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fended by a block-house at Overall's creek, five miles north, which was attacked" by Bate's division of Cheatham's corps, but firmly held till Gen. Milroy, with three or four regiments, came out from Murfreesboro', and repelled the assailants. During the next three days, a division of Lee's corps and 2,500 of Forrest's cavalry reenforced Bate, and Fortress Bosecrans was threatened, but not really assaulted; Buford's cavalry finally shelling and charging" into Murfreesboro', but being promptly driven out by a regiment of infantry. The Bebel cavalry moved hence north to Lebanon, and threatened to cross the Cumberland, but found it patroled by gunboats and drew off. Gen. Milroy, being this day sent out from Murfreesboro' with 7 regiments of infantry, attacked the Eebels on the Wilkeson pike, driving them and taking 207 prisoners, with 2 guns; losing 30 killed and 175 wounded.
Hood had established" his lines south of Nashville, with his salient on Montgomery hill, opposite our center, and but 600 yards distant. "Wilson, with cavalry, was across the river at Gallatin, watching for raiders from Forrest's command. And now ensued a week of severe cold, wherein both armies were nearly torpid: the Bebels, worse clad and more exposed, probably suffering more sensibly. When at length the temperature softened," Thomas issued orders for a general advance on our right next day; to cover which, Gen. Steedman, on our left, sharply and successfully attacked the enemy's right that evening: pushing it back toward Hood's center, and causing a movement from that center to its support.
Morning broke" auspiciously. The weather was still mild, and a dense fog, lasting till near noon, concealed our movements. Gen. A. J. Smith, with his thinned corps, with Wilson's cavalry on his right, now moved out on the Hardin pike, to flank the left of the enemy's infantry; while Johnson's cavalry division, advancing on the Charlotte pike, struck at Chalmers's cavalry on that wing and a Rebel battery,posted at Bell's landing on the Cumberland, which he attacked late that afternoon, in conjunction with our gunboats under Lt.-Com'r Fitch. They did not carry it; but it was evacuated during the ensuing night.
Hatch's division of Wilson's cavalry first struck the enemy; driving him from his position, and taking prisoners and wagons. Swinging slightly to the left, Hatch, dismounting his men, assaulted and carried a redoubt, taking four guns, and turning them on their late possessors. A second stronger redoubt was soon reached; and this, too, was carried: the spoils being four more guns and 300 prisoners. McArthur's division of Smith's infantry, closing on the left of the cavalry, cooperated in these assaults, so far as the impetuous charges of the cavalry allowed them a chance to do so.
The 4th corps, Gen. T. J. Wood commanding (because of Stanley's wound), had moved parallel with Smith, closing on his left, and had also, about 1 p. M., assaulted Montgomery hill: the assault being immediately delivered by Col. Sidney P. Post, 59th Blinois, with the 3d brigade of the 2d (Wagner's) division, who gallantly carried the work,
* Dec. 14.
greater steadiness than those who now lay down on their arms, prepared to finish their work on the morrow.
The second day opened with an advance by Wood, pushing back the enemy's skirmishers eastward across the Franklin pike, and then, inclining to the right, moving due south from Nashville till he confronted Hood's new line of defenses on Overton's hill, five miles from the city. Hereupon, Gen. Steedman, pushing rapidly down the Nolensville pike, closed in on Wood's left flank; while Smith came in on Wood's right; Schofield, facing eastward, threatened the enemy's left flank; and Wilson, still farther to the right, and more advanced, gained the Rebel rear—reaching across the Granny White pike, and threatening to cut them off from any line of retreat on Franklin. And now, while this movement against his rear was prosecuted, our entire front advanced till within 600 yards of the enemy; and, at 3 P. M., Post's brigade, supported by Streight's, was directed by Wood to assault Overton's hill in front; while Col. Morgan's Black brigade was impelled by Steedman against it farther to our left.
The assault was duly made; but the enemy had seen all the preparations for it, had concentrated accordingly, and now received it with such a storm of grape, canister, and musketry, as our men charged over abatiB up the hill, that they were driven back, terribly cut up—Col. Post being among the wounded. But the survivors were promptly reformed by Wood, and his front restored; while Smith's and Schofield's men, instantly charging on our right,
swept over the enemy's works in their front; Wilson's troopers, dismounted, charging still farther to the right, and barring all retreat by the Granny White pike. And now, hearing the shouts of victory on our right, Wood's and Steedman's corps renewed the assault on Overton's hill, and, though they encountered a heavy fire, swept all before them. The routed Rebels fled through the Brentwood pass, leaving most of their guns, and many of their comrades as prisoners.
Wilson instantly mounted Knipe'a and Hatch's divisions of cavalry, and pushed them down the Granny White pike, hoping to reach Franklin ahead of the fugitive host, and bar their farther flight; but, after proceeding a-mile, he found a barricade across the road, and the enemy's cavalry under Chalmers behind it. Col. Spalding, 12th Tennessee cavalry, charged and carried the position, scattering the enemy, and taking some prisoners, including Gen. E. W. Rucker; but it was now too late, to reach Franklin that night, and our men lay down on their arms, while the enemy pursued their disorderly flight.
In this two days' battle, Thomas had taken 4,462 prisoners, including 287 officere (one of them a MajorGeneral), 53 guns, and many small arms. Hood's invasion had been suddenly finished, and his army utterly demoralized.
Our cavalry followed closely next day; Knipe's division riding over a rear-guard that had been posted at Hollow Tree gap, 4 miles north of Franklin; taking 413 prisoners. Pressing on after the fugitives, Wilson found them again facing him in
a petty post at Scottsboro', -where he was repulsed and his command scattered: getting over the Tennessee with a remnant of 200 men, but losing his last gun. Being still pursued, he fled to a place known as Red hill; where his bivouac was surprised" by Col. W. J. Palmer, 15th Pa. cavalry, and 100 of his men taken. Lyon escaped, after surrendering, by seizing a pistol, shooting a sentinel, and vanishing in the darkness. This was the final blow given to Hood's army.
Thomas expected now to put his forces into well-earned Winter-quarters; but he soon received advices from Washington that this did not meet the views of Gen. Grant, who proposed to crush what was left of the Rebellion first and then rest. Accordingly, Gens. Smith's, Schofield's, and Wilson's corps were taken up by boats at Clifton, on the Tennessee, and conveyed to Eastport, Miss; and Gen. Wood's was directed to Huntsville, north Alabama, preparatory to a further Winter campaign.
Meantime, matters of decided interest had occurred in East Tennessee and south-western Virginia. Gen. Stoneman had been dispatched by Thomas from Louisville to Knoxville to take command there, while Burbridge, with all his disposable force, was sent thither from eastern Kentucky through Cumberland gap. Breckinridge, doubtless apprised of this movement, withdrew from this neighborhood quite as rapidly as he had advanced; while Gen. Ammen, just arrived with 1,500 men from Chattanooga, was pushed out to Strawberry plains on his track.
Stoneman, as directed by Thomas, started" from Knoxville in pursuit of the now over-matched and retreating foe: taking three mounted brigades, led by Burbridge and Gillem; at whose head, he swept" rapidly eastward, skirmishing, to Bristol; while Gillem, on his right, struck Duke at Kingsport, capturing 300 prisoners, with several well-laden trains, and dispersing Duke's command. Pushing Burbridge on to Abingdon, Va., where he was rejoined" by Gillem, Stoneman captured that place also; destroying there a large quantity of stores.
Vaughan, with the Rebel frontier force of cavalry, had been flanked by this rapid advance, but had moved parallel with our column to Marion; where GiHem now struck" him and chased him 30 miles into Wytheville; capturing 200 men, 8 gans, and a large train. Vaughan was again attacked and driven at the lead mines, 15 miles farther east, which were captured, and all the works destroyed. At Max Meadows, near this point, Gillem destroyed the railroad and other valuable property.
Breckinridge had by this time concentrated what was left of his various subordinate commands, and had been following our advance on Wytheville. Stoneman now turned upon and met him near Marion, expecting to give battle next morning; but Breckinridge, deeming his force quite too slender, retreated across the * mountains into North Carolina during the night; losing a few wagons and caissons by our pursuit, which was not long persisted in.
This retreat—doubtless, inevitably —abandoned to its fate Saltville,
1 Jan. 14.
1 Dec. 16.