Today in History:

37 Series I Volume XLV-I Serial 93 - Franklin - Nashville Part I


About that period Major-General Stoneman (left at Louisville be General Schofield to take charge of the Department of the Ohio during his absence with the army in the field) started for Knoxville to take general direction of affairs in that section, having previously ordered Brevet Major-General Burbridge to march with all his available force in Kentucky by way of Cumberland Gap, to Gillem's relief. On his way through Nashville General Stoneman received instructions from me to concentrate as large a force as he could get in East Tennessee against Breckinridge, and either destroy his force or drive it into Virginia, and, if possible destroy the salt-works at Saltville and the railroad from the Tennessee line as for into Virginia as he could go without endangering his command. November 23, General Stoneman telegraphed from Knoxville that the main force of the enemy was at New Market, eight miles north of Strawberry Plains, and General Burbridge was moving on Cumberland Gap from the interior of Kentucky his advance expecting to reach Barboursville that night. On the 6th of December having received information from East Tennessee that Breckinridge was falling back toward Virginia, General Stoneman was again directed to pursue him and destroy the railroad as far across the State line as possible-say, twenty-five miles.

Leaving him to carry out these instructions, I will return to the position at Nashville.

Both armies were ice-bound for a week previous to the 14th of December, when the weather moderated. Being prepared to move I called a meeting of the corps commanders on the afternoon of that day, and having discussed the plan of attack until thoroughly understood the following Special Field Order, Numbers 342., was issued:

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Paragraphy IV. As soon as the state of the weather will admit of offensive operations the troops will move against the enemy's position in the following order:

Major General A. J. smith, commanding Detachment of the Army of the Tennessee, after forming his troops on and near the Hardin pike, in front of his present position, will make a vigorous assault on the enemy's left.

Major-General Wilson, commanding the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, with three division, will move on and support General Smith's right assisting, as far as possible in carrying the left of the enemy's position, and be in readiness to throw his force upon the enemy the moment a favorable opportunity occurs. Major-General Wilson will also send one division on the Charlotte pike to clear that road of the enemy and observe in the direction of Bell's Landing, to protect our right rear until the enemy's position is fairly turned it will rejoin the main force.

Brigadier General T. J. Wood, commanding the Fourth Army Corps, after leaving a strong skirmish line in his works from Laurens' Hill to his extreme right, will form the remainder of the Fourth Corps on the Hillsborough pike to support General Smith's left, and operate on the left and rear of the enemy's advanced position on the Montgomery Hill.

Major-General Schofield, Twenty-third Army Corps will replace Brigadier-General Kimball's division, of the Fourth Corps, with his troops and occupy the trenches from Fort Negley to Laurens' Hill with a strong skirmish line. He will move with* the remainder of the works and co-operate with General Wood, protecting the latter's left flank against an attack by the enemy.

Major-General Steedman, commanding District of the Etowah, will occupy the interior line in rear of his present position, stretching from the reservoir on the Cumberland River to Fort Neglye, with a strong skirmish line, and mass the remainder of his force in its present position, to act according to the exigencies with may arise during these operations.

Brigadier-General Miller, with the troops forming the garrison of Nashville, will occupy the interior line the battery on Hill 210 to the extreme right, including the inclosed work on the Hyde's Ferry road.


*As recorded in Thomas' order book, this reads-He will mas the remainder, &c.