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Battle of Nashville Summary CWT

Battle of Nashville Summary CWT

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Published by Kraig McNutt
Summary article by CWT on the Battle of Nashville
Summary article by CWT on the Battle of Nashville

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Kraig McNutt on Jun 19, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/05/2012

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Battle Of Nashville
Account of the Battle Of Nashville, a western theater 
Civil War Battle
duringthe
 American Civil War 
 The Civil War Times
The Battle of Nashville, Tennessee, fought December 15–16, 1864,shattered the Confederate Army of Tennessee and marked the end of major Confederate offensives in the Western theater during the Civil War. It has been called the only  perfectly fought battle of the war because it unfolded in greater accordance with the victor’s battle plan than any other clash of that conflict. It is also notable for thelarge number of United StatesColored Troops engaged in thefighting.
 On February 25, 1862, following theBattle of Fort Henry and the Battleof Fort Donelson, Nashville becamethe first Confederate state capitalcaptured by Northern forces. For therest of the war it was a major Unionsupply depot. A Union-loyal resident of Nashville,a former sea captain named WilliamDriver, presented the conquerorswith an American flag he called "OldGlory," thereby creating a nickname that would become famous.Over the course of the next two and a half years, Nashville becamethe second-most fortified city in America, second only to Washington,D.C. Its works included star-shaped Fort Negley, the largest Unionfort west of the nation’s capital. The extensive lines of fortificationswere primarily constructed using forced labor of slaves and freemenof color.
 
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.
 
Undeterred, he continued on and besieged Thomas’ larger force atNashville.There, Hood constructed works along a five-mile-long line south of the city. Between the 8,000 men lost at Franklin and those detachedunder Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had been sent to captureMurfreesboro, Hood’s army was down to about 20,000 men. Hehoped to draw Thomas into attacking him. After repulsing thoseattacks, Hood reasoned, he would counterattack and take the city. Itwas not a realistic plan.Thomas had 70,000 blue-clad soldiers, over 55,000 of which heplanned to use as maneuver troops, with the rest left to garrison themassive Fort Negley and the rest of the extensive fortifications. A severe ice storm halted operations until December 15. As the twosides glared at each other from their ice-bound entrenchments,Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, unaware of the severity of theweather conditions, repeatedly sent telegrams from the East urgingThomas to move out of his works and attack the enemy.Thomas had been nicknamed "Old Slow-trot" before the war, whenhe restrained West Point cadets from galloping their horses. Grantreferred to him by that old nickname because he felt Thomas was tooslow in his movements in the field. When no action occurred inresponse to his telegrams, Grant sent an officer to observe thesituation; that officer also carried an order relieving Thomas of command.While Grant’s emissary was still on a Tennessee-bound train, theweather broke. Union troops moved out of their defenses, southeastalong the Murfreesboro Road to assail and pin the Confederate right,and west along and between the Charlotte and Harding pikes. Thelead troops on the Murfreesboro Road were inexperienced soldiers of the United States Colored Troops. They took shelter fromConfederate rifle fire in a railroad cut, only to be enfiladed and cut topieces by a previously unseen artillery battery. One Confederatesoldier wrote disgustedly, "Where were those men’s officers? I did notsee a single white body on that field." Other Federal troops of Maj.Gen. James Steedman’s command succeeded in keeping the

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