Action at Spring Hill, 29 November 1864

The first serious fighting during General Hood’s invasion of Tennessee (American Civil War). As General Sherman’s Union army set off on its march to the sea, Hood decided to take his Confederate army north into Tennessee, with an eventual target of Kentucky. Although he was outnumbered 60,000 to 40,000 by the Union defenders under General Thomas, those 60,000 men were split into two forces of 30,000. One, under General Schofield, was based at Pulaski, separated from the other half of the army by seventy five miles.

Hood first attempted to get his entire army behind Schofield. However, this move was detected, and Schofield was able to move back to the Duck River. Once again, Hood attempted to cut him off, this time by blocking the turn pike at Spring Hill. Schofield moved troops north just in time to prevent Forrest’s cavalry from occupying the town. This force contained three brigades (4,000 men in total). It was about to face an attack by Cheatham’s corps from Hoods army.

Or it was meant to face that attack. Only one division (Cleburne’s) seems to have taken part in a series of attacks on the Union position, despite the presence of both Hood and Cheatham on the battlefield. After the war the two men engaged in one of the many lively debates between Confederate commanders about just who was to blame for the failure at Spring Hill.

Bizarrely, Hood’s entire army camped in line of battle only half a mile away from the crucial road. Overnight Schofield was able to retreat north to Franklin, where the next day the Confederate army was to suffer a bloody repulse from which it never really recovered.

The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood, Stephen M. Hood. A selection of the private papers of General John Bell Hood, notorious as the general who lost Atlanta and then destroyed his army during an invasion of Tennessee. These papers were believed to be lost for many years, but were actually in the hands of some of Hood's descendents. The documents selected here cover a wide range of topics, from Hood's serious injuries to his time in command and on to his post-war life [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 August 2006), Action at Spring Hill, 29 November 1864 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_spring_hill.html

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