- An intrigue in Richmond against Gen. Johnston.
-- evidence of it.
-- Gen. Bragg's visit to Atlanta.
-- removal of Gen. Johnston from command.
-- the battles of Atlanta.
-- engagements of the 20th, 22d, and 28th July.
-- Sherman's designs on the Macon road.
-- unsuccessful raids of Stoneman and McCook.
-- Hood's great mistake.
-- he sends off his cavalry towards Chattanooga.
-- Sherman moves on the Macon road.
-- defeat of Hardee at Jonesboroa.
-- Hood evacuates Atlanta, and retreats to Lovejoy's Station.
-- Sherman's occupation of Atlanta.
-- his order for its depopulation.
-- atrocious character of this measure.
-- the fall of Atlanta a serious disaster for the Confederates.
-- visit of President Davis to the military lines in Georgia.
-- his speech at Macon.
-- he betrays to the enemy the new military design.
-- Hood's new movement to Tennessee.
-- Sherman follows to Gaylesville.
-- he turns back and determines to traverse the State of Georgia to the sea.
-- his correspondence with Grant.
-- how the enterprise was a plain one.
-- no peril or genius in it.
-- Errors of the Hood
-- Davis strategy.
-- Hood's Tennessee campaign.
-- he loses the great opportunity of the campaign at Spring Hill.
-- Schofield effects a retreat to Franklin.
-- battle of Franklin.
-- heroic conduct of the Confederate troops.
-- remarkable loss among their general officers.
-- battle of Nashville.
-- Gen. Grant's fears that Hood would invade Kentucky.
-- probable effect of such a movement.
-- the enemy's plan of battle.
-- the second day's fight.
-- Hood's assurance of victory.
-- a Confederate brigade gives way before a skirmish line of the enemy.
-- a disgraceful panic and rout.
-- Hood escapes across the Tennessee River.
-- his losses.
-- the whole scheme of Confederate defence terminated West of the Alleghanies
had moved from the Rapidan
, with an increase of reputation at each stage of the retreat.
It is curious that when Gen. Johnston
moved from the Northern
frontier of Georgia
, even with greater success, he should not have experienced similar tokens of approbation.
The fact was that he was the subject of a deep intrigue in Richmond
, to displace him from the command of an army, whose affections and confidence he had never ceased to enjoy; and even while he was moving in the march from Dalton
, his removal from command was secretly entertained in Richmond
There is a certain delicate evidence of this, which the historian should not spare.
While the march referred to was in
progress, a letter written by Gen. J. B. Hood
to one who was supposed to have more than an ordinary concern, an affectionate interest in his career, declared then his confident anticipation of being soon elevated from the position of corps commander to the head of the Army of Tennessee.
There was other evidence of the intrigue in Richmond
, the “military adviser” of President Davis
, visited Johnston
in his lines around Atlanta
; never apprised him that his visit was of an official nature; put together everything he could to make a case against Johnston
, and returned to Richmond
with the alarming report that he was about to give up Atlanta
to the enemy 1 Of this nonsense Gen. Johnston
has written: “The proofs that I intended to hold Atlanta
are, the fact that under my orders the work of strengthening its defences was going on vigorously, the communication on the subject made by me to Gen. Hood
, and the fact that my family was in the town.
That the public workshops were removed, and no large supplies deposited in the town, as alleged by Gen. Bragg
, were measures of common prudence, and no more indicated the intention to abandon the place than the sending the wagons of an army to the rear, on a day of battle, proves a foregone determination to abandon the field.”
But the Presidential fiat was to go forth in the face of all facts.
On the night of the 17th July it was known in the Army of Tennessee, that a despatch had been received from Richmond
, removing Johnston
from command, and appointing in his place Gen. J. B. Hood
The news struck a chill in the army, such as no act or menace of the enemy had ever done.
it was the occasion of new spirit.
When he heard that Hood
was to be his future antagonist, he jumped to his feet, made a significant motion around his forefinger, and exclaimed: “I know that fellow.”
Gen. J. B. Hood
had been appointed by President Davis
as “a fighting General,” and was prompt to vindicate the cheap reputation that had procured for him such a command.
With some reinforcements from the Southwest
and levies of Georgia
militia, Gen. Hood
had now under his command an effective force of forty-one thousand infantry and artillery, and ten thousand cavalry.
With reference to other Confederate forces in the field, his army was a large one, although it gave him but little margin for fanciful attacks and useless sacrifice of life.
The battles of Atlanta.
, two of his corps had swung around upon the Augusta
road, destroying this line of communication, while Thomas
took his command across Peach Tree Creek
, directly in front of the Confederate
While the enemy's right on the creek
was in marching column, Hood
, in the afternoon of the 20th July, directed an attack upon it, designing to take advantage of a gap between two of its divisions.
The attack was led by Walker
's and Bates
' divisions of Hardee
's corps; and the massed troops, in admirable order, burst through the gap in the enemy's lines, and for a time appeared about to destroy his forces on the right.
But a double fire was brought to bear upon their lines along the deep hollow they had penetrated; and the attack was drawn off in good order, but after a half hour of deadly work, in which the killed and wounded were counted by thousands.
The loss of the enemy was about two thousand; that of the Confederates
probably twice as large, as they were the assaulting party, and terribly exposed on the line of attack.
Next day, McPherson
moved forward, and established a line east and south of Atlanta
, and within three miles of the town.
His command stretched beyond the Atlanta and Augusta Railroad, which he had torn up. Hood
now hastily swung around Hardee
's corps, followed by the others, and brought the bulk of his army against McPherson
moved against the enemy's extreme left, drove him from his works, and captured sixteen pieces of artillery.
was shot dead as he rode along the line.
attacked the enemy's centre with a portion of his command, and took six pieces of artillery.
Affairs looked gloomy for the enemy; he had been repulsed at several points, he had lost much artillery, and the stream of bleeding men going to the rear told how severely he suffered in the conflict.
But about this time the enemy succeeded in concentrating his artillery, and Gen. Sherman
sent word to Logan
, who had succeeded McPherson
, to mass his troops in the centre and charge.
Exhausted, wasted, and bleeding, the Confederate
columns gave way, abandoning most of the artillery they had captured in the early part of the day. The attack of the 22d was like that of the 20th-one of the most reckless, massive, and headlong charges of the war, where immense prices were paid for momentary successes, and the terrible recoil of numbers gave a lesson to the temerity of the Confederate
's attempt on the Federal
left being frustrated, he fell back to his inner line of works.
The intentions of Sherman
appear now to have been to swing his army to Hood
's extreme right, threatening the Macon
road, and having in co-operation a great cavalry raid upon his rear.
was sent with five thousand cavalry, and McCook
with four thousand men, to meet on the Macon
road near Lovejoy's Station, where they were to destroy the rail, and also to attack and drive Wheeler
requested permission to be allowed to proceed to Macon
to release the Federal
prisoners confined there.
left this at his own discretion, in case he felt he was able to do so after the defeat of Wheeler
did not fulfill the conditions He got down in front of
, without going to Lovejoy
's, and, in attempting to retreat, was hemmed in by Iverson
, and was himself captured, together with one thousand of his men and two guns.
returned after losing five hundred men as prisoners.
The cavalry raid was a decided failure, or as Sherman
mildly expressed it, “not deemed a success.”
On the 28th July Hood
made a partial attack along the Lickskillet
-road, which he had occcupied with Stewart
's and Lee
The conflict was desultory and without result on either side.
After five hours of action, Hood
retired with a loss of about fifteen hundred killed and wounded.
We have already noticed that Sherman
did not have force enough to invest Atlanta
This was the great point in Johnston
's calculations, when they were upset at Richmond
; for Sherman
, reduced to strategy, would have found his master in the cool and dexterous Johnston
, whereas in Hood
he had plainly his inferiour to deal with — a commander who had indeed abundant courage, but a scant brain with which to balance it. Sherman
's army was not large enough to encircle Atlanta
completely, without making his lines too thin and assailable.
He never contemplated an assault upon its strong works.
It was his great object to get possession of the Macon
road, and thus sever Atlanta
entirely from its supplies.
It was not sufficient to cut the road by raids; it must be kept broken, and to accomplish this it was clearly necessary to plant a sufficient force south of Atlanta
meditated such a movement, Hood
made the very mistake that would secure and facilitate it, and thrust into the hands of his adversary the opportunity he had waited for. He sent off his entire cavalry towards Chattanooga
to raid on the enemy's line of communication — a most absurd excursion, since Sherman
had enough provisions accumulated this side of that place to last him until he could restore his communications, and had also formed a second base at Allatoona
Instantly, the Federal
cavalry was on the Macon
With his flanks easily protected, Sherman
followed quickly with his main army.
On the 31st August, Howard
, on the right, had reached Jonesboroa
, on the Macon
road, twenty miles southeast of Atlanta
, in the centre, was at Couch
's; and Schofield
, on the left, was near Rough-and-Ready, still closer to Atlanta
had no alternative now but to make a battle on or near the line of the Macon
road, and there settle the fate of Atlanta
He might have moved out of the city on the north, and have overwhelmed what of Sherman
's army — the Twentieth corps--was left there; but he would then have been in a country destitute of supplies.
He determined to make the battle near Jonesboroa
, and the corps of Lee
were moved out to attempt to dislodge the enemy from the entrenched position he held
across Flint River
The attack failed with the loss of more than two thou sand men. On the evening of the 1st September, the enemy's columns converged upon Jonesboroa
, and Hardee
's corps, finding itself about to be flanked and overwhelmed, withdrew during the night, after having been cut up by two severe engagements, and with the loss of eight guns.
That night, finding his line of supply cut off, and the sum of his disasters complete, Hood
determined to abandon Altanta.
He blew up his magazines, destroyed all his supplies that he could not remove, consisting of seven locomotives and eighty-one cars loaded with ammunition, and left the place by the turnpike roads.
He moved swiftly across the country towards Macon
The next morning Sherman
moved south to catch the retreating army, but at Lovejoy
's, two miles beyond Jonesboroa
, he found Hood
strongly entrenched, and, abandoning the pursuit, returned to Atlanta
is ours, and fairly won.”
His army entered the city on the morning of the 2d September, and the successful commander rode through the streets to his headquarters without parade or ostentation.
Hie declared that his army, wearied by an arduous campaign, needed rest, and that he proposed to give it an interval of repose within the defences of Atlanta
But the period of military inaction was to be employed in launching measures of the most extraordinary cruelty against the non-combatant people of Atlanta
was the author of the sentiment, “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it,” which was caught up in the Northern
newspapers as a bit of very sententious and elegant philosophy, when, in fact, denying, as it did, that war had any law of order or amelioration, it was a mere plagiarism from the bloody and detestable code of the savage.
This extraordinary doctrine Sherman
at once proceeded to put in practice by depopulating Atlanta
, and driving from their homes thousands of helpless women and children.
It was the most cruel and savage act of the war. Butler
, the tyrant of New Orleans, had only banished registered enemies.
issued a sweeping edict, covering all the inhabitants of a city, and driving them from their homes to wander as strangers, outcasts and exiles, and to subsist on charity.
, while he received the exiles within his lines, took occasion to protest, writing to Gen. Sherman
himself of the measure his sinister mind had devised: “It transcends in studied and ingenious cruelty all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war.”
But all protests were unavailing.
In vain the Mayor
had pointed out to Gen. Sherman
that the country south of the city was crowded already with refugees, and without houses to accommodate the people, and that many had no other shelter but what they might find in churches, and out-buildings; that among the exiles were many poor women in an advanced state of pregnancy; that the consequences would be woe, horrour, and suffering,
which could not be described by words.
He affected the belief that Atlanta
might again be rendered formidable in the hands of the Confederates
, and resolved, in his own words, “to wipe it out.”
The old and decrepit were hunted from their homes; they were packed into railroad cars; tottering old age and helpless youth were crowded together; wagons were filled with wrecks of household goods; and the trains having deposited their medley freight at Rough-and-Ready, the exiles were then left to shift for themselves.
The fall of Atlanta
was a terrible blow to the Southern Confederacy; a reanimation of the North
; the death of “the peace party” there; the date of a new hope of the enemy and of a new prospect of subjugation.
“On that day,” said the Richmond Examiner
's nomination fell still-born, and an heir was born to the Abolition dynasty.
On that day, peace waved those ‘ white wings,’ and fled to the ends of the morning.
On that day, calculations of the war's duration ceased to be the amusements even of the idle.”
had declared, when he removed Johnston
, that “Atlanta
must be held at all hazards.”
It was the most important manufacturing centre in the Confederacy
; it was the key to the network of railroads extending to all portions of the Gulf
States; it was “the Gate City” from the north and west to the southeast; it was an important depot of supplies, and commanded the richest granaries of the South
Such was the prize of the enemy.
The catastrophe moved President Davis
, and mortified the vanity that had so recently proclaimed the security of Atlanta
under the command of Hood
He determined to visit Hood
's new lines, to plan with him a new campaign, to compensate for the loss of Atlanta
, and to take every possible occasion to raise the hopes and confidence of the people.
It is remarkable that the visits of the Confederate President
to the armies were always the occasions of some far-fetched and empirical plan of operations, and were always accompanied with vapours and boasts that unduly exalted the public mind.
never spoke of military matters without a certain ludicrous boastfulness, which he maintained to the last event of the war. It was not swagger or affectation; it was the sincere vagary of a mind intoxicated with conceit when occupied with a subject where it imagined it found its forte
, but where in fact it had least aptitude.
, as a military commander or adviser, was weak, fanciful, to excess, and much too vain to keep his own counsels.
As he travelled towards Hood
's lines, he made excited speeches in South Carolina
he declared that Atlanta
would be recovered; that Sherman
would be brought to grief; and that this Federal commander “would meet the fate that befell Napoleon
in the retreat from Moscow
These swollen assertions, so out of character, were open advertisements to the enemy of a new plan of operations.
that the unfortunate vanity of President Davis
completely betrayed him. Referring to this period, Gen. Grant
writes: “During this time Jefferson Davis
made a speech in Macon, Georgia
, which was reported in the papers of the South
, and soon became known to the whole country, disclosing the plans of the enemy, thus enabling Gen. Sherman to fully meet them
. He exhibited the weakness of supposing that an army that had been beaten and fearfully decimated in a vain attempt at the defensive could successfully undertake the offensive against the army that had so often defeated it.”
The new offensive movement of Hood
, advised by President Davis
, was soon known to the country.
Not satisfied with the revelation at Macon
, President Davis
addressed the army, and more plainly announced the direction of the new campaign.
Turning to Cheatham
's division of Tennesseeans, he said: “Be of good cheer, for within a short while your faces will be turned homeward, and your feet pressing Tennessee
On the 24th September, Hood
commenced the new movement to pass to Sherman
's rear and to get on his line of communications as far as Tennessee
The first step was to transfer his army, by a flank movement, from Lovejoy's Station on the Macon Railroad, to near Newman
on the West Point
The significance of this might have escaped the enemy, but for the incautious language of President Davis
, which at once gave rise to the supposition that this movement was preliminary to one more extensive.
was instantly on the alert, sending his spare forces, wagons, and guns, to the rear, under Gen. Thomas
, and, at the same time, sending Schofield
, and Corse
to take up different points in the rear of Atlanta
On the 27th, Hood
moved towards the Chattahoochee
On the 1st October, the enemy made a reconnoissance towards Newman
, and discovered that Hood
had crossed the Chattahoochee River
on the 29th and 30th of September.
On the 5th October, when Hood
's advance assaulted Allatoona
was on Kenesaw Mountain
, signalling to the garrison at Allatoona
, over the heads of the Confederates
, to hold out until he relieved them.
moved westward, and, crossing the Etowah
and Oostanaula Rivers
by forced marches, attacked Dalton
on the 12th, which was surrendered.
Passing through the gap of Pigeon Mountain
, he entered Lafayette
on the 15th.
From this place he suddenly moved south to Gadsden, Alabama
, where he rejoined his trains, to make his fatal march towards Nashville
waited some time at Gaylesville
, until he became fully assured of the direction taken by Hood
; and then abruptly prepared to abandon the pursuit, return to Atlanta
, and mobilize his army for a march across the broad State of Georgia
to the sea. His calculation was a plain and precise one. Gen. Thomas
, at Nashville
, could collect troops from the
whole Department of the Mississippi; Rosecrans
was able to send him reinforcements from Missouri
detached two corps--the Fourth and Twenty-third--to move, by the way of Chattanooga
, to the relief of Thomas
; and there was little doubt that with this force Thomas
could ho d the line of the Tennessee
, or if Hood
forced it, would be able to concentrate and give a good battle.
was left in command of four army corps, and two divisions of superb cavalry — a force of about sixty-thousand men. When Hood
wandered off in the direction of Florence
was left free to complete his arrangements, and there was nothing to interfere with his grand projected march to the sea. In October, Gen. Grant
, who was watching closely the development of the wretched Davis
device to find some compensation for the loss of Atlanta
, telegraphed Sherman
: “If you were to cut loose, I do not believe you would meet Hood
's army, but would be bushwhacked by all the old men, little boys, and such railroad guards as are still left at home.”
With nothing, of course, to fear from such an opposition, Sherman
telegraphed his determination “to make a wreck of the road, and of the country from Chattanooga
, including the latter city; send back all his wounded and worthless, and with his effective army, move through Georgia
, smashing things
, to the sea.”
The march would, indeed, have been a perilous enterprise, if there had been any considerable force in Sherman
's front, or on his flanks.
As it was, nothing opposed his march to the sea, and he had simply to pass through the gate-ways which the stupidity of the Davis-Hood
campaign had left open.
It is amusing to the student of history to have such a plain march entitled a grand exploit, when it was only a question of so many miles motion a day. Sherman
knew very well that there was nothing to oppose him; he knew that the Confederacy
had been compelled to throw all its fighting power on its frontiers, for Grant
had told him “it was but an egg-shell;” he knew that the conscription had exhausted the interiour; he knew that the country he would traverse was peopled with non-combatants, women, and children; he knew that this country abounded with supplies, which the difficulties of transportation had withheld from Richmond
He simply proposed to take plain advantage of these circumstances, and march to the sea-board.
There was no genius in this; no daring; it was merely looking the situation in the face.
It is said that had Sherman
failed he would have been put down as one of the greatest charlatans of the age. But there was no chance of failure when there was nothing to dispute the march.
If, indeed, he had attempted the movement with a Confederate army in his front or on his flank, it is highly probable that the adventure would have taken rank with his movement in 1862 on Vicksburg
, the greatest fiasco
of the war, and his experiment with “the strategic triangle” in 1863, a piece of charlatanism and of dis. ordered execution that should have decided his reputation.
It had been the original design of the enemy to hold Atlanta
, and by getting through to the west, with a garrison left on the southern railroads leading east and west through Georgia
, to effectually sever the east from the west.
In other words it was proposed in the great campaign of 1864 to repeat the experiment of bisection of the Confederacy
, first accomplished when the enemy gained possession of the Mississippi River
It was calculated of course to fight from Atlanta
to the sea, and that the second stroke of bisection would be accomplished by cutting through a hostile array.
In originating with Hood
the movement north of Atlanta
, President Davis
simply saved the enemy all the trouble he had contemplated, cleared the way of opposition and opened a plain and unencumbered way to his original design, with an invitation to execute it without fear and at leisure.
We must leave here the story of Sherman
's march to follow the erratic campaign of Hood
When the latter was ready to leave Florence
was far on his way on his march towards Savannah
; and the country beheld with amazement the singular spectacle of two antagonistic armies, both at once acting on the offensive, day after day marching away from each other, and moving diametrically apart.
To appreciate what insanity must have inspired such a campaign on the Confederate
side, we may remark the utter want of compensation in the two movements.
Even throwing out of consideration the great fact that Hood
's movement to the north uncovered Georgia
and left her undefended to the sea, while itself encountered a second army of the enemy, yet even if Hood
was successful, an invasion of Northern territory would be no possible equivalent for that of the South
, where the ravage and loss of material resources might be vital; and even in the least circumstance, the season of the year, the Confederate
troops, badly clothed and shod, were put at the disadvantage of marching northward, while the enemy sought the genial clime of a Southern latitude.
On the 20th November, Gen. Hood
commenced to move his army from Northern Alabama
He pushed forward as if to cut off Schofield
's retreat from Pulaski
; this Federal commander having taken position there, with the greater part of two army corps, and an aggregation of fort-garrisons from the surrounding country, while Thomas
remained at Nashville
fearing that his position was about to be flanked, abandoned Pulaski
, and attempted by a forced march to reach Columbia
The want of a good map of the country, and the deep mud through which the army marched, prevented Hood
overtaking the enemy before lie reached Columbia
; but on the evening of the 27th of November the
Confederate army was placed in position in front of his works at that place.
During the night, however, the enemy evacuated the town, taking position on the opposite side of the river, about a mile and a half from the town, which was considered quite strong in front.
Late in the evening of the 28th November, Gen. Forrest
, with most of his command, crossed Duck River
, a few miles above Columbia
, and Hood
followed early on the morning of the 20th, with Stewart
's and Cheatham
's corps, and Johnson
's division of Lee
's corps, leaving the other divisions of Lee
's corps in the enemy's front at Columbia
The troops moved in light marching order, the object being to turn the enemy's flank by marching rapidly on roads parallel to the Columbia and Franklin pike
, at or near Spring Hill
, and to cut off that portion of the enemy at or near Columbia
The enemy, discovering the intentions of the Confederates
, began to retreat on the pike towards Spring Hill
About 4 r. M., Hood
's infantry forces, Cheatham
in the advance, commenced to come in contact with the enemy, about two miles from Spring Hill
, through which place the Columbia and Franklin pike
The enemy was at this time moving rapidly along the pike, with some of his troops on the flank of his column to protect it. Cheatham
was ordered to attack the enemy at once, vigorously, and get possession of this pike.
He made only a feeble and partial attack, failing to reach the point indicated.
The great object of Gen. Hood
was to possess himself of the road to Franklin
, and thus cut off the enemy's retreat.
Though owing to delays the signal opportunity to do this had passed at daylight, there was yet a chance of dealing the enemy a heavy blow.
's corps and Johnson
's division were arriving upon the field to support the attack.
was ordered to move his corps beyond Cheatham
's, and place it across the road beyond Spring Hill
He did not succeed in getting the position he desired, owing to some misunderstanding of orders, and, night falling, he went into bivouac.
About midnight, ascertaining that the enemy was moving in great confusion-artillery wagons and troops intermixed-Gen. Hood
sent instructions to Cheatham
to advance a heavy line of skirmishers against him, and still further impede and confuse his march.
This was not accomplished.
The enemy continued to move along the road in hurry and confusion, within hearing, nearly all the night.
Thus was lost a great opportunity of striking the enemy, and his line of retreat secured in the face of the Confederates
without a battle.
Much of the disaster that was now to ensue in his campaign Gen. Hood
attributed to the fact that “some of his Generals
had failed him at Spring Hill
There was nothing left now but to pursue the enemy.
At daylight Hood
's army followed as fast as possible towards Franklin
in the advance, Cheatham
following, and Lee
with the trains, moving from Columbia
on the same road.
The Confederates pursued the
enemy rapidly, and compelled him to burn a number of his wagons.
He made a feint as if to give battle on the hills about four miles south of Franklin
, but as soon as Hood
's forces began to deploy for the attack, and to flank him on his left, he retired slowly to Franklin
had learned from despatches captured at Spring Hill
, from Thomas
, that the latter was instructed to hold that place till the position at Franklin
could be made secure, indicating the intention of Thomas
to hold Franklin
and his strong works at Murfreesboroa.
knew that it was all-important to attack Schofield
before he could make himself strong, and that if he should escape at Franklin
, he would gain his works about Nashville
The nature of the position was such as to render it inexpedient to attempt any further flank movement, and he therefore determined to attack the enemy in front, and without delay.
Battle of Franklin.
On the 30th November Stewart
's corps was placed in position on the right, Cheatham
's on the left, and the cavalry on either flank, the main body on the right under Forrest
's division of Lee
's corps also became engaged on the left during the action.
The line advanced at 4 P. M., with orders to drive the enemy, at the point of the bayonet, into or across the Big Harpeth River
, while Gen. Forrest
, if successful, was to cross the river and attack and destroy his trains and broken columns.
The troops moved forward most gallantly to the attack.
They carried the enemy's line of hastily-constructed works handsomely.
They then advanced against his interiour line, and succeeded in carrying it also, in some places.
Here the engagement was of the fiercest possible character.
The Confederates came on with a desperation and disregard of death, such as had been shown on few battle-fields of the war. A Northern writer says: “More heroic valour was never exhibited by any troops than was shown here by the rebels.”
The devoted troops were mowed down by grape and canister.
Many of them were killed entirely inside of the works.
The brave men captured were taken inside the enemy's works on the edge of the town.
The struggle lasted till near midnight, when the enemy abandoned his works and crossed the river, leaving his dead and wounded.
It is remarkable that in this hard-fought battle the Confederates
used no artillery whatever; Gen. Hood
's explanation being that he was restrained from using that terrible arm “on account of the women and children remaining in the town.”
Victory had been purchased at the price of a terrible slaughter.
's total loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was 4,500.
Among the killed was Maj.-Gen. P. R. Cleburne
, Brig.-Gens. John Adams
; while Maj.-Gen. Brown
, and Scott
were wounded, and Brig.-Gen. Gordon
Battle of Nashville.
The next morning Gen. Hood
advanced upon Nashville
, where Schofield
had retreated, and where Thomas
lay with his main force.
He laid siege to the town on the 2d December, closely investing it for a fortnight.
The opinion long prevailed in the Confederacy
that in this pause and the operations of siege, Hood
made the cardinal mistake of his campaign; and that if he had taken another course, and struck boldly across the Cumberland
, and settled himself in the enemy's communications, he would have forced Thomas
to evacuate Nashville
, and fall back towards Kentucky
This was the great fear of Gen. Grant
That high Federal officer, in his report of the operations of 1864, has written: “Before the battle of Nashville
I grew very impatient over, as it appeared to me, the unnecessary delay.
This impatience was increased upon learning that the enemy had sent a force of cavalry across the Cumberland
I feared Hood
would cross his whole army and give us great trouble here.
After urging upon Gen. Thomas
the necessity of immediately assuming the offensive, I started west to superintend matters there in person.
Reaching Washington city
, I received Gen. Thomas
's despatch announcing his attack upon the enemy, and the result as far as the battle had progressed.
I was delighted.
All fears and apprehensions were dispelled.”
On the night of the 14th December, Thomas
decided upon a plan of battle, which was to make a feint on Hood
's right flank, while he massed his main force to crush in Hood
's left, which rested on the Cumberland
, and where the cover of the Federal
gunboats might be made available.
The k runt of the action did not fall until evening, when the enemy drove in the Confederate infantry outposts on the left flank.
, however, quickly ordered up troops from his right to stay the reversed tide of battle; and the remainder of the day was occupied by the enemy in sweeping the Confederate
entrenchments with artillery fire, while here and there his infantry attempted, in vain, to find a weak spot in their lines.
Under cover of the night Hood
re-formed his line, and in the morning was found in position along the Overton Hills
, some two miles or so to tile rear of his original line.
The new position was a strong one, running along the wooded crests of closely-connecting hills; while the two keys to it were the Granny White
and Franklin pikes, leading to Franklin
, and so down the country to the Tennessee River
' overwhelming numbers enabled him to throw heavy columns against Hood
's left and centre.
But every attack of the enemy was repulsed.
four o'clock in the evening, and the day was thought to be decided for the Confederates
, when there occurred one of the most extraordinary incidents of the war. It is said that Gen. Hood
was about to publish a victory along his line, when Finney
's Florida brigade in Bates
' division, which was to the left of the Confederate
centre, gave way before the skirmish line
of the enemy!
' whole division took the panic, and broke in disorder.
The moment a small breach was thus made in the Confederate
lines, the whole of two corps unaccountably and instantly fled from their ditches, almost without firing a gun. It was a disgraceful panic; muskets were abandoned where they rested between the logs of the breastworks; and everything that could impede flight was thrown away as the fugitives passed down the Granny White
and Franklin pikes, or fled wildly from the battle-field.
Such an instance of sudden, unlooked-for, wild retreat, the abandonment of a victory almost won, could only have happened in an army where thorough demoralization, the consequence of long, heavy, weary work, and of tremendous efforts without result-in short, the reaction of great endeavours where success is not decided, already lurked in the minds of troops, and was likely to be developed at any time by the slightest and most unimportant circumstance.
Fifty pieces of artillery and nearly all of Hood
's ordnance wagons were left to the enemy.
His loss in killed and wounded was disgracefully small; and it was only through want of vigour in Thomas
' pursuit that Hood
's shattered and demoralized army effected its retreat.
's command, and Walthal
, with seven picked brigades, covered the retreat.
The situation on the Tennessee River
was desperate; Hood
had no pontoon train, and if he had been pressed, would have been compelled to surrender; but as it was, Thomas
' great error in resting upon his victory at Nashville
enabled a defeated Confederate army to construct bridges of timber over the Tennessee River
, while the Federal
gunboats in the stream were actually kept at bay by batteries of 32-pounders.
succeeded in escaping across the Tennessee
, but only with a remnant of the brilliant force he had conducted across the river a few weeks before, having lost from various causes more than ten thousand men, half of his Generals
, and nearly all of his artillery.
Such was the disastrous issue of the Tennessee
campaign, which put out of existence, as it were, the splendid army that Johnston
had given up at Atlanta
, and terminated forever the whole scheme of Confederate defence west of the Alleghanies