Pleasant, covering the approach to Columbia from that direction; and in addition to the regular garrison, there was at Columbia a brigade of Ruger's division, Twenty-third Army Corps. I directed the two remaining brigades of Ruger's division, then at Johnsonville, also to move, one by railroad around through Nashville to Columbia, the other by road via Waverly to Centerville, and occupy the crossings of Duck river near Columbia, Williamsport, Gordon's Ferry, and Centerville. Since the departure of General Sherman about seven thousand men belonging to his column had collected at Chattanooga, comprising convalescents returning to their commands, and men returning from furlough. These men had been organized into brigades, to be made available at such points as they might be needed. My command had also been reinforced by twenty new one-year regiments, most of which, however, were absorbed in replacing old regiments whose terms of service had expired. On the twenty-third, in accordance with directions previously given him, General Granger commenced withdrawing the garrisons from Athens, Decatur and Huntsville, Alabama, and moved off toward Stevenson, sending five new regiments of that force to Murfreesboro, and retaining at Stevenson the original troops of his command. This movement was rapidly made by rail, and without opposition on the part of the enemy. That same night General Schofield evacuated Pulaski and moved toward Columbia, reporting himself in position at that place on the twenty-fourth. The commanding officer at Johnsonville was directed to evacuate that post after removing all public property, and retire to Fort.Donelson, on the Cumberland, and thence to Clarkesville. During the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth the enemy skirmished with General Schofield's troops at Columbia, but showed nothing but dismounted cavalry until the morning of the twenty-sixth, when his infantry came up, and pressed our line strongly during that day and the twenty-seventh, but without assaulting. As the enemy's movements showed an undoubted intention to cross above or below the town, General Schofield withdrew to the north bank of the Duck river during the night of the twenty-seventh and took up a new position, where the command remained during the twenty-eighth undisturbed. Two divisions of the Twenty-third corps were placed in line in front of the town, holding all the crossings in its vicinity, while Stanley's corps, posted in reserve on the Franklin pike, was held in readiness to repel any vigorous attempt the enemy should make to force a crossing; the cavalry under command of Brevet Major General Wilson, held the crossings above those guarded by the infantry. About two A. M. on the twenty-ninth the enemy succeeded in pressing back General Wilson's cavalry, and effected a crossing on the Lewisburg pike; at a later hour part of his infantry crossed at Huey's Mills, six miles above Columbia. Communication with the cavairy having been interrupted and the line of retreat toward Franklin being threatened, General Schofield made preparations to withdraw to Franklin. General Stanley, with one division of infantry, was sent to Spring Hill, about fifteen miles north of Columbia, to cover the trains and hold the road open for the passage of the main force, and dispositions were made preparatory to a withdrawal, to meet any attack coming from the direction of Huey's Mills. General Stanley reached Spring Hill just in time to drive off the enemy's cavalry and save the trains; but later he was attacked by the enemy's infantry and cavalry combined, who engaged him heavily, and nearly succeeded in dislodging him from the position, the engagement lasting until dark. Although not attacked from the direction of Huey's Mills, General Schofield was busily occupied all day at Columbia, resisting the enemy's attempts to cross Duck river, which he successfully accomplished, repulsing the enemy many times with heavy loss. Giving directions for the withdrawal of the troops as soon as covered by the darkness, at a late hour in the afternoon General Schofield, with Ruger's division, started to the relief of General Stanley, at Spring Hill, and when near that place came upon the enemy's cavalry, but they were easily driven off. At Spring Hill the enemy was found bivouacking within eight hundred yards of the road. Posting a brigade to hold the pike at this point, General Schofield, with Ruger's division, pushed on to Thompson's station, three miles beyond, where he found the enemy's camp fires still burning, a cavalry force having occupied the place at dark, but had disappeared on the arrival of our troops. General Ruger then quietly took possession of the crossroads. The withdrawal of the main force from in front of Columbia, was safely effected after dark on the twenty-ninth; Spring Hill was passed without molestation, about midnight, and, making a night march of twenty-five miles, the whole command got into position at Franklin at an early hour on the morning of the thirtieth, the cavalry moving on the Lewisburg pike, on the right or east of the infantry. At Franklin, General Schofield formed line of battle on the southern edge of the town, to await the coming of the enemy, and in the meanwhile hastened the crossing of the trains to the north side of Harpeth river. On the evacuation of Columbia, orders were sent to Major-General Milroy, at Tullahoma, to abandon that post and retire to Murfreesboro, joining forces with General Rousseau at the latter place. General Milroy was instructed, however, to maintain the garrison in the blockhouse at Elk river bridge. Nashville was placed in a state of defence, and the fortifications manned by the garrison, reinforced by a volunteer force which had been previously organized into a division under Brevet Brigadier-General J. L. Donaldson, from the employes of the Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments. This
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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