In November 1864, Confederate general John Bell Hood, havingfailed to stop the massive armies led by Major General WilliamTecumseh Sherman from capturing Atlanta, devised a plan he hopedwould force Sherman to pull back. Moving from Georgia into Alabama, he led the Army of Tennessee north into Tennessee tothreaten Sherman’s supply line.Sherman responded by sending George H. Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga," with two corps from the Army of the Cumberland tohold Nashville. Sherman, meanwhile, continued his fiery marchthrough Georgia and the Carolinas. Formerly a major general of volunteers, Thomas had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the regular U.S. Army, a more meaningful rank for a career army man like him. A native of Virginia and an officer in the U.S. Army before the war,Thomas had chosen to fight for the Union. He had a reputation as anunflappable commander, who had seen action at Mill Springs,Perryville and Stones River before winning accolades for his stand atthe Battle of Chickamauga, which prevented the Confederates frompursuing the rest of the fleeing Union army. Two months later, at theBattle of Chattanooga, it was men of Thomas’ command who routedthe besieging Confederates from Missionary Ridge.Thomas pulled in troops from garrison duties, defending railroads,bridges and supply depots farther north, to supplement his command.Many of these were members of the United States Colored Troops.Hood determined to assail Nashville, still hoping to draw Shermanback from Georgia. Failing that, he hoped to capture the city, theneither move north to threaten Ohio River towns or east to join hisarmy with that of his old commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee. At Spring Hill, Tennessee, the Confederates allowed a Union divisionto escape from Columbia and pass by them unmolested to Franklin, asmall town south of Nashville. Enraged over this missed opportunity,Hood ordered futile frontal assaults at Franklin against entrenchedFederals, many of whom were armed with repeating rifles. The fierce,five-hour Battle of Franklin on November 30 decimated his force andcost him a division commander and four brigadier generals.