November 29 had been carried out, by which the line of Duck River
would have been abandoned in the middle of that day, the head of the column from Spring Hill
would have arrived at Franklin
about midnight, expecting to cross the Harpeth
without delay; but, under the conditions actually found to exist at Franklin
, not much progress toward providing the means of crossing the Harpeth
could have been made before daylight in the morning; therefore our condition for battle at Franklin
would not have been materially different, in time or otherwise, from what it actually was. Hood
's artillery, as well as his infantry, could have reached Spring Hill
before daylight on the 30th, and would have had practically a clear road to Franklin
; for the enemy's superior cavalry having been interposed between our cavalry and infantry, it was necessary for our infantry, artillery, and trains to retreat from Spring Hill
in one compact column.
A small force could not have been left at Spring Hill
, as had been suggested, to delay Hood
's advance, because of the imminent danger that it would be attacked in flank and rear by the enemy's cavalry, and thus cut off and captured; hence Hood
could have made his attack at Franklin
about noon, instead of at 4:30 P. M., and with a large force of artillery as well as of infantry.
Such an attack would, of course, have been far more formidable than that which was actually made; whether it could have been successfully resisted from noon until dark can only be conjectured.
It is sufficient here to note that the delay of Hood
's advance very greatly diminished the force of his attack at Franklin
, besides making his arrival before that place so late that he could not turn that position that day by crossing the Harpeth
The tenacity with which the crossing of Duck River
was held was well rewarded at Franklin
The question has been raised whether we ought not to have held our position in front of Franklin