Today in History:

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


it encountered a heavy skirmish line stoutly barricaded. Some half a mile in rear of the enemy's skirmish line his main line, strongly entrenched, could be seen. An effort was at once made to connect General Elliott's right with General Smith's left. The interval being too great to accomplish this, I order General Kimball to bring up his division and occupy the space between Generals Smith's and Elliott's commands. This was promptly done, the troops moving handsomely into position under a sharp fire of musketry and artillery. Thus formed, the entire corps advanced in magnificent array, under a galling fire of small-arms and artillery, and drove the enemy's skirmishers into his main line. Farther advance was impossible without making a direct assault on the enemy's entrenched lines, and the happy moment for the grand effort had not yet arrived. I hence ordered the division commanders to press their skirmishers as near tot he enemy's entrenchments as possible, and to harass him with a constant fire.

In a conflict of this nature I knew we would have greatly the advantage of him, as our supply of ammunition was inexhaustible and his limited. All the batteries of the corps on the field were brought to the front, placed in eligible positions in short range of the enemy's works, and ordered to keep up a measured but steady fire on this artillery. The practice of the batteries was uncommonly fine. The ranges were accurately obtained, the elevations correctly given, and the ammunition being unusually good, the firing was consequently most effective. It was really entertaining to witness it. The enemy replied spiritedly with musketry and artillery, and his practice with both was good. In the progress of the duel he disabled two guns in Ziegler's battery. After the dispositions above recounted had been made the commanding general joined me near our most advanced position on the Franklin pike, examined the positions of the troops, approved the same, and ordered that the enemy should be vigorously pressed and unceasingly harassed by our fire. He further directed that I should be constantly on the alert for any opening for a more decisive effort, but for the time to bide events. The general plan of the battle for the preceding day-namely, to outflank and turn his left-was still to be acted on. Before leaving me the commanding general desired me to confer with Major-General Steedmam, whose command had moved out that morning from Nashville by the Noleensville pike, and arrange a military connection between his right and my left. The enemy had made some display of force between the Franklin and Nolensville pikes, but its extent could not be fixed, and it was hence necessary to take precautions with reference to it. Near 12 m. I rode toward the left and met Major-General Steedman, communicated to him the views of the commanding general, and submitted to him some suggestions in regard to the disposition of his command to meet those views. General Steedman coincided in opinion with me and promptly and handsomely, though exposed to a sharp fire from one of the enemy's batteries, placed his command, both infantry and artillery, in a position which effectually secured my left from being turned. I will here remark that General Steedman's command most gallantly and effectually co-operated with my command during the remainder of the day.

For a proper understanding of the last great and decisive struggle in the battle of Nashville a brief description of the scene of its occurrence and of the topography of the adjacent country is requisite. The basin in which the city of Nashville stands in inclosed on the southwest, south, and southeast by the Brentwood Hills. The Franklin pike runs nearly due south from Nashville. The Brentwood Hills consist of