First with the Most Forrest

By Robert Selph Henry | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
ADVANCE: SPRING HILL AND FRANKLIN*
November 14, 1864-November 30, 1864

On November 14, 1864, almost precisely a year after his separation from the main Confederate command in the West, Forrest reported for service once more with the Army of Tennessee.

In that year Forrest had created a command which in half a hundred skirmishes and battles had put out of action nearly three times its own number of the enemy, had taken forty-eight guns and destroyed nearly as many more, had captured 10,000 stand of small arms, had taken or destroyed four gunboats and fourteen transports, and land transportation which included 2,000 animals, 350 vehicles, five locomotives and 75 cars, together with many miles of railroad track. It was small wonder that when Forrest rejoined the main army at Florence, Alabama, he was "serenaded by the Tennesseans in the evening, to which he responded in a very encouraging speech." 1

In the twelvemonth in which Forrest had been elsewhere, the Army of Tennessee under Bragg had fought and lost the battles about Chattanooga, ending with the disaster of Missionary Ridge. Under a new commander, Joseph E. Johnston, with confidence and morale restored, 2 the army had sustained the attacks of Sherman's mighty force from Dalton back to Peachtree Creek. With still a third commander, the thirty-two-year-old John B. Hood whose brilliant fighting in Virginia had won the admiration and confidence of President Davis, the army had taken the aggressive without success, had undergone the long siege and final loss of Atlanta and had, in its turn, gone against Sherman's communications with the North. And now, still under Hood, it had marched away from Sherman nearly 300 miles, with intent to move against his base in Tennessee, or perhaps even on to the Ohio—a desperate march, as it proved to be, to disaster.

But in the beginning Hood's Tennessee campaign had one slender chance of success in speed of execution, before Thomas, whom Sherman had put in charge in Tennessee, could mobilize the strength available to him. And yet, for reasons probably quite as much psychological as material, the ordinarily impetuous Hood was slow in starting.

____________________
*
The field of operations covered in this chapter is shown on the map on page 346.

-382-

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