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River crossings

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Kathy Ly, May 14, 2017.

  1. Kathy Ly

    Kathy Ly Cadet

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    I am writing my fourth book set during the civil war, based around Hood's Tennessee Campaign. The soldiers are crossing the Tennessee River.
    My question is: Did the troops wade through across the river, or how did they get across without getting their muskets and powder wet.
    Thanks Kathy Lyn
     
    AndyHall likes this.

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  3. AndyHall

    AndyHall Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Welcome to CWT, Kathy Lyn. Do you have a specific location you're thinking of, or an historical unit your patterning this after? That might be helpful in determining how it would've happened in your novel.
     
  4. Albert Sailhorst

    Albert Sailhorst 2nd Lieutenant

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    Agreed.....what unit?....What route of march??.....Was the river swollen at that time or shallow due to drought??.....What would YOU do to keep your cap pouch, haversack full of food, blanket and ammunition dry??....Would you take your shoes and socks off (if time allowed)?.....Lots of questions to be answered.....
     
  5. Albert Sailhorst

    Albert Sailhorst 2nd Lieutenant

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    Is your book a Novel (where you can take "liberties") or is it an accurate historical work?
     
  6. Kathy Ly

    Kathy Ly Cadet

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    My book is a novel, based on true events. My main character is a soldier in Hood's Corp. The troops cross the Tennessee River around Florence Al on Dec. 27th, 1864. I can't find any references on how the troops crossed the river. Did they swim? Doubtful. Cross on rafts they built themselves, or ferries. My books are based around true history and events, so I want to get this correct.
    Thank you,
     
  7. Albert Sailhorst

    Albert Sailhorst 2nd Lieutenant

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    I am GLAD you want to get it correct!!.....In my opinion, FAR too many novelists make no effort at getting things correct! (which is why I do not read "historical fiction" nor watch too many movies!)
    I wish you well!! :smile:
     
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  8. alan polk

    alan polk First Sergeant

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    Maybe check the Official Records, particularly correspondences.
     
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  9. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 First Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

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    Welcome, enjoy
     
  10. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

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    Once you get a few details of your scenario down here, I am certain numerous experts will chime in to help you describe the crossing. River crossings were often a formidable task, as I think you have surmised. Best of luck with it. Come back often. And welcome!
     
    Cavalry Charger likes this.
  11. Legion Para

    Legion Para Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    If my memory serves me right, Hood took over command of the Army of Tennessee on 17 July 1864. So when the AOT crossed the Tennessee River on 27 December 1864, he commanded the Army and not a Corps. With that you said, I think you need to be more specific about a unit.
     
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  12. JPChurch

    JPChurch Private

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    All depends on how deep and wide the TN River was in Florence Alabama at that point in time. I've been to TN and have seen the TN and Cumberland rivers. Those would need to be crossed by boat up that way in some spots. Nothing like the Potomac or Shenandoah rivers in western MD and VA. Both are still easily fordable on foot up to about the waist if it hasn't rained for like a week and they swell up.
     
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  13. Cavalry Charger

    Cavalry Charger Sergeant

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    Are pontoon bridges an option? I've heard about rivers being forded this way in Virginia, but I really don't know about the terrain in the area you are talking about. Also, is it possible to access weather reports for the date you have in mind. Welcome to the site, and good luck with your searching :smile:
     
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  14. Gladys Hodge Sherrer

    Gladys Hodge Sherrer Corporal

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    Depending upon the river width, swiftness or flooding, Confederates built pontoons, dropped trees on either side, lapping over and placing logs crosswise; or, if being chased by the Union, swam across. Union pontoons were generally more sophisticated, they having engineers well-equipped for that purpose. Alabama autumn weather is generally dry. Where Hood crossed at Florence in November 1864, the river would have had some shoals, and should have been less swollen with rains. Some men had canvas to cover weaponry, but most guns got wet. They would immediately stop, after crossing, and clean and dry their guns. Incidentally, the 3-day "skirmish", with 34 casualties, between Hood with Union soldiers at Decatur, happened as Hood was trying to get passage over the Tennessee at that location.
     
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  15. Kathy Ly

    Kathy Ly Cadet

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    Gladys: Can't thank you enough. This is great help.
     
  16. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    This was my first thought as well.

    Check this site out. Looks like they had pontoons available just a couple of days later.
    https://battleofnashville.com/hoods-retreat/
     
    Cavalry Charger likes this.

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