Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Battle of Nashville
The Confederate Army of Tennessee under John Bell Hood, arrived South of the city on December 1. There, it took up position, facing Major General George Henry Thomas's Union forces within the city. Not nearly strong enough to assault the Federal fortifications, Hood opted for the defensive. He entrenched and waited, and he hoped, the same way that he had so disastorously attacked the Federals at the Battle of Franklin on November 30, the Federals would attack him. Then, after decimating their forces, he could counter-attack and take Nashville.
Though Thomas's forces were stronger, he could not ignore Hood's army. By its sheer presence and ability to maneuver, the Army of Tennessee presented a threat. He had to attack, but rather than do so immediately, at the risk of being relieved, Thomas decided to wait. He prepared. In particular, he concentrated on outfitting his cavalry, commanded by the energetic, young Brigadier General James H. Wilson
It took Thomas over two weeks to move. This caused great anxiety in President Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. These two men saw Hood as being poised for an invasion of the North. Grant later said of the situation, "If I had been Hood, I would have gone to Louisville and on north until I came to Chicago." Lincoln had little patience for slow generals and remarked of the situation, "This seems like the McClellan and Rosecrans strategy of do nothing and let the rebels raid the country." Grant continually pressured Thomas to move, despite a bitter ice storm that struck on December 8 and stopped much fortification on both sides. A few days later, Grant sent an aide to relieve Thomas of command, believing that Hood would slip through his fingers. However, Grant did not see that Hood was bent on capturing Nashville. Hood was a Southern gentleman, and believed in defending the South from invaders above all else. He was very aggressive, and once he set his mind to a particular course of action, he could not be dissuaded.
Thomas finally came out of his fortifications to attack on December 15. Just before he did so, Hood had made a terrible mistake. He sent away most of his cavalry, commanded by the highly effective Nathan Bedford Forrest, to attack the Union garrison at Murfreesboro. By doing so, he further weakened his already weaker force. When the Union forces finally went into action on December 15, they had 70,000 men, compared to the Confederate's 21,000 men.
The first day's fight was a simple matter of the Union forces bringing overwhelming power and numbers to bear upon the Confederate forces. For example, when one strategic Confederate outpost manned by 148 soldiers and 4 cannons presented more than expected resistance, the Union calmly regrouped and attacked the outpost with 28 cannons and 7000 soldiers. By the end of the day, the Confederates were forced from their position. They headed South, where Hood, rather than continuing to retreat, established a new line. The exhausted Confederates dug in all night, awaiting the arrival of the Federals.
It took most of the morning, on the second day, for the Federals to move into position. Once there, they opened a devastating artillery barrage upon the Confederate position. followed by infantry assaults. When fighting began in earnest, it was a mirror of the first day's fight. At the pivotal Shy's Hill, on the Confederate left, 40,000 Union soldiers attacked 5000 Confederate soldiers. The Confederates were routed in one of the worst defeats of the American Civil War. For all intents and purposes, the Battle of Nashville ended the existence of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details