The Savannah campaign



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ABOVE Sherman's Left Wmg advanced up toward Kadson and swung do-vn through Eatonton and into M)ifedgeville From there, they pushed on through Sanderson1.-!«, Mtov and rto Savannah. Sherman's Extreme Right Wing dipped down via

McDonough and through Jackson and Onton to just north of Macon They then struck out for Savannah by way of Mien and Statestoorough Once William Hazen's Divisen stormed Fort McAJfcster on 13 December. Sherman had a secure communication Ire to the US Navy

The sketch is by Theodore R. Davis, an eyewitness of Bngadier-General William B. Hazen's division of the XV Corps storming Fort McAllister, near Savannah. Georgia. Sherman needed Hazen to seize Fort McAllister in order to open supply lines with the Union navy. Hazen used sharpshooters to pin down the defenders, and he assembled his men in a relatively thin line to reduce casualties. In 13 minutes. Hazen's troops captured the fort, with a loss of 24 killed and I 10 wounded, mostly from land mines. His men inflicted 250 casualties The sketch appeared in Harper's Weekly. 14 January 1865

prepared trenches on the south side of Duck River. Several days later, as the great Rebel horseman began to force river crossings, Schofield fell back once again.

Schofield did not believe that Hood could move his army along a roundabout and difficult course and still beat him to Spring Hill. He was wrong. Confederate cavalry and then some infantry arrived before many of Schofield's troops, yet they could not check the Union retreat. Stanley had rushed a division back in the afternoon and a second one around sunset. With the aid of some artillery, these Yankee troops repelled piecemeal Rebel attacks. That night, miscommunication among the Rebel high command and a string of unfortunate decisions enabled Schofield to march

The author of an infantry tactics manual and a corps commander in the Army of Tennessee. William J Hardee turned down command of the army after Missionary Ridge. He served under Johnston and Hood in the Atlanta campaign, and was transferred at his own request to the coastal defense, where he opposed Sherman's army at Savannah. Hardee also fought at Averasborough and Bentonville. (Library of Congress)

unhindered right past the Confederate forces and through Spring Hill. By morning, weary Federals had stumbled into Franklin, on the south side of the Harpeth River, 18 miles (29km) from Nashville. Immediately, officers put them to work fortifying some old, overgrown trenches, while engineers built two pontoon bridges across the river.

When Hood realized that the Yankees had escaped, he seethed with anger. Everyone was to blame except, of course, himself. Hood had long believed that entrenchments stripped soldiers of their aggressiveness, and he determined to teach the officers and men of the Army of Tennessee a lesson. The Rebels pursued rapidly, and when they came upon Schofield's troops at Franklin in the mid-afternoon, Hood ordered them to storm the works.

The relatively open, gently inclined terrain offered the Yankees an excellent line of fire. Still, Hood's men struck, and did so with fury. In the center of the Federal fortifications, where the Union maintained an advanced post, Rebels penetrated by following on the heels of those in flight. A vicious counterattack restored the line. Elsewhere, despite extraordinary bravery on the part of thousands of Confederates, Schofield's men repulsed the assaults.

On the last day of November, in less than three hours. Hood's army suffered almost 5,500 casualties. It was not a matter of courage; these Rebels exhibited plenty of that. The fact was that, in most instances, attackers were no match for veteran defenders fighting from behind breastworks, well armed with rifled muskets and supported by artillery. When the Union retreated to Nashville that evening, they took with them 702 prisoners, most of them captured as Federal troops sealed the penetration. The Yankees suffered 2,326 casualties.

At Franklin. Confederate commanders fought from the front and suffered staggering losses as a result. Twelve generals went down, six of them killed, and 54 regimental commanders fell in the fighting that day. Among those who lost their lives was Patrick Cleburne, the great Confederate division commander.

The next morning, Hood's soldiers marched past the grisly sight of the previous day's débâcle, crossed over the Harpeth, and began a slow advance up near the Union defenses of Nashville. At the time, Hood assumed that Thomas had not received substantial reinforcements, but he also believed that the Battle of Franklin had cut any offensive inclinations out of his army. Lacking the strength to lay siege to the city, he stretched his army out to cover the major roads heading southward and hoped that his presence might induce Thomas to attack him. A few days later, Hood detached some infantry and cavalry under Forrest to harass a Union garrison at Murfreesboro. It was Hood's hope that fear of losing those troops might induce Thomas to abandon his works and attack the Rebels.

Back in Nashville, Thomas had worried that he might not have enough soldiers to cope with Hood's army. But on 1 December, as Schofield's columns entered the city, A. J. Smith's and Steedman's troops arrived as well. Now all Thomas needed was enough good mounts and saddles so that Wilson's cavalry could compete with Forrest's vaunted horsemen and some good fighting weather. Yet just before Wilson accumulated enough horses and equipment, snow and sleet descended on Middle 'Tennessee, and for five days it scarcely let up. A thick sheet of ice blanketed the ground, making it nearly impossible for land movement by man or beast.

Meanwhile, Grant and officials in Washington had become increasingly uneasy over Thomas's delay. By the Union commanding general's calculation. Hood possessed fewer than 30,000 infantry and artillery, and while he thought it was possible that Forrest had more cavalry, Wilson's men carried repeating carbines which gave them an incredible firepower advantage. At one point, Grant nearly removed Thomas. He feared Hood would swing around Nashville and raid northward, wreaking havoc wherever he went. Only when Haileck balked did Grant yield. After Grant implored him to attack, Thomas declined. The ice storm prevented




I. Federals took up a main line not far outside Franklin, withj an advanced position (I) straddling the Columbia Piko.

1 About 3.00pm Confederates in Cheatham's corps opened the attack, drtvlnr the advanced forces back and penetrating the Union line. Stewart's Corps and part of Lee's Corps joined the fray

3. Reinforcements formed just north of the Carter House and launched a counterattack, which drove the Rebels back. At along the fcne. Union troops checked Confederate attacks. By morning. Schoftelds army had retreated to Nashville.

The battle of Franklin movement. Once it melted. Old Pap vowed to attack immediately.

For a few days, Grant accepted the explanation, but impatience got the best of him. He ordered Major-General

John A. Logan to travel to Nashville and take over from Thomas, and after some consideration. Grant decided to go himself. As Grant waited to board a train in Washington, word arrived that Thomas

The battle of Nashville

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had attacked and won. Grant traveled no farther.

On IS December, Thomas launched a massive and extremely successful attack. His plan called for the Union to feint on the

Rebel right and overwhelm their left. Under a cloud of fog, Steedmen's black soldiers delivered a powerful blow on the Confederate right that distracted them. On the opposite flank, A. J. Smith's troops and

ABOVE After some difficult service in Missoun. John M Schofield sensed as head of the Department of the Ohio. He commanded the X Corps in Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign. At Franklin, he repulsed a vicious Confederate assault and his men proved critical in the flank attack at Nashville on the first day. Late in the war Schofield commanded the expedition that seized Wilmington and at Goldsboro his command of 40.000 united with Sherman for the final push against Johnston. (Library of Congress)

ABOVE After some difficult service in Missoun. John M Schofield sensed as head of the Department of the Ohio. He commanded the X Corps in Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign. At Franklin, he repulsed a vicious Confederate assault and his men proved critical in the flank attack at Nashville on the first day. Late in the war Schofield commanded the expedition that seized Wilmington and at Goldsboro his command of 40.000 united with Sherman for the final push against Johnston. (Library of Congress)

RIGHT This is a sketch by artist Wlliam Ward, who accompanied Sherman's army, of part of Logan's XV Corps as it waded across the Little Salkahatchie River in South Carolina in February 1865. Sherman's soldiers endured considerable hardships, like wading a swamp and a river in wintertime, dunng the Carolinas campaign. The sketch was published in Harper's Weekly. 8 Apnl 1865. (Author's collection)

Wilson's cavalry crushed or completely bypassed the Rebel left. Then, late in the afternoon, Thomas hurled Schofield's men Into the fight, and a massive Union assault compelled Hood's army to abandon the field.

The Rebels fell back to a new, more defensible position, but when Thomas attacked the next afternoon, the results proved even more disastrous for Hood. Once again, Thomas struck the Rebel right first, and with Rebel attention riveted there, Union infantry and cavalry swamped the left. As Federal infantry and dismounted horsemen penetrated into Hood's rear, the Rebel line crumbled, and the rout was on. Thousands of Johnny Rebs surrendered. One Confederate described the flight as a 'stampede' and 'a sad, shocking sight to behold.' Unlike the last Confederate disaster, Wilson ordered his men back to get their mounts, and the Yankees, both cavalry and infantry, pursued with vigor.

During the two-day battle, Thomas's men took nearly 4,500 prisoners, including four generals. Wilson's pursuit snared another 3,200, of whom nearly 2,000 were wounded men at Franklin. Through Christmas Day 1864, Federal cavalry pressed the retreating Confederates. Not until Rebels crossed the Tennessee River, and Forrest assumed command of the rear guard, did Wilson ease up. Union infantry kept pace for a while, but by 22 December, Thomas had directed them

Deneia Wilson Cave City Arkansas

to proceed at a more leisurely speed and root out Rebel stragglers. For the campaign, Thomas's army took 8.635 prisoners and 320 Confederate deserters. As the attacking force, the Federals lost 3,061 and killed or wounded about 1,800 Rebels.

Thomas's campaign broke the back of the Army of Tennessee. While some of its members would fight again, and fight well, it no longer existed as an army in the true sense. The resounding Union victories at Franklin and Nashville, moreover, added great luster to Sherman's March to the Sea. Only such a resounding triumph would vindicate Sherman's decision to send back two corps and cavalrymen and head to the coast on his raiding strategy.

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