The Battle of Nashville,Tennessee, was a two day battle that started on December 15, 1864 and ended December 17, 1864. It was the last battle of a series all fought in Tennessee by the second largest Confederate Army.
It started at Columbia, with some minor fighting and then a chase to Spring Hill where the Union army was almost caught in a trap. The Union Army escaped at night and was chased to Franklin where a major battle was fought called the Battle of Franklin. Again, after the battle, the Union Army escaped in the night. The Union Army finally made it to Nashville.
The Union Army that escaped from Franklin was under the command of Major General John M. Schofield. When he entered Nashville, the army came under the command of Major General George H. Thomas. The Union forces defensive line now totaling approximately 55,000 men was in a semi-circle from west to east protecting Nashville.
The Confederate Army under the command of Lt. General John Bell Hood had 20,000 men. They arrived south of the city on December 2, 1864 and took up defensive positions facing the Union Army inside the city. Confederate General Hood, knowing his army wasn't strong enough for a frontal attack was hoping the Union Army would have to attack him. He could counter attack and take Nashville.
Union General Thomas knew he would have to attack the Confederate Army and began to make plans for it by outfitting his cavalry. It took two weeks to get prepared for the attack and it made President Lincoln nervous. The President had little patience for slow generals. Union General Ulysses S. Grant was pressuring General Thomas to attack.
On December 13, 1864, General Grant sent Major General John A. Logan to relieve General Thomas of his command if he hadn't started the attack by the time he got there. General Logan made it to Louisville when the attacked began. It was December 15, 1864 when the Battle of Nashville finally began.
Confederate Commander General Hood had sent his cavalry led by Nathan Bedford Forrest to attack the Union Garrison at Murfreesboro on December 5. It was the start of the battle, and most of his cavalry wasn't back yet. This was a terrible mistake. The cavalry was needed to create havoc along the Union lines.
Union General Thomas had planned a two-phase attack. Phase one would be a secondary attack on the right flank at to keep them busy. Phase two would be the main attack on the left. At 6 am on December 15, 1864, the secondary attack started while it was still dark.
The main attack on Confederate General Hood's left caused him to send reinforcements near the Hillsboro Pike. At about 1 pm part of the Confederate front line had an outward projection. This caused the Union Commander to order an attack on it. By 1:30 pm the Union attack was overwhelming which caused the Confederates to retreat to the Granny White turnpike. The Union Calvary was unable to put enough force on the turnpike to push the Confederates further. Around nightfall Confederate General Hood was able to regroup his men and dig in for the next day's battle.
On the first day of the Battle of Nashville, the Union had to bring overwhelming force to the Confederate front line where weakness was found. By doing so the next day's front lines were in the Brentwood Hills, extending from Shy's Hill to Overton Hill. This line would let the Confederates cover their main two routes of retreat. They were The Granny White Pike and the Franklin Pike.
It took most of the next morning for the Union Army to move into
position against the new front line. Again the Union General Thomas
planned a two-phase attack. The first phase was to attack the left while
the cavalry would swing to the rear and block Franklin Pike. This would
give only one route of retreat for the Confederate Army.
At noon, the Union attacked Overton's Hill without success while the attack on the left was pressuring the line. At 4 pm Shy's Hill was under assault from three sides which caused the Confederates to flee to the rear. A new Union attack on Overton's Hill overwhelmed the Confederate positions there driving them off the hill.
Darkness fell and heavy rains began. Having taken heavy casualties Confederate General Hood collected his army and withdrew south toward Franklin.
The Union Army set off to follow the Confederate Army, but was delayed by the rainy weather. December 18, 1864 the Confederate Cavalry rejoined Commander Hoods Army and set up a screen for the retreating army. The pursuit continued until the Confederate Army crossed the Tennessee River on December 25, 1864.
During the battle, the Belle Meade Plantation was used by Confederate General Chalmers as the Cavalry command center, and was the site of a cavalry-infantry skirmish. The Travelers Rest was Confederate General John B. Hood's headquarters before the Battle of Nashville. The Belmont Mansion was Union General Woods headquarters.
The Battle of Nashville was the most stunning victory for the Union Army in the Civil War. The second largest Confederate Army was reduced from over 30,000 men to 15,000 to 20,000. The main reason for the loss of the battle was the Union forces would set up their line of defense and then concentrated men at the right time on one point of the front line overwhelming the line. This would push back the line causing a retreat.
The battlefield created by the Battle of Nashville is gone now, replaced by the neighborhoods of Green Hills, Grassmere, and Brentwood. There are a few historic buildings and some markers left to tell what happened there in 1864.