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[262] Johnston voluntarily to enter into a capitulation even after the capture of Lee.

This is unquestionably the explanation of Hood's desperate act in waiting in front of Nashville and inviting the destruction or capture of his army. The crushing blow he there received was like a death-blow delivered by a giant full of strength and vigor upon a gladiator already beaten and reduced in strength nearly to exhaustion. Sherman was not very far wrong when he said that ‘the battle of Nashville was fought at Franklin.’ The gladiator had been reduced to less than one third of his former strength by a long series of combats with a more powerful antagonist all the past summer, and finally by his unexpected repulse at Franklin. It required only one or two more blows from the powerful enemy at Nashville to complete his destruction. Any estimate of the battle of Nashville which fails to take into account the foregoing facts must be essentially erroneous, and it is not doing any honor to the great soldier who fought that battle to compare it with his previous achievements when he heroically met and defeated superior numbers of fresh and vigorous troops.

A wide diversity of opinion has always existed among military men in respect to the battle of Nashville, ranging all the way from the view taken in historical accounts heretofore published to the opinion expressed by General Sherman, in language intended of course to be hyperbolical, namely, that ‘the battle of Nashville was fought at Franklin.’ The truth is to be found somewhere between these two extremes. But the exact truth respecting that battle can perhaps hardly yet be told. I will, however, state such facts of my own knowledge and experience, and make such references to data to be found in the voluminous records, as it seems to me may assist the future historian, together with such comments as I deem appropriate upon the information now available. As will be explained hereafter, some important documents which

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William T. Sherman (2)
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