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Xxxi. Hood's Tennessee campaign.

Gen. Thomas had been detached by Gen. Sherman from his main army in Georgia, and sent back to assume chief command in Tennessee, in doubt as to what were Hood's real intentions. It was obvious enough that his eccentric movement to the north and north-west was intended to compel a corresponding movement on our part, and thus deprive us of all the fruits of Sherman's Atlanta campaign; but suppose we refused to be thus tolled out of Georgia, and across the Tennessee, what then? Sherman could not determine; so he gave Thomas the widest discretion. If Hood should push boldly into the heart of Tennessee, he was to be resisted, beaten, and driven out; if he should turn upon Sherman, he was to be followed circumspectly but closely.

Grant, in his camp before Richmond, could hardly realize that Hood was moving on Nashville, “which seemed to me,” says he in his report, “to be leading to his certain doom. At all events, had I the power to command both armies, I should not have changed the orders under which he seemed to be acting.”

Thomas had probably quite as many men under his command as Hood led across the Tennessee — counting all between Knoxville and Memphis, he may have had more. But they were mainly fragments of brigades and regiments, dispersed over a wide region, holding posts which could not well be evacuated, guarding large depots of supplies, and watching railroad bridges and trestles which Rebel guerrillas and bushwhackers' were lurking to burn, while their lots might involve that of war-wasted Tennessee itself. Nearly everything consumed by our armies in their quarters was now brought by rail from the banks of the Ohio.

Forrest, with a large body of light cavalry, preluded Hood's advance. Crossing the Tennessee near Waterloo, he suddenly presented1 himself at Athens, Alabama, held by Col. Campbell, 110th U. S. colored, with 600 men. Investing the town, he opened with a 12-pounder battery on [678] the fort; sending in two different summonses, which were declined; then soliciting and obtaining a personal interview with Campbell; at which the latter “allowed2 himself to be convinced” that it was useless to hold out, and ingloriously gave up, just 30 minutes prior to the arrival of the 18th Michigan and 102d Ohio to reenforce him; compelling them also to succumb, after a sharp contest. Forrest now raided north to Pulaski, destroying the railroad and capturing a fortified post by the way; skirmishing heavily all day3 at Pulaski; but Gen. Roussean was here, and had hastily collected such a force that an assault would have been madness; so Forrest drew off eastward and struck the Chattanooga railroad4 near Tullahoma and Decherd, doing it some damage; but Rousseau had moved rapidly around by rail through Nashville, and again confronted him at Tullahoma; while Gen. Steedman, leading 5,000 men, crossed the Tennessee from northern Georgia, and advanced upon him from the south-west; Morgan's division of the 14th corps moving simultaneously from Atlanta to cooperate in enveloping and crushing him.

All in vain. Forrest turned on his track, and pushed south-east to Fayetteville; there dividing his forces and sending Buford, with 4,000 men, to summon Huntsville,5 and then Athens, Ala.; while he, with 3,000, swept north-west to Columbia; threatening that place, but not assaulting it; for by this time Rousseau, with 4,000 mounted men, was coming after him from Nashville; while Gen. C. C. Washburne, with 3,000 cavalry and 1,500 infantry, was steaming up the Tennessee to join in the hunt; and Lt.-Com'r Forrest, with several gunboats, was patroling that river in Alabama, on the lookout for his reappearance hurrying southward.

Buford tried to carry6 Athens, Ala.; which was firmly held by Lt.-Col. Slade, 73d Indiana, who repulsed him handsomely; when he drew off westward and escaped7 over the Tennessee at Brown's ferry.

Forrest had now enemies enough encircling him to have eaten all his horses; but, destroying five miles of the railroad, and paroling his prisoners, he sped south-west through Mount Pleasant and Lawrenceburg, and got safely across the Tennessee at Bainbridge; having inflicted much injury, kept busy many times his number of men, worn out a good many of our shoes, taken at least 1,000 prisoners, and escaped with very little loss.

Hood, who had meantime been operating, and continued for a fortnight longer to operate, on Sherman's line of communications nearly up to Chattanooga, and had thence moved westward, as we have seen, into northern Alabama, next demonstrated8 in considerable force against Decatur — being the point at which the railroads cross the Tennessee which tend eastward to Chattanooga, westward to Memphis, and northward to Nashville. He found here Gen. Gordon Granger, with a considerable force, which he pressed for several days; establishing a line of rifle-pits within 500 yards of the defenses; intrenching strongly, and threatening an assault; but using no guns, and being roughly handled in [679] a sortie,9 wherein a part of the garrison gained the rear of the rifle-pits on his left; clearing them and taking 120 prisoners. On that day, one of the batteries on his right was carried and spiked by Col. Morgan's 14th U. S. colored, with some loss; and he drew off westward next evening.

The pressure on Decatur was a feint to cover his crossing farther west; which was soon effected near Florence, in spite of resistance by Gen. Croxton's brigade of cavalry, there picketing the river. Meantime, Forrest, moving eastward from Corinth, Miss., through Paris, Tenn., with 17 regiments of cavalry and 9 guns, had struck the Tennessee at Johnsonville, an important depot connected by railroad with Nashville, and a chief reliance of that city for supplies; defended by Col. C. R. Thompson, 12th U. S. colored, with 1,000 men, aided by Lt. E. M. King with three gunboats; and several days'10 sharp fighting ensued; the enemy ultimately drawing off, upon the approach by rail of Gen. Schofield with his 23d corps from Nashville; but not till — our mariners having been worsted in a fight with Forrest's cavalry — our commanders had fired their gunboats and transports, lest they should fall into the enemy's hands; and the flames had extended to the stores on the levee and the commissary's and quartermaster's depots, involving a loss of $1,500,000 worth of provisions, &c., just when they could worst be spared. Gen. Thomas reports this destruction needless and unjustifiable.

It being no longer doubtful that Hood — who bad been reenforced by part of Dick Taylor's army from below — was about to follow his vanguard across the Tennessee--Gen. Thomas directed a concentration of the 4th and 23d corps on Pulaski, with intent to impede rather than seriously dispute the Rebel advance on Nashville. Hood's infantry, according to our best advices, now exceeded 40,000; his cavalry were 12,000, well equipped, in high spirits, under their boldest and most skillful leader; so that, including artillery, the entire Rebel force, well concentrated, was not far from 55,000 men. Many of these were Tennesseans and Kentuckians, long exiled, who had come home to stay, alive or dead. To oppose these, Thomas had in hand the 4th corps, Gen. Stanley, 12,000; the 23d, Gen. Schofield, 10,000; and 8,000 cavalry, under Hatcher, Croxton, and Capron — in all 30,000 men. He may have had as many more, scattered over the wide region under his command; but, to concentrate these, he must abandon such posts as Chattanooga, Stevenson, Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, &c., and in effect relinquish more to the enemy than they could hope to win by a victory. He knew that time was on his side — that, if he fell back to Nashville, showing a firm front that would compel Hood to keep his army together, our strength would be constantly augmenting, while the enemy must be steadily weakened. There was a more brilliant alternative, but he chose to be safe.

While Sherman remained near Kingston, Ga., menacing his flank and rear, Hood seemed to linger on the Tennessee; possibly deeming the odds against him too great; perhaps not yet fully provided and equipped [680] for his great venture. At length, a dispatch from Sherman11 apprised Thomas that the former had cut loose from his base and started southward from Atlanta on his Great March ; and no sooner had the tidings reached Hood, still at Florence, Ala., where he had a pontoon bridge, with part of his force on either side of the river, than the crossing of his remaining corps commenced;12 while his van, already over, moved through Waynesboroa and Lawrenceburg on Nashville.13

Hood's army was organized in three corps, under Maj.-Gen. B. F. Cheatham, Lt.-Gens. A. P. Stewart and S. D. Lee, beside his strong cavalry corps under Forrest. Each corps was composed of three divisions: Maj.-Gens. Cleburne, Loring, Bate, E. Johnson, and Buford, being the best known of their commanders. Thomas had but five divisions of infantry at the front; but he had collected several more before the struggle was brought to a final issue.

Gen. Schofield, at Pulaski, now fell back, by order, on Columbia; where his corps was concentrated,14 as was most of Stanley's; while Gen. Granger withdrew the garrisons from Athens (Ala.), Decatur, and Huntsville, retiring on Stevenson. The force left at Johnsonville now evacuated that post, withdrawing to Clarksville. When the enemy appeared before Columbia, declining to assault, but evincing a purpose to cross Duck river above or below, Gen. Schofield withdrew15 across that stream; and on learning that the Rebels had crossed six miles above, directed Gen. Stanley to follow his trains to Spring Hill; where he arrived just in time to save them from Forrest's cavalry, which was close upon them, but which he drove off; being assailed, soon afterward, by a much stronger force, including infantry, with which he fought till dark; barely holding the road whereby Schofield must make good his retreat.

Schofield, with Ruger's division, had been kept awake all day by the enemy's efforts to cross Duck river at Columbia; repulsing, with heavy loss to them, their repeated attempts to do so. When night fell, he resumed his movement; brushing aside the Rebel cavalry who infested the road, and finding at Spring Hill the enemy bivouacking within half a mile of his line of retreat. He did not choose to have any difficulty with them just then ; but pushed on with his entire command ; and, after fighting all day and marching 25 miles during the following night, he got into position at Franklin early on the 30th. His cavalry moving on the Lewisburg pike, several miles eastward, had encountered no enemy. Time being absolutely required to save our trains, which choked the road for many miles, Schofield halted on the southern verge of the village, threw up a slight breastwork, and proposed to stop, while his train should be got over the Harpeth and fairly on its way to Nashville.

Franklin is situated in a bend of the Harpeth, which here rudely describes the north and east sides of a square, which was completed by our lines of defense. These were held [681]

Battle of Franklin.

by two divisions of his own and all three of the 4th (Stanley's) corps — the whole reported at 17,000, and certainly not much exceeding that number. As the ground rises from the stream, the position was of little worth, save as its flanks were protected by the river.16

Hood's army, arriving later, was not ready for the onset till 4 P. M.; when, at the word of command, the charging lines swept on.

Hood had delayed the attack till all his force could be brought up; intending to crush in our front at the first onset by the sheer weight of his assault. Stewart's corps was on his right, next the Harpeth; Cheatham's on his left, reaching westward to the angle of our defenses; Lee in reserve behind them; though Johnson's division of Lee's corps was thrown to the left during the engagement; the cavalry was on both flanks; Forrest, with most of it, on the right. “Break those lines,” shouted Hood to his men, “and there is nothing more to withstand you this side of the Ohio river!” Many Tennesseeans were now for the first time in weary months within sight of their homes; one General (Carter) fell mortally wounded within a few rods of his own house. Gen. Schofield watched the progress of the battle from Fort Granger, across the Harpeth.

Though Schofield's command numbered nearly if not quite 20,000 men, a good part of it was already across the river, guarding the trains and our left flank, while two divisions held the lines guarding our right; so that all the force directly confronting the Rebel advance hardly numbered 10,000. Of these, two brigades of the 2d (Wagner's) division of the 4th (Stanley's) corps were thrown out in our front, holding some slight works a few hundred yards in advance of our general line; the key of which was Carter's hill, a gentle eminence, across which ran the Columbia pike through Franklin to Nashville. Behind that hill stood the 1st (Opdycke's) brigade of Wood's 2d division in reserve.

The Rebel charge was so impetuous, [682] as well as so heavy, that it was scarcely checked by the advanced works held too long by the two brigades aforesaid, but swept over them like a torrent, hurling back our men in tumultuous rout, taking many prisoners, and driving the residue right through the center of our main line, which not merely opened to receive them, but kept widening after they had rushed past. In an instant, the wings next that pike of the 2d and 3d divisions of the 23d (Cox's) corps recoiled before the enemy's charge; the hill was lost, 8 of our guns taken, and the Rebel flag planted in triumph on our breastworks, as the exulting victors, having passed over them, hastily formed on the inside, intending to follow up their triumph. Caissons as well as men streamed wildly to the bridges, supposing the day utterly lost and nothing left to do but save from the wreck as much as possible.

“First brigade! Forward to the works!” rang out the steady voice of Opdycke, as the rabble rout swept by; he riding rapidly forward as the bayonets of his men came down to a charge, flashing back the rays of the setting sun. Swiftly, steadily, grandly, that brigade rushed upon the foe; a brief but bloody struggle ensued; and at its close no Rebel remained upon or inside of the works but the dead and wounded, with 300 prisoners. Our guns were recovered; 10 Rebel battle-flags taken; our line was restored, and Opdycke's headquarters established here on the pike; and here they remained till the last shot was fired that night.

Our defenses had been regained as much by surprise as by valor — the enemy not expecting a countercharge — they must now be held by valor alone. Exasperated rather than disconcerted, Hood threw heavy masses against the lost breastworks, hoping to retake them before they could be adequately manned; while Opdycke, first exhausting all the shots in his revolver, employed it as a club to drive up stragglers to the help of his heroic brigade; and, when he had broken the pistol, he dismounted and borrowed a musket, which he found even more efficient in the work of persuasion; driving skulkers out of the reserve for in which they had sought and found comparative safety.17 Of course, his efforts and those of his men were nobly supported by others — there being ample scope and work for all.

The battle raged fiercely till 10 P. M.; the enemy shifting gradually to our right and attacking on the flank; where they were more especially confronted and repelled by Stanley's 1st division, Gen. Nathan Kimball. But our lines were never again broken: assault after assault being repulsed with great loss to the assailants and smaller to the defenders; until the enemy desisted; and then, a little after midnight--our trains being by this time well on their way — our men quietly drew out of their defenses, and followed; until, about noon, our weary, sleepless heroes were safe within the defenses of Nashville. [683] Forrest had followed sharply since daylight, but to no purpose.

Our loss in this sanguinary encounter was officially reported at 189 killed, 1,033 wounded (including Maj.-Gen. D. S. Stanley, severely), and 1,104 missing (many of these doubtless wounded also, and nearly all captured): total, 2,326. Not a gun was left behind in our retreat.

Gen. Thomas reports the Rebel loss in this struggle at 1,750 killed, 3,800 wounded, and 702 prisoners: total, 6,252.

Hood, in a conversational account of the battle, says:

The struggle lasted till near midnight; when the enemy abandoned his works and crossed the river, leaving his dead and his wounded in our possession. Never did troops fight more gallantly. During the day, I was restrained from using my artillery, on account of the women and children remaining in the town. At night, it was massed, ready to continue the action in the morning; but the enemy retired. We captured about a thousand prisoners, and several stands of colors. Our total loss, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was 4,500. Among the killed were Maj.-Gen. P. R. Cleburne, Brig.-Gens. Gist, John Adams, Strahl, and Granbury. Maj.-Gen. Brown, with Brig.-Gens. Carter, Manigault, Quarles, Cockrell, and Scott, were wounded, and Brig.-Gen. Gordon captured. The number of dead left by the enemy on the field indicated that his loss was equal to or near our own. The next morning at daylight — the wounded being cared for and the dead buried — we moved forward toward Nashville: Forrest with his cavalry pursuing the enemy vigorously.

The loss of Pat. Cleburne--“the Stonewall Jackson of the West” --would of itself have been a Rebel disaster. He was an Irishman by birth, who had served as a private in the British army; and who left behind him no superior as a rough and ready fighter. By the carnage of this day, Hood's army was depleted of a full sixth, not of its numbers, but of its effective force — a loss which it had no means of replacing.

Hitherto, Thomas had resisted very considerable odds ; but, when Hood sat down18 before Nashville, the case was bravely altered. The Rebel army had by this time been reduced, by the casualties and hardships of an offensive and unseasonable campaign, to 40,000 at most; A. J. Smith's command, transported from Missouri on steamboats, had just arrived,19 and been posted on our right; while Gen. Steedman, with 5,000 of Sherman's men and a Black brigade, had come up by rail from Chattanooga. Add tile garrison of Nashville, and a division organized from the employes of the quartermaster's, commissary's, and railroad departments, now working diligently on the defenses, and it was clear that Thomas's infantry outnumbered that which affected to besiege him, in a city which had already been extensively fortified. Still, he was so deficient in cavalry that he paused to mount a few thousand men before challenging the enemy to a decisive conflict. This perplexed Gen. Grant; who, chafing at the idea of such a display of Rebel audacity in the heart of Tennessee, had left his camp on the James and reached Washington on his way westward, when he was met by telegraphic reports which convinced him that his Tennessee lieutenant, like Sheridan, needed no supervision.

Thomas, reluctant to relax his hold on the railroad to Chattanooga, had left Gen. Rousseau, with 8,000 men, in. Fortress Rosecrans, at Murfreesboroa: the railroad being further defended [684] by a block-house at Overall's creek, five miles north, which was attacked20 by Bate's division of Cheatham's corps, but firmly held till Gen. Milroy, with three or four regiments, came out from Murfreesboroa, and repelled the assailants. During the next three days, a division of Lee's corps and 2,500 of Forrest's cavalry reenforced Bate, and Fortress Rosecrans was threatened, but not really assaulted; Buford's cavalry finally shelling and charging21 into Murfreesboroa, but being promptly driven out by a regiment of infantry. The Rebel cavalry moved hence north to Lebanon, and threatened to cross the Cumberland, but found it patroled by gunboats and drew off. Gen. Milroy, being this day sent out from Murfreesboroa with 7 regiments of infantry, attacked the Rebels on the Wilkeson pike, driving them and taking 207 prisoners, with 2 guns; losing 30 killed and 175 wounded.

Hood had established22 his lines south of Nashville, with his salient on Montgomery hill, opposite our center, and but 600 yards distant. Wilson, with cavalry, was across the river at Gallatin, watching for raiders from Forrest's command. And now ensued a week of severe cold, wherein both armies were nearly torpid: the Rebels, worse clad and more exposed, probably suffering more sensibly. When at length the temperature softened,23 Thomas issued orders for a general advance on our right next day; to cover which, Gen. Steedman, on our left, sharply and successfully attacked the enemy's right that evening: pushing it back toward Hood's center, and causing a movement from that center to its support.

Morning broke24 auspiciously. The weather was still mild, and a dense fog, lasting till near noon, concealed our movements. Gen. A. J. Smith. with his thinned corps, with Wilson's cavalry on his right, now moved out on the Hardin pike, to flank the left of the enemy's infantry; while Johnson's cavalry division, advancing on the Charlotte pike, struck at Chalmers's cavalry on that wing and a Rebel battery, posted at Bell's landing on the Cumberland, which he attacked late that afternoon, in conjunction with our gunboats under Lt.-Com'r Fitch. They did not carry it; but it was evacuated during the ensuing night.

Hatch's division of Wilson's cavalry first struck the enemy; driving him from his position, and taking prisoners and wagons. Swinging slightly to the left, Hatch, dismounting his men, assaulted and carried a redoubt, taking four guns, and turning them on their late possessors. A second stronger redoubt was soon reached; and this, too, was carried: the spoils being four more guns and 300 prisoners. McArthur's division of Smith's infantry, closing on the left of the cavalry, cooperated in these assaults, so far as the impetuous charges of the cavalry allowed them a chance to do so.

The 4th corps, Gen. T. J. Wood commanding (because of Stanley's wound), had moved parallel with Smith, closing on his left, and had also, about 1 P. M., assaulted Montgomery hill: the assault being immediately delivered by Col. Sidney P. Post, 59th Illinois, with the 3d brigade of the 2d (Wagner's) division, who gallantly carried the work, [685]

Battle of Nashville.

taking some prisoners. And now, giving a hand to Smith's left, Wood's corps resumed its advance; carrying by assault Hood's entire line of defenses, taking several guns and 500 prisoners, and forcing the enemy back to a new position at the foot of Harpeth hills.

Schofield, meantime, had been sent up on Smith's right, so as to enable our cavalry to operate freely on the enemy's flank and rear; and, moving rapidly, had come into action just before night. Steedman had gained a little more ground on our extreme left. And now our line was readjusted: Wilson's cavalry on our extreme right; Schofield next; then Smith in the center, with Wood on his left; Steedman still farther in that direction, but less advanced. The day's work had given us 16 guns, 1,200 prisoners, many small arms, and 40 wagons; while our losses had been light. Never had men fought with more alacrity or [686] greater steadiness than those who now lay down on their arms, prepared to finish their work on the morrow.

The second day opened with an advance by Wood, pushing back the enemy's skirmishers eastward across the Franklin pike, and then, inclining to the right, moving due south from Nashville till he confronted Hood's new line of defenses on Overton's hill, five miles from the city. Hereupon, Gen. Steedman, pushing rapidly down the Nolensville pike, closed in on Wood's left flank ; while Smith came in on Wood's right; Schofield, facing eastward, threatened the enemy's left flank ; and Wilson, still farther to the right, and more advanced, gained the Rebel rear — reaching across the Granny White pike, and threatening to cut them off from any line of retreat on Franklin. And now, while this movement against his, rear was prosecuted, our entire front advanced till within 600 yards of the enemy; and, at 3 P. M., Post's brigade, supported by Streight's, was directed by Wood to assault Overton's hill in front; while Col. Morgan's Black brigade was impelled by Steedman against it farther to our left.

The assault was duly made; but the enemy had seen all the preparations for it, had concentrated accordingly, and now received it with such a storm of grape, canister, and musketry, as our men charged over abatis up the hill, that they were driven back, terribly cut up--Col. Post being among the wounded. But the survivors were promptly reformed by Wood, and his front restored; while Smith's and Schofield's men, instantly charging on our right, swept over tile enemy's works in their front; Wilson's troopers, dismounted, charging still farther to the right, and barring all retreat by the Granny White pike. And now, hearing the shouts of victory on our right, Wood's and Steedman's corps renewed the assault on Overton's hill, and, though they encountered a heavy fire, swept all before them. The routed Rebels fled through the Brentwood pass, leaving most of their guns, and many of their comrades as prisoners.

Wilson instantly mounted Knipe's and Hatch's divisions of cavalry, and pushed them down the Granny White pike, hoping to reach Franklin ahead of the fugitive host, and bar their farther flight; but, after proceeding a mile, he found a barricade across the road, and the enemy's cavalry under Chalmers behind it. Col. Spalding, 12th Tennessee cavalry, charged and carried the position, scattering the enemy, and taking some prisoners, including Gen. E. W. Rucker; but it was now too late to reach Franklin that night, and our men lay down on their arms, while the enemy pursued their disorderly flight.

In this two days battle, Thomas had taken 4,462 prisoners, including 287 officers (one of them a Major-General), 53 guns, and many small arms. Hood's invasion had been suddenly finished, and his army utterly demoralized.

Our cavalry followed closely next day; Knipe's division riding over a rear-guard that had been posted at Hollow Tree gap, 4 miles north of Franklin; taking 413 prisoners. Pressing on after the fugitives, Wilson found them again facing him in [687] Franklin, attempting to defend the crossing of Harpeth river; but Johnson's division, which had been sent down the Hillsboroa pike, now came up from the south and struck the enemy's rear, forcing him to decamp; leaving 1,800 of his wounded and 200 of ours in hospital here to fall into Wilson's hands.

Four miles south of Franklin, another stand was made by the enemy's rear-guard; but Wilson ordered his body-guard (4th regular cavalry) to charge through their center, while Knipe and Hatch pressed their flanks; and again they were routed and scattered, losing more guns. Night now closed in, and enabled most of the fugitives to escape.

The pursuit was kept up for several days; but rain fell almost incessantly; the country was flooded; the brooks were raging rivers; the fleeing enemy of course burned the bridges after crossing them; Thomas's pontoon train was away with Sherman; and the roads were hardly passable in the rear of the fleeing foe. Thus the Harpeth, Rutherford's creek, and Duck river, were crossed; the weather at length changing from dreary, pelting rain to bitter cold; Forrest — who had been absent on a raid when our army pushed out from the defenses of Nashville-rejoining Hood at Columbia, and forming a rear-guard of 4,000 infantry under Walthall, and all his cavalry that was still effective. With this, after leaving Pulaski,25 he turned sharply on our leading brigade of cavalry (Harrison's) and captured a gun, which was carried off, though the ground on which it was lost was almost instantly recovered. The pursuit was continued to Lexington,26 Ala.; when, learning that Hood had got across the Tennessee at Bainbridge, Thomas ordered a halt; Gen. Steedman having already been sent from Franklin across to Murfreesboroa, and thence by rail to Stevenson, where was Gen. Granger, with the former garrisons of Huntsville, Athens (Ala.), and Decatur, with directions to reoccupy our former posts in north Alabama, then cross the Tennessee and threaten the enemy's railroad communications. He reached Decatur on the 27th; only to learn that Hood was already so far advanced that operations south of the Tennessee would be useless.

Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee had been requested by Thomas to send all the gunboats he could spare up the Tennessee to head off Hood; and had done so; but, though he reached Chickasaw, Miss., on the 24th, destroying there a Rebel battery, and capturing 2 guns at Florence, he did not intercept Hood.

While Hood invested Nashville, he sent 800 cavalry, with 2 guns, under Brig.-Gen. Lyon, by our right across the Cumberland to break up the Louisville railroad in Thomas's rear. Lyon was manifestly too weak to effect any thing of importance. He took Hopkinsville, Ky., and was soon afterward attacked, near Greensburg, by Lagrange's brigade, and worsted; losing one of his guns and some prisoners; hurrying thence, sharply pursued, by Elizabethtown and Glasgow to Burkesville, where he recrossed the Cumberland, and raced southward by McMinnville and Winchester, Tenn., to Larkinsville, Alabama; thence moving east and attacking27 [688] a petty post at Scottsboroa, where he was repulsed and his command scattered: getting over the Tennessee with a remnant of 200 men, but losing his last gun. Being still pursued, he fled to a place known as Red hill; where his bivouac was surprised28 by Col. W. J. Palmer, 15th Pa. cavalry, and 100 of his men taken. Lyon escaped, after surrendering, by seizing a pistol, shooting a sentinel, and vanishing in the darkness. This was the final blow given to Hood's army.

Thomas expected now to put his forces into well-earned Winter-quarters; but he soon received advices from Washington that this did not meet the views of Gen. Grant, who proposed to crush what was left of the Rebellion first and then rest. Accordingly, Gens. Smith's, Schofield's, and Wilson's corps were taken up by boats at Clifton, on the Tennessce, and conveyed to Eastport, Miss; and Gen. Wood's was directed to Huntsville, north Alabama, preparatory to a further Winter campaign.

Meantime, matters of decided interest had occurred in East Tennessee and south-western Virginia. Gen. Stoneman had been dispatched by Thomas from Louisville to Knoxville to take command there, while Burbridge, with all his disposable force, was sent thither from eastern Kentucky through Cumberland gap. Breckinridge, doubtless apprised of this movement, withdrew from this neighborhood quite as rapidly as he had advanced; while Gen. Ammen, just arrived with 1,500 men from Chattanooga, was pushed out to Strawberry plains on his track.

Stoneman, as directed by Thomas, started29 from Knoxville in pursuit of the now ever-matched and retreating foe: taking three mounted brigades, led by Burbridge and Gillem; at whose head, he swept30 rapidly eastward, skirmishing, to Bristol; while Gillem, on his right, struck Duke at Kingsport, capturing 300 prisoners, with several well-laden trains, and dispersing Duke's command. Pushing Burbridge on to Abingdon, Va., where he was rejoined31 by Gillem, Stoneman captured that place also; destroying there a large quantity of stores.

Vaughan, with the Rebel frontier force of cavalry, had been flanked by this rapid advance, but had moved parallel with our column to Marion; where Gillem now struck32 him and chased him 30 miles into Wytheville; capturing 200 men, 8 gans, and a large train. Vaughan was again attacked and driven at the lead mines, 15 miles farther east, which were captured, and all the works destroyed. At Max Meadows, near this point, Gillem destroyed the railroad and other valuable property.

Breckinridge had by this time concentrated what was left of his various subordinate commands, and had been following our advance on Wytheville. Stoneman now turned upon and met him near Marion, expecting to give battle next morning; but Breckinridge, deeming his force quite too slender, retreated across the mountains into North Carolina during the night; losing a few wagons and caissons by our pursuit, which was not long persisted in.

This retreat — doubtless, inevitably — abandoned to its fate Saltville, [689] with its extensive and costly saltworks, hitherto successfully guarded and defended; and it now fell to Stoneman without a struggle: 8 guns, 2 locomotives, many horses and mules, and a large quantity of ammunition, being here captured. The salt-works were utterly destroyed. And now — there being no hostile force left in this quarter to overcome, the country pretty thoroughly devastated, and East Tennessee utterly cleared of the enemy — Stoneman and Gillem returned quietly to Knoxville; while Burbridge led his force back through Cumberland gap into Kentucky.

Gen. Thomas, in summing up the results of his campaign, states, that from Sept. 7, 1864, to Jan. 20, 1865, he had captured 1 Major-General, 7 Brigadiers, 16 Colonels, 14 Lt.-Colonels, 22 Majors, 212 Captains, 601 Lieutenants, 89 Surgeons and Chaplains, and 10,895 non-commissioned officers and privates: total, 11,857; beside 1,332 who had been exchanged. He had also received and administered the oath of submission and amnesty to 2,207 deserters from the Rebel service. He had captured 72 serviceable guns and 3,079 infantry small arms.

Our total loss during this campaign amounted, in killed, wounded, and missing, to about 10,000; which was less than half that of the enemy. In fact, the Rebel army had almost ceased to exist when Gen. Hood--then at Tupelo, Miss.--was “relieved at his own request,” Jan. 23, 1865.

1 Sept. 23, 1864.

2 Gen. Thomas's official report.

3 Sept. 27.

4 Sept. 29.

5 Oct. 5.

6 Oct. 2-3.

7 Oct. 3.

8 Oct. 26.

9 Oct. 28.

10 Oct. 28-Nov. 5.

11 Dated Cartersville, Ga., Nov. 12.

12 Nov. 17.

13 Thomas says: “Had the enemy delayed his advance a week or ten days longer, I would have been ready to meet him at some point south of Duck river.”

14 Nov. 24.

15 Nov. 27-8.

16 Gen. Hood, in a personal reminiscence of this conflict, fairly said:

The works of the enemy were so hastily constructed that, while he had a slight abatis in front of a part of his line, there was none on his extreme right.

Yet, slight as they were, these defenses were of incalculable value. A veteran who fought behind them said, “Such a line at the Chickamauga would have given us a victory.” ‘T is sad that, after all we have spent on West Point, we should have had to learn this simple lesson at a cost of 200,000 lives and Two Billions of money. The Turks had mastered it when they last defended Silistria against the Russians, years ago.

17 An official recommendation to promotion, indorsed by Gen. Thomas, thus testifies:

At the battle of Franklin, Opdycke [formerly Col. 125th Ohio] displayed the very highest qualities as a commander. It is not saying too much to declare that, but for the skillful dispositions made by Gen. Opdycke (all of which was done entirely on his own judgment), the promptness and readiness with which he brought his command into action at the critical and decisive moment, and the signal personal gallantry he displayed in a counter assault on the enemy, when he had broken our lines, disaster instead of victory would have fallen on us at Franklin.

18 Dec. 2.

19 Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

20 Dec. 4.

21 Dec. 8.

22 Dec. 4.

23 Dec. 14.

24 Dec. 15.

25 Dec. 25.

26 Dec. 28.

27 Jan. 10, 1865.

28 Jan. 14.

29 Dec. 6.

30 Dec. 12.

31 Doc. 15.

32 Dec. 16.

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