer effective cavalry; while Hood
would have had his whole army, fresh and spirited, without the losses and depression caused by its defeat at Franklin
, ready to attack an inferior force at Nashville
or to cross the Cumberland
and invade Kentucky
In short, the day gained at Duck River
and Spring Hill
was indispensable to Thomas
The time gained by that ‘temerity’ made success possible
. The additional time and relative strength gained by Hood
's disastrous repulse at Franklin
made final success easy and certain.
A retreat at any time before nine o'clock A. M. on the 29th would have led to substantially the same result as if begun at 2 A. M.
If the plan adopted and ordered early in the morning of