of a great battle, while I then had better than ever before opportunity to study the character of my chief.
A wiser commander than Hood
might very probably have saved his army from that terrible and useless sacrifice of December 16.
But that last and bravest champion of a desperate cause in the west appears to have decided to remain and invite the total destruction of his army.
The position which the Confederates
occupied in the morning of the 16th was so close to that of more than half of the Union
troops that Hood
's left could easily have been crushed by an infantry assault and his rear reached by Thomas
's cavalry before noon, and nothing less than a miracle could have prevented the capture of Hood
It is worthy of note as instructive comparisons that on November 30 Hood
advanced from Spring Hill
and made his famous assault in just about the same length of time that it took our troops to advance from the first to the second position at Nashville
and make the assault of December 16; and that the Fourth and Twenty-third corps on November 29 and 30 fought two battles—Spring Hill
—and marched forty miles, from Duck River
, in thirty-six hours. Time is an element in military problems the value of which cannot be too highly estimated, yet how seldom has it been duly appreciated!
The remnant of Hood
's army having made its escape across the Tennessee River
, the pursuit terminated, and General Thomas
issued his remarkable General Orders, No. 169, announcing that ‘the rear-guard of the flying and dispirited enemy was driven across the Tennessee River
. . .’1
Orders were then issued by General Thomas
distributing his army along the Tennessee River
in winter quarters, and he commenced planning a campaign for the