say, I decided to take the chances of a pitched battle at any point the enemy might select between Duck River
and Spring Hill
, as well as that of holding the latter place with one division against any hostile force which might reach it before dark.
There was no anxiety in my mind about what might happen at Spring Hill
The danger which actually developed there between dark and midnight —of which I knew nothing until several days afterward—resulted entirely from faulty execution of my orders.
I arrived at Spring Hill
at dusk with the head of the main column, having ordered all the troops to follow in close order, and (except Ruger
's troops, which I took to Thompson
's) to form line on the right of Stanley
's division at Spring Hill
, covering the pike back toward Columbia
's division, being the last, was to form our extreme right.
In that contemplated position, if Hood
had attacked at any time in the night we would have had decidedly the advantage of him. I had no anxiety on that point.
When informed, about midnight, that Cox
had arrived, I understood that my orders had been exactly executed, and then ordered Cox
to take the lead and the other divisions to follow, from the right by the rear, in the march to Franklin
But it happened that only Whitaker
's brigade of Kimball
's division, to which I gave the orders in person, followed Ruger
's. Hence that one brigade was the only force we had in line between Hood
's bivouac and the turnpike that night.
If that fact had been known to the enemy, the result would have been embarrassing, but not very serious.
If the enemy had got possession of a point on the pike, the column from Duck River
would have taken the country road a short distance to the west of Spring Hill
and Thompson's Station
, and marched on to Franklin
The situation at Spring Hill
in the night was