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Columbia:

Conflict near Columbia, during Hood's 1864 Tennessee invasion, constituted a Confederate diversion as part of a maneuver designed to cross the Duck River upstream and interdict the Union army's line of communications with Nashville. As Gen. John Bell Hood's army advanced northeastward from Florence, Alabama, Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's force quickly withdrew from Pulaski to Columbia, arriving on November 24, just ahead of Forrest's Rebel cavalry. The Federals built two lines of earthworks south of the town while skirmishing with enemy cavalry on November 24 and 25. Hood advanced his infantry on the following day but did not assault. He made demonstrations along the front while marching two corps of his army to Davis Ford, some five miles eastward on the Duck River. Schofield correctly interpreted Hood's moves, but foul weather prevented him from crossing to the north bank before November 28, leaving Columbia to the Confederates. The next day, both armies marched north for Spring Hill. Schofield had slowed Hood's movement but had not stopped him.

Spring Hill:

Spring Hill was the prelude to the Battle of Franklin. On the night of November 28, 1864, Gen. John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee marched toward Spring Hill to get astride Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's Union army's life line. Cavalry skirmishing between Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson's Union cavalry and Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's Confederate troopers continued throughout the day as the Confederates advanced. On November 29, Hood's infantry crossed Duck River and converged on Spring Hill. In the meantime, Maj. Gen. Schofield reinforced the troops holding the crossroads at Spring Hill. In late afternoon, the Federals repulsed a piecemeal Confederate infantry attack. During the night, the rest of Schofield's command passed from Columbia through Spring Hill to Franklin. This was, perhaps, Hood's best chance to isolate and defeat the Union army. The engagement has been described as "one of the most controversial non-fighting events of the entire war."

Franklin:

Having lost a good opportunity at Spring Hill to hurt significantly the Union Army, Gen. John B. Hood marched in rapid pursuit of Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield's retreating Union army. Schofield's advance reached Franklin about sunrise on November 30 and quickly formed a defensive line in works thrown up by the Yankees in the spring of 1863, on the southern edge of town. Schofield wished to remain in Franklin to repair the bridges and get his supply trains over them. Skirmishing at Thompson's Station and elsewhere delayed Hood's march, but, around 4:00 pm, he marshaled a frontal attack against the Union perimeter. Two Federal brigades holding a forward position gave way and retreated to the inner works, but their comrades ultimately held in a battle that caused frightening casualties. When the battle ceased, after dark, six Confederate generals were dead or had mortal wounds. Despite this terrible loss, Hood's army, late, depleted and worn, crawled on toward Nashville.

Nashville:

In a last desperate attempt to force Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's army out of Georgia, Gen. John Bell Hood led the Army of Tennessee north toward Nashville in November 1864. Although he suffered terrible losses at Franklin on November 30, he continued toward Nashville. By the next day, the various elements of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas's army had reached Nashville. Hood reached the outskirts of Nashville on December 2, occupied positions on a line of hills parallel to those of the Union and began erecting fieldworks. Union Army Engineer, Brig. Gen. James St. Clair Morton, had overseen the construction of sophisticated fortifications at Nashville in 1862-63, strengthened by others, which would soon see use.

From the 1st through the 14th, Thomas made preparations for the Battle of Nashville in which he intended to destroy Hood's army. On the night of December 14, Thomas informed Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, acting as Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's chief of staff, that he would attack the next day. Thomas planned to strike both of Hood's flanks. Before daylight on the 15th, the first of the Union troops, led by Maj. Gen. James Steedman, set out to hit the Confederate right. The attack was made and the Union forces held down one Rebel corps there for the rest of the day. Attack on the Confederate left did not begin until after noon when a charge commenced on Montgomery Hill. With this classic charge's success, attacks on other parts of the Confederate left commenced, all eventually successful. By this time it was dark and fighting stopped for the day.

Although battered and with a much smaller battle line, Gen. Hood was still confident. He established a main line of resistance along the base of a ridge about two miles south of the former location, throwing up new works and fortifying Shy's and Overton's hills on their flanks. The IV Army Corps marched out to within 250 yards, in some places, of the Confederate's new line and began constructing fieldworks. During the rest of the morning, other Union troops moved out toward the new Confederate line and took up positions opposite it. The Union attack began against Hood's strong right flank on Overton's Hill. The same brigade that had taken Montgomery Hill the day before received the nod for the charge up Overton's Hill. This charge, although gallantly conducted, failed, but other troops (Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith's "Israelites" ) successfully assaulted Shy's Hill in their fronts. Seeing the success along the line, other Union troops charged up Overton's Hill and took it. Hood's army fled. Thomas had left one escape route open but the Union army set off in pursuit. For ten days, the pursuit continued until the beaten and battered Army of Tennessee recrossed the Tennessee River. Hood's army was stalled at Columbia, beaten at Franklin, and routed at Nashville. Hood retreated to Tupelo and resigned his command.

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