ded, and missing.
Ascertaining that the enemy was heavily reenforced during the night, General Bragg on the next morning withdrew his troops to Harrodsburg.
General Smith arrived the next day with most of his forces, and the whole were then withdrawn to Bryantsville, the foe following slowly but not closely.
General Bragg finally took position at Murfreesboro, and the hostile forces concentrated at Nashville, General Buell having been superseded by General Rosecrans.
Meantime, on November 30th, General Morgan with thirteen hundred men made an attack on a brigade of the enemy at Hartsville.
It was found strongly posted on a hill in line of battle.
Our line was formed under fire, and the advance was made with great steadiness.
The enemy was driven from his position, through his camps, losing a battery of Parrott guns, and finally hemmed in on the river bank, where he surrendered.
The contest was severe, and lasted an hour and a half.
The prisoners numbered twenty-one hundr
gh it, and the other a pontoon bridge a short distance above it. Hood had served with distinction under Lee and Jackson, and his tactics were of that school.
If he had, by an impetuous attack, crushed Schofield's army, without too great a loss to his own, and Forrest could have executed his orders to capture the trains when Schofield's army was crushed, we should never have heard complaint because Hood attacked at Franklin, and these were the hopes with which he made his assault.
On November 30th he formed his line of battle.
At 4 P. M. he gave the order to advance; his troops moved gallantly forward, carried the first line, and advanced against the interior works; here the engagement was close and fierce; the combatants occupied the opposite sides of the entrenchments, our men carrying them in some places, many being killed entirely inside the enemy's works.
Some of the Tennesseeans, after years of absence, saw again their homes, and strove with desperation to expel the invade
nt and led the troops into action himself.
In his book, he calls the opportunity the best move in my career as a soldier.
A few days after, Cheatham frankly admitted his delinquency.
It was rumored that both he and Gen. Stewart had that evening absented themselves from their divisions.
Both had been often distinguished for gallantry, and Hood now overlooked it, believing it had been a lesson not to be forgotten.
Nevertheless, it proved the death-blow to Hood's army.
On the next day, Nov. 30, Schofield took a strong position at Franklin to protect his wagon-trains, resting both flanks on the Harpeth River across a concave bend.
His intrenched main line was but a mile in length.
It was well protected with abattis, and, 280 yards in front, an entire division, Wagner's of the 4th corps, held an advanced line, with its flanks drawn back nearly to the main line, and also well protected by abattis.
His infantry, about 23,000, was a little more than Hood's and was ample to man both
e with the Army of the Cumberland at Nashville.
Hence I wish to point out clearly that I had been with the entire Twenty-third Corps to Nashville, with a part of it to Johnsonville and back to Nashville, and thence to Columbia and near Pulaski, all by rail; that all of the Army of the Cumberland then in Tennessee was the Fourth Corps and the cavalry at and near Pulaski; that General Thomas placed those troops under my command, and that they remained so until after the battle of Franklin, November 30, and the retreat to Nashville that night; and that General Thomas did not have an army at Nashville until December 1.
I had united with Thomas's troops two weeks before the battle of Franklin, and was commanding his army in the field as well as my own during that time.
If the historians had read the records
War Records, Vol.
XLV. they could not possibly have fallen into such a mistake.
Before reaching Pulaski I was furnished with an order from General Thomas's headquarters assign
perhaps because I was sleeping quietly on my horse as we marched along!
I arrived at Franklin with the head of my column a short time before the dawn of day, November 30; indicated to General J. D. Cox, commanding the Twenty-third Corps, the line upon which the troops were to be formed; and intrusted to him the formation, as thetreat was inevitable, but he apparently did not get that despatch.
He nevertheless sent bridge material by rail to Franklin, where it arrived on the morning of November 30, too late for the pontoons to be used, though the flooring was useful in covering the railroad bridge and the burned wagon-bridge.
I found also on the south sigreat an advantage in that respect.
The army at Franklin and the troops at Nashville were within one night's march of each other; Hood must therefore attack on November 30, or lose the advantage of greatly superior numbers.
It was impossible, after the pursuit from Spring Hill, in a short day to turn our position or make any othe
er, dated 8 A. M., directing him to move at once to Spring Hill, he was ordered to leave one regiment to guard the river until dark and then join him at Spring Hill.
It was then intended, in any event, to hold Spring Hill until the morning of November 30. At the same time Ruger was directed to order his troops guarding the river below to march at once for Franklin.
But very soon after those orders were issued—that is, soon after 8 A. M.—a courier from Franklin brought me the two following f my force was inadmissible.
An inferior force should generally be kept in one compact body, while a superior force may often be divided to great advantage.
I now direct attention to the correspondence between General Thomas and myself, on November 30, before the battle of Franklin, showing that he was not ready for battle at Nashville, and his desire that I should, if possible, hold Hood back three days longer; and showing that my estimate of the importance of time when I was at Columbia w
ore, as fully described by General Thomas, and his army was already substantially beaten.
Its spirit seemed to be gone.
What little fight was left in it after November 30 had been greatly diminished on December 15.
Hood, almost alone of that army, was not whipped until the 16th.
He, the responsible leader of a desperate cause,cavalry before noon, and nothing less than a miracle could have prevented the capture of Hood's army.
It is worthy of note as instructive comparisons that on November 30 Hood advanced from Spring Hill to Franklin 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 Franklin—and marched forty miles, from Duck River to Nashville, in thirty-six hours. Time is an element in military problems the value of which cannot be too hi
statements in the reports of the Corps commanders
explanation of the absence of orders
the Phraseology of General Thomas's report.
the official records, Hood's statement, and Sherman's estimate, made at the time, agree pretty closely in placing Hood's infantry force at about 30,000 men when he crossed the Tennessee and began his advance toward Nashville.
He lost a considerable number at Spring Hill on November 29, and over 6000, besides thirteen general officers, at Franklin on November 30.
Therefore 24,000 must be a liberal estimate of his infantry strength after the battle of Franklin.
The infantry strength of the Fourth and Twenty-third corps did not exceed 22,000 present for duty equipped, of which one brigade (Cooper's) of the Twenty-third was sent by General Thomas to guard the fords of Duck River below Columbia, and did not rejoin the corps until after the battle of Franklin.
Hence Hood's infantry force at Columbia and Franklin was nearly one half greater than min
Thomas's concurrence in Sherman's opinion, as shown in his despatch of November 12, simply shows that they were both in the same error; for A. J. Smith's troops did not begin to arrive at Nashville until the day of the battle of Franklin (November 30), and they were a very important part of the force relied upon in Sherman's plan.
The whole fate of the Tennessee campaign was decided by the delay of Hood at Columbia and Spring Hill and his defeat in the desperate battle of Franklin, and thlin and Nashville?
By the first mails which reached Sherman after he arrived on the coast, December 14 and 15, containing letters from Grant dated December 3 and 6, full information was received of the battle of Franklin, which had occurred November 30.
Thomas's official report of the battle of Nashville was received by Sherman on December 24, but rumors of that victory had reached him earlier.
Sherman's first letter to Grant, relative to future operations, written in reply to those from G
in fact, due largely to an accident which, in the ordinary course of military operations, ought not to have happened, and by which Hood was tempted to make at Franklin one of those furious assaults upon troops in position and ready to receive him which are almost always disastrous.
It was just the kind of temptation to Hood's army that was necessary to break it up, and it did so very effectually.
The old Army of Tennessee, which had been so formidable, ceased to be a formidable army on November 30.
Its fighting days were nearly over.
After that it never did any fighting at all worthy of its old record.
And there was hardly a single day while Hood was in command in the Atlanta campaign when a similar result might not have been reached by a similar method, and that without any risk of disaster to the Union army, because the force assaulted by Hood might always have had a more powerful army near at hand to support it if necessary.
In his special field order of January 8, 1865, a