What if Hood had caught Schofield at Spring Hill?

JSylvester

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Jul 28, 2021
Chapter 1: The Battle of Spring Hill

SpringHill.jpg

On November 29, 1864, General John Bell Hood Hood sent Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham's and Lieutenant General Alexander P. Stewart's corps on a flanking march north across the Duck River to Davis's Ford east of Columbia, while the two divisions of Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee's corps and most of the army's artillery remained on the south bank to deceive Major General John M. Schofield into believing that a general assault was planned against Columbia. Hood, riding near the head of the column with Cheatham's corps, plans to interpose his army between Schofield and Major General George Thomas, hoping to defeat Schofield during the Federals retreat north from Columbia. Stewart's corps followed Cheatham, and they were trailed by Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's division (Lee's corps). The rest of Lee's corps remained south of Columbia, making a demonstration against Schofield's men north of the Duck River.

Cavalry skirmishes between Brigadier General James H. Wilson's Union cavalry and Lieutenant General Nathan B. Forrest's Confederate troopers continued throughout the day as the Confederates advanced. Forrest's broad turning movement with 4,000 troops pushed Wilson back north from Hurt's Corner, preventing Union cavalry from interfering with Hood's infantry advance. At 10 a.m. on November 29, Forrest ordered his men to turn west toward Spring Hill. Wilson sent several messages to Schofield warning him of Hood's advance, but it was not until dawn on November 29, that Schofield believed the reports, understood the deception represented by Lee, and realized the situation he was in. He sent Major General David S. Stanley north with Brigadier General Nathan Kimball's IV Corps division, the rest of Brigadier General George D. Wagner's division, and the bulk of the Federal artillery reserve. Their mission was initially to protect the trains, but also to hold the crossroads at Spring Hill to allow the entire army to withdraw safely to Franklin.

Forrest's horsemen approached Spring Hill at about 11:30 a.m. and ran into the IV Corps pickets. Stanley moved north quickly and formed positions with Wagner's division protecting Spring Hill village and the huge supply trains on three sides. Forrest received a message from Hood to hold the position at all costs until the infantry arrived. Major General Patrick R. Cleburne's division from Cheatham's corps arrived mid-afternoon on Forrest's left. Forrest's men moved north to cover the line.

Back in Columbia, Schofield was convinced by about 3:00 p.m. that the Confederates would not attack him here, and by 3:30 p.m. he joined two brigades of Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger's division on the march to Spring Hill. He ordered his remaining forces to stay until dark, then join him on the march north. As soon as Schofield left, Stephen D. Lee coincidentally launched an attack on the Union position, although he had great difficulty deploying floating bridges across the river. By the time the bulk of his two divisions were able to cross, the senior Union commander left behind at Columbia, Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox, began to withdraw.

Major General Patrick R. Cleburne's 3,000 men began an echelon attack against Bradley's brigade at about 4 p.m. While Cheatham expected Cleburne to move north on Spring Hill, Hood's intention was to use this formation to make a turning movement toward the turnpike and turn left to intercept Schofield's incoming units, but apparently he had not observed the location of the Union positions south of the town. The echelon formation was therefore less effective against Bradley's position on their right and in front, allowing only Lowrey's brigade to engage them at first. Govan's and Lowrey's attack overwhelmed Bradley and his men fled in disarray. Cleburne's two brigades drove them off vigorously, and they were stopped short of the turnpike only by heavy fire from the IV Corps artillery, placed earlier by Stanley on a hill north of the creek.

By this time, Cheatham's division under Major General John C. Brown (Cheatham's division before he took command of the corps) had crossed Rutherford Creek and was being set up by Cheatham on Cleburne`s right. Earlier in the afternoon, Hood sent Stewart's corps behind Rutherford Creek and ordered them to move north from Spring Hill and cut off the Federal column. At around 6:15 p.m. Stewart arrived on Brown`s right flank and deployed his corps in a right angle across the Columbia Pike.

As darkness fell, Wagner`s lone division of 4,500 men was blocked to the north by Stewart`s 9,500 strong corps, while Brown`s 4,400-men-division threatened the right flank. Along Columbia Pike to the south were Cleburne`s still 4,200-strong division, Major General William B. Bate`s 2,500 troops and Johnson`s 3,100 men. Forrest sent Brigadier General Abraham Buford`s and James R. Chalmers` divisions, another 4,300 troopers, northwest to Carter`s Creek Pike to cover Stewart`s right flank.

When the remainder of Schofield`s nearly 30,000-man army arrived at Spring Hill around midnight of 29th November, the commander realized that a onward march to Franklin was impossible due to Stewart`s blockade. The dispatch of Wilson`s troopers to a parallel road led to the discovery that it had also been blocked.

With a concentrated night attack out of the question, Schofield attempted a makeshift regroup in the darkness. The remaining two divisions of IV Corps under Brigadier General Nathan Kimball and Thomas J. Wood extended Wagner`s lines opposite Stewart, Brown, and Cleburne to the west and south, with Wilson`s 5,600 cavalrymen deploying to Stanley`s left opposing Forrest. The Second Division of XXIII Corps under Ruger deployed along Columbia Pike opposite Bate and Johnson, while the Third Division, commanded by Brigadier General James W. Reilly was to secure the rear against Lee`s approaching 6,000 infantrymen from Major General Carter Stevenson`s and Henry D. Clayton`s divisions.

Daybreak on November 30, 1864, fully revealed the precarious position of Northerners. Hood`s 38,500 Confederates had them surrounded on three sides and possessed superior numbers. Schofield made a half-hearted attempt to reopen Columbia Pike toward Franklin with an attack by Wagner, but was easily repulsed by Major General Edward C. Walthall`s division from Stewart`s Corps. In turn, Hood gave the order to build up pressure in the rear through Clayton and Stevenson. With Clayton`s lines already visibly overlapping those of Reilly, it was only a matter of time before the entire Northern formation would collapse domino-like. At 10:30 a.m., Schofield dispatched a rider with a white flag to Hood`s lines. Only an hour later, after brief negotiations, the Army of the Ohio surrendered unconditionally. With one stroke of the hand, the Union Army`s forces in Tennessee had been more than halved.​
 

JSylvester

Private
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Appendix to Chapter 1:

This What-If-scenario attempts to fathom how Hood`s Army of Tennessee could realistically have defeated Schofield`s Army of the Ohio at Spring Hill on November 29-30, 1864, and how the course of the war could have hypothetically unfolded as a result. While I have a rough idea of how this fictional timeline should develop, I cordially invite anyone interested to contribute their thoughts, such as regarding changed strategies, troop shifts, and other implications. I wish the reader a lot of fun!

PS: I had already started to pursue this idea in the forum alternatehistory.com, but unfortunately there was virtually no real feedback in terms of content except for two or three postings. I hope therefore to be able to arouse more enthusiasm here.​
 

Georgia Sixth

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Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
I think such a victory by Hood would've put Thomas completely on the defensive. So when Hood shows up on the outskirts of Nashville, Thomas would not assault him but wait to be attacked. He also would probably be receiving units from Grant as fast as he could railroad them. This, of course, might alter how the Petersburg campaign would play out. Perhaps Five Forks would never happen and instead, Grant would wait for Sherman to make his way through N. Carolina.

Back to Nashville...attacking Thomas was always a daunting prospect. If Hood did so, it wold probably be as costly as his assault on Franklin. If he didn't attack, what would he do? Go around and try to enter Kentucky? I don't think that would turn out well for him.
 

Lubliner

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
I begin to wonder where are the prisoners, the grand total of 30,000 going to be led south. What prisons do the confederates have to confine this number of men, and how many guards will be necessary to move them south? Hood should wait until the Spring arrives to storm Nashville, it being such a severe winter. He now holds the Tennessee line at Alabama, the Presidential election in the north is already over, and he can buy some time.
Lubliner.
 

JSylvester

Private
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
At first I`d like to thank everyone for contributing!

It's hard enough to know what was, without considering, "what if." The latter is impossible.

It's true, "almost doesn't count, in love or in war," but the outcome of the War Between the States was not pre-determined, only in hindsight.
That's true in a way, of course, but that's where the fun of the whole thing comes from for me.

I think such a victory by Hood would've put Thomas completely on the defensive. So when Hood shows up on the outskirts of Nashville, Thomas would not assault him but wait to be attacked. He also would probably be receiving units from Grant as fast as he could railroad them. This, of course, might alter how the Petersburg campaign would play out. Perhaps Five Forks would never happen and instead, Grant would wait for Sherman to make his way through N. Carolina.

Back to Nashville...attacking Thomas was always a daunting prospect. If Hood did so, it wold probably be as costly as his assault on Franklin. If he didn't attack, what would he do? Go around and try to enter Kentucky? I don't think that would turn out well for him.
With regard to Hood, in addition to Wiley Sword`s "The Confederacy`s Last Hurrah", I have also studied Stephen Hood`s book as a contrast program, where various good arguments are made. A direct attack on Nashville I consider as not characteristic. Regarding Hood`s mentality, I find it important to note that already at Columbia he did not attack Schofield head-on in his urban fortifications, but rather flanked him. What seems realistic to me, as actually happened, is an advance against Mufreesboro to draw Thomas out. To do this, however, the latter must first bring in reinforcements, which in the short term would denude West Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. This, of course, will have a corresponding impact on the Eastern Theater, and Sherman will also come under additional pressure as a result of the mix-up.

The 4th and 23rd Corps were capable of whipping Hood. And they were better led, more so if Wagner stays off the loudmouth.
There, I politely allow myself to disagree. At Franklin, Hood succeeded, at least in part and under far worse conditions, in breaking through Schofield's lines, and even the wreck of the Army of Tennessee at Nashville put up a good fight, at least on the first day of the battle. In the present situation, outnumbered and boxed in, I do not believe that a Schofield`s victory would be likely. Regardless of how one feels about Hood, enough capable commanders existed at the division level to play the existing advantage with aplomb.
I begin to wonder where are the prisoners, the grand total of 30,000 going to be led south. What prisons do the confederates have to confine this number of men, and how many guards will be necessary to move them south? Hood should wait until the Spring arrives to storm Nashville, it being such a severe winter. He now holds the Tennessee line at Alabama, the Presidential election in the north is already over, and he can buy some time.
Lubliner.
Is there anything preventing Hood from simply paroling the prisoners? This would take them out of play for the current campaign and eliminate the need for supplies. Since the situation around the prisoner exchange fluctuated, this would mean that months could pass before the troops could be led into the field again.
 

Lubliner

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
At first I`d like to thank everyone for contributing!


That's true in a way, of course, but that's where the fun of the whole thing comes from for me.


With regard to Hood, in addition to Wiley Sword`s "The Confederacy`s Last Hurrah", I have also studied Stephen Hood`s book as a contrast program, where various good arguments are made. A direct attack on Nashville I consider as not characteristic. Regarding Hood`s mentality, I find it important to note that already at Columbia he did not attack Schofield head-on in his urban fortifications, but rather flanked him. What seems realistic to me, as actually happened, is an advance against Mufreesboro to draw Thomas out. To do this, however, the latter must first bring in reinforcements, which in the short term would denude West Tennessee and parts of Kentucky. This, of course, will have a corresponding impact on the Eastern Theater, and Sherman will also come under additional pressure as a result of the mix-up.


There, I politely allow myself to disagree. At Franklin, Hood succeeded, at least in part and under far worse conditions, in breaking through Schofield's lines, and even the wreck of the Army of Tennessee at Nashville put up a good fight, at least on the first day of the battle. In the present situation, outnumbered and boxed in, I do not believe that a Schofield`s victory would be likely. Regardless of how one feels about Hood, enough capable commanders existed at the division level to play the existing advantage with aplomb.

Is there anything preventing Hood from simply paroling the prisoners? This would take them out of play for the current campaign and eliminate the need for supplies. Since the situation around the prisoner exchange fluctuated, this would mean that months could pass before the troops could be led into the field again.
How many would be willing to obey the parole? Maybe the general officers down to Colonel or Major, but I have a hard time believing the regimental details would choose being sidelined when opportunity existed. Look at what the confederates did after the Vicksburg surrender. Most all the lesser ranks had showed up for the Chattanooga affair, and you can find some at Chickamauga. Grant's whole policy changed at that time to maintain prisons for captured soldiers due to this. The confederates did likewise, so parole is highly questionable in my scenario. Only special circumstances would provide a very limited exchange.
Lubliner.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Chapter 1: The Battle of Spring Hill

View attachment 409647

On November 29, 1864, General John Bell Hood Hood sent Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham's and Lieutenant General Alexander P. Stewart's corps on a flanking march north across the Duck River to Davis's Ford east of Columbia, while the two divisions of Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee's corps and most of the army's artillery remained on the south bank to deceive Major General John M. Schofield into believing that a general assault was planned against Columbia. Hood, riding near the head of the column with Cheatham's corps, plans to interpose his army between Schofield and Major General George Thomas, hoping to defeat Schofield during the Federals retreat north from Columbia. Stewart's corps followed Cheatham, and they were trailed by Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's division (Lee's corps). The rest of Lee's corps remained south of Columbia, making a demonstration against Schofield's men north of the Duck River.

Cavalry skirmishes between Brigadier General James H. Wilson's Union cavalry and Lieutenant General Nathan B. Forrest's Confederate troopers continued throughout the day as the Confederates advanced. Forrest's broad turning movement with 4,000 troops pushed Wilson back north from Hurt's Corner, preventing Union cavalry from interfering with Hood's infantry advance. At 10 a.m. on November 29, Forrest ordered his men to turn west toward Spring Hill. Wilson sent several messages to Schofield warning him of Hood's advance, but it was not until dawn on November 29, that Schofield believed the reports, understood the deception represented by Lee, and realized the situation he was in. He sent Major General David S. Stanley north with Brigadier General Nathan Kimball's IV Corps division, the rest of Brigadier General George D. Wagner's division, and the bulk of the Federal artillery reserve. Their mission was initially to protect the trains, but also to hold the crossroads at Spring Hill to allow the entire army to withdraw safely to Franklin.

Forrest's horsemen approached Spring Hill at about 11:30 a.m. and ran into the IV Corps pickets. Stanley moved north quickly and formed positions with Wagner's division protecting Spring Hill village and the huge supply trains on three sides. Forrest received a message from Hood to hold the position at all costs until the infantry arrived. Major General Patrick R. Cleburne's division from Cheatham's corps arrived mid-afternoon on Forrest's left. Forrest's men moved north to cover the line.

Back in Columbia, Schofield was convinced by about 3:00 p.m. that the Confederates would not attack him here, and by 3:30 p.m. he joined two brigades of Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger's division on the march to Spring Hill. He ordered his remaining forces to stay until dark, then join him on the march north. As soon as Schofield left, Stephen D. Lee coincidentally launched an attack on the Union position, although he had great difficulty deploying floating bridges across the river. By the time the bulk of his two divisions were able to cross, the senior Union commander left behind at Columbia, Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox, began to withdraw.

Major General Patrick R. Cleburne's 3,000 men began an echelon attack against Bradley's brigade at about 4 p.m. While Cheatham expected Cleburne to move north on Spring Hill, Hood's intention was to use this formation to make a turning movement toward the turnpike and turn left to intercept Schofield's incoming units, but apparently he had not observed the location of the Union positions south of the town. The echelon formation was therefore less effective against Bradley's position on their right and in front, allowing only Lowrey's brigade to engage them at first. Govan's and Lowrey's attack overwhelmed Bradley and his men fled in disarray. Cleburne's two brigades drove them off vigorously, and they were stopped short of the turnpike only by heavy fire from the IV Corps artillery, placed earlier by Stanley on a hill north of the creek.

By this time, Cheatham's division under Major General John C. Brown (Cheatham's division before he took command of the corps) had crossed Rutherford Creek and was being set up by Cheatham on Cleburne`s right. Earlier in the afternoon, Hood sent Stewart's corps behind Rutherford Creek and ordered them to move north from Spring Hill and cut off the Federal column. At around 6:15 p.m. Stewart arrived on Brown`s right flank and deployed his corps in a right angle across the Columbia Pike.

As darkness fell, Wagner`s lone division of 4,500 men was blocked to the north by Stewart`s 9,500 strong corps, while Brown`s 4,400-men-division threatened the right flank. Along Columbia Pike to the south were Cleburne`s still 4,200-strong division, Major General William B. Bate`s 2,500 troops and Johnson`s 3,100 men. Forrest sent Brigadier General Abraham Buford`s and James R. Chalmers` divisions, another 4,300 troopers, northwest to Carter`s Creek Pike to cover Stewart`s right flank.

When the remainder of Schofield`s nearly 30,000-man army arrived at Spring Hill around midnight of 29th November, the commander realized that a onward march to Franklin was impossible due to Stewart`s blockade. The dispatch of Wilson`s troopers to a parallel road led to the discovery that it had also been blocked.

With a concentrated night attack out of the question, Schofield attempted a makeshift regroup in the darkness. The remaining two divisions of IV Corps under Brigadier General Nathan Kimball and Thomas J. Wood extended Wagner`s lines opposite Stewart, Brown, and Cleburne to the west and south, with Wilson`s 5,600 cavalrymen deploying to Stanley`s left opposing Forrest. The Second Division of XXIII Corps under Ruger deployed along Columbia Pike opposite Bate and Johnson, while the Third Division, commanded by Brigadier General James W. Reilly was to secure the rear against Lee`s approaching 6,000 infantrymen from Major General Carter Stevenson`s and Henry D. Clayton`s divisions.

Daybreak on November 30, 1864, fully revealed the precarious position of Northerners. Hood`s 38,500 Confederates had them surrounded on three sides and possessed superior numbers. Schofield made a half-hearted attempt to reopen Columbia Pike toward Franklin with an attack by Wagner, but was easily repulsed by Major General Edward C. Walthall`s division from Stewart`s Corps. In turn, Hood gave the order to build up pressure in the rear through Clayton and Stevenson. With Clayton`s lines already visibly overlapping those of Reilly, it was only a matter of time before the entire Northern formation would collapse domino-like. At 10:30 a.m., Schofield dispatched a rider with a white flag to Hood`s lines. Only an hour later, after brief negotiations, the Army of the Ohio surrendered unconditionally. With one stroke of the hand, the Union Army`s forces in Tennessee had been more than halved.​
Here is animated map for all those interested.

 

thomas aagaard

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Nov 19, 2013
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Denmark
How many would be willing to obey the parole? Maybe the general officers down to Colonel or Major, but I have a hard time believing the regimental details would choose being sidelined when opportunity existed. Look at what the confederates did after the Vicksburg surrender. Most all the lesser ranks had showed up for the Chattanooga affair, and you can find some at Chickamauga.
How much of this was the men breaking their word? and how much was it the csa authorities not honoring the system?
 

JSylvester

Private
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
How many would be willing to obey the parole? Maybe the general officers down to Colonel or Major, but I have a hard time believing the regimental details would choose being sidelined when opportunity existed. Look at what the confederates did after the Vicksburg surrender. Most all the lesser ranks had showed up for the Chattanooga affair, and you can find some at Chickamauga. Grant's whole policy changed at that time to maintain prisons for captured soldiers due to this. The confederates did likewise, so parole is highly questionable in my scenario. Only special circumstances would provide a very limited exchange.
Lubliner.
In my opinion, Hood is left with no realistic alternative from a logistical point of view either. I think, the main advantages of the victory at Spring Hill are the prestige, the positive influence on the morale of the troops and civilians and the abundance of materials and equipment.

If Schofield's forces had been defeated at Spring Hill, with Thomas sitting an hour train ride away, after Thomas received explicit orders from Sherman to personally command the fight against Hood in the field, then I think the first result would have been Thomas being relieved.
Would that really be the case? I don't think Thomas could have intervened in the fight in any way. He was anxious to gather his various detachments in Nashville.
 

Luke Freet

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Forum Host
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Palm Coast, Florida
Appendix to Chapter 1:

This What-If-scenario attempts to fathom how Hood`s Army of Tennessee could realistically have defeated Schofield`s Army of the Ohio at Spring Hill on November 29-30, 1864, and how the course of the war could have hypothetically unfolded as a result. While I have a rough idea of how this fictional timeline should develop, I cordially invite anyone interested to contribute their thoughts, such as regarding changed strategies, troop shifts, and other implications. I wish the reader a lot of fun!

PS: I had already started to pursue this idea in the forum alternatehistory.com, but unfortunately there was virtually no real feedback in terms of content except for two or three postings. I hope therefore to be able to arouse more enthusiasm here.​
I appreciate the enthusiasm of a newcomer like you to this forum. I appreciate when people take the risk to play things out instead of merely asking "hey would this have changed anything?".
While I believe the war was lost by this point, I will say Hood was given the last great tactical oppurtunity of the Confederacy here. He could have seriously damaged the Union position in the Western theater by destroying or at least mauling Schofield's Army at Columbia. Thomas would probably still hold Nashville with the garrison troops and 16th Corps, though I doubt he could safely launch an offensive like he did historically with the intact Army of the Cumberland.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
I appreciate the enthusiasm of a newcomer like you to this forum. I appreciate when people take the risk to play things out instead of merely asking "hey would this have changed anything?".
While I believe the war was lost by this point, I will say Hood was given the last great tactical oppurtunity of the Confederacy here. He could have seriously damaged the Union position in the Western theater by destroying or at least mauling Schofield's Army at Columbia. Thomas would probably still hold Nashville with the garrison troops and 16th Corps, though I doubt he could safely launch an offensive like he did historically with the intact Army of the Cumberland.
I agree with this, would Sherman even bother with Hood? The big fish was in Virginia.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Chapter 1: The Battle of Spring Hill

View attachment 409647

On November 29, 1864, General John Bell Hood Hood sent Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham's and Lieutenant General Alexander P. Stewart's corps on a flanking march north across the Duck River to Davis's Ford east of Columbia, while the two divisions of Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee's corps and most of the army's artillery remained on the south bank to deceive Major General John M. Schofield into believing that a general assault was planned against Columbia. Hood, riding near the head of the column with Cheatham's corps, plans to interpose his army between Schofield and Major General George Thomas, hoping to defeat Schofield during the Federals retreat north from Columbia. Stewart's corps followed Cheatham, and they were trailed by Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's division (Lee's corps). The rest of Lee's corps remained south of Columbia, making a demonstration against Schofield's men north of the Duck River.

Cavalry skirmishes between Brigadier General James H. Wilson's Union cavalry and Lieutenant General Nathan B. Forrest's Confederate troopers continued throughout the day as the Confederates advanced. Forrest's broad turning movement with 4,000 troops pushed Wilson back north from Hurt's Corner, preventing Union cavalry from interfering with Hood's infantry advance. At 10 a.m. on November 29, Forrest ordered his men to turn west toward Spring Hill. Wilson sent several messages to Schofield warning him of Hood's advance, but it was not until dawn on November 29, that Schofield believed the reports, understood the deception represented by Lee, and realized the situation he was in. He sent Major General David S. Stanley north with Brigadier General Nathan Kimball's IV Corps division, the rest of Brigadier General George D. Wagner's division, and the bulk of the Federal artillery reserve. Their mission was initially to protect the trains, but also to hold the crossroads at Spring Hill to allow the entire army to withdraw safely to Franklin.

Forrest's horsemen approached Spring Hill at about 11:30 a.m. and ran into the IV Corps pickets. Stanley moved north quickly and formed positions with Wagner's division protecting Spring Hill village and the huge supply trains on three sides. Forrest received a message from Hood to hold the position at all costs until the infantry arrived. Major General Patrick R. Cleburne's division from Cheatham's corps arrived mid-afternoon on Forrest's left. Forrest's men moved north to cover the line.

Back in Columbia, Schofield was convinced by about 3:00 p.m. that the Confederates would not attack him here, and by 3:30 p.m. he joined two brigades of Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger's division on the march to Spring Hill. He ordered his remaining forces to stay until dark, then join him on the march north. As soon as Schofield left, Stephen D. Lee coincidentally launched an attack on the Union position, although he had great difficulty deploying floating bridges across the river. By the time the bulk of his two divisions were able to cross, the senior Union commander left behind at Columbia, Brigadier General Jacob D. Cox, began to withdraw.

Major General Patrick R. Cleburne's 3,000 men began an echelon attack against Bradley's brigade at about 4 p.m. While Cheatham expected Cleburne to move north on Spring Hill, Hood's intention was to use this formation to make a turning movement toward the turnpike and turn left to intercept Schofield's incoming units, but apparently he had not observed the location of the Union positions south of the town. The echelon formation was therefore less effective against Bradley's position on their right and in front, allowing only Lowrey's brigade to engage them at first. Govan's and Lowrey's attack overwhelmed Bradley and his men fled in disarray. Cleburne's two brigades drove them off vigorously, and they were stopped short of the turnpike only by heavy fire from the IV Corps artillery, placed earlier by Stanley on a hill north of the creek.

By this time, Cheatham's division under Major General John C. Brown (Cheatham's division before he took command of the corps) had crossed Rutherford Creek and was being set up by Cheatham on Cleburne`s right. Earlier in the afternoon, Hood sent Stewart's corps behind Rutherford Creek and ordered them to move north from Spring Hill and cut off the Federal column. At around 6:15 p.m. Stewart arrived on Brown`s right flank and deployed his corps in a right angle across the Columbia Pike.

As darkness fell, Wagner`s lone division of 4,500 men was blocked to the north by Stewart`s 9,500 strong corps, while Brown`s 4,400-men-division threatened the right flank. Along Columbia Pike to the south were Cleburne`s still 4,200-strong division, Major General William B. Bate`s 2,500 troops and Johnson`s 3,100 men. Forrest sent Brigadier General Abraham Buford`s and James R. Chalmers` divisions, another 4,300 troopers, northwest to Carter`s Creek Pike to cover Stewart`s right flank.

When the remainder of Schofield`s nearly 30,000-man army arrived at Spring Hill around midnight of 29th November, the commander realized that a onward march to Franklin was impossible due to Stewart`s blockade. The dispatch of Wilson`s troopers to a parallel road led to the discovery that it had also been blocked.

With a concentrated night attack out of the question, Schofield attempted a makeshift regroup in the darkness. The remaining two divisions of IV Corps under Brigadier General Nathan Kimball and Thomas J. Wood extended Wagner`s lines opposite Stewart, Brown, and Cleburne to the west and south, with Wilson`s 5,600 cavalrymen deploying to Stanley`s left opposing Forrest. The Second Division of XXIII Corps under Ruger deployed along Columbia Pike opposite Bate and Johnson, while the Third Division, commanded by Brigadier General James W. Reilly was to secure the rear against Lee`s approaching 6,000 infantrymen from Major General Carter Stevenson`s and Henry D. Clayton`s divisions.

Daybreak on November 30, 1864, fully revealed the precarious position of Northerners. Hood`s 38,500 Confederates had them surrounded on three sides and possessed superior numbers. Schofield made a half-hearted attempt to reopen Columbia Pike toward Franklin with an attack by Wagner, but was easily repulsed by Major General Edward C. Walthall`s division from Stewart`s Corps. In turn, Hood gave the order to build up pressure in the rear through Clayton and Stevenson. With Clayton`s lines already visibly overlapping those of Reilly, it was only a matter of time before the entire Northern formation would collapse domino-like. At 10:30 a.m., Schofield dispatched a rider with a white flag to Hood`s lines. Only an hour later, after brief negotiations, the Army of the Ohio surrendered unconditionally. With one stroke of the hand, the Union Army`s forces in Tennessee had been more than halved.​
Personally I think your scenario could drag out the war a little longer, but who knows?
 

JSylvester

Private
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Chapter 2: Maintaining the Momentum

carter.jpg

The surrender ceremony on November 30 turned out to be simple but expedient due to the circumstances, although the thoroughly pompous Hood would certainly have pushed for a high-profile performance at one point. Only Brigadier General Daniel Reynolds` Arkansas Brigade stood guard as Schofield dismounted and handed Hood his officer`s sword. The presentation of regimental standards and arms also took place without a hitch. Only when a goodly number of Confederate soldiers kindly but firmly requested the surrender of the coveted brogans in exchange for the rags they themselves had left, did the blue-clad soldiers briefly show their displeasure. However, since one of the first Confederate announcements made it clear that not a single prisoner would be taken to a camp, but that they would be given their parole and allowed to go their separate ways during the course of that day and the following day, the majority of them were able to come to terms with the agreement.

On December 1, 1864, the Army of Tennessee triumphantly moved into the small town of Franklin to take up temporary quarters and reorganize. In addition to a large number of hand weapons, fourteen artillery batteries had also come into the possession of the rebels. For these, hundreds of infantrymen now had to be converted to artillerymen. Nathan B. Forrest, meanwhile, insisted on equipping his troopers with the repeaters captured from Wilson's cavalry without delay. With new weapons, new tents and utensils, and footwear in top condition as well as an abundance of food, Hood's army was now suddenly in the best condition logistically of its entire existence.

The Carter House quarters in Franklin hosted the first Confederate command meeting since the battle. First it was Forrest's turn to express his appreciation to Hood for the successful maneuver, which must have been a great overcoming because of past disagreements. The commander responded diplomatically and cordially, reminding Forrest that without his blockade of the parallel route, the success probably would not have been so overwhelming. With that out of the way, the focus of the meeting shifted to the following course of action.

According to the latest reports, George Thomas had at least 20,000 men at his disposal in Nashville, which is why it was quickly agreed that the city's formidable defenses could not be overcome with a frontal attack, since the necessary superiority and expendability of the troops to be deployed was far from given. In order to stop the approach of further reinforcements from the southeast, it seemed to those present that it was inevitable to cut the railroad connection between Chattanooga and Nashville. Since there was to be a handsome garrison at Mufreesboro, it seemed only logical to isolate it and place oneself in an advantageous position between it and Nashville. Hood`s original thoughts of a march through to Kentucky were deemed impracticable as long as a larger Union army would still be organized in their rear. A siege of Nashville was also discarded, since a supply by water would be assured at all times and there was a lack of sufficient men to actually hermetically seal the city.

Finally, it was Forrest again who stepped forward with the suggestion of a dual strategy. He suggested that Mufreesboro be ostensibly besieged with troops of division strength and, if necessary, small cavalry support, while the main army north of it would take up a position on the right flank at Stones River. This would be likely to draw Thomas out of his entrenchments if the latter could be convinced that the rebels were engaged in taking the garrison town. At the same time, half of the cavalry, preferably the Tennessee-majority brigades, would move against the scattered Union bases at Shelbyville, Wartrace, Manchester, and McMinnville, forcing them to surrender and gaining new recruits along the way. Taken together, the two approaches would ensure that Thomas would be forced to move and that the Northern High Command would have to march massive troop movements from other departments. This, in turn, would allow other forces new space to maneuver and could also reduce the pressure on Lee in Virginia. If Thomas massed enough forces for an attack sometime in the coming weeks, the Confederates would still have a realistic chance of achieving victory in their prepared positions on the Stones River.​

This proposal was accepted after a short debate, also against the background of a lack of counterproposals on the part of John Bell Hood, and planning for its implementation began immediately.
 

Luke Freet

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Chapter 2: Maintaining the Momentum

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The surrender ceremony on November 30 turned out to be simple but expedient due to the circumstances, although the thoroughly pompous Hood would certainly have pushed for a high-profile performance at one point. Only Brigadier General Daniel Reynolds` Arkansas Brigade stood guard as Schofield dismounted and handed Hood his officer`s sword. The presentation of regimental standards and arms also took place without a hitch. Only when a goodly number of Confederate soldiers kindly but firmly requested the surrender of the coveted brogans in exchange for the rags they themselves had left, did the blue-clad soldiers briefly show their displeasure. However, since one of the first Confederate announcements made it clear that not a single prisoner would be taken to a camp, but that they would be given their parole and allowed to go their separate ways during the course of that day and the following day, the majority of them were able to come to terms with the agreement.

On December 1, 1864, the Army of Tennessee triumphantly moved into the small town of Franklin to take up temporary quarters and reorganize. In addition to a large number of hand weapons, fourteen artillery batteries had also come into the possession of the rebels. For these, hundreds of infantrymen now had to be converted to artillerymen. Nathan B. Forrest, meanwhile, insisted on equipping his troopers with the repeaters captured from Wilson's cavalry without delay. With new weapons, new tents and utensils, and footwear in top condition as well as an abundance of food, Hood's army was now suddenly in the best condition logistically of its entire existence.

The Carter House quarters in Franklin hosted the first Confederate command meeting since the battle. First it was Forrest's turn to express his appreciation to Hood for the successful maneuver, which must have been a great overcoming because of past disagreements. The commander responded diplomatically and cordially, reminding Forrest that without his blockade of the parallel route, the success probably would not have been so overwhelming. With that out of the way, the focus of the meeting shifted to the following course of action.

According to the latest reports, George Thomas had at least 20,000 men at his disposal in Nashville, which is why it was quickly agreed that the city's formidable defenses could not be overcome with a frontal attack, since the necessary superiority and expendability of the troops to be deployed was far from given. In order to stop the approach of further reinforcements from the southeast, it seemed to those present that it was inevitable to cut the railroad connection between Chattanooga and Nashville. Since there was to be a handsome garrison at Mufreesboro, it seemed only logical to isolate it and place oneself in an advantageous position between it and Nashville. Hood`s original thoughts of a march through to Kentucky were deemed impracticable as long as a larger Union army would still be organized in their rear. A siege of Nashville was also discarded, since a supply by water would be assured at all times and there was a lack of sufficient men to actually hermetically seal the city.

Finally, it was Forrest again who stepped forward with the suggestion of a dual strategy. He suggested that Mufreesboro be ostensibly besieged with troops of division strength and, if necessary, small cavalry support, while the main army north of it would take up a position on the right flank at Stones River. This would be likely to draw Thomas out of his entrenchments if the latter could be convinced that the rebels were engaged in taking the garrison town. At the same time, half of the cavalry, preferably the Tennessee-majority brigades, would move against the scattered Union bases at Shelbyville, Wartrace, Manchester, and McMinnville, forcing them to surrender and gaining new recruits along the way. Taken together, the two approaches would ensure that Thomas would be forced to move and that the Northern High Command would have to march massive troop movements from other departments. This, in turn, would allow other forces new space to maneuver and could also reduce the pressure on Lee in Virginia. If Thomas massed enough forces for an attack sometime in the coming weeks, the Confederates would still have a realistic chance of achieving victory in their prepared positions on the Stones River.​

This proposal was accepted after a short debate, also against the background of a lack of counterproposals on the part of John Bell Hood, and planning for its implementation began immediately.
Alright, lovely chapter. I do have some criticisms though.
For one: How would Wilson's Cavalry have been included in the surrender? Earlier they were split from the army at Spring Hill by Forrest's Cavalry. Even if Schofield including them in the surrender, Wilson would not have accepted it as his men wouldn't be in such a precarious position as the infantry. You can rewrite the bit of Forrest's horsemen rearming with repeaters by saying they got them from the 23rd Corps infantrymen (as numerous units had repeating and breechloading arms).
Also, the creation of new artillery units would be stymied by a general lack of infantry. Cleburne's division has barely 1000 men per brigade, while units like D. H. Reynolds' brigade have around 500 men. Diluting the infantry strength further than it was would be stretching things. Maybe replacing the confederate pieces with the higher quality union guns would make more sense, maybe having the existing batteries fill out their strength, rather than form new batteries alltogether, requiring not only manpower but horses to pull them, which wouldn't be many.
 
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