impossible for his army to resist the assaults which he must expect on December 16.
Since all this has become known, it is impossible not to see now that the comparatively feeble resistance offered by the Confederate
troops at Nashville
was due not so much, perhaps, to any lack of valor on the part of those troops, as to their comparatively small numbers.
I recall distinctly the conversation I had with a Confederate field-officer a few minutes after he was captured that day, and which I reported to General Thomas
In answer to my question as to when the Confederate
troops recognized the fact that they were beaten, he answered, ‘Not till you routed us just now.’
I did not believe him then, for I thought they must have recognized their defeat at Franklin
, or at least on the 15th, at Nashville
But now I think he probably told me the exact truth.
I doubt if any soldiers in the world ever needed so much cumulative evidence to convince them that they were beaten.
‘Brave boys were they!’
If they had been fighting in a cause that commanded the sympathy and support of the public conscience of the world, they could never have been beaten; it is not necessary to search for any other cause of the failure of the Confederate States
The most notable feature, on our side, of the battle of December 16 was the wasting of nearly the entire day, so that operations ended with the successful assault at dark.
What was left of Hood
's army had time to retreat across the Harpeth
during the night and destroy the bridges before the pursuit could be commenced.
But the results of the two days operations at Nashville
were too gratifying to admit of contemporaneous criticism.
The battle has been generally accepted as a perfect exemplification of the art of war. It is certainly a good subject for the study of military students, and it is partly for their benefit that I have pointed out some of its prominent defects as I understand them.