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At four o'clock in the afternoon of the same day (the 30th of November) Schofield was vigorously attacked by two corps of the enemy (Cheatham's and Lee's.) The action continued until after dark, the Second Division of the Fourth Corps being the most hotly engaged. Hood was repulsed at all points, with very severe losses, those on the Union side being comparatively slight. The Rebel dead densely covered the ground for fifty yards in front of portions of our lines. About one thousand Rebel prisoners were taken, among whom was Gen. Gordon. The enemy's killed and wounded exceeded 5,000, including Maj.-Gen. Cleburne and five Brigadier-Generals killed, and five general officers wounded, while the Union loss was about 2,000. The great disparity of these losses will not seem remarkable when it is known that the Rebels, in dense masses-four lines deep-charged upon Schofield's line of batteries several times, being fearfully mowed down at each desperate and persistent advance, by well-directed artillery and musketry firing, often at close range. The re-enforcements under Gen. A. J. Smith arrived most opportunely, about seven o'clock in the evening.
During the night of the 30th, the Government forces were withdrawn toward Nashville, and took up a new position about three miles south of that city. The Rebels, further emboldened by this retrograde movement, confidently advanced on the next day (December 1st), and skirmishing again commenced in the evening. The Rebel cavalry had already made an attempt to cut the Chattanooga road, but without occasioning any serious interruption. Gen. Thomas had a force on his left at Murfreesboro, which was well fortified and garrisoned, Generals Milroy and Rousseau being in command, and considerable re-enforcements were moved up from Chattanooga. Gen. Cooper's brigade, and a brigade of colored troops, which garrisoned Johnsonville before its evacuation, and had been cut off from the main army, when it retired from Franklin, arrived safely at Clarksville. This retrograde movement was conducted with great skill, throughout, and was completed without any loss to Schofield's trains or artillery.
Hood established his headquarters about six miles south of
Nashville, on the Franklin pike, while his front occupied the residence of Mrs. A. V. Brown, near the lines of Thomas. They also planted a battery on a hill near the Hyde Ferry road, and extended their line of counter fortifications before Nashville, plainly visible from the State House, and from high points in the suburbs. Hood's forces were so disposed as also to threaten Murfreesboro and Chattanooga, and to prepare the way for securing the co-operation of the forces in East Tennessee, under Breckinridge. A timely movement of Gen. Burbridge, however, on the flank of Breckinridge, by Bean's Station, compelled the latter commander to retreat through Bull's Gap, early in December. Generals Stoneman and Burbridge pressed on by way of Bristol into Virginia, reaching Glade's Spring, on the railroad, thirteen miles east of Abingdon, on the 15th of December, destroying the track, and afterward ruining the principal salt works in that region of Southwestern Virginia. This raid was one of the most successful ones of the war, severing communication between Richmond and East Tennessee, and depriving the enemy of important public property.
For several days, there was some skirmishing going on around Nashville, with occasional Rebel attacks on points along the railroad toward Chattanooga. On the 4th, and several succeeding days, there was some fighting at Murfreesboro, and in the vicinity, in which the Rebels were beaten by Rousseau and Milroy. By means of careful reconnoissances, the movements. of the enemy were closely watched, it being for some time uncertain whether his appearance before Nashville was not a mere demonstration to cover some other design. No purpose of crossing above Nashville could be discovered; but a force, estimated at 4,000 men, under the Rebel Lyon, passed the Cumberland, twenty miles above Fort Donelson, about the 8th of December, going into Kentucky. It became manifest, before many days, however, that Hood's forces were concentrating in earnest before Nashville. This plan of operations was the one which, of all others, Gen. Thomas was best prepared to meet. He had looked well to the defenses of the city, heretofore, and had now a strong force within his defensive lines. His left
rested on the Cumberland river, eastward, while to the southwestward, on his right, he had constructed formidable works. Below, gunboats supported the lines on the right. The fortifications thus extended to the river on each side of the city, which was quite encircled with either natural or artificial defenses.
It was now determined to assume the aggressive-for Hood, who had overrun and still had at his mercy, the greater portion of Middle Tennessee, being able to support his army, for an indefinite period, off the country, evinced no haste to bring on an engagement. Gen. Thomas had disposed his forces in the following order: On the left, resting on the Cumberland, was the corps commanded by Gen. Steedman; next on the left center, the Fourth Corps, commanded by Gen. T. J. Wood (in the absence of Gen. Stanley, who was severely wounded in the battle of Franklin); on the right center, Gen. A. J. Smith's corps (two divisions), with Schofield's corps (the TwentyThird) in reserve; and on the extreme right, was Gen. Wilson's cavalry, fighting dismounted, aided from the river by a division of the Mississippi Naval Squadron, under command of Rear Admiral S. P. Lee.
At nine o'clock on the morning of the 15th of December, Gen. Wilson opened the battle on the right, his troops assaulting and carrying the enemy's breastworks in gallant style. The advantage was followed up, the other corps, except Steedman's, coming into action, until the enemy's left was driven from the river almost to the Franklin pike, a distance of more than five miles, and doubled upon his center and right—the center being also forced back from one to three miles. One of the most brilliant chargés of the day was that made by six colored regiments on Rains' Hill, utterly routing the Rebel force which held that position. The enemy lost all his intrenchments— except for a mile or so on his extreme right, where no attack was made-sixteen pieces of artillery, the headquarters and trains of Chalmers, about 1,000 prisoners, and about 600 killed and wounded. The Union losses, this day, were not heavy, the killed and wounded numbering about 500.
Hood withdrew the right wing of his army from the river
on the night of the 15th, and took up a new position along the Granny White Hills," contracting his lines. On the 16th the attack was renewed by our forces-occupying, substantially, the same relative position as on the previous day. As soon as the clearing up of a dense fog disclosed the position of the enemy, Schofield skillfully flanked the Rebel left, while Steedman advanced in front, Kimball's division impetuously sweeping the enemy from his advance works. Thomas now ordered a charge along the whole line, and the Rebel left and center were completely broken. Wood and Steedman now concentrated their forces on Hood's right, which, as yet, stood firm, A sharp and severe contest followed, resulting in a decisive rout of the enemy. Hood was in full retreat soon after noon, having suffered heavy losses in men and cannon, as well as in the fallen left on the field in the hands of Thomas. His killed and wounded before Nashville were about 3,000. The victory gained by these two days' fighting was one of the most important of the war. The retreating foe was vigorously pressed by the victor, who followed Hood beyond Franklin, on the 17th, on which day, Gen. Hatch, in a series of brilliant cavalry charges, six miles beyond that place, dispersed the Rebel rearguard consisting of Stevenson's division of infantry and a brigade of cavalry, and captured three guns and many pris
Pursuit and attack were kept up for several days, by infantry and cavalry, with disastrous effect upon the flying army, the advance of which appears to have reached Florence and crossed the Tennessee on the 21st, while another column moved further up stream, crossing at Bainbridge, or near the mouth of the Elk river. Gen. Wood, with the Fourth Corps, supported Gen. Wilson's cavalry, in direct pursuit, while Gen. Steedman, moving his troops by railroad to Limestone Creek, advanced upon Decatur, on the 25th. Hood, protecting his rear by Forrest's heavy cavalry force, escaped with little further loss to the remnant of his army, moving back toward the interior of Georgia.
Hood continued to make all haste in his flight, using such strategy as he was able, to save a remnant of his command
By surrenders, desertions, and casualties in battle, he probably lost 20,000 men, or fully one-half the number with which he entered the State of Tennessee. Among his losses were eighteen general officers and sixty-eight pieces of artillery.
Beauregard had gone into Georgia, before Hood's advance into Tennessee-with the purpose of aiding in some way to interfere with Sherman's progress-his stirring appeal to the people to resist the invader having failed to produce any decisive effects. Lyon, who had gone on a raid into Kentucky, was compelled suddenly to retrace his steps, escaping southward as best he might. Tennessee and Kentucky had now seen their Secessionists and sympathizers had suffered serious losses, as the like class had done during Price's invasion of Missouri; and in a similar manner the Rebel retreat had rid the country of many of its worst enemies, either by enlistment or conscription into the ranks of the enemy, on his haughty and exultant advance. None of these profitless expeditions were to be repeated. It was the last wave of the receding tide across a border, which was never again to be debatable ground between the armies of the Government and its Rebel enemies.
The port of Wilmington, in North Carolina, a few miles above the mouth of Cape Fear River, and the adjacent coast, were so situated as to afford great facilities to blockade-runners, whose trade had everywhere else been almost entirely broken. up by the activity and vigilance of our large naval forces. This continued defiance of the blockade was annoying to the Government, and a source of much advantage to the Rebels, It had long since been found that the navy could only partially interrupt this contraband traffic; but the army movements on foot had hitherto prevented the detachment of a sufficient force to warrant an attack on this strongly-guarded entrepot for foreign commerce with the pretended "Confederacy." The demonstrated impracticability of any effective naval operations against Richmond by the James River, rendered it expedient to employ elsewhere that portion of the North-Atlantic Squadron which had accompanied the movement of Gen. Butler to City Point. This fleet was accordingly enlarged and fitted out