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[209] and lasted until after dark, but Stanley held his own, and repulsed the enemy repeatedly, with heavy loss.

At about three P. M. Schofield became convinced that Hood would make no attack at Columbia, but was pushing his principal columns direct upon Spring Hill. He thereupon gave orders for the withdrawal of Cox's force at dark, and pushed on himself with Ruger's troops to open communication with Stanley. The head of the main column followed close behind. Schofield struck the enemy's cavalry at dark, about three miles south of Spring Hill, brushing them away without difficulty, and reaching Spring Hill at seven. Here he found Stanley still in possession, but the rebel army bivouacking within eight hundred yards of the road. Posting one brigade to hold the road, he pushed on with Ruger's division to Thompson's station, three miles beyond. At this point the camp fires of the rebel cavalry were still burning, but the enemy had disappeared, and the cross-roads were secured without difficulty. The withdrawal of the force at Columbia was now safely effected, and Spring Hill was passed without molestation in the night, the troops moving within gun-shot of the enemy. Before daylight, the entire national column had passed, and at an early hour on the 30th, Schofield's command was in position at Franklin.1

1 Hood attributed his lack of success entirely to Cheatham's remissness. ‘Major-General Cheatham was ordered at once to attack the enemy vigorously and get possession of this pike [the Franklin road]; yet although these orders were frequently and earnestly repeated, he made but a partial and feeble attack, failing to reach the point indicated. Darkness soon came on, and to our mortification the enemy continued moving along this road, almost in ear-shot, in hurry and confusion nearly the entire night. Thus was lost the opportunity for striking the enemy for which we labored so long, the best which the campaign has offered, and one of the best afforded us during the war. Major-General Cheatham has frankly confessed the error of which he was guilty, and attaches much blame to himself.’—Hood to Beauregard, December 11.

No reason, however, is given by Hood for the failure to attack the column of Schofield after dark.

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