Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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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 fort-
night 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 demonstra-
ted' in considerable force against
Decatur — being the point at which
the railroads cross the Tennessee
which tend eastward to Chattanooga,
westward to Memphis, and north-
ward to Nashville. He found here
Gen. Gordon Granger, with a con-
siderable force, which he pressed for
several days ; establishing a line of
rifle-pits witliin 500 yards of the
defenses; intrenching strongly, and
threatening an a^ault ; but using no
guns, and being roughly handled in



♦Q«n. Thomas's official report. •Sept. 27. *Sept29. *0ct.5. •Oct. 2-3, ' Oct. 3. •Oct 25.



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FOBREST ASSAILS JOHNSON VILLE, TBNN.



679



a sortie,* wherein a part of the garri-
Bon 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
TJ. 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. Mean-
time, 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 d6p6t
connected by railroad with Nashville,
and a chief reliance of that city for
supplies; defended by Col. C. TL
Thompson, 12th TJ. S. colored, with
1,000 men, aided by Lt E. M. Kmg
with three gunboats; and several
days' " sharp fighting ensued ; the
enemy ultimately drawing off, upon
the approach by rail of Gen. Scho-
field with his 23d corps from Nash-
ville; but not till — our mariners
having been worsted in a fight with
Forrest's cavaby — our commanders
had fired their gunboats and trans-
ports, 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 quarter-
master's depots, involving a loss of
$1,600,000 wortii 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 had been reenforced by
part of Dick Taylor's army from



below — was about to follow his van-
guard 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 NashviUe. Hood's infantry, ac-
cording to our best advices, now
exceeded 40,000; his cavalry were
12,000, well equipped, in high spirits,
under their boldest and most skillM
leader; so that, including artillery,
the entire Eebel force, well concen-
trated, 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 cavahy, 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,
HuntsviUe, Decatur, Athens, <fec., and
in effect relinquish more to the ene-
my 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 alterna-
tive, 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 agjainst him too great ; perhaps
not yet fully provided and equipped



•Oct 28.



»0ct.28-Nov. 6.



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THE AMERICAN CONFLICT.



for his great venture. At length, a
dispatch from Sherman" apprised
Thomas that the former had cut
loose from his base and started south-
ward from Atlanta on his Great
March ; and no sooner had the tid-
ings 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 ; " while
his van, already over, moved through
Waynesboro' and Lawrenceburg on
Nashville."

Hood's army was organized in three
corps, under Maj.-Qen. B. F. Cheat-
ham, Lt.-Gen8. A. P. Stewart and S.
D. Lee, beside his strong cavalry corps
under Forrest. Each corps was com-
posed 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 fix>nfr ;
but he had collected several more be-
fore the struggle was brought to a
final issue.

Gen. Schofield, at Pulaski, now
fell back, by order, on Columbia;
where his corps was concentrated,"
as was most of Stanley's ; while Gen.
Granger withdrew the garrisons from
Athens (Ala.), Decatur, and Hunts-
ville, retiring on Stevenson. The
force left at Johnson ville now evacuat-
ed that post, withdrawing to Clarks-
ville. When the enemy appeared
before Columbia, declining to assault,
but evincing a purpose to cross Duck
river above or below, Gen. Schofield
withdrew** across that stream; and
on learning that the Eebels had cross-
ed 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 jnst
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 Frankun early on the 80th. His
cavalry moving on the Lewisbnig
pike, several miles eastward, had en-
countered no enemy. Time being
absolutely required to save our trains,
which choked the road for many
miles, Schofield halted on the south-
em 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 de-
scribes the north and east sides of a
square, which was completed by our
lines of defense. These were held



" Dated CartereviUe, Ga., Nov. 12.

"Nov. n.

» Thomas says : " Had tho enemy delayed his



adyanoe a week or ten days longer^ I woald
have been ready to meet him at some point sooth
of Dude river." *• Nov. 24. »Not. 27-«.



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HOOD ATTA.OCS SOHOE'IBLD AT 7RANKLIK.



681




BATTLB OP PRAKKUN.



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

Hood's army, arriving later, was
not ready for the onset till 4 p. m. ;
when, at the word of command, the
chai^ng lines swept on.

Hood had delayed the attack till
all his forces could be brought np; in-
tending 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 di-
vision 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 with-
stand you this side of the Ohio river 1"
Many Tennesseeans were now for the
first time in weary months within
sight of their homes ; one General
(Carter) fell mortally wounded with-
in a few rods of his own house. Gten.
Schofield watched the progress of the
battle from Fort Granger, across the
Harpeth.

Though Schofield's command num-
bered nearly if not quite 20,000 men,
a good part of it was already across
the river, guarding the trains and
our left fiank, while two divisions
held the lines guarding our right;
so that all the force directly con-
fronting the Rebel advance hardly
numbered 10,000. Of these, two
brigades of the 2d (Wagner's) divi-
sion 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 lino ; the
key of which was Carter's hill, a gen-
tle 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 im-



** G«ii. Hood, in a personal reminiscence of this
conflict, fairly said:

''The works of the enemy were so hastily
constructed that, whHe 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 iDoalculable value. A veteran who fought



behind them said, '* Such a line at the Chidca-
mauga would have given us a victory/' Tis
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 Uvea and Two Billions of
money. The Turks had mastered it when they
last defended Silistria against the Bussians,
years ago.



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682



THE AMEBIOAN CONFLICT.



petnous, as well as so heavy, that it
was scarcely checked by the ad-
vanced 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 re-
sidue 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 breast-
works, 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, sup-
posing the day utterly lost and no-
thing left to do but save from the
wreck as much as possible.

"First brigade 1 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, grand-
ly, that brigade rushed upon the foe ;
a brief but bloody struggle ensued ;
and at its close no Eebel remained
upon or inside of the works but the
dead and wounded, with 800 prison-
ers. Our guns were recovered; 10
Rebel battle-flags taken; our line
was restored, and Opdycke's head-
quarters 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 dis-
concerted. 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 hia
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 per-
suasion ; driving skulkers out of the
reserve fort in which they had sought
and found comparative safety." Of
course, his eflbrts and those of his men
werenobly 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 con-
fronted and repelled by Stwdey's
1st division, Gen. Nathan KimbalL
But our lines were never again
broken: assault aft^r assault being
repulsed vdth great loss to the assail-
ants and smaller to the defenders;
imtil the enemy desisted ; and then,
a little aftier midnight — our trains
being by this time well on their way
— our men quietly drew out of their
defenses, and followed; untU, about
noon, our weary, sleepless heroes were
safe within the defenses of Nashville.



"An official reoommendation to promotioii,
indorsed by G^n. 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 dis-
positions made by Qen. Opdycke («U of which



was done entirely on his own judgmentX the
promptness and readiness with wMch he broa^
his command into action at the critical and de-
cisive moment, and the signal personal gallantry
he displayed in a counter assault on the enemy,
when he had broken our Imes, disaster instead
of Tiotory woold have fiUlen onua at Franklin.".



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HOOD BELBAGUBBS THOMAS IN tTASHYILLE.



683



Forrest had followed shasplj since
daylight, but to no purpose.

Our loss in this sanguinary en-
counter was oflBcially reported at 189
killed, 1,033 wounded (including
Maj.-Gten. D. S. Stanley, severely), and
1,104 missing (many of these doubt-
less 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 1,760 killed, 3,800
wounded, and 702 prisoners: total,
6,252.

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

'* The struggle lasted till sear midnight ;
when the enemj abandoned his works and
crossed the river, leaving his dead and his
wounded in onr possession. Never did
troops fight more gallantly. During the
day, I was restridnea from nring my artil-
lery, 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 cap-
tured about a thousand prisoners, and sev-
eral stands of colors. Our total loss, in
killed, wounded, and prisoners, was 4,500.
Among the killed were M£g.-Qen. P. R.
Oleburne, Brig. -Gens. Gist, John Adams,
6trahl, and Granbury. Maj.-Gen. Brown,
with Brig. -Gens. Garter, Manigault, Quarles,
Cockrell, and Scott, were wounded, and
Brig. -Gen. Gordon captured. The number
of dead left by the enemy on the field indi-
cated 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 Ka^-
ville : 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 Bebel
disaster. He was an Lrislunan by
birth, who had served as a private in
the British army ; and who lefk be-
hind him no superior as a rough and
ready fighter. By the carnage of
this day. Hood's army was depleted



of a fiill 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 down " before Nashville, the case
was bravely altered. The Eebel
army had by this time been reduced,
by tiie 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,^* and
been posted on our right ; while Oen.
Steedman, with 6,000 of Sherman's
men and a Black brigade, had come
up by rail from Chattanooga. Add
the garrison of Nashville, and a divi-
sion organized from the employes
of the quartermaster's, commissary's,
and railroad departments, now work-
ing diligently on the defenses, and it
was clear that Thomas's infantry out-
numbered that which affected to be-
siege 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 confiict. This perplexed Gten.
Grant ; who, diafing at the idea of
such a display of Kebel 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 re-
ports 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 Oen. Bousseau, with 8,000 men,
in Fortress Bosecrans, at Murfrees-
boro' : the raLbx)ad being further de-



'•Deaa.



» Nov. SO-Dec 1.



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684



T&E AMEBIOAK OONFLIOT.



fended by a block-house at Overall's
creek, five miles north, which was at-
tacked ■• by Bate's division of Cheat-
ham's corps, but firmly held till Gen.
Milroy, with three or four regiments,
came out from Murfreesboro', and re-
pelled the assailants. During the
next three days, a division of Lee's
corps and 2,500 of Forrest's cavalry
reenforced Bate, and Fortress Rose-
crans was threatened, but not really
assaulted; Buford's cavalry finally
shelling and charging" into Mur-
freesboro', 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 frcMn Mur-
freesboro' with 7 regiments of infan-
try, attacked the Rebels on the Wil-
keson pike, driving them and taking
207 prisoners, with 2 guns; losing
30 killed and 175 wounded.

Hood had established" 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 en-
sued a week of severe cold, wherein
both armies were nearly torpid : the
Rebels, worse dad and more ex-
posed, probably suffering more sensi-
bly. When at length the temperature
softened," Thomae issued orders for a
general advance on our right next
day; to cover which, Q^n. Steedman,
on our left, sharply and successfrdly
attacked the enemy's right that even-
ing : pushing it back toward Hood's
center, and causing a movement fi*om
that center to its support.



Morning broke "auspiciously. The
weather was still mild, and a dense
fog, lasting till near noon, concealed
our movements. Gen. A. J. SmiUi,
with his thinned corps, with Wil-
son'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, advanc-
ing on the Charlotte pike, struck at
Chalmers's cavalry on that wing and
a Rebel battery, posted at Bell's land-
ing on the Cumberland, whidi he
attacked late that afternoon, in con-
junction 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 cav-
alry first struck the enemy; driving
him from his position, and taking
prisoners and wagons. Swinging
slightly to the left. Hatch, dismount-
ing his men, assaulted and carried a
redoubt, taking four guns, and turn-
ing 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. McArthurs 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 aUowed 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 Mont-
gomery hill: the assault being im-
mediately delivered by CoL Sidney
P. Post, 59th Illinois, with the 8d
brigade of the 2d (Wagner's) divir
sion, who gallantly carried the work,



•Peci.



«I)ea8.



"1)^4.



"Dw.!*.



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HOOD WOBSTBD BT THOICAS AT KASHYILLB.



685




BATTLE or IfASHTILLB.



taking some prisonere. And now,
giving a hand to Smith's left, Wood's
corps resumed its advance; carrying
by assanlt Hood's entire line of de-
fenses, taking several guns and 600
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
onr cavalry to operate freely on the
enemy's flank and rear ; and, moving
rapidly, had come into action jnst



before night. Steedman had gained
a little more ground on our extreme
left. And now our line was read-
justed : Wilson's cavalry on our ex-
treme 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, ^nd 40 wagons; while our
losses had been light. Never had
men fought with more alacrity or



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686



THE AMBRICAN CONFLICT.



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, inclin-
ing 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 Nolens-
viDe pike, closed in on Wood's left
flank ; while Smith came in on
Wood's right ; Schofield, facing east-
ward, 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 tiU within 600 yards of
the enemy ; and, at 3 p. m., Post's
brigade, supported by Streight's,
waa directed by Wood to assault
Overton's hill in front; while OoL
Morgan's Black brigade was im-
pelled by Steedman against it far-
ther to our left.

The assault was duly made; but
the enemy had seen all the prepara-
tions for it, had concentrated accord-
ingly, and now received it with such
a storm of grape, canister, and mus-
ketry, as our men charged over
abatis up the lull, 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 chaiging on our right,



swept over the enemy's works in
their front; Wilson's troopers, dis-
mounted, 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 Eebels fled through the
Brentwood pass, leaving most of their
guns, and many of their comrades as
prisouOTS.

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 pro-
ceeding a mile, he found a barricade



Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 97 of 113)