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[111] correctly given, and the ammunition being unusually good, the fire was consequently most effective. It was really entertaining to witness it. The enemy replied spiritedly with musketry and artillery, and his practice with both was good. In the progress of the duel he disabled two gunsin Ziegler's battery. After the disposition above recounted had been made, the commanding General joined me near our most advanced position, on the Franklin pike, examined the posting of the troops, approved the same, and ordered that the enemy should be vigorously pressed and unceasingly harassed by our fire. He further directed that I should be constantly on the alert for any opening for a more decisive effort, but, for the time, to abide events. The general plan of the battle for the preceding day, namely, to outflank and turn the enemy's left, was still to be acted on. Before leaving me the commanding General desired me to confer with Major-General Steedman, whose command had moved out that morning from Nashville by the Nolensville pike, and arrange a military connection between his right and my left. The enemy had made some display of force between the Franklin and Nolensville pikes, but its extent could not be fixed, and it was hence necessary to take precaution in reference to it. Near twelve M. I rode towards the left and met Major-General Steedman; communicated to him the views of the commanding General, and submitted him some suggestions with regard to the disposition of his command to meet those views. General Steedman coincided in opinion with me, and promptly and handsomely, though exposed to a sharp fire from one of the enemy's batteries, placed his command, both infantry and artillery, in a position which effectually secured my left from being turned. I will here remark that General Steedman's command most gallantly and effectively co-operated with my command during the remainder of the day. For a proper understanding of the last, great, and decisive struggle in the battle of Nashville, a brief description of the scene of its occurrence, and of the topograhy of the adjacent country, is requisite. The basin in which the city of Nashville stands is enclosed on the south-west, south, and south-east, by the Brentwood Hills.

The Franklin pike runs nearly due south from Nashville. The Brentwood Hills consist of two ranges or branches; the branch to the west of the Franklin pike runs from north-west to southeast, the branch to the east of the Franklin pike runs from north-east to south-west. The two branches unite in a depression or gap, about nine miles from Nashville. The Franklin pike passes through the gap, and in it is situated the little hamlet of Brentwood. The most northern point of each branch of hills is about five miles from Nashville. From this description it will be perceived that the general configuration of the Brentwood Hills is that of a rudely shaped V. Nashville is north of, and about opposite, the centre of the space included between the two branches. Brentwood is at the apex. The valley inclosed between the two branches is nearly bisected by the Franklin pike. The average elevation of the Brentwood Hills above the general level of the surrounding country, is about three hundred and fifty feet. The surface of the Nashville basin is broken by detached hills, some of which rise to an elevation of a hundred and fifty feet, with abrupt sides, densely wooded. About five miles from Nashville the Franklin pike passes along the base of one of those isolated heights, which is known as Overton Hill. When the heavy stress which had been put on the enemy during the forenoon of the sixteenth had forced him into his works, he was found to occupy a strongly intrenched line, running for some distance along the base of the western branch of the Brentwood Hills; thence across the valley, eastward, to and across the Franklin pike, around the northern slope of Overton Hill, about midway between its summit and base, with a retired flank running nearly southward, prolonged around its eastern slope. This line of intrenchments was strengthened with an abatis and other embarrassments to an assault.

The right of the enemy's main line rested on Overton Hill. A close examination of the position satisfied me that if Overton Hill could be carried, the enemy's right would be turned, his line from the Franklin pike, westward, would be taken in reverse, and his line of retreat along the pike and the valley leading to Brentwood, commanded effectually. The capture of half of the rebel army would almost certainly have been the guerdon of success. It was evident that the assault would be very difficult, and even if successful, would probably be attended with heavy loss; but the prize at stake was worth the hazard. Early in the afternoon I began to make preparations for assaulting the hill. Owing to the openness of the country, the preparatory movements could not be concealed from the enemy; in truth, from our extreme proximity to his intrenchments, they were necessarily made under the fire of his artillery. Knowing that the safety of his army depended on holding Overton Hill to the last moment, he reinforced the position heavily with troops drawn from his left and left-centre. I directed Colonel Post to reconnoitre the position closely, with the view of determining-first, the feasibility of an assault; and secondly, to determine the most practicable point on which to direct it. After a thorough and close reconnoisance, in which perhaps three-fourths of an hour were spent, Colonel Post reported that the position was truly formidable, that it would be very difficult to carry, but that he thought he could do it with his brigade. He further reported that an assault, in his opinion, on the northern slope of the hill, held out the greatest promise of success. I ordered him to prepare his brigade for the assault immediately, and to inform me when he was ready to move. I directed General Beatty, commanding Third division, to have the First brigade (Colonel Streight's) formed


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