Booknote: Twenty-five Hours to Tragedy; The Battle of Spring Hill and Operations on November 29, 1864: Precursor to the Battle of Franklin

Amazon states:

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 9.11.25 PM.pngTwenty-five Hours to Tragedy: The Battle of Spring Hill and Operations on November 29, 1864 – Precursor to the Battle of Franklin is a compilation of eyewitness testimony linked by narrative telling the story of the great missed opportunity by the Confederate Army of Tennessee on November 29, 1864. Led by General John Bell Hood, a Confederate envelopment around Columbia, Tennessee left Union Major General John McAllister Schofield’s Fourth and Twenty-third Army corps strung out and beyond supporting distance of their wagon train. One lone division that had been sent to Spring Hill to protect the Union Army’s wagon train found itself confronting nearly 25,000 Confederate soldiers by mid-afternoon. While Union Major General David S. Stanley did all in his power to stop the Confederate attack, it seemed nothing could save them. Suddenly the fog of war set in, and as the sun sank on the western horizon, the Confederate high command found itself paralyzed with inaction, indecision, poor judgment and finally darkness. This maneuver forced General Schofield to conduct a harrowing forced march to Spring Hill past nearly 22,000 highly motivated Rebel soldiers within a few hundred yards of Columbia-Franklin Pike as darkness cloaked the field. While the Federals marched into a set Confederate trap that was never fully sprung, Confederate commanders stumbled through the starlight, and the Union army slipped past the lion’s den. The next day brought about the Battle of Franklin – a direct result of Confederate inaction and miscommunication the night before at Spring Hill. Twenty-five Hours to Tragedy is the largest and most in depth account of the actions that took place at Spring Hill. This account adds more testimony and sheds even greater light on a night filled with confusion and disappointment for the Confederate high command. Told by over one-hundred-and-fifty eyewitness participants, the accounts are linked by narrative that place the reader on the field in the midst of enthusiastic Confederate and anxious Union soldiers. The events of November 29, 1864 sealed the fate of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Only twenty-five hours after the Confederate Army’s arrival on the battlefield of Spring Hill, the decision to assault the heavily defended fortifications at Franklin was made. It was a decision that would not have to be made had the Confederates followed through with their plans at Spring Hill. Follow the armies in their race to Spring Hill, the combat there and the critical decisions that led to the Federal escape and a total Confederate command breakdown in the most devastating blunder of the American Civil War.

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New book: Twenty-five Hours to Tragedy: The Battle of Spring Hill

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 5.07.32 PMAmazon says (partially): Twenty-five Hours to Tragedy: The Battle of Spring Hill and Operations on November 29, 1864 – Precursor to the Battle of Franklin is a compilation of eyewitness testimony linked by narrative telling the story of the great missed opportunity by the Confederate Army of Tennessee on November 29, 1864. Led by General John Bell Hood, a Confederate envelopment around Columbia, Tennessee left Union Major General John McAllister Schofield’s Fourth and Twenty-third Army corps strung out and beyond supporting distance of their wagon train. One lone division that had been sent to Spring Hill to protect the Union Army’s wagon train found itself confronting nearly 25,000 Confederate soldiers by mid-afternoon. While Union Major General David S. Stanley did all in his power to stop the Confederate attack, it seemed nothing could save them. Suddenly the fog of war set in, and as the sun sank on the western horizon, the Confederate high command found itself paralyzed with inaction, indecision, poor judgment and finally darkness.

 

December 20th, 1864 Officer’s diary describes Hood’s fleeing army from Nashville

We started in good time over frozen ground and ice though the pike was tolerable good only in spots. All day we have passed the wrecks of Hood’s fleeing army, signs of hot pursuit. We reached Spring Hill at 4 p.m. and go in camp just before it commences to rain again. The little village is very much dilapidated to what it was when we first saw it. It was near that the Rebs came near cutting off our retreat up to Franklin. Made a search to find commissary wagons but fail and have to crumb it scantily at that. Rain increases and our bed is wet as has been for sometime.

A.L. Ewing (63rd Indiana Infantry) diary for Dec 20th, 1864

Source: The Eli Lilly Library, Indiana University

Diary entry for November 29, 1864 by 63rd Indiana soldier in Spring Hill

Upon learning the entire Federal army had escaped Spring Hill during the night of the 29th, C.S.A. Gen John Bell Hood spoke these words on the morning of the 30th, “the best move of my career as a soldier come to naught.”


Last night passed off quietly. At 8 we are packed ready to move. The forces behind us have just moved out. The enemy have been trying all morning to get possession of the ford, consequently several artillery fights as well as skirmishes today with musketry in fact has been a noisy war-like day. Eve: The enemy just before dusk charged and drove our skirmishers away from the ford but they held on to part of their line. The operation made a great rattling of musketry and supposing the enemy to be attacking in force our Regt was ordered double quick up to the scene of action. The artillery thundered away for a while, and with darkness relapsed into silence. In our movement our Regt was very much exposed to the raking fire through its whole length yet the Rebs did not take advantage of it. Soon after dark we withdrew in silence and was on the march back to Franklin a distance of 23 miles. Just before we got to Spring Hill we could see a long string of lights on our right not far off, and supposing it was the 4th Corps in camp we were looking forward to an immediate rest when to our surprise we were told that it was the lights of a rebble camp. Men ordered not to speak nor let their accoutrements rattle, we were so close we could see their camp guards (night guards).

Written by Addison Lee Ewing, Captain, Co F, 63rd Indiana Infantry
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Source: Ewing Mss. Manuscripts department, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.