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  • 1900
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adjutant-general in his department when work there was pressing.

The third was Lieutenant Tracy of the One Hundred and Fourth Ohio, a man of original character. Tall and angular, there was a little stoop in his shoulders and a little carelessness in his dress. His gait was a long stride, and he was not a graceful horseman. His exterior had a good deal of the typical Yankee, and our Connecticut Reserve in Ohio, from which he came, has as pure a strain of Yankee blood as any in New England. But whoever looked into his sallow and bony face was struck with the effect of his large, serious eye, luminous with intelligence and will. Devotion to duty and perfect trustworthiness, with zeal in acquiring military knowledge, were the qualities which led to his selection for staff duty. When we were preparing for the great swing of the army to the south of Atlanta, my division had been advanced close to the enemy’s position near East Point, where, from a strong salient in their works, their line curved back toward the east. Our position was to be the pivot of the movement, and we intrenched the top of a forest-covered knoll separated from the Confederate lines by a little hollow in which ran a small affluent of Camp Creek. Our pickets were directed to advance as close to the enemy as practicable, so that any attempt to make a sally would be detected promptly. Tracy had been directed to accompany the officer of the day and see that the outposts were in proper position. Early next morning General Schofield visited me, and desired to see in person the point most advanced. I called Tracy for our guide, and from the trenches we went down the slope, through the woods, on foot. A spur of the hill went forward, and as we neared the edge of the forest Tracy signalled to go quietly. Stooping carefully in the undergrowth, we noiselessly advanced to a fence corner where a sentinel stood behind a tree. Halting a few paces away, Tracy motioned to us to avoid moving the bushes, but to approach the fence and look between the rails. Doing so, we found the fence at the border of a little strip of hollow pasture in which the brooklet ran, and across it on the other slope, frowning upon us, was a formidable earthwork, an embrasure and the muzzle of a great Columbiad looking directly at us. The enemy’s sentinels had been driven in, so that, where we looked, one was pacing his beat at the counterscarp of the ditch. As we drew back to a distance at which conversation was prudent, Tracy asked with a grim little smile whether the picket line was sufficiently advanced. The whole was characteristic of his thoroughness in the performance of duty and his silent way of letting it speak for itself. He was struck in the breast and knocked down by a spent ball in the assault by Reilly’s brigade at Utoy Creek on August 6th, but in a week was on duty again, though he never wholly recovered from the injury to his lungs. [Footnote: Being in delicate health after the war, he was made Governor of the National Home for disabled soldiers at Dayton, Ohio, and died in 1868 from an abscess of the lung caused by the old injury.]

Officers were detailed from the line for other staff duty, such as ordnance officer, commissary of musters, etc., and there was no lack of good material. The general officer who sought for sober, zealous, and bright young soldiers for his staff could always find them. They were his eyes and his hands in the responsible work of a campaign, yet their service was necessarily hidden a good deal from view, and their opportunities for personal distinction and rapid promotion were few compared with those of their comrades in actual command of troops.

It was interesting to observe the rapid progress in all the essentials of good discipline made in commands which were permanent enough to give time for development of order and system. We were fortunate in Sherman’s army in having in himself and in the three commanders next in rank examples of courteous treatment of subordinates coupled with steady insistence upon the prompt and right performance of duty. Under such a _régime_ intelligent men grow sensitive to the slightest indication of dissatisfaction, and a superior officer has to weigh his words lest he give more pain than he intended. An amusing instance of this occurred during the campaign just ended. Late one evening my division was directed to make a movement at sunrise next day, and the camp was quiet in sleep before my orders were sent out to the brigade commanders. He who was assigned to lead the column was an excellent officer, but irascible, and a little apt to make his staff officers feel the edge of any annoyance he himself felt. Some strain of relations among his assistants at his headquarters happened to be existing when my order came. He had turned in for the night and was asleep when his adjutant-general came to his tent to report the order. Not fully aroused, he made a rough and bluff reply to the call, really meaning that the staff officer should issue the proper orders to the brigade, but in form it was a petulant refusal to be bothered with the business. The adjutant took him literally at his word and left him. Next morning I was in the saddle at the time set, and with my staff rode to the brigade to accompany the head of the column, when, lo, his command was not yet astir, though in the rest of the camp breakfast was over, the tents struck, and officers and men were awaiting the signal to fall in. I rapped with my sword-hilt on the tent-pole, and when the dishevelled head of the colonel appeared, his speechless astonishment told the story of some great blunder. I did not stop for particulars, but only said, “Your brigade, colonel, was to have had the place of honor in an important day’s work; as it is, you will fall in at the rear of the column. Good-morning, sir.” He stood, without a word, till we rode off, and then turning to an aide who had come to him, exclaimed, “I wish to God he had cursed me!”

In the movement upon Atlanta, after crossing the Chattahoochee, we were not met in force till we came to Peachtree Creek and the extension of that line southward. The country was similar in character to that near Marietta, with openings of farming lands along the principal roads, but probably three fourths of the country was covered with forest. In answer to questions from home as to what our continuous skirmishing in such advances was like, I took as a sample the 20th of July, when we were pushing in to connect with General Thomas’s right, and he was making his way to and across Peachtree Creek, where the battle was to rage in the latter part of the day.

“My camp last night,” I said, “was formed of three brigades in two lines across the principal road, another brigade in reserve, and the artillery in the intervals, all in position of battle. A strong line of pickets and skirmishers covered the front and flanks some three hundred yards in advance. In the morning we drew in the flanks of the skirmish line, reducing it to about the length of one brigade across the road, and it was ordered to advance. The men go forward, keeping the line at right angles to the road, stopping for neither creek nor thicket; down ravines, over the hills, the skirmishers trotting from a big tree to a larger stone, taking advantage of everything which will cover them, and keeping the general form of the line and their distance from each other tolerably correct. The main body of the troops file into the road marching four abreast, with a battery near the leading brigade. Presently a shot is heard, off on the right, then two or three more in quick succession, and a bullet or two comes singing over the head of the column. ‘They’ve started the Johnnies,’ say the boys in the ranks, and we move on, the skirmish line still pushing right along. It proves to be only a rebel picket which has fired and run to apprise their comrades that the ‘Yanks’ are coming. Forward a few hundred yards, when, bang, bang, and a rattle of rifles too fast to count. The column is halted, and we ride to the skirmish line to see what is up. A pretty strong body of ‘rebs’ is about some old log houses with a good skirmish line on either side where our men must approach over two or three hundred yards of open fields. A regiment is moved up to the nearest cover on each side of the road, a section of artillery rattles up to the front, the guns are smartly unlimbered and pointed and a couple of shells go screaming into the improvised fort, exploding and scattering logs and shingles right and left. Out run the rebs in confusion, and forward with a rush and a hurrah go our men over the open, getting a volley from the other side. Into the woods they go. The rebs run; two or three are caught, perhaps, as prisoners, two or three of ours are carried to the rear on stretchers, and on we go again for a little way. This is light skirmishing. Sometimes we find extemporized breastworks of rails or fallen trees, requiring more force to dislodge the enemy, and then, finally, we push up to well-constructed lines of defence where we halt for slower and heavier operations.”

The inhabitants within our lines about Atlanta had a hard time of it, in spite of all efforts to mitigate their suffering. Their unwillingness to abandon their homes was very great, and it was very natural, for all they had was there, and to leave it was to be beggared. They sometimes, when within range of the artillery, built bomb-proofs near their houses, and took refuge in them, much as the people of the Western plains seek similar protection from tornadoes. In closing in on the west side of the town, near the head of Utoy Creek, we took in a humble homestead where the family tried to stay, and I find that I preserved, in another of my home letters, a description of the place and their life there.

“Just within my lines” (this was written on August 11th), “and not ten paces from the breastworks, stands a log house owned by an old man named Wilson. A little before the army advanced to its present position, several relatives of his, with their families, came to him from homes regarded as in more imminent danger, and they united their forces to build, or dig, rather, a place of safety. They excavated a sort of cellar just in rear of the house, on the hillside, digging it deep enough to make a room some fifteen feet square by six feet high. This they covered over with a roof of timbers, and over that they piled earth several feet thick, covering the whole with pine boughs, to keep the earth from washing. In this bomb-proof four families are now living, and I never felt more pity than when, day before yesterday, I looked down into the pit, and saw there, in the gloom made visible by a candle burning while it was broad day above, women sitting on the floor of loose boards, resting against each other, haggard and wan, trying to sleep away the days of terror, while innocent-looking children, four or five years old, clustered around the air-hole, looking up with pale faces and great staring eyes as they heard the singing of the bullets that were flying thick above their sheltering place. One of the women had been bed-ridden for several years before she was carried down there. One of the men was a cripple, the others old and gray. The men ventured up and took a little fresh air behind the breast-works; but for the women there is no change unless they come out at night. Still, they cling to home because they have nowhere else to go, and they hope we may soon pass on and leave them in comparative peace again.”

In an earlier chapter I have spoken of the easy descent from careful respect for the rights of property to reckless appropriation of what belongs to another, to robbery and pillage. [Footnote: _Ante_, pp. 233-235.] I find an instance of it given in one of the letters I have been quoting, which is the contemporary record of the thing itself which we had to deal with. It occurred on July 5th, when the whole army was in motion, hurrying past our position southeast of Marietta and following up Johnston’s retreating army. “Some soldiers went to a house occupied only by a woman and her children, and after robbing it of everything which they wanted, they drove away the only milch cow the woman had. She pleaded that she had an infant which she was obliged to bring up on the bottle, and that it could not live unless it could have the milk. They had no ears for the appeal and the cow was driven off. In two days the child died, of starvation chiefly, though the end was hastened by disease induced by the mother’s trying to keep it alive on food it could not digest. I heard of the case when the child was dead and two or three of the neighbors were getting together stealthily to dig its grave.” One of them came to me to beg permission to assist, and to explain that the little gathering meant nothing hostile to us. I got the facts only by cross-questioning, for the old man was abject in his solicitude not to seem to be complaining, and did not give the worst of the story till my hot indignation at what I heard assured him of sympathy and of a desire to punish the crime.

“A woman came to me the same morning, and said the cavalry had taken the last mouthful from her, telling her they were marching and hadn’t time to draw their rations, but that she would be fed by applying to us of the infantry column. The robbers well knew that we were forbidden to issue rations to citizens. They sacked the house of an old man with seven daughters by a second wife, all young things. He came to me in utter distress–not a mouthful in that house for twenty-four hours, their kitchen garden and farm utterly ruined, the country behind in the same condition, and he without means of travelling or carrying anything if he tried to move away.” I added, “Of course in such extreme cases I try to find some way of keeping people from death, and usually send them to the rear in our empty wagon trains going back for supplies, but their helpless condition is very little bettered by going.”

Such things were done chiefly by the professional stragglers and skulkers, and the stringent orders which were issued in both Sherman’s and Hood’s armies did not easily reach men who would not report for duty if they could help it. The country people could not tell who had done them the mischief, and the rascals would be gone before the case came before any superior officer who would interest himself in it. I must not, however, suppress the comment I made in the letter quoted. “The evil is the legitimate outgrowth of the hue and cry raised by our Christian people of the North against protecting rebel property, etc. Officers were deterred from enforcing discipline in this respect by public opinion at home, and now the evil is past remedy. The war has been prolonged, the army disintegrated and weakened, and the cause itself jeoparded, because discipline was construed as friendliness to rebels.” Straggling and its accompanying evils may be said to be the gauge of discipline in an army. There were brigades and divisions in which it hardly occurred; there were others in which the stragglers were a considerable fraction of the whole.

During the evacuation of Atlanta by the citizens, there was a good deal of migration beyond our lines among those who were not compelled to go. In Decatur applications were made to me daily, and we kept a record of the passes we issued, trying to know the purpose and motives of those going away, for, of course, a good deal of it was with the intent to carry intelligence to the enemy. The reasons given were often amusing. Two ladies applied, one day, for leave to go to Florida, which they claimed as their home. They said they had been visiting kinsmen in Decatur when the advance of our army brought them within our lines before they were aware of it. When asked why not stay with their friends till the armies should move away, they answered that they were sure they could not endure the rigors of the climate! The phrase became a byword at our headquarters, where we were longing for the invigorating breezes of the North.

We had a visit, about the middle of September, from two gentlemen of some prominence in the public affairs of Georgia,–Mr. Hill and Mr. Foster. They came ostensibly to seek to obtain and remove the body of Mr. Hill’s son, who had fallen in the campaign, but I suspected that they represented Governor Brown, who was known to be in a state of exasperation at the results to Georgia of a war begun to assert an ultra doctrine of State rights, but which had destroyed every semblance of State independence and created a centralized government at Richmond which ruled with a rod of iron. Mr. Hill was the same who had represented Governor Brown and General Johnston at Richmond in the mission in July, [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 272.] and whilst he did not formally present any subject except that of getting his son’s body, our conversation gave me sufficient knowledge of his views on the subjects of controversy to make me deeply interested in the outcome of the visit to General Sherman which I arranged for him. [Footnote: See Sherman’s Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 137.] Nothing of present practical importance came of the interviews, but the voluminous and bitterly controversial correspondence between the Georgia Governor and the War Department of the Confederacy is a curious revelation of the antagonistic influences which had sprung up in the progress of the war. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. lii. pt. ii. pp. 736, 754, 778, 796, 803.]

The death of General McPherson in the battle of Atlanta had been a great loss to the army, but to Sherman it was the loss of an intimate friend as well as an able subordinate. They had been closely associated under Grant in all the campaigns of the Army of the Tennessee, and their mutual attachment and confidence was as strong as their devoted loyalty to their great chief. My own acquaintance with McPherson had been slight, but yet enough to enable me to understand the warm personal regard he inspired in those who came to know him well. I met him first on the day we passed through Snake Creek Gap into Sugar Valley, before the battle of Resaca. We had to learn from him the positions of the troops already advancing toward the town, and I rode with General Schofield to his tent for this purpose. Schofield and he had been classmates and room-mates at West Point, and McPherson revealed himself to his old friend as he would not be likely to do to others. His affability and cordial good-will struck one at once. His graceful bearing and refined, intelligent face heightened the impression, and one could not be with him many minutes without seeing that he was a lovable person. An evenly balanced mind and character had given him a high grade as a cadet, and at the beginning of the war he was serving as a captain of engineers. Being appointed to General Grant’s staff, he won completely the general’s confidence, and his promotion was rapid, following closely behind that of Sherman.

His death was sincerely mourned, and his place as a soldier was not easy to fill. Sherman would have given the command of the Army of the Tennessee to General Logan, who was next in rank in it, but the strong opposition of General Thomas made him conclude that this would be unwise. [Footnote: See Sherman, in The Great Commanders Series, pp. 229, 332.] If he made a selection outside of the Army of the Tennessee, Hooker had first claim by seniority of rank, but both Sherman and Thomas lacked confidence in him. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxviii. pt. v. p. 272.] When Howard was selected on Thomas’s suggestion, Hooker was doubly offended, for Howard had been his subordinate at the beginning of the year, and there had been no love lost between them. Hooker now asked to be relieved from further service in Sherman’s army, and he retired from active field service,–Slocum, another of his former subordinates, with whom he had a violent quarrel, being appointed to the command of his corps on Thomas’s nomination. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 272, 273.] Halleck, in a letter to Sherman of September 16th, gave pointed testimony to facts which showed why Hooker was personally an unacceptable subordinate. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 857.] Sherman insisted, with good reason, that Hooker had no real grievance, as he was left in command of his corps, and Howard’s promotion was in another and independent organization, the Army of the Tennessee. He also declared that no indignity was intended or offered, and that he simply performed his own duty of selection in accordance with what he believed to be sound reasons. As to Logan, he took pains to praise his handling of the Army of the Tennessee after McPherson’s death, and to emphasize his own high opinion of him as an officer and the respect in which he was held by the whole army. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxviii. pt. v. p. 522.]



Hood’s plan to transfer the campaign to northern Georgia–Made partly subordinate to Beauregard–Forrest on a raid–Sherman makes large detachments–Sends Thomas to Tennessee–Hood across the Chattahoochee–Sherman follows–Affair at Allatoona–Planning the March to the Sea–Sherman at Rome–Reconnoissance down the Coosa–Hood at Resaca–Sherman in pursuit–Hood retreats down the Chattooga valley–We follow in two columns–Concentrate at Gaylesville–Beauregard and Hood at Gadsden–Studying the situation–Thomas’s advice–Schofield rejoins–Conference regarding the Twenty-third Corps–Hood marches on Decatur–His explanation of change of plan–Sherman marches back to Rome–We are ordered to join Thomas–Hood repulsed at Decatur marches to Tuscumbia–Our own march begun–Parting with Sherman–Dalton–Chattanooga–Presidential election–Voting by steam–Retrospect of October camp-life–Camp sports–Soldiers’ pets–Story of a lizard.

General Hood had been pretty well informed of what was going on in Sherman’s army, and was disposed to take advantage of the reduction of our forces by furloughs and the absence of numerous officers on leave. The Confederate President had visited him, and changes in his army had been ordered which made the organization more to his mind. Hardee being sent to Savannah to command a department on the coast, General Cheatham succeeded to the command of the corps. Hood proposed to cross the Chattahoochee some twenty miles west of Atlanta, and move on Powder Springs, where he could reach the railroad and force Sherman to attack him or to move south. In the latter case he proposed to follow, and had urged that the forces in central Georgia be increased so as to resist Sherman’s progress if it should be toward Augusta or Macon. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. ii. pp. 847, 862.]

Mr. Davis had been convinced by the campaign just ended that Hood’s fiery energy needed the guidance of a better military intellect, and the plan of placing a common head over Hood’s and Taylor’s departments had occurred to him. Beauregard was the officer whose rank, next to Johnston, indicated him for the command, but he was disaffected toward Davis, and his friends in Congress were active in opposition to the government. [Footnote: _Ante_, p. 183.] General Lee had suggested Beauregard to take Hood’s place, and had sounded him as to his willingness to do so after discussing with him the whole situation in Georgia. Lee felt able, thereupon, to assure the President that Beauregard would accept the assignment; saying, “I think you may feel assured that he understands the general condition of affairs, the difficulties with which they are surrounded, and the importance of exerting all his energies for their improvement.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. ii. p. 846.] But having learned Hood’s plan of operating upon Sherman’s communications, and being impressed anew by his visit with the energy of Hood’s nature, which quickly reacted from the discouragement following the fall of Atlanta, he partly accepted Lee’s suggestion, modifying it by giving Beauregard the supreme direction of affairs in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, whilst leaving Hood free to carry out the plan of campaign which he proposed, and to retain the command of his army except when Beauregard might be actually present with it. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 880.]

General Forrest with his cavalry corps had already been ordered to make a raid upon the railways in Tennessee in pursuance of a suggestion of his own, and on September 16th he started northward. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 818, 835.] This plan very well accorded with Hood’s, and when the latter determined, later in the campaign, himself to invade Tennessee, Forrest’s orders were extended so as to direct a junction with him. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 843.]

On September 24th Sherman learned that Forrest was at Athens and Pulaski on the railway from Decatur to Nashville. He had sent a detachment to burn bridges on the Memphis road also, and the whole of middle and western Tennessee was afire with the excitement of the new raid by the doughty Confederate leader. He received the surrender of the garrison at Athens without serious resistance, but by the time he approached Pulaski, burning bridges as he went, General Rousseau, who was in command of the district, had concentrated force enough to repulse him. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. pp. 450, 455, 456, 870, 876, 879.] After that Forrest attacked no considerable post, and did not reach Sherman’s principal line of communications, but making circuitous routes in the region about Columbia, finally retreated across the Tennessee River at Florence on the 5th and 6th of October. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 547.]

On getting the news of Forrest’s raid, Sherman sent back two divisions of the Army of the Cumberland to Chattanooga, and one from the Army of the Tennessee to Rome. He also sent General Thomas to Chattanooga to bring into co-operation all the troops posted in Tennessee and northern Georgia. This scattering of his forces to protect his railways proves how low an estimate he put upon the efficiency of Hood’s army, and his willingness to receive an attack from it. When he moved northward after Hood, a week later, he left the Twentieth Corps to hold Atlanta, and had with him little more than half of the forces with which he had made the Atlanta campaign; but they proved enough.

My own command had been quietly resting at Decatur with nothing more exciting to do than to send out foraging parties and reconnoissances, when on Friday, September 30th, I got a dispatch from General Sherman which put us on the alert. He told me that Hood had part of his infantry over the Chattahoochee, and was evidently combining desperate measures to destroy our railways. After referring to his arrangements to checkmate Forrest, he gave the “nub” of his own ideas as follows: “I may have to make some quick countermoves east and southeast. Keep your folks ready to send baggage into Atlanta and to start on short notice…. There are fine corn and potato fields about Covington and the Ocmulgee bottoms. We are well supplied with bread, meat, etc., but forage is scarce, and may force us to strike out. If we make a countermove, I will go out myself with a large force and take such a route as will supply us and at the same time make Hood recall the whole or part of his army.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. ii. p. 540.] I answered that we would be “minute men,” and also informed General Schofield by telegraph that we might resume active work any moment. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 541.]

Next day Sherman had evidence that Hood was crossing the Chattahoochee with his whole army, and wrote to General Howard and to me that if Hood should swing over to the Alabama railroad and try to get into Tennessee, he would, if Grant consented, draw to him the troops south of the Etowah, leave Thomas with the rest, and make for Savannah or Charleston by way of Milledgeville and Millen. By the destruction of the east and west roads, Georgia would thus become a break in the Confederacy. But should Hood move upon our communications between the Chattahoochee and the Etowah, he would turn upon him. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 6.] The latter was the movement Hood actually made, and the March to the Sea was postponed for a few weeks.

I need not repeat here the details of the October campaign, which I have given elsewhere. [Footnote: See “Atlanta,” chap. xvii.; and for the growth and completion of the plan of the March to the Sea, reference is made to the Life of General Sherman (Great Commanders Series), chap. x.] On the 2d Sherman was aware that the enemy was advancing on Marietta; but far from hurrying to anticipate him there, we were held back yet another day that Hood might be lured far enough to let us strike him in rear. General Corse at Rome was ordered to reinforce Allatoona pass and hold stubbornly there, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 8.] and then, on the 3d and 4th, Sherman was in motion, trying to catch the enemy in that rough country on the border of the Etowah. On the 2d I had sent a division to make a strong reconnoissance eastward to Flat Rock, and a brigade to Stone Mountain to make sure that no enemy was near us in that direction, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 33.] and on its return we followed the rest of the army northward, Slocum’s corps remaining in garrison at Atlanta, as before mentioned.

There had been continuous heavy rains, and all the rivers were swollen, which retarded Hood’s movements as well as ours; but he showed commendable prudence, did not advance with his main body beyond Dallas, and operated by detachments on the railway, which he broke near Ackworth, but did no serious damage. On the 5th Corse and Tourtelotte made their fine defence of the position at Allatoona against French’s division, and on the 6th my reconnoissance proved that Hood had concentrated again in the neighborhood of Dallas. The two most important bridges on the railroad were now safe, those crossing the Chattahoochee and the Etowah; and as Forrest had failed to reach the line from Chattanooga to Nashville, Hood’s plan of campaign had failed and Sherman’s communications were unbroken. Unwilling to confess defeat, Hood now determined to make a considerable circuit westward, cross the Coosa below Rome and march by the Chattooga valley upon Resaca, where the bridge over the Oostanaula was next in importance to that at Allatoona. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 804.] As the enemy’s first movement from Dallas was westward, Sherman had to look for information as to his further course. Strengthening the garrison at Rome, he waited at Allatoona for news, discussing with General Grant by telegraph his own plan of marching upon Savannah if Hood moved far westward. The latter repeated to his government his purpose to follow Sherman if he did so. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] The storms and floods had done much more damage than Hood, several of the large bridges being injured and smaller ones carried away.

At Allatoona Sherman’s headquarters were close to my own, and he opened to me his views of the situation. He did not propose to leave the railway line to follow Hood far; but if the opportunity offered to fight him near the line, he would seize it. If Hood entered Tennessee near the Georgia line, he would follow and destroy him; but he was already confident that his enemy would not dare do this, and pointed to Muscle Shoals as the nearest point at which he was likely to cross the Tennessee River. He hoped that General Grant would consent, in this case, to his own march on Savannah, and promised to lead Hood a lively chase if the latter turned back to follow him. Once a new base on the sea was reached, he would turn upon and crush his opponent.

His plan had a personal interest for myself, for as we were out of communication with General Schofield and might march southward any day, he thought it probable that he should separate the Twenty-third Corps from the Department of the Ohio and take it with him, making my command of it permanent. He assumed that Schofield would prefer to remain in the higher position of department commander, rather than leave it for the field command of the corps, which was a good deal weakened by the hard service of the summer.

From the 10th to the 13th of October the army moved in echelon by short marches to Rome, and on the date last named I was ordered to push a reconnoissance with the corps and General Kenner Garrard’s division of cavalry down the Coosa far enough to settle the question where Hood had gone. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 230.] We started early and made thirteen miles in the forenoon, routing the enemy’s cavalry holding that road and capturing two cannon. It was definitely learned that Hood had taken up the pontoon bridge and gone north. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 250.] Meantime the enemy had appeared at Resaca, and as soon as it was certain that they were in force Sherman put everything in rapid motion in that direction. He had warned Thomas on the 11th, and directed him to reinforce Chattanooga and Bridgeport. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 251.] There was again a chance that Hood might be caught between the forces. He had approached Resaca from the west, by the north bank of the Oostanaula, on the 12th, but his summons of the place being defied, he did not assault, but after some threatening demonstrations marched north to Dalton. He plainly felt that he had no time to spare, but it was just as plain that in his haste he was accomplishing nothing.

My march down the Coosa had put me in the rear on the movement north from Rome. I reached Resaca on the 15th, in the early afternoon, having received authority from Sherman to pass the trains and push forward. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 294.] The Army of the Cumberland had followed Hood to Dalton and Buzzard Roost, the Army of the Tennessee had driven his cavalry out of Snake Creek Gap and occupied it, and we were halted at Resaca to support either. General Schofield had reached Chattanooga on the 13th, and was given command of all troops in that vicinity by General Thomas, who was at Nashville. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 253.] Schofield had in hand the two divisions which had been sent back from Atlanta a fortnight before, besides the garrison; and other troops were on the way to him from Nashville. But communication with Sherman was interrupted, and Hood had better knowledge of the full situation. Learning that Chattanooga was held strongly, Hood marched from Buzzard Roost by way of Villanow over Taylor’s Ridge into the Chattooga valley, up which he had just come. Prisoners told us that his army was out of provisions, as they had failed in the hope of capturing depots of stores. [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 791.] He must get back within reach of his own depots. Gadsden had been made a temporary base, and he made haste to reach the valley of the Coosa, in which it lay.

Sherman had wished that the rumor would turn out to be true which gave the neighborhood of Bridgeport as the place at which Hood would enter Tennessee; [Footnote: _Id._, pt. iii. pp. 296, 312.] but if he did so anywhere from Guntersville to Chattanooga, it would be possible to head him off by General Thomas’s forces whilst our principal army closed in upon him from the rear. During the 16th Snake Creek Gap was cleared of the timber blockade which Hood had made to delay our chase, and my corps reached Villanow. The Army of the Tennessee was at Ships Gap, and that of the Cumberland in close support. We here learned definitely that Stewart’s corps of Hood’s army had marched southward from Villanow to Subligna on the east side of Taylor’s Ridge, and the main body from Lafayette to Summerville on the west side. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 310, 311.]

After a day spent in reconnoissances and renewal of communications with Chattanooga and Nashville, we marched again on the 18th, Sherman leading the main army from Lafayette southward, whilst he ordered me to march from Villanow by way of Subligna to Gover’s (or Mattox’s) Gap, and thence to Summerville, following the enemy’s corps which had gone that way. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 325.] We reached Subligna at noon, driving vedettes and patrols of the enemy’s cavalry as we advanced. From Subligna I sent Major Wells of my staff with a regiment over the mountain by a bridle path, to inform General Sherman of our progress. He had an unexpectedly long and rough march, but reported as ordered. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 351.] We continued the march to Gover’s Gap, drove away a cavalry rear-guard, and repaired the road which ran along a bench cut in the precipitous hillside. An easy way of communication with Sherman in the Chattooga valley was thus opened, after a day’s march of twenty-two miles. General Kenner Garrard with his cavalry had followed a parallel valley further east, toward Dirt-town, and joined me at Gover’s Gap soon after my arrival there. We now marched through Melville to Gaylesville, where the army was concentrated on the 20th. The Twenty-third Corps was placed in advance, near Blue Pond, where a bridge over the Chattooga was to be rebuilt, and one division was sent to Cedar Bluff, a pretty village on the Coosa, where it covered the main road down the valley from Rome to Gadsden. I made a reconnoissance to Center, over the Gadsden road, and learned definitely that the whole army of Hood was at Gadsden. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 346, 357, 359, 361, 364, 369. 376, 399, 423.]

Sherman’s wish that Hood would cross the Tennessee near Stevenson was very sincere. He approved the movement by Schofield to occupy Trenton with the two divisions still under his command, but he disapproved the directions given by Thomas to place troops at Caperton’s Ferry, which was on the direct road to Stevenson. He wanted that door left open till Hood should have part, at least, of his army over the Tennessee River. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 335.] He felt so sure, however, that Hood would not fall into such a trap, that his dispatches reiterate the opinion that if the enemy crossed the river at all, it would be west of Huntsville or at Muscle Shoals. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 333, 357, 395.] He was turning his whole mind to the March to the Sea, and studying the contingencies which it involved. In a long dispatch to Halleck on the 19th [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 357-358.] he had mapped out his general scheme, and gave his reasons why he must have alternates in his choice of objectives, though his real aim would be Savannah. He therefore named, as the points where the Navy should watch for him, Charleston, Savannah, Pensacola, and Mobile, saying, “I will turn up somewhere.” On the 22d, writing to General Grant, he reviewed the ground and the effect which it would have on the Confederacy when the Georgia railroads were destroyed and he should “bring up with 60,000 men on the seashore about Savannah or Charleston,” concluding, “I think this far better than defending a long line of railroad.” [Footnote: _Id._, p. 395.] At the outset Thomas had advised Sherman, in view of the fact that General Grant had not yet been able to carry out his plan to take southern seaports as a preliminary to an advance beyond Atlanta, to “adopt Grant’s idea of turning Wilson loose rather than undertake the plan of a march with the whole force through Georgia to the sea.” [Footnote: Id., p. 334.] General James H. Wilson had been sent from Grant’s army to be chief of cavalry with Sherman, and Thomas’s suggestion was that until Grant’s part of the general plan should be accomplished, activity should be limited to the defence of the territory already occupied, except as cavalry raids might harry the Confederate country. But Sherman answered, “To pursue Hood is folly, for he can twist and turn like a fox and wear out any army in pursuit. To continue to occupy long lines of railroad simply exposes our small detachments to be picked up in detail and forces me to make countermarches to protect lines of communication. I know I am right in this, and shall proceed to its maturity.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 378.] He set to work to organize the two armies in such force that Thomas should feel content with his means of meeting Hood if the latter should not turn back after the Georgia column.

General Schofield had been feeling his way southward with Wagner’s and Morgan’s divisions, and on the 19th Sherman ordered him to move by the most direct route to Alpine, overtaking the column which was marching on the west side of the Chattooga valley, as I was doing on the east. Sherman added the direction to keep the command as it was till they should meet in person. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 366.] This had reference to his purposes in regard to myself and the Twenty-third Corps, which have been mentioned.

On the 21st Schofield’s column reached Alpine, and he rode forward to Sherman’s headquarters at Gaylesville. I had gone up from my own headquarters to make some report to Sherman, and was with him when Schofield arrived. Our greeting was a warm one. The present situation and what had occurred since the parting at Atlanta was of course the first topic of conversation, and I had the keen pleasure of hearing Sherman praise the handling of the corps during the past months in much stronger terms than he had used to me alone. Then followed the forecast of the future. Sherman put strongly his belief that Hood would not cross the Tennessee above the Shoals, and his purpose to march to Savannah as soon as the enemy should be definitely committed to a movement across Alabama. He then touched upon the details of organization, and referring to the fact that the corps was weak in numbers and that it would be perhaps unpleasant for Schofield to leave the command of his department for an indefinite period, suggested that he should consent to the temporary absence of the corps. Schofield very promptly replied that he should prefer almost any alternative to the mere administrative work of the department and its garrisons in East Tennessee and Kentucky. He said that if Hood should not follow the southern movement, but should turn his whole force upon Thomas with desperate purpose to drive him out of Tennessee, another veteran corps, though a small one, might make all the difference between defeat and victory. Sherman replied that he would consider the whole matter carefully and adjourned the discussion, requesting that Schofield should confer fully with me.

We continued the conference at the corps headquarters, and I agreed with General Schofield that no military duty was so little attractive as the perplexing semi-political administration at the rear, adding that till the war ended I desired to be with the biggest and most active column in the west. I frankly said that it was this consideration that made with me the great attraction of the arrangement Sherman had suggested. Schofield expressed the strong conviction that Hood would not follow Sherman, and that in middle Tennessee the real fighting must be done. He had no idea of putting the corps in garrison anywhere, but felt sure that Thomas must concentrate everything he might have for most active field work, and that in strictest military sense our task, if we were there, would be not less important or less honorable than that of our comrades who marched eastward. It would, besides, give us the opportunity to fill up the corps with the new regiments that were coming forward, when otherwise, with the expiration of the term of some we had and the casualties of a new campaign, we should probably find it reduced to a single division. Schofield’s clearly expressed purpose to seek the most active field work with Thomas in a campaign against Hood’s army if we went back to middle Tennessee brought me to agreement with his views, and I promised to support them in my next interview with General Sherman, as I did. I still look back with pleasure to this incident as proof of the hearty comradeship between Sherman and his subordinates, which continued to be shown toward me by both him and Schofield to the end. [Footnote: My memory is supported, in this matter, by home letters written at the time.]

Sherman postponed his decision till he was quite sure what course Hood would take, for the latter was concentrating his army at Gadsden and having a conference with Beauregard on the day of the interviews on our side which I have narrated. After agreeing with his immediate superior upon the plan of entering Tennessee at or near Guntersville, Hood started on the morning of the 22d, but in accordance with confidential directions he gave his corps commanders, his column changed direction at Benettsville, taking the Decatur road, which there branched to the left and forced the marching westward. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 831, 835, 81, 843.] The gloss which he afterward put on the matter was that he changed his plan in consequence of information that Forrest could not join him as he expected. [Footnote: Advance and Retreat, p. 20.] This does not bear examination. Forrest was, under the orders of General Taylor, preparing a raid into western Tennessee to bring out all the supplies that country contained and to break up the railway to Memphis, sending the iron to repair the road in the vicinity of Tuscumbia, where the base for the new operations in middle Tennessee would be. On the 20th Hood had himself informed Taylor of his purpose to cross at Guntersville, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 835.] and Wheeler’s cavalry was relied upon to cover the movement till middle Tennessee should be reached. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 845.] On the 22d Taylor was directed to have Forrest open communication with Hood “by letter or otherwise,” and act for the time under his orders, [Footnote: _Ibid._] but no immediate interference with what Forrest was doing in western Tennessee was indicated. The only reasonable interpretation of Hood’s conduct is that when he faced the consequences of a movement to Guntersville with Sherman at Gaylesville ready to close the _cul de sac_ behind him, even his audacity shrunk from the plan, and he proved the truth of Sherman’s prediction that he would not dare to do it. Beauregard explicitly says that the change in Hood’s plan was made after leaving Gadsden, where it had been definitely arranged. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 662.]

On our side several days were spent in watchful observation. I returned to my division, Schofield resumed the command of the Army of the Ohio, and the divisions he had led from Chattanooga joined the Fourth and Fourteenth Corps, to which they belonged. [Footnote: _Id._, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 401, 402.] Thomas was informed that the Fourth Corps would be sent back to him with about 5000 men from other commands who were not quite in condition for the March to the Sea, but who would be fit for post garrison. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 408.] Sherman’s recommendations for promotions earned in the past campaigns were made on the 24th, in urgent and explicit terms, endorsing the approval expressed by the separate army commanders, and saying that if the law did not allow the addition to the number of general officers, he believed that “the exigencies of the country would warrant the muster out of the same number of generals now on the list that have not done service in the past year.” We who were thus recommended thought we had the right to feel that the terms of approval used by such a commander gave a military standing hardly less than the actual gift of a grade from the government. [Footnote: _Id._, p. 413. See Appendix C for the language used by Sherman, and for the recommendation of General Schofield.]

On the 25th reports came from the light-draft gunboats patrolling the Tennessee River that the enemy was making demonstrations at several points below Guntersville, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 436.] and next day Sherman ordered the Fourth Corps to march to Chattanooga and report to General Thomas. He also issued his order that “in the event of military movements or the accidents of war separating him from his military division,” Thomas should “exercise command over all troops and garrisons not absolutely in the presence of the general-in-chief.” [Footnote: Id., p. 442.] He pointed out to Thomas that Chattanooga and Decatur were the points to be held “to the death;” that it would not be wise to move into West Tennessee unless he knew that the enemy had followed south, as he thought they would do when they found him starting from Atlanta; and that when Thomas was ready for aggressive movements, his line of operations should be against Selma. [Footnote: Id., pp. 448, 449.]

On the 27th of October Schofield wrote to Sherman, giving details of the reduction in numbers of the divisions of the corps now in the field, and renewing his urgency for some arrangement to increase its force. [Footnote: Id., p. 468.] The news from the west now made it certain that Hood was before Decatur, and Sherman issued orders on the 28th for the army to march to Rome. His purpose in this was double. He would try the effect on the enemy of the apparent start toward the east, whilst he concentrated his army on the railroad which was now repaired and which gave him the means of rapidly reinforcing General Thomas to any extent that might become necessary. He informed Halleck that he had sent the Fourth Corps back and that he might send ours also, though he still thought it probable that his movement on Macon would make Hood “let go.” He urged the hastening of reinforcements to Thomas. Rosecrans promised to send General A. J. Smith with his two divisions back from Missouri, and Sherman only waited to get his sick and wounded to the rear, and to accumulate at Atlanta the supplies he reckoned it necessary to take with him. His determination to send us back to join the Fourth Corps was shown by his confidential dispatch to Colonel Beckwith, his chief commissary, that he might reduce his estimates for rations to enough for 50,000 men to go south. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 476, 477.]

Our orders to march came at noon, and we started at once, with the information that from Rome we should go back to Tennessee. [Footnote: Id., pt. i. p. 793.] In the evening of the same day Sherman definitely advised Thomas of his decision to send Schofield to him, and the outline of the arrangements for the new campaign was completed. [Footnote: Id., pt. iii. p. 484.] General R. S. Granger went with reinforcements to the aid of Colonel Doolittle, who commanded the post at Decatur, and that place was held against Hood, who was too short of supplies to delay long. He hastened on to Tuscumbia, where his new base was established, and where he halted to collect the means for the invasion of Tennessee, near the great bend of the river. He first gave orders to lay his pontoons at Bainbridge, at the foot of Muscle Shoals, the place named by Sherman as his probable crossing; but the lack of supplies and the desire for better preparation prevented, and he moved on, reaching Tuscumbia on the 30th. [Footnote: Id., p. 866.]

Our march to Rome was lengthened by our taking the right, leaving the more direct roads for other parts of the army. We crossed the Coosa, following the road to Jacksonville for five miles, and then turned east on the so-called river road. This, however, proved impassable, and, next morning, we were obliged to retrace our steps to the Jacksonville road, and going an hour’s march on it reach the road from Centre to Cave Spring, which we followed to the latter place, which takes its name from a remarkable spring breaking out beneath a mountain, a considerable brook at once. Some sixty feet up the hill-side is the mouth of a cave at the bottom of which is the underground stream, which finds its way out by another fissure. The village was the rendezvous where Beauregard overtook Hood on the evening of the 9th of October, and held their first consultation in regard to the campaign. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. i. p. 796.] It was a pretty place which had not suffered the ravages of war; the situation was a lovely one, and there were there a public Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb and some other public buildings. Our countermarch had lengthened the day’s journey to twenty-two miles.

On the 30th my division marched to Rome and encamped on the Calhoun road, two or three miles northeast of the town. At Rome I made my farewell visit to General Sherman at his headquarters. He talked freely of his plans to the group of officers who were present, and in the final hand-shaking with me said that Hood had now put so large a space between them that the March to the Sea could not be interfered with, and that whatever hard fighting was to come in the campaign would fall to the lot of us who were going back to middle Tennessee. [Footnote: The fullest resume of Sherman’s views when on the point of starting is found in his letter to Grant of November eth. Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 658-661.] Our movement northward was through Calhoun and Resaca to Tilton, where we were to take railway trains for Nashville; but the rolling stock was overtasked in the rush of work to complete Sherman’s preparations, and we marched on to Dalton. An autumnal rainstorm had come on, and though we had good camping ground, our impatience at the delay made our stay of three or four days at the ruined village anything but pleasant. On the 3d of November I noted in my pocket-diary that it was one of those rainy, gusty days “when the smoke from the camp-fire fills your eyes whichever side of the fire you get.” As we had gone northward we met large numbers of officers and men who had been on leave, and who were now hurrying to join their commands. Two of my own staff rejoined us in this way, and a brand-new brass band that had been recruited for Casement’s brigade came also, making that command proud as peacocks for a while.

Our stay at Dalton gave me the opportunity in the intervals of the storm to ride out and carefully examine the positions the enemy had held at the beginning of May. In the progress of an active campaign the soldier rarely has an opportunity to make such an examination of fortified positions out of which the enemy has been manoeuvred, and I had eagerly seized every chance to do this interesting and instructive work as we had come back through our lines about Marietta and Allatoona. Here at Dalton Johnston’s positions had been plainly impregnable, and I congratulated myself that my division had not been ordered to assault them when we made our reconnoissance in force, before Sherman began the turning movement through Snake Creek Gap.

Whilst waiting for our railway trains we heard of Hood’s demonstration at Decatur, and of his repulse and his march toward Florence. We knew that he had not yet crossed the Tennessee, and that our delay was not causing embarrassment to General Thomas at Nashville. I got one of my brigades away on November 6th, and the others on the 7th, going with Casement’s, which was the last. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 655, 673.] As we ran into Chattanooga, we were all alert to see the place which had become of such historical importance, for we had advanced into Georgia in the spring by roads far to the east, and I had never visited it. We reached the town just as the sun was setting and the long storm was breaking. My headquarters were in a freight car, and with the side doors slid wide open, we sat on our camp-stools in the doorway watching our progress. Fort Phelps on its isolated hill stood up black and sharp against the western sky, which was gray-clouded, with a long rift, blood red where the sun was breaking through, whilst still further to the left the huge shoulder of Lookout Mountain threw its deep shadows over the landscape. From the other side a fine reach of the Tennessee River opened before us, backed by the mountainous ridges on the north, gleaming in the level sunlight.

We did not leave our train, but after a short delay started again for Nashville. The crowded state of the road made frequent halts necessary, and when day broke we had made only eight miles. As we ran between the high hills, they were in their most gorgeous autumn dress; and, free from care, we enjoyed it all as a holiday outing, calling each other’s attention to every new combination of mountain and river, and of changing schemes of brilliant color. It was the Presidential election-day, and in accordance with the provisions of the statutes, we opened the polls in my box car, and the officers and men voted at the halts of the train when they could get to the voting place. Colonel Doolittle of the Eighteenth Michigan, commandant of the post at Decatur, joined us at Stevenson, coming into my car to vote. From him we learned the details of Hood’s attempt upon the Decatur post, and got interesting news, throwing light upon the situation before us. At my invitation he remained with us till we reached Nashville, and the acquaintance thus formed led to an arrangement for his temporary service with me after the battle of Franklin. As I wrote home, we voted by steam for “A. Linkum,” seeing the end of the war manifestly approaching. The election for Ohio State officers had occurred in October when we were on the march after Hood, and at a noon halt we turned an ambulance into a polling booth in a grove on the banks of the Etowah River, where I voted with one of the Ohio regiments.

Our little October campaign had been a good example of what soldiers regard as pleasant work. There had been constant activity, with no severe fighting, and the weather had been, for the most part, magnificent. The rains had ceased at the end of the first week of the month, and from that time till we halted from our chase on the banks of the Coosa in the edge of Alabama we had a succession of bright, cool days, and comfortable nights. It had been like a hunt for big game on a grand scale, with excitement enough to keep everybody keyed up to a high pitch of physical enjoyment, ready for every call to bodily exertion. The foliage was ripening and changing in the equable autumnal airs without frost, and the results were often very surprising and very beautiful. The gum-tree [Footnote: Liquidambar Styraciflua.] is very common in the open fields of that part of Georgia, and each fine rounded mass had its own special tint, bright crimson, green-bronze, maroon, or pure green; and when a camp-fire was lighted in a grove of such trees the evening effect was a thing to remember for a lifetime. The regimental camps were all alive with diversions of different sorts from the time of the halt at the end of a march till tattoo sounded. Each had its trained pet animals, and the soldiers exhausted their skill and patience in teaching these varied tricks. One regiment had a pair of bull-terrier dogs that played a game which never failed to amuse. At a signal one of the dogs would seize a firebrand by the unburnt end and start off on a run through the camp; the other would follow at speed, trying to trip up the first, to collar him or push him over, and so force him to drop the brand. The second would then grasp it and the chase would be renewed, doubling in and out, over logs, or through a group of lounging men, scattering them right and left, the yelp of the chasing dog accompanying the blazing meteor as it cut odd figures in the darkness, and the shouting laughter of the men encouraging the dogs to new efforts to outdo each other. The intelligence of the dogs in playing the game with apparent recklessness, yet without getting burnt, was something wonderful.

I had myself an interesting experience with a beautiful little creature. Coming one day suddenly into my tent, I surprised a little gold and green lizard on my camp desk. The desk was a small portable one, with lid falling to make the writing-table, set on a trestle, and my appearance scared the little animal into a pigeon-hole, which it took for a way of escape. I sat down on my camp stool in front of the desk, and resumed my writing, watching, also, to see what my prisoner would do. Its little jewel eyes shone in the recess of its prison cell, and soon it cautiously came to the front; but the first move of my hand toward it made it dodge back into the darkness. Two or three times this was done, and I got no nearer to it; so I changed my tactics. I placed my hand against the next pigeon-hole, extending one finger over the occupied one, and waiting in perfect quiet for a few moments, my beauty came slowly forward over the paper files to the mouth of the pigeon-hole near my finger. With great caution and gentleness I stroked its head and it remained quiet. A few more strokes and it seemed pleased and rapidly grew tame. It ceased to be afraid of my motions, and did not try to get away. At intervals, as I sat, the acquaintance was renewed, and the little thing seemed to become fond of me, running about on my papers, climbing my arm to my shoulder, and running back to its home if any one entered the tent. In short, I had followed the example of the private soldiers and had a pet. When we marched I put it on my hat rim as I mounted my horse, thinking it would soon leave me; but it did not. It sat on my hat-crown like a most gorgeous aigrette, or took a little tour around the hat-band or down on my shoulders. I forgot it when busy, but it stayed by, and at the end of a march, when my tent was pitched again and my desk in the usual place, it resumed its home there and thrived on the flies it caught. It was with me for some weeks and became known at headquarters as an attache of the staff. The day we followed Hood westward from Resaca through Snake Creek Gap, I had dismounted, and was talking with General Whitaker, commanding a brigade in the Fourth Corps, whose men with mine were cutting out the timber blockade in the Gap. I had no thought of my lizard, but one of his orderlies caught sight of it on my shoulder. With the common prejudice among the soldiers that the harmless thing was a deadly poisonous reptile, he stood a moment staring and half transfixed, thinking me in deadly peril. Then, with a jump, he struck it off my shoulder with his open hand, and stamped it dead with his heavy boot heel, sure he had saved my life. But when one of my attendants exclaimed reproachfully, “There, you’ve killed the general’s pet,” the poor fellow slunk away, the picture of shame and remorse. Pets were sacred by the law of the camp, and he felt and looked as if he were a murderer. No doubt he was also stupefied at the idea that such a thing could be a pet, but in the matter of pets, as in some other things, he bowed to the law, “His not to reason why!”



Schofield to command the army assembled at Pulaski–Forrest’s Tennessee River raid–Schofield at Johnsonville–My division at Thompson’s–Hastening reinforcements to Thomas–Columbia–The barrens–Pulaski–Hood delays–Suggests Purdy as a base–He advances from Florence–Our march to Columbia-Thomas’s distribution of the forces–Decatur evacuated–Pontoon bridge there–Withdrawing from Columbia–Posts between Nashville and Chattanooga–The cavalry on 29th November–Their loss of touch with the army.

Our railway train reached Nashville in the forenoon of Wednesday the 9th of November, and I at once visited General Schofield to report my arrival and get further orders. He had himself reported to General Thomas by telegraph when we reached Calhoun on the last day of October, and Pulaski, eighty miles south of Nashville, had been given as the rendezvous for our corps with the Fourth. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 538.] Thomas was taking a cheerful view of the situation now that the Twenty-third Corps had been ordered to him, and on the 3d of November, in giving Sherman an outline of the progress of events, said that if Beauregard “does not move before Sunday (6th), I will have Schofield and Stanley together at Pulaski, and he can then move whenever he pleases.” [Footnote: Id., p. 618.] Schofield got part of Cooper’s division off on Thursday, with arrangements for the rest to follow, and took the railway train himself next day. Thomas’s plans then were to send the troops through Nashville without stopping, but he asked Schofield to stop for a short consultation. [Footnote: Id., p. 624.] Without waiting for this, however, he issued his order on Friday, assigning Schofield to command the troops assembling at Pulaski to operate in front of that place. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxiv. pt. iii. p. 638.] This was a graceful act toward an officer of his own grade as a department commander, when as yet it was an open question whether the assignment by the President to command a department and army in the field gave precedence over officers in other organizations, senior in date of commission, but not so assigned. [Footnote: The matter has been decided in the affirmation by the War department and the decision had been transmitted in Halleck’s letter to Sherman dated October 4th, but the interruption of communications had prevented its reaching Sherman for some time, and Thomas had not received it when he made the order. For the whole discussion and correspondence, see _Id_., vol. xxxviii. pt. v. pp. 734, 753, 797; vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 64, 638, 666, 684, 685, 691, 692, 703, 704; vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 959.]

When Schofield reached Nashville on the 5th, he found Thomas busy with a new problem. Forrest had set for him by his raid down the Tennessee valley on the west side. A gunboat had been captured, and demonstrations opposite Johnsonville by the raiders had been followed by the unnecessary destruction of a fleet of transports, three gunboats at the landing, and vast quantities of stores. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxix. pt. i. p. 861, 864, 866.] The place was the terminus of a railway from Nashville to the Tennessee River, and was an intermediate depot of supplies in a low stage of water in the rivers. At other times steamboats could ascend the Cumberland all the way to Nashville. The exaggerated reports of the enemy’s force and apparent purpose to cross the river there made Thomas think it wise to modify his plans for the moment, and he ordered Schofield to proceed at once to Johnsonville with the two brigades of the Twenty-third Corps then in hand, Moore’s and Gallup’s, intending to concentrate the whole corps there as fast as they should come from Georgia. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 647.]

As soon as Sherman could decipher Thomas’s dispatches, he warned the latter of the danger of a false move, as only Forrest’s cavalry was down the river, and Hood’s army was known to be at Florence. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 647.] When Schofield got to Johnsonville, he soon saw the real state of affairs, and advised Thomas that the two brigades were enough. He instructed General Cooper as to improving the defences of the town, and returned to Nashville on the 7th. Next day he made a hurried visit to Pulaski to examine the situation there, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 708.] where was now the railway terminus of the line to Decatur, the bridges and trestles about Athens having been destroyed by Forrest in his September raid. He got back to Nashville before day on the 9th, and was ready to meet me on my arrival there. From him I got full information of the situation, and orders to take my division to Columbia, where he expected to join me in two or three days.

Leaving Nashville in the afternoon, we learned on reaching Franklin that a wreck on the railway near Spring Hill obstructed the track, and our trains were halted till the way should be cleared. We had made only twenty miles; the weather had changed again to a cold, drenching rain. Thursday, the 10th, was clear and cold, and whilst waiting for the railway to be open again, I made my first acquaintance with the pretty village on the banks of the Harpeth in which I was to feel a much more lively interest three weeks later. As soon as the railway officials could put the trains in motion we resumed our journey. Reilly’s brigade gets to Spring Hill, half-way to Columbia, but the insufficiency of siding at that place makes it impracticable to handle all the trains there, and the rest of us are stopped at Thompson’s Station, three miles short. We leave the cars and go into camp so as to release the trains for other work, whilst we organize again for field operations, though our wagons had not reached us. Strickland’s brigade of Cooper’s division has accompanied us and is attached to my command temporarily. Some five miles north of Columbia there is a break in the railway, and we are delayed till it can be repaired and communication with Columbia fully opened. The two or three days intervening are spent in getting forward horses for the artillery, rations, and advance stores, so as to become again a self-dependent unit of the army. We found the country in this part of Tennessee richer and finer than any we had campaigned in, much more open, with well-tilled farms.

The news we got indicated that Forrest had joined Hood at Florence, and that the enemy was preparing there for a forward movement. I opened communication with the Fourth Corps at Pulaski, and was under orders, to join them whenever an advance of Hood should make it necessary. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 748, 749.] On the 11th Sherman still inclined to the opinion that Beauregard would order Hood to follow him, as soon as his southward march should really begin. “I rather think you will find commotion in his camp in a day or two,” he said to Thomas; for his own preparations were now complete, and his communications with the North were to be cut next day. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 746.] The humorous side of things struck him forcibly, and in giving to Captain Poe, his engineer, directions to destroy the foundries, workshops, and railway buildings at Atlanta, he had added, “Beauregard still lingers about Florence, afraid to invade Tennessee, and I think slightly disgusted because Sherman did not follow him on his fool’s errand.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 680.] The irony fitted Hood better than Beauregard, for the latter had not taken personal direction of the active army; but the relations between the two Confederate generals were very imperfectly known to us, and we naturally assumed that Beauregard was himself responsible for the immediate conduct of the whole.

The progress of the work of reinforcing Thomas was not quite as rapid as it seemed. Grant had sent General Rawlins, his chief of staff, from Petersburg to St. Louis to see that A. J. Smith’s corps went promptly forward from Rosecrans’s department. Besides the 9000 in Smith’s immediate command, 5200 men were collected from posts on the Mississippi and Ohio, and were put in motion toward Nashville. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 684.] Rawlins’s report on the 7th, that these were starting, was understood by Thomas to apply to the whole of Smith’s force, and he therefore reckoned on their reaching him in a few days. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 685.] Rawlins in fact expected Smith’s own divisions to leave St. Louis on the 10th, but even this was much sooner than they reached the river. The same news was sent to Sherman, and he expressed his joy that these veteran reinforcements were on the way, and his confidence that the enemy was now checkmated. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 686.] The result was a little over-confidence in all quarters, which probably had its influence in making Thomas less energetic in concentrating the troops available in Tennessee than he would have been had he known that Smith’s 9000 would not reach Nashville till the last day of the month. [Footnote: See “Franklin and Nashville,” pp. 132 _et seq_.; “Battle of Franklin,” pp. 40, 41.]

On the 13th I marched to Columbia, and Schofield went in person to Pulaski, where he assumed command. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt iii. pp. 764, 768.] Wooden pontoons were sent the same day to Columbia for the crossing of the Duck River there, and the bridge was completed at ten o’clock in the evening. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. i. p. 795.] As the river was too high to ford, we had encamped on the north side, in the tongue made by the horse-shoe bend to the southward. We occupied the fine open wood on rolling ground, and made ourselves as well acquainted with the village and surrounding country as time would allow. Columbia, on the south bank of the river, had been a centre of education and refinement, and several college buildings were there, surrounded by ample groves. The neighborhood was the home of the Polks and the Pillows and other people of national reputation, whose ample estates lay on the roads diverging from the town. Between the village and the railway bridge below the place was an isolated hill on which was an enclosed redoubt, commanding the crossing. It was a strong position when connected with sufficient forces near by, but too small and too detached to have much independent value.

Leaving Strickland’s brigade as a garrison for the town, the rest of my command marched next morning toward Pulaski, reaching Lynnville, eighteen miles south of the river, where a road from Lawrenceburg comes into the turnpike. I was pretty strong in artillery, having five batteries, two of which properly belonged to the second division. Ten miles south of Columbia we left the open country and entered a hilly, forest-covered region, with cultivation only in the narrow valleys of small streams. This high water-shed between the Duck River and the Elk extends nearly all the way from the plateau of the Cumberland westward to the Tennessee River, where it has made its great bend to the north. It is known as the “barns” (barrens), and is desolate enough. In many places one may travel for miles without seeing a house. Wood-chopping and charcoal-burning for smelting furnaces seemed to be the principal industry.

On the 15th we continued our march in a heavy, cold rain to Pigeon Creek, two miles north of Pulaski, making sixteen miles. General Schofield met me there, and we examined the country westward some three miles, our reconnoissance determining him to keep the division at the turnpike crossing of the creek, where we accordingly encamped. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 357.] It had been confidently expected that Hood would march northward by the time we could reach Pulaski, but he delayed, and it was a week later before he really opened his new campaign. Various things combined to give plausible reasons for his delay. He could not get the supply of stores which he needed. The gap in his railroad from Cherokee to Tuscumbia was not rebuilt. The weather was continuously cold with heavy rains, and the roads going from bad to worse. The truth, no doubt, was that Sherman’s march southward had a most perplexing effect, raising portentous problems as to its result upon the Confederacy, and reducing Hood’s own campaign to a secondary place in the general progress of the war. Torn by doubts, he seemed willing to find excuses for postponing action, hoping to see clearer light on the future before committing himself to a decisive movement. An interesting item in the discussion between the Confederate generals was that Hood suggested Purdy as a better base than Tuscumbia, and proposed to abandon the work of rebuilding the railroad near that place. Purdy was some twenty-five miles north of Corinth on the Mobile and Ohio Railway, and not far from the old battlefield of Shiloh. Its landing-place on the Tennessee River was nearly opposite Savannah, and it was there that Grant had stopped his steamboat for a conference with General Lew Wallace on his way to Pittsburg Landing the morning of the great battle. It is probable that Hood thought it advantageous to take a line by which he might avoid the risk of expeditions from Decatur, and could more safely turn Schofield’s position at Pulaski, by operating further from our line of railroad and making it necessary for us either to retire rapidly toward Nashville, or meet him so far from our supply line as to be dependent, like himself, on wagon transportation. Beauregard approved the change of base if made after the first stage of the campaign should be complete, and planned a scheme of floating booms armed with torpedoes to protect the pontoon bridge when it should be laid there. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 900, 905; vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 1210.] The road from Savannah through Waynesborough to Columbia was a turnpike, and would be safer for wagon trains than that from Florence, because so much further from posts on our railway. It would also be a better line of retreat in case of disaster. The plan was not tried, because the withdrawal of our forces from Decatur and Pulaski removed the dangers which Hood apprehended, and made his communications secure. The rains raised the river so much that the bridge laid at Florence was no longer protected by its situation between Muscle Shoals above and Colbert Shoals below, and the Confederates had reason to fear that it would be destroyed by gunboats coming up the river. The navy had been unfortunate in the destruction of gunboats at Johnsonville, but Rear-Admiral S. P. Lee had been sent to take command of the river fleets co-operating with Thomas, and was planning active work with heavier vessels. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xxxix. pt. iii. p. 734.]

On the 14th the river had risen eighteen feet at Florence, and Hood’s bridge was with great difficulty kept in its place. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 887.] The same day General Wheeler informed him of Sherman’s concentration at Atlanta, the destruction of the railroad above, and the strong rumors of the march on Augusta and Savannah. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1206.] Forrest had not yet joined Hood, but did so in two days. Beauregard heard, through Taylor, of the movement of reinforcements to Thomas from Memphis and below, as well as of A. J. Smith’s from St. Louis. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1208-1209.] On the 17th he got authentic news of Sherman’s start from Atlanta, and ordered Hood to “take the offensive at the earliest practicable moment, and deal the enemy rapid and vigorous blows, striking him while thus dispersed, and by this means to distract Sherman’s advance into Georgia.” Hood replied that he had only one third of the quantity of rations accumulated which he needed for beginning the campaign. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 1215.] Beauregard himself left Tuscumbia for Montgomery and Macon, giving Hood the choice either to send part of his troops to Georgia or to take the offensive immediately. Under this spur Hood gave orders for an advance on the 19th, but there was still some cause of delay, and Beauregard reiterated, on the 20th, the peremptory order to “push an active offensive immediately.” Next day all were in motion, and Hood issued a brief address to his troops, saying, “You march to-day to redeem by your valor and your arms one of the fairest portions of our Confederacy.” [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1220, 1225,1226,1236.]

During the week we were at Pulaski the rain had made our camp anything but a pleasant one, yet, as we were daily in expectation of Hood’s advance, we could do nothing to improve our shelter or the means of warming our tents. The forests were near enough to furnish us the fuel for rousing camp-fires, and we made the most of them. At night I fastened back the flaps of my tent, and a blazing pile of logs threw in heat enough to temper the cold, and one slept sweetly in the fresh air as long as the wind was in the right direction. The day Hood advanced the rain changed to snow, driving in flurries and squalls all day. Marching orders for the 22d came in the evening, and we prepared for an early start to Lynnville, for the enemy was making for Columbia through Lawrenceburg, and we must anticipate him. The night was a freezing one, the mud was frozen stiff on the surface in the morning, making the worst possible marching for the infantry, while the artillery and horses broke through the crust at every step. Our only consolation was in the reflection that it was as bad for Hood as for us. By getting off at break of day my division reached Lynnville by noon, and took position on the north and west of the village. Wagner’s division of the Fourth Corps followed and reported to me. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 974, 985.] I gave them positions on the south and west. Schofield remained another day at Pulaski with two divisions of the Fourth Corps, but joined me at noon of the 23d, and under his orders I marched my division ten miles further north to the crossing of the road from Mount Pleasant to Shelbyville. Starting at three, we forced the pace a little, and went into position at six in the twilight. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 357, 998.] The rest was a short one, for we were off again at four in the morning, hastening the march for Columbia in the cold and thick darkness. Schofield had learned in the night that the cavalry on the Lawrenceburg road had been driven back to Mount Pleasant, and that the advance of Hood’s infantry was at the former place. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 989.] There was no time to lose if we were to reach Columbia in time to cover a concentration there. At the two-mile post south of the town a cross-road turns westward, leading into the Mount Pleasant turnpike where it crosses Bigby Creek, three miles out from Duck River. I turned the head of column upon this road, and reached the turnpike just in time to interpose between Capron’s brigade of cavalry retreating into Columbia and the Confederates under Forrest who were sharply following. The rest of our horse were covering the flank of the Fourth Corps, which was on the march from Lynnville. It was close work, all round. My men deployed at double-quick along the bank of the creek, and after a brisk skirmish Forrest withdrew out of range. The head of the Fourth Corps column came up about eleven o’clock, having left Lynnville at three. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1017, 1018, 1020, 1021.] We naturally supposed Hood’s infantry to be in close support of the cavalry, but they were still at Lawrenceburg, and learning that Forrest had been foiled in the effort to take Columbia, did not advance beyond Mount Pleasant till the 26th, though the cavalry made a vigorous reconnoissance on the 25th, giving us another lively skirmish in which my division had some fifteen casualties. My headquarters’ tents were pitched in the grounds of Mrs. Martin, a member of the Polk family.

At Columbia we found General Ruger in command when we arrived. He had been transferred from the Twentieth Corps, and ordered to ours at the time we left Georgia, and Schofield had assigned him to the second division. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xxxix. pt. iii. pp. 661, 682, 700, 748.] He joined the two brigades at Johnsonville, but at Schofield’s request Thomas ordered him on the 20th to bring one brigade (Moore’s) to Columbia, where Strickland’s of the same division already was. The railroad from Johnsonville was broken by some raiders on the 21st, so that Ruger was delayed, and only reached Columbia himself in the afternoon of the 23d. Moore’s brigade did not arrive till half-past two o’clock of the morning of the 24th. Under Thomas’s orders he at once, upon his arrival, sent two regiments of Strickland’s brigade down Duck River to Williamsport and Centreville to hold crossings there. It thus happened that Strickland was left with only his own regiment (Fiftieth Ohio), till, some new reinforcements coming forward, other regiments were temporarily assigned to him. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 378, 955, 985, 999.] Until he reached Columbia, therefore, Schofield did not know that Strickland had been reinforced, and we all supposed that our safety depended on my getting there before the enemy.

Thomas also ordered General Cooper to march from Johnsonville on the 24th, with his own brigade, direct to Centerville and Beard’s Ferry, some fifty miles. There he would be in communication with the two regiments sent down from Columbia to Williamsport, and he was put in command of the whole. He was thirty miles from our principal column, and posted his troops to observe the crossings through some fifteen miles of the river’s course. He arrived at Beard’s Ferry on the evening of the 28th, and was there only a day and a half, when our retreat to Franklin made it necessary for him also to fall back. He was beset by guerilla parties, so that he was almost without communication with his commanders, and being thrown on his own resources, made his way back to Nashville with a series of adventures. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 370.] Ruger’s division was thus deprived of half its veteran troops at the battle of Franklin.

It must be noted also that it was not till the 24th that the troops at Decatur and Huntsville were ordered back, the withdrawal being made on the 25th. General R. S. Granger’s old troops were then placed at Stevenson, and those recently recruited were sent to Murfreesborough.

Granger reported that the public property, except some forage, had been removed; but by what seems to have been a misunderstanding with the naval officers about convoying transports, the pontoon bridge was only detached at its southern end, and was neither taken up stream nor destroyed. It swung with the current against the northern shore, and proved of great use to Hood in his retreat a month later. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1003, 1027, 1046. See also “Franklin and Nashville,” p. 125.] The continued hope that A. J. Smith’s corps would arrive in time to reach Pulaski or Columbia before we should have to retreat counted for much, no doubt, in Thomas’s postponement of decisive action; but it can hardly be disputed that the true military course would have been to strip his garrisons to the bone immediately after Sherman marched southward, concentrate at Pulaski a force superior to Hood’s, and give him battle if he dared to advance north from Florence. [Footnote: For the forces on both sides in Tennessee, see Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 52-54, 678-679; “Franklin and Nashville,” pp. 132-136; “The Battle of Franklin,” pp. 9, 208. I discussed the same subject in “The Nation” for Nov. 9, 1893, p. 352.]

As it was too late for concentration at Duck River or south of it, Schofield was limited to a careful defensive, though he was willing to receive Hood’s attack upon our lines. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 1017.] The latter, however, did no more than keep up a combat of skirmish lines, whilst he looked for ways to turn the position. Schofield, on his part, prepared a short interior line to be held by part of his troops when it was time to cross the river with the rest. In the night of the 25th this movement was made, and for a couple of days more our forces were divided, part holding the short line on the south side, and the greater portion encamped in the bend on the north bank, closely watching the development of the enemy’s evident purpose to cross some miles above us. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1039, 1086-1091.]

The crossing of the river had been arranged for the early evening, the Fourth Corps moving first into the short line on the south of the river; and when this was done, I was to march two brigades of my division through the lines and across the river to the north bank by the pontoon bridge. There were delays in the change of position by the Fourth Corps, and it was past midnight when I was notified that they were in place and commenced my own movement. At that time a rain-storm had set in which made our whole operation uncomfortable in the wet and darkness, but especially the seeking a bivouac for the troops after we got over the river. We halted the men and parked the trains about a mile from the bridge at three o’clock. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 358.] I had a tent roughly pitched, and got a little sleep, but was roused at daybreak by musket firing, which sounded as if it were right among us. I sprang up with the feeling that I had been caught napping in a double sense; but a little examination showed that the enemy’s pickets and our own were skirmishing on the other side of the river. The Confederates had pushed in a reconnoissance to find out what we had been at, and in the damp air the sound of the firing on the opposite bank where the flank of our new line rested was so loud and seemed so close that it had deceived me.

The remainder of our little army was brought over in the night of the 27th, and on the 28th Forrest’s cavalry was over the upper fords of the river, pushing back our mounted troops and covering the laying of a pontoon bridge at Davis’s ford, five or six miles above Columbia, where Hood’s principal column of infantry crossed next day.

In the night of the 27th it occurred to General Thomas that Hood’s advance left the bridge at Florence open to an attack, and on the next day he sent an officer to General Steedman, commanding at Chattanooga, with the suggestion that the latter should throw his force of 5000 men against Tuscumbia and destroy Hood’s crossing of the Tennessee. Steedman was to use the railroad to Decatur, taking along the pontoons which Thomas supposed had been carried to Chattanooga from Decatur two days before, and relaying that crossing for the purposes of the expedition. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 1100, 1125, 1126.] There seems to have been hesitation in letting Thomas know that the Decatur pontoons had not been brought away, and Steedman said he would take his infantry by rail, send his cavalry by steamboat transports, and use these boats to cross the troops instead of pontoons. On further reflection, however, Thomas found that Hood’s movement on the 28th to turn Schofield’s left made the plan too adventurous, and on the 29th he revoked the order, directing Steedman to take his men to Cowan. Strong posts were thus established at Murfreesborough, Stevenson, and Cowan on the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga, under the impression which Thomas retained till after the battle of Franklin, that Hood would not advance on Nashville, but would march toward one of the three places named. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 1159, 1160.]

A concentration in force at Decatur two weeks earlier, and an advance toward Tuscumbia, would have had much to recommend it, and it would perhaps have been the surest way to defend the line of the Tennessee; but it was now too late for that, as it was also too late to affect Hood’s determination to seek an early battle with Schofield. Despite his hesitation to leave Florence and Tuscumbia, and his plea that his supplies were insufficient, Hood had found on reaching Mount Pleasant that he could live on the country, and telegraphed Beauregard that he found food enough and anticipated no further trouble on that score,–a confession that he might have advanced at the beginning of the month. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 1245, 1254.] If Steedman had made the expedition, therefore, it would not have brought Hood back, and would only have wasted a strong division in a useless collateral operation. The scattering of 20,000 men along the Chattanooga route, “in small packages” (to use Napoleon’s phrase), cannot be regarded as sound, though Steedman was more available at Cowan than at Chattanooga, and he got to Nashville “by the skin of his teeth” when the battle of Franklin proved that the enemy was aiming at that place, and made Thomas see the desirability of greater concentration. [Footnote: Thomas’s order to Steedman to bring his troops from Cowan to Nashville was dated at 5.35 P. M. of the 30th, and his forces arrived, part on the 1st and part on the 2d of December, the last of the trains being attacked by the enemy five miles out of Nashville. _Id_., pp. 503, 1190.] He then ordered Steedman to bring his division to Nashville; but Rousseau, with Milroy’s and Granger’s commands, were still left at Murfreesborough and beyond. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1153.]

I have already told the story of the march to Franklin, and the fierce battle at that place, in the Scribner Series, “March to the Sea; Franklin and Nashville,” and in “The Battle of Franklin,” and will not repeat it here. The effect of the belief that Hood would march eastward toward Murfreesborough had, however, so strong an influence upon General Wilson, the cavalry commander, that it is instructive to trace it in his dispatches. It seems to have been the cause of the loss of touch with our infantry during that important movement.

In the middle of the night of the 28th Wilson had reason to think that two divisions (Buford’s and Jackson’s) of Forrest’s cavalry were north of Duck River upon the Lewisburg and Franklin turnpike, about Rally Hill, the rest of Hood’s army on the Columbia and Shelbyville road in rear. They had driven our own horse away from the river, and the best Wilson had been able to do was to concentrate his troops about Hurt’s Cross-roads, some miles further north on the same road. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 1143.] His communication with Schofield was through Spring Hill by a cross-road, and by that route he sent a report at three o’clock in the morning of the 29th. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] He then had information that the enemy were laying pontoon bridges for the infantry, though the place was not accurately fixed. He thought it very clear that they were aiming for Franklin by the turnpike he was on, and said he would stay on that road and hold them back as much as he could. He indicated Spring Hill or Thompson’s Station as the points on the Columbia turnpike where cross-roads would bring Schofield’s couriers to him, and said he would try to get no further back than the Ridge meeting-house, due east from Thompson’s Station. There he would leave the turnpike and take a still more eastern course toward Nolensville. He closed the dispatch with, “Get back to Franklin without delay, leaving a small force to detain the enemy. The rebels will move by this road toward that point.” [Footnote: _Ibid_.]

These positions will be understood if we note that the Lewisburg and Franklin turnpike is some twelve miles in a direct line east of that from Columbia to Franklin where they cross the river, and that these roads converge toward the last-named place twenty-three miles north. Nolensville is about twelve miles northeast of Franklin and considerably nearer Nashville. As one goes north on the Lewisburg turnpike, after passing Rally Hill and Hurt’s Cross-roads, the next important crossing is at Mount Carmel, where the road from Spring Hill to Murfreesboro intersects the turnpike. Three miles still further on, a road from Thompson’s Station is crossed at the so-called Ridge meeting-house. All these cross-roads gave the means of regaining touch with Schofield’s main column; but the cavalry commander was so dominated by the belief that Forrest was making directly for Nashville by roads still further east, that he proposed neither to join the infantry by the cross-roads, nor to adhere to the converging one leading to Franklin, but would go to Nolensville. The imperative form of his suggestion to his commanding officer to “get back” shows not only the force of this mental preoccupation, but a forgetfulness that Schofield might have other information and be under a necessity of forming other plans for the day’s operations to which the cavalry must be subordinate.

The whole of Hood’s force had not crossed the river, but two thirds of Lee’s corps and nearly all the artillery were still in Columbia, and made their presence known by a vigorous cannonade in the early morning of the 29th. The enemy’s infantry was not marching to the Lewisburg turnpike, but was seen making for Spring Hill by roads five miles east of Columbia, and Forrest was in touch with their right flank. Schofield, under orders from Thomas, was obstructing the lower fords of the river, and trying to get orders through to General Cooper, directing him to concentrate his forces and retire from Centerville. The concentration of our cavalry had been so complete that when it took an independent line of retreat it ceased, for the time, to be any efficient part of Schofield’s forces, and left him without cover for his flank or means of rapid reconnoissance. For conclusive reasons he held during the day of the 29th the line from Spring Hill to the Duck River; but after ten o’clock in the morning Wilson was wholly out of the game, looking off to the east for Forrest, who had gone west from Hurt’s Cross-roads and Mount Carmel to attack our infantry at Spring Hill. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. pp. 1144, 753, 769.]

At noon, north of the Ridge church and the road to Thompson’s Station, Wilson was still of the opinion that the whole of the enemy’s cavalry had gone to Nashville by eastern roads through Peytonsville, Triune, and Nolensville. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1144.] At two in the afternoon he repeated the same opinion in a dispatch to Thomas, although he had heard heavy artillery firing in the direction of Spring Hill since eleven o’clock. He warned Thomas to look out for Forrest at Nashville by next day noon, but promised to be there himself before or very soon after he should make his appearance. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1146.] At four o’clock he was four miles east of Franklin, still looking toward Nolensville for the enemy, who had “disappeared,” and still of the opinion that Forrest had turned his left flank before he left Hurt’s Cross-roads in the morning. The heavy firing he had heard all day had, however, awakened solicitude for Schofield. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 1145.] After nightfall he sent a scout back on the road he had travelled, nearly to the Ridge meeting-house, where was found a cavalry picket of the enemy, and a large camp was said to be discovered near by,–probably the light of the camp-fires at Thompson’s Station, where they were still burning when Schofield placed Ruger’s division there in the evening. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 342.] At ten o’clock Wilson had concluded that it was “probable that a part of the enemy’s cavalry this afternoon aimed to strike your rear or flank at Thompson’s Station,” as he wrote to Schofield, and had marched a mile and a half toward Franklin, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 342.] where at the Matthews house his headquarters remained next day, when connection with the army had again been made. Nothing more than scouting parties and patrols from Forrest’s column had gone north of Mount Carmel during the day. The adventures of the march had emphasized the danger that a preconceived opinion of probabilities may make an officer misinterpret such real facts as he may learn, or let very slight evidence take the place of thorough knowledge got by bold contact with the enemy. The experience also teaches how sure mischiefs are to follow the forgetfulness of the principle that, in such operations, it is the primary duty of the cavalry to keep in touch with the main body of the army, and where orders from the commanding general may be promptly received and acted on. Schofield, in fact, had no communication with his cavalry during the whole day, and none of Wilson’s messages had reached him after the retreat from Hurt’s Cross-roads began. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 343.]



Defensive works of Nashville–Hood’s lines–The ice blockade–Halleck on remounts for cavalry–Pressing horses and its abuse–The cavalry problem–Changes in organization–Assignment of General Couch–Confederate cavalry at Nashville–Counter-movements of our own–Detailed movements of our right–Difference of recollection between Schofield and Wilson–The field dispatches–Carrying Hood’s works–Confederate rout.

At Nashville, when we reached there on the 1st of December, after the battle of Franklin, we were left for a couple of days in bivouac. The city had been covered by a line of interior earthworks, suitable for a moderate garrison, with strong forts on commanding hills. The Cumberland River, in its general course from east to west, partially encloses the town on north and west by one of its bends, and the Chattanooga Railroad runs out of the place not far from the river, passing under St. Cloud Hill, on which was Fort Negley, one of the strongest of the defensive works. Southwest of this, about eight hundred yards, was the Casino block-house on a still higher eminence, and some five hundred yards northwest of the Casino was Fort Morton, on a summit connected with the other. My division was assigned to the line including these forts, which formed the strong southern salient of the original city defences. Other troops of our corps continued the line on my left to the river, and Steedman’s division was placed in advance of the left, along Brown’s Creek, which was crossed by the Murfreesborough turnpike. From Fort Morton the original works continued northwestwardly, skirting the city to the Hyde’s Ferry turnpike. [Footnote: Official Atlas, pl. lxxiii.] But the army now collected needed more room, and instead of turning back at the Casino the line was continued southwest till it reached a prominent hill near the Hillsborough turnpike. There it turned to the northwest, following a succession of hilltops to the river, enclosing the whole of the bend in which the city was. The Fourth Corps occupied the part of the line next to us on the right, and General A. J. Smith’s detachment of the Army of the Tennessee was on the right of all. Until the eve of the battle of Nashville the cavalry were concentrated at Edgefield, on the north side of the Cumberland.

Hood had followed us up promptly from Franklin, and established his lines nearly parallel to ours on our centre and left, though they were shorter in extent, and a wide space near the river on our right was only occupied by his cavalry. In my own immediate front, looking down from the Casino block-house, were the Nolensville and Franklin turnpikes with the Alabama Railroad, along which we had retreated. Near my right was the Middle Franklin turnpike, which goes southward, a mile or two distant from the main road, into which it comes again below Brentwood. It is known locally as the Granny White pike. My headquarters were in rear of Fort Morton, at the dwelling of Mrs. Bilbo, a large house with a pillared portico the full height of the front. We had two rooms in the house for our clerical work, and pitched our tents in the dooryard. A short walk along the ridge led to the Casino, from which was a fine outlook southward and eastward.

During the time of the ice blockade from the 9th of December to the 13th, the slopes in front of the lines were a continuous glare of ice, so that movements away from the roads and broken paths could be made only with the greatest difficulty and at a snail’s pace. Men and horses were seen falling whenever they attempted to move across country. A man slipping on the hillside had no choice but to sit down and slide to the bottom, and groups of men in the forts and lines found constant entertainment in watching these mishaps. There had been a mingling of snow and sleet with the rain which began on the 8th, and this compacted into a solid ice sheet. On a level country it would have caused much less trouble, but on the hills and rolling country about Nashville manoeuvres were out of the question for nearly a week.

The dissatisfaction of General Grant with the delay in taking the aggressive had begun with the withdrawal from Franklin on the 1st. Objections to waiting for new supplies of cavalry horses were not peculiar to this campaign. The waste of animals had been a constant source of complaint through the whole war. On the 5th Halleck made a report to Grant that 22,000 new cavalry horses had been issued at the posts where Thomas’s forces were equipping, since September 20th. This was exclusive of those used in Kentucky or sent to Sherman. “If this number,” he said, “without any campaign is already reduced to 10,000 mounted men, as reported by General Wilson, it may be safely assumed that the cavalry of that army will never be mounted, for the destruction of horses in the last two months has there alone been equal to the remounts obtained from the entire west.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 55.] It was on this report that Stanton’s famous dispatch was based, “If he waits for Wilson to get ready, Gabriel will be blowing his last horn.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 84.] Halleck repeated the same in substance to Thomas, adding, “Moreover, you will soon be in the same condition that Rosecrans was last year,–with so many animals that you cannot feed them. Reports already come in of a scarcity of forage.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 114.] Yet, to remove as far as possible the causes of delay, Grant directed mounted men from Missouri to be sent to Nashville, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 130.] and even the “pressing” of horses in Kentucky was permitted, sure as it was to be abused in practice. This soon brought protests from the leading loyal men of Louisville. Mr. Speed (U. S. Attorney-General) and Mr. Ballard (afterward Judge of the U. S. Courts) telegraphed Mr. Stanton, “Loaded country wagons with produce for market are left in the road; milk-carts, drays, and butchers’ wagons are left in the street–their horses seized.” [Footnote: _Id_., p. 139.] Indeed, from the very beginning of the war, the cavalry problem had been an insoluble one. Raw recruits could not be made to take proper care of horses, to groom them, to ride them with judgment, or to save their strength. We campaigned in regions where forage was scarce and where it could not be brought up from the rear. A big cavalry force would starve when not moving, yet exaggerated reports of the enemy’s mounted troops made a constant clamor for more. [Footnote: An interesting contribution to the practical discussion of the subject is found in Sherman’s letter to General Meigs, Quartermaster-General from Savannah, December 25th, ending with, “If my cavalry cannot remount itself in the country, it may go afoot.” (Official Records, vol. xliv. p. 807.) For the discussion of it in Rosecrans’s campaign of ’63, see _ante_, chap, xxiii. See also Official Records, vol. xxiii. pt. ii. pp. 300, 320.] The attempts to use them in large bodies were rarely successful, and the more modest duties of outpost and patrol in connection with the infantry columns were distasteful. All this knowledge, combined with the special causes of impatience now existing, gave to Grant’s dispatches a more and more urgent tone, leading up to the “Delay no longer” of the 11th. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 70, 97, 143.] To judge fairly the attitude of both Grant and Thomas, this must not be overlooked, whilst we must also remember that the new element of the icy covering of the earth in the immediate vicinity of Nashville was so exceptional that it was not appreciated or fully understood at the East.

The halt at Nashville was the occasion for some temporary changes in the organization of my division. Colonel Henderson had not fully recovered from the ill-health which had interrupted the command of his brigade, and having obtained a leave of absence to go home for a few weeks, the command of this brigade remained with Colonel Stiles. General Reilly also found the need of recuperation and was granted a short leave. It happened that Colonel Doolittle, who had distinguished himself in command of the post at Decatur, had got back from a short absence, and reached Nashville after communications with Murfreesborough were interrupted. Not being able to join his proper command, I was glad to make arrangements to give him temporary service with me and to renew the pleasant acquaintance made on our journey from Georgia. He acted as chief of staff for a few days till Reilly left, and I then assigned him to command Reilly’s brigade, where there was no officer of sufficient experience. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 86, 187.]

Another change which occurred was among the general officers, and strongly illustrated the chafing likely to arise under such circumstances. In pursuance of a policy before mentioned, the War Department was bringing pressure to bear upon officers to make them accept any active service suitable to their rank, or resign and leave room for promotions for others, since Congress refused to enlarge the number of general officers. Major-General Darius N. Couch had been, during the war, hitherto connected with the Army of the Potomac, but had drifted out of active service and was “waiting orders.” Grant had suggested that he be sent to command the district of Kentucky, relieving Burbridge, whose administration was not satisfactory to the General-in-Chief. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 16,28.] But political influences at Washington did not favor this change, and Couch was ordered to report to General Thomas for duty, and by him was sent to the Fourth Corps to report to General Stanley. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 58.] The latter was just going on “sick leave” on account of his wound received at Franklin, and without being assigned to any division, Couch, by rank, assumed temporary command of the corps in the absence of the regularly assigned commandant. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 72.] The immediate result of this was to supersede Brigadier-General Wood, who had been second in rank in the corps through the year, and was one of the oldest officers in the Army of the Cumberland. In the rearrangement of divisions when the temporary command would cease, it would displace General Kimball, who was also one of the most experienced brigadiers, and would reduce him to a brigade. The dissatisfaction thus caused in Thomas’s own department made him transfer the problem to Schofield and the Army of the Ohio. Thomas proposed to Couch to take a division, therefore, in the Twenty-third Corps. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] Schofield was induced to consent to this, as it was accompanied by an arrangement for the speedy organization of a division of new troops, to which General Ruger could be assigned whilst Couch should take that which Ruger now commanded. When the new scheme was laid before Couch, he replied with dignity that he would readily serve where he was ordered, but could not, of his own election, take a position that would throw him into a lesser command. The formal orders making the changes were then issued. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 86, 103, 104.] We had two good brigadiers in our corps, who had recently proved their capacity to take the new division,–Reilly, who had been distinguished in the battle of Franklin, and Cooper, who had conducted his brigade by a most perilous and circuitous retreat from Centerville to Nashville; [Footnote: “Battle of Franklin,” chap. vii. and p. 206.] but the commissions of these dated only from the taking of Atlanta, and being juniors on the list of general officers, their claims to the larger command were not considered very strong.

My own position was the one most affected by the advent of a senior in rank into the corps. I had been senior of the division commanders in East Tennessee as well as in the Atlanta campaign, and actually in command of the corps in the absence of its regular chief or his assumption of still wider duties. As second in rank, one is necessarily in confidential possession of much knowledge which he would not otherwise have, for the possibility that accidents of the campaign may throw the larger command upon him requires that he should have the means of judgment and action in such an event. He is therefore in much closer relations to his superiors than he would be as division commander merely. Again in marches and in any scattering of forces, as senior, his command will be extended over other portions of the corps in the absence of the commander, and I had not infrequently found myself in command of another division beside my own, either by definite orders or by operation of the articles of war. [Footnote: “Battle of Franklin,” pp. 277, 278.] When to this is added such command as fell to me in the October campaign in Georgia, and in the battle of Franklin, which could not have been mine if I had not stood next to Schofield in the corps, it will be seen that for me it was the practical loss of a grade, as it would have been for General Wood in the Fourth Corps if General Couch had remained there. My only purpose in noting these things is to make intelligible the feeling in the army that such transfers are not good administration, except where they are in the nature of promotion for brilliant service. The feeling was also strong that the loss of one’s footing in one large army, unless caused by exceptional reasons, fully understood, is a reason against a transfer to another, where, in generous rivalry, all have been striving to merit advanced instead of diminished grades. In justice to General Schofield, however, I must not omit to say that he fully appreciated my situation, and with an earnestness which outran anything I could claim, exerted himself to secure my promotion and to make me eligible to the permanent assignment to the corps’ command when his own authority was afterward enlarged. General Couch’s position was by no means a desirable one for him; for he could not be ignorant of the sentiment of the army, and he would probably have preferred a division in the Potomac Army to one in ours, for there in spite of a temporary eclipse, he had a fixed and honorable reputation which would justify a reasonable expectation of regaining prominence in it. [Footnote: In the spring of 1863 General Couch was the senior corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, and as such was nominally in command on the field in the battle of Chancellorsville during the temporary disability of General Hooker. Shortly after that battle he asked to be transferred to some other command, and was assigned to the Department of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania, where the duty was merely administrative. In reducing these organizations in the fall of 1864, he became a supernumerary. See Walker’s Second Army Corps, pp. 234, 235.]

Without going into a narration of the battle of Nashville, it may be worth while to remark that the publication of the official records increases the importance of the absence of Forrest’s cavalry, which gave the opportunity for an almost unopposed advance of Thomas’s right in the manoeuvres of the 15th December to turn Hood’s flank. We had known that Chalmers, one of Forrest’s division commanders, had been sent to cover the four miles of space intervening between the left of the Confederate line and the river. [Footnote: “March to the Sea, Nashville,” etc., pp. 107, 114.] Chalmers’ report now tells us that he had only Colonel Rucker’s brigade with him, the rest of the division having been sent to the other flank. He asserts that, after leaving one regiment on the Granny White turnpike in immediate touch with the infantry line, he had only 900 men left. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 765.] With so small a force he, of course, could hardly do more than observe and report the advance of our three cavalry divisions. Coleman’s brigade of infantry which had held the Hillsborough and Hardin turnpikes was recalled to the main line early in the day, [Footnote: Walthall’s Report, Official Records, vol. xiv. pt. i p. 722] and as it moved away without his knowledge, Chalmers, on learning it, supposed it was driven back. It left uncovered the cavalry baggage train on the Hardin turnpike, which was captured by part of Colonel Coon’s brigade of our horse. [Footnote: Chalmers’ Report. _Id_., p. 765; Coon’s Report, _Id_., p. 589.] Chalmers then took Rucker’s brigade to the Hillsborough turnpike so as to cover more closely the infantry flank, and left only one regiment to delay the advance of our cavalry on the roads nearer the river.

[Illustration: Map: Battle of Nashville.]

During the night of the 15th and the morning of the 16th the movement of Cheatham’s corps to Hood’s left had been observed by both our infantry and our cavalry. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 217, 224.] As part of these troops had been seen marching northward on the Granny White turnpike, Schofield very naturally took into consideration the probability of their being new reinforcements coming to Hood from the rear. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 214.] The extension of the enemy’s fortified line to our right had made it necessary to extend my division in single line without reserves, and even then they were stretched almost to the breaking-point. [Footnote: Cox’s Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 407.] Thomas began his inspection of the line at Wood’s position on the left in the forenoon, and came westward visiting the commands in turn. [Footnote: Wood’s Report, _Id_., p. 131; A. J. Smith’s Report, _Id_., p. 435; “Franklin and Nashville,” p. 118; Schofield’s “Forty-six Years in the Army,” p. 246.]

At ten o’clock in the morning Wilson had most of his cavalry “refused, on the right of Schofield, the line extending across and perpendicular to the Hillsborough turnpike.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 220. In the dispatch quoted, the name is given “Murfreesborough” by a manifest clerical error. Schofield’s right was near the Hillsborough turnpike, the Murfreesborough turnpike being beyond the other flank of the whole army.] A regiment had been sent to try to reach the Granny White turnpike, but had been driven off and reported Cheatham’s infantry moving to the left upon it. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 224.] Wilson reported this to Schofield, adding, “The country on the left of the Hillsborough pike, toward the enemy’s left, is too difficult for cavalry operations. It seems to me if I was on the other flank of the army I might do more to annoy the enemy, unless it is intended that I shall push out as directed last night.” [Footnote; _Id_., p. 216. See also Schofield’s “Forty-six Years,” p. 244.] Schofield acknowledged the receipt of this information at 11.15, and forwarded it to General Thomas. In view of the apparent concentration of the enemy’s forces in his front, he advised Wilson, until he should receive other orders from Thomas (who was then on the left with General Wood), to hold his forces “in readiness to support the troops here, in case the enemy makes a heavy attack.” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 216. See also Schofield’s “Forty-six Years,” p. 244.] At half-past one his dispatch to Thomas, from his position on the field close to my own, fixes with clearness the situation at that hour. “Wilson is trying to push in toward the Granny White pike, about a mile south of my right. My skirmishers on the right are supporting him. The skirmishing is pretty heavy. I have not attempted to advance my main line to-day, and do not think I am strong enough to do so. Will you be on this part of the line soon?” [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 215; see also Stiles’s Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 431.]

In a letter written in 1882, to assist me when preparing to write my account of the battle of Nashville, [Footnote: “Franklin and Nashville,” etc., chap. vi.] General Schofield gave me his recollection of the situation on our right during the morning of the 16th of December. [Footnote: Letter of June 1, 1882.] “I had gone back to Nashville in the night preceding,” he said, “to persuade Thomas to order Wilson to remain on my right and take part in the battle the next morning, and A. J. Smith to close up on our left. Thomas had only partially adopted my views, and had not given Wilson any orders to attack. I had waited impatiently all the morning, and until some time after noon for Wilson to get orders from Thomas, or to comply with my request to put his troops in without waiting for orders. Finally, some time after noon, Wilson had consented to go in with his cavalry (I relieving him of all responsibility), and I had directed you, with your reserve brigade, which was not then in contact with the enemy, to support Wilson or join with him in attacking the enemy’s flank.” When Schofield received the proposal from McArthur through Couch, that an assault should be made on Shy’s hill, in the angle of the enemy’s line, by one of McArthur’s brigades, supported by Couch, he “became impatient,” he says, “for Wilson and Stiles [my flank brigade] to get possession of the commanding ground to the enemy’s left-rear, so as to prepare the way for your [my] assault upon his intrenched line.” [Footnote: See also General Schofield’s discussion of the events of the 16th, in his “Forty-six Years,” pp. 263-275.] The field dispatch of General Couch in regard to supporting McArthur was dated at 2.30 P.M. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 217.]

General Schofield sought an opportunity to compare recollections with General Wilson, and wrote me again on the 29th of June, 1882, saying that he was greatly surprised to find that Wilson did not recollect the proposal and request stated above, but thought that General Thomas had come in person to his position on the Hillsborough turnpike, and about 10 or 10:30 o’clock A.M. had given