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Hood's Army of Tennessee arrived south of the city on December 2 and took up positions facing the Union forces within the city.

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As he was not nearly strong enough to assault the Federal fortifications, Hood opted for the defensive. Rather than repeating his fruitless frontal attack at Franklin, he entrenched and waited, hoping that Thomas would attack him. Then, after Thomas had smashed his army against the Confederate entrenchments, Hood could counterattack and take Nashville.

The Confederate line of about four miles of fortifications faced the southerly facing portion of the Union line the part occupied by Steedman and Schofield. From right to left were the corps of Maj. Benjamin F. Cheatham , Lt. Stephen D. Lee , and Lt. Alexander P. Cavalry commanded by Brig.

James R. Chalmers was off to the southwest of the city. Hood made a serious strategic error before the battle. On December 2, he sent the three brigades of William B. Bate's Division and one of the two attached infantry brigades returned to Nashville, but Hood had seriously diminished his already outnumbered forces, and he had also deprived his army of its strongest and most mobile unit, Forrest and his cavalry. The Union force of about 55, men , was a conglomerate of units from several different departments provisionally attached to Maj. George H. Thomas ' Department of the Cumberland or Army of the Cumberland and consisted of: [18].

The Confederate Army of Tennessee under command of Gen. John B. Hood fielded approximately 30, men and consisting of 3 infantry army corps and 1 cavalry corps: [19]. Although Thomas's forces were much stronger, he could not ignore Hood's army. Despite the severe beating it had suffered at Franklin, Hood's Army of Tennessee presented a threat by its mere presence and ability to maneuver.

Thomas knew he had to attack, but he prepared cautiously. His cavalry corps, commanded by the energetic young Brig. James H. Wilson , was poorly armed and mounted, and he did not want to proceed to a decisive battle without effective protection of his flanks. This was particularly important, since Wilson would be facing the horsemen of the formidable Forrest.

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Refitting the Union cavalry took time. Meanwhile, Washington fumed at the seeming procrastination. Grant and Henry Halleck had objected to it on the grounds that Hood would use the opportunity to invade Tennessee. In response, Sherman airily indicated that this was exactly what he wanted and that if Hood "continues to march North, all the way to Ohio, I will supply him with rations. Lincoln had little patience for slow generals and remarked of the situation, "This seems like the McClellan and Rosecrans strategy of do nothing and let the rebels raid the country.

While pressure from Washington continued, a bitter ice storm struck Nashville on December 8, which precluded any offensive action. Sub-freezing weather continued through December John A. Logan proceed to Nashville and assume command if, upon his arrival, Thomas had not yet initiated operations.

Logan made it as far as Louisville by December 15, but on that day the Battle of Nashville had finally begun. He proceeded no further. They met with immediate success, capturing that day two Federal transports carrying horses, mules and fodder. The Federal naval squadron at Nashville responded on the night of December 3—4. While the bulk of the squadron engaged the upper battery, two ships, the ironclad Carondelet and the tinclad Fairplay , proceeded to the lower battery where they recaptured and brought off the two transports.

The Federal squadron commander, Lt. LeRoy Fitch was ordered to break the river blockade. On December 7 he took his two heaviest ships, the ironclad USS Carondelet and the river monitor Neosho , downstream to engage the batteries. The action was inconclusive, although the Neosho sustained considerable superficial damage. Two Neosho sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for going out onto the shell swept deck and raising the ship's flag after it had been shot down. The Confederate batteries effectively closed the river below Nashville to supply traffic, until they finally were driven off by Federal cavalry on December Thomas's plan was to launch a diversionary attack on the Confederate right that would distract them from the main attack on their left and perhaps cause them to divert troops from their left to their right.

A weak skirmish line was posted east of the tracks, and on December 14 this was supplemented by a stout four-gun lunette manned by Granbury's Houghton's after Granbury's death at Franklin Texas Brigade. Granbury's Lunette was well masked by trees and brush. The two Union brigades advanced and overran the skirmish line. They then came under heavy artillery fire from a Confederate battery on the west side of the railroad.

When the brigades passed Granbury's Lunette, they were struck by very heavy close range enfilading fire. Both brigades retreated in some disorder, but they were reformed and continued for the rest of the day to fire on the Confederate works from the former skirmish line. Thomas planned a huge wheeling movement that would ultimately come down on the Confederates' exposed left flank. Wilson's Cavalry Corps moved west on Charlotte Pike once an early morning fog dissipated, driving off the Confederate cavalry patrolling the area between the Confederate left and the Cumberland River.

Smith's XVI Corps detachment followed, turning south after a mile or so towards the Confederate flank. The cavalrymen formed on Smith's right flank. Four brigades, two of cavalry and two of infantry, overran Redoubt No. Sylvester G. Hill , was killed by Confederate artillery firing from Redoubt No. He was the highest ranking Federal officer killed in the battle. Smith's troops proceeded to Redoubt No. In the meantime, the IV Corps had been tasked with making a frontal assault from Granny White and Hillsboro Pikes on the left end of the Confederate line.

The assault was to begin once Smith's troops began their assault on the left flank redoubts. While the Confederates had originally established their line there, they had withdrawn to equally strong positions on the south side of Brown's Creek, as the original positions were exposed to artillery fire from the Nashville forts. They stopped to reorganize, and at about the same time that Smith's Detachment was rolling up the Confederate redoubts, they advanced on the main Confederate line. Thus it happened that Redoubt No.

Rearguard actions by reinforcements from Lee's Corps kept the retreat from becoming a rout. With the collapse of the Confederate left, Cheatham's and Lee's Corps followed to the new line. The Confederates' new line was much stronger and more compact than the first day's line. It was anchored on the east on Peach Orchard Hill. The western flank ran along a line of hills leading south from Compton's Hill, which after the day's battle would be called Shy's Hill after Col.

William M. Shy, the Confederate officer commanding the 20th Tennessee Infantry, who died defending it. The center followed a series of sturdy dry stack stone walls enhanced by entrenching. Hood put Lee's Corps on the right flank. With the exception of two brigades, this corps had seen no action on the previous day, and indeed had seen very little action at the bloodletting at Franklin two weeks before. Lee's line ran from the hill well into the Confederate center. Stewart's Corps, decimated by heavy casualties at Franklin and in the December 15 actions, occupied the Confederate center.

The Decisive Battle of Nashville | American Battlefield Trust

Cheatham's Corps, badly hurt at Franklin, was on the Confederate left flank, which included Shy's Hill and the line of hills to its south. Rucker's cavalry brigade patrolled to the south of Cheatham's Corps. The Confederate line defenses atop Shy's Hill appeared to be quite strong, as the steep hill dominated all of the surrounding terrain. However, appearances were deceiving.


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First, the defenses at the crest were a salient , and were exposed to Federal artillery fire from all directions except the southeast. Second, the fortifications had been built overnight by tired troops and consisted of shallow trenches with no head logs or abatis. Third, and most fateful, the trenches were constructed on the geographical crest of the hill and not on the military crest commanding the slopes, such that attacking troops could escape fire until they were almost at the crest.

Thomas repeated his tactics of the previous day. An attack would be made on the Confederate right to draw Confederate troops from the left. The attacks on Peach Orchard Hill were made in much greater strength than those December Concentrated musket and artillery fire from the entrenched Confederates quickly broke up the attack. The attack on Peach Orchard Hill had the desired effect. Hood sent two of Cheatham's brigades to reinforce Lee. During this time Wilson's cavalry was very active on the Confederate left and rear, reaching past Granny White Pike.

In response, Cheatham stretched his corps further and further to the south. Schofield, imagining that he was outnumbered and in danger of an attack on his southern flank, demurred, requested that Smith send him additional divisions.

Thomas directed Smith to comply with this request. Smith sent a division, and still Schofield did nothing. Sunset was rapidly approaching, and if no attack was made before then Hood would be in a position to either strengthen his position overnight or safely retreat south. John McArthur , one of Smith's division commanders, was aware of this.

He also saw that the Confederate lines were being badly battered by Federal artillery, which was firing on them from nearly every direction. The three brigade attack began on McArthur's timetable. One brigade went up and over Shy's Hill. Because of the misplacement of the Confederate trenches, only the regiment on the east sustained significant casualties from Confederates, who were firing from the plain to its left. The Confederate left flank suddenly disintegrated. The Confederate line was rolled up west to east. Granny White Pike had been blocked by Wilson's cavalry. A part of Lee's Corps maintained good order and covered the retreat on Franklin Pike.

Rucker having blunted for the time being the Federal pursuit on Granny White Pike, the main pursuit was by Federal cavalry on Franklin Pike. Lee's rearguard held off these attacks. At this point, the pursuit slowed because Thomas had sent his pontoon bridge train towards Murfreesboro rather than Franklin and Columbia, and his artillery and supply trains could not cross the Harpeth River until the pontoon train arrived.

Wilson badly hurt Carter L. Stevenson 's rear guard division in actions on December 17 and 18, but was forced to stop because of the lack of supplies. Wilson's problems were compounded when Forrest and his two cavalry divisions arrived in Columbia from Murfreesboro on December On December 19 the Confederate infantry and artillery crossed the Duck River at Columbia, destroying the bridges behind them.

Edward C. Walthall to his Cavalry Corps. Because of the misdirected pontoon train, Thomas was not able to cross the Duck River until December Lee , commanding the Tennessee River naval squadron, to destroy the Confederate bridge. However, low water and Confederate artillery prevented Federal tinclad gunboats from interdicting the crossing.

Steedman's Provisional Division was sent by rail from Nashville to Chattanooga and from there by river boat to Decatur, Alabama , to cut off Hood's retreat. His force arrived too late to interfere with the crossing. However, Steedman's cavalry under the command of Colonel William Jackson Palmer captured the Confederate pontoon train on December 30 along with a large number of supply wagons.

Federal casualties in the battle totaled killed, 2, wounded, and missing. As only a few of the Confederate units submitted reports on the battle, Confederate casualties are difficult to determine.

General Jackson Showboat Nashville

Thomas stayed behind to fight Hood in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. Thomas, with a smaller force, raced with Hood to reach Nashville, where he was to receive reinforcements. At the Battle of Franklin on November 30, , a large part of Thomas's force, under command of Maj. John M.

Was General Thomas Slow at Nashville?

Schofield , dealt Hood a strong defeat and held him in check long enough to cover the concentration of Union forces in Nashville. At Nashville, Thomas had to organize his forces, which had been drawn from all parts of the West and which included many young troops and even quartermaster employees. He declined to attack until his army was ready and the ice covering the ground had melted enough for his men to move. The North, including General Grant himself now general-in-chief of all Union armies , grew impatient at the delay. John A. Logan was sent with an order to replace Thomas, and soon afterwards Grant started a journey west from City Point, Virginia to take command in person.

Thomas attacked on December 15, , in the Battle of Nashville and effectively destroyed Hood's command in two days of fighting. Thomas sent his wife, Frances Lucretia Kellogg Thomas, the following telegram, the only communication surviving of the Thomases' correspondence: "We have whipped the enemy, taken many prisoners and considerable artillery. Thomas was appointed a major general in the regular army, with date of rank of his Nashville victory, and received the Thanks of Congress :.

Thomas and the officers and soldiers under his command for their skill and dauntless courage, by which the rebel army under General Hood was signally defeated and driven from the state of Tennessee. Thomas may have resented his late promotion to major general which made him junior by date of rank to Sheridan ; upon receiving the telegram announcing it, he remarked to Surgeon George Cooper: "I suppose it is better late than never, but it is too late to be appreciated. I earned this at Chickamauga. Thomas also received another nickname from his victory: "The Sledge of Nashville".

During the Reconstruction period, Thomas acted to protect freedmen from white abuses. He set up military commissions to enforce labor contracts since the local courts had either ceased to operate or were biased against blacks. Thomas also used troops to protect places threatened by violence from the Ku Klux Klan.

This is, of course, intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains; a species of self-forgiveness amazing in its effrontery, when it is considered that life and property—justly forfeited by the laws of the country, of war, and of nations, through the magnanimity of the government and people—was not exacted from them.

President Andrew Johnson offered Thomas the rank of lieutenant general —with the intent to eventually replace Grant, a Republican and future president, with Thomas as general in chief—but the ever-loyal Thomas asked the Senate to withdraw his name for that nomination because he did not want to be party to politics. In he requested assignment to command the Military Division of the Pacific with headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco. He died there of a stroke while writing an answer to an article criticizing his military career by his wartime rival John Schofield.

Sherman, by then general-in-chief, personally conveyed the news to President Grant at the White House. None of Thomas's blood relatives attended his funeral as they had never forgiven him for his loyalty to the Union. His gravestone was sculpted by Robert E. Launitz and comprises a white marble sarcophagus topped by a bald eagle.

His cadets at West Point had given him the nickname of "Slow Trot Thomas", and this sobriquet was used to diminish his reputation. He moved slowly because of an injured back, but he was mentally anything but slow, only methodical. He was known for accurate judgment and thorough knowledge of his profession and once he grasped a problem and the time was right for action, he would strike a vigorous, rapid blow. The veterans' organization for the Army of the Cumberland, throughout its existence, fought to see that he was honored for all he had done.

Thomas was in chief command of only two battles in the Civil War, the Battle of Mill Springs at the beginning and the Battle of Nashville near the end. Both were victories. However, his contributions at the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Peachtree Creek were decisive. His main legacies lay in his development of modern battlefield doctrine and in his mastery of logistics. Thomas has generally been held in high esteem by Civil War historians; Bruce Catton and Carl Sandburg wrote glowingly of him, and many [ who?

But Thomas never entered the popular consciousness like those men. The general destroyed his private papers, saying he did not want "his life hawked in print for the eyes of the curious. In addition, most of his campaigns were in the Western theater of the war, which received less attention both in the press of the day and in contemporary historical accounts.

Grant and Thomas also had a cool relationship, for reasons that are not entirely clear, but are well-attested by contemporaries. When a rain-soaked Grant arrived at Thomas's headquarters before the Chattanooga Campaign , Thomas, caught up in other activity, did not acknowledge the general for several minutes until an aide intervened. Thomas's perceived slowness at Nashville—although necessitated by the weather—drove Grant into a fit of impatience, and Grant nearly replaced Thomas. In his Personal Memoirs , Grant tended to minimize Thomas's contributions, particularly during the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, saying his movements were "always so deliberate and so slow, though effective in defence.

Grant did, however, acknowledge that Thomas's eventual success at Nashville obviated all criticism. Both Sherman and Grant attended Thomas's funeral, and were reported by third parties to have been visibly moved by his passing. Thomas's legendary bay horse , Billy, bore his friend Sherman's name. Thomas was always on good terms with his commanding officer in the Army of the Cumberland, William Rosecrans. Even after Rosecrans was relieved of command and replaced by Thomas, he had nothing but praise for him.

Few knew him better than I did, none valued him more. In , Sherman published an article praising Grant and Thomas, [ citation needed ] and contrasting them to Robert E. During the whole war his services were transcendent, winning the first substantial victory at Mill Springs in Kentucky, January 20th, , participating in all the campaigns of the West in , and finally, December 16th, annihilating the army of Hood, which in mid winter had advanced to Nashville to besiege him.

Sherman concluded that Grant and Thomas were "heroes" deserving "monuments like those of Nelson and Wellington in London , well worthy to stand side by side with the one which now graces our capitol city of 'George Washington. A fort south of Newport , Kentucky was named in his honor, and the city of Fort Thomas now stands there and carries his name as well. A distinctive engraved portrait of Thomas appeared on U. The bills are called " treasury notes " or "coin notes" and are widely collected today because of their fine, detailed engraving.

Thomas County, Kansas , established in , is named in his honor. The townships of Thomas County are named after fallen soldiers in the Battle of Chickamauga. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. United States Army general. For other people named George Thomas, see George Thomas disambiguation. Oakwood Cemetery , Troy , New York. The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. October Learn how and when to remove this template message. Biography portal American Civil War portal.

Great Commanders, General Thomas. Appleton and Company. Einolf's statement about owning slaves "during much of his life" is apparently derived from his family's ownership, his use of a family slave as a personal valet during "at least part of his military service", and the woman named Ellen whom his wife Francis bought in p.

Einolf, p. While Thomas did eventually come to support education and freedom for blacks, he did not do so until much later in life, when the events of the Civil War had changed his views on race. Eicher, p. Van Horne, p. Cleaves claims that Thomas was assigned to the Academy in on the recommendation of William S. Leland noted this is the nickname fellow soldiers used to convey genuine respect and affection for the General.

Sacramento Daily Union. Retrieved March 20, Rebecca Archived from the original on Retrieved This Terrible Sound.

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