"Never had there been such an overwhelming victory during the Civil War - indeed, never in American military history." - Wiley Ford's comment on the Franklin-Nashville Campaign
As Sherman began his infamous march to the sea, Lincoln instructed Grant to redirect General George H. Thomas' efforts back to Tennessee to protect Union supply lines and stop the offensive mounted by Confederate general John Bell Hood. Hood had broken away from Atlanta and was trying to compel Sherman to follow him, thus diverting him from his intended path of destruction. With Sherman marching east toward the sea, he directed Thomas to try to block Hood around Nashville.
In late November, the Army of the Ohio, being led by Thomas' principal subordinate John Schofield, all but blindly stumbled into Hood's forces, and it was only through luck that some of them had not been bottled up before they could regroup together. Receiving word of Union troop movement in the Nashville area, General Hood sent for his generals while attempting to hold off Schofield's advance. Hood knew that if Schofield reached Thomas' position, their combined armies would number more than twice his. Though the Confederates successfully blocked Schofield's route to Nashville, the Union general managed to execute an all-night maneuver that brought him to Franklin, about 18 miles south of Nashville.
On November 30, the Union army began digging in around Franklin, and that afternoon Hood ordered a frontal assault on the dug in Union army, which deeply upset his own officers. After repeated frontal assaults failed to create a gap in the Union lines, Schofield withdrew his men across the river on the night of November 30, successfully escaping Hood's army. Meanwhile, Hood had inflicted nearly 8,000 casualties upon his army (men the Confederacy could scarcely afford to lose), while the Union lost about a quarter of that.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors