First with the Most Forrest

By Robert Selph Henry | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
THE REAR GUARD OF RETREAT FROM TENNESSEE*
December 1, 1864 December 28, 1864

From the failure at Spring Hill and the slaughter at Franklin the Army of Tennessee marched to predestined disaster at Nashville.

"Today," runs the entry in the war diary of Cheatham's corps for the day after the Battle of Franklin, "spent in burying the dead, caring for the wounded and reorganizing the remains of our corps." 1 Forrest's cavalry, however, having suffered no such crushing and disorganizing losses, was up and away at daylight. Buford and Jackson crossed the Harpeth cast of Franklin, Chalmers to the west, and both columns pressed forward to converge at Brentwood, a spot familiar to Forrest, where it was hoped that Schofield's march might be interfered with, if not interrupted. Wilson's cavalry covered the retreat, however, without real difficulty, although at one or two places there was what General Hatch described as "severe fighting," involving the use of Morton's guns which had been brought to the front. By noon of December first, however, Schofield's infantry was marching into the safety of the works about Nashville. 2

The Confederate cavalry, following close behind, encamped that night within sight of the tower of the State Capitol in Nashville, in a line extending from the Nolensville Pike on the right to the Granny White Pike on the left, while Lee's corps, the advance of Hood's infantry, which had marched from Franklin during the afternoon, was camped farther south. 3

There probably was no city in America, with the exception of the capital cities of Washington and Richmond, more strongly fortified than was Nashville in 1864. The line of Union works, carefully laid out and heavily constructed, followed commanding hills looking down on the southern face to the valley of Brown's Creek, which flows into the Cumberland above the city, and on the west into the valley of Richland Creek and its tributaries, flowing into the river below the city. The whole bend of the Cumberland within which the city of 1864 lay was thus completely enclosed. 4

To hold these works there were the lesser garrisons, which had been

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

-401-

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