Diary of Orrin Brown, outside Savannah, Georgia
We had to put our camp in order today. The rebs threw some shell into our camp today but done no damage, we also improved our breastworks today to shield us from the rebs shell. The day has been very warm.
Back in the Western Theater, Confederate Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood’s campaign to cut Sherman’s rear lines came to its zenith at the Battle of Nashville on 15-16 December. On 30 November, Union forces under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield held off Hood at the Battle of Franklin. On 1 December, Schofield relinquished his position and retreated into Nashville which had been heavily fortified by both sides through the duration of the War. For the next weeks, Hood’s 30,000 Confederate troops waited for Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas’ 55,000 Federal troops to make their move. Gen. U.S. Grant and army brass back in Washington, DC, were also impatient for Thomas to get on with it, fearing Hood would bypass Nashville and raid into the Midwest. Grant, in fact, started out on the road to take personal command, but by mid-month Thomas felt ready to do battle.
Rebel positions commanded the ground south of the city, across the Franklin-Columbia Turnpike, Granny White Pike and Hillsboro Pike between the railroad lines. The morning of 15 December, Thomas first sent two brigades against the Confederate right as a diversion, with his main force wheeling on the Confederate left about noon. An afternoon of heavy fighting saw Hood’s lines fall back about two miles south and reform by dark on what became known as Shy’s Hill and Overton’s Hill. Thomas ran the same plan the next day, and 16 December saw Hood’s forces in full flight south, with Union cavalry in pursuit throughout the end of the month. Federal casualties numbered 3,061 vs. Confederate casualties of approximately 6,000. Hood returned to Tupelo, Mississippi, and resigned his command.
Most of the Battlefield has been developed over intervening years, south of where I-440 now loops around the south side of Nashville. The renowned Bluebird Cafe would have offered a front seat on the battle those many years ago—sacred ground now for songwriters, sacred ground for 150 years soaked in the blood of Blue and Gray. The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society has preserved several historic sites connected with the battle, including parts of Shy’s Hill, where this November the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force dedicated a memorial to Minnesota volunteers.
(map from Civil War Trust website.)