Today in History:

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

Page 170 KY., SW.V VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N GA. Chapter LVII.

in the field tenders his thanks to yourself, your officers and men, for the vigor, bravery, and willing endurance of privations and hardships displayed by your command during this long and toilsome pursuit of the retreating rebel army.

Very respectfully, &c.,


Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.

1.30 p. m., the trains with three days' rations for this command have just arrived from Pulaski. Instructions have been sent to division commanders to issue them at once, with instructions that they are to last five days. 2.15 p. m., sent dispatch to General Thomas, stating that we will march direct to Huntsville and athens, and take with us the artillery and trains now here. It will be easier to do so than to send them back to Pulaski and thence to these place. 2.15 p. m., send a dispatch to Colonel Hayes, chief quartermaster of the corps, directing him to send all of the trains and property of the corps, directing him to send all of the trains and property of the corps now in the rear to Huntsville and Athens, via the Elkton and Pulaski pike. 3 p. m., directed division commanders to send their ordnance officers to the rear at once, to turn over the ammunition in their trains at Pulaski and bring forward the empty trains to Huntsville and Athens. 4 p. m., General Wood wrote to General Thomas a letter, of which the following is a copy:

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH CORPS, Lexington, Ala., December 30, 1864.

Brigadier-General WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: Every particle of information, however derived, in regard to the condition of Hood's army attests the fact of its complete and perfect demoralization. I have made many inquiries of citizens living on the road we have followed in the pursuit, and have received universally the same answers, namely, that one-half of the retreating troops are unarmed, and that everything like organization is gone. Two escaped prisoners came in yesterday, and their statements fully corroborate the information derived from other sources. One of theses prisoners marched, or rather went with Lee's corps (for he says there was nothing like marching among them), to within two miles of the Tennessee River, where he escaped. He says that not more than one-half of the corps was armed; that there was no organization at all in the corps; that he saw nothing like a company, regiment, or brigade, and that the men moved in squads, varying from six or eight to fifteen or twenty, and that these squads moved and halted at their own choice. He further states that from Pulaski to the point at which he escaped the rebels had nothing to east but preached corn. The other escaped prisoner marched with Cheathan's corps from Pulaski toward the Tennessee River, by the old military road. He says that out of the whole corps only about a regiment could be got to guard about 140 prisoners, and that the remainder of the corps marched in small squads moving as they chose. He says that in these squads he was occasionally a musket or two to shoot cattle, &c., along the line of retreat. Both of these men speak of the destitute condition of the rebels in regard to clothing; they are without blankets, a great number without shoes, and all imperfectly clad. I feel confident that Hood has not taken across the Tennessee River more than half the men he brought across it; that not more than onehalf of those taken out are armed; that he lost three-fourths of his artillery; and that, for ground, demoralization, even disintegration, the condition of his command is without a parallel in this war. I am also confident that his command cannot be reorganized for service for some weeks, perhaps not before seeing. At present, so far as Hood's command is concerned (and I know of no other force in that event that could oppose us), the whole country from the Tennessee River to Mobile is open to us. Should we not then improve the present opportunity for bringing Alabama, at present the best State for supplies the rebels have, under our control? I firmly believe we can, within the next few weeks, without much opposition, bring the whole State under our control.

The Tennessee River affords us a good line of communication, vastly superior to railroads. Let us establish a depot at or near the head of navigation, and, within the next ten days or two weeks, place in it, by numerous transports, abundant supplies of every kind, as we could, for the troops to be engaged in the expedition. I estimate that 40,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and one battery of artillery to each division of infantry, with a reserve battery to each corps, would be an ample force

Page 170 KY., SW.V VA., TENN., MISS., ALA., AND N GA. Chapter LVII.