The Battle of Nashville took place in December 1864 as the American Civil War began the process of winding down. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was one of the most powerful forces in the secession states, but General George Thomas nearly destroyed the entire army during this engagement.
Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union officially. It would also be the first to come back, just a year after the Civil War.
These facts help to tell this devastating story.
1. The Confederate Forces Were Taking Heavy Losses
General Hood had a long string of losses with the Army of Tennessee, dropping the numbers to about 30,000 in the group. He brought the troops north toward Nashville to engage a Union force of about 55,000.
2. Lincoln Wanted Union Forces to Attack the Confederates.
Hood was opening to draw Union troops out of Nashville to make their attack as costly as possible to the south of the city. General Thomas, who was in charge of the Yankees in the city, delayed implementing the strategy for almost two weeks.
3. General Thomas Split the Confederate Forces.
The main assault of the Union attack happened to the left of where Confederate forces were staging for the battle. Demonstrations on the right helped to create a diversionary tactic. General Thomas pushed forward for over two miles, driving Hood back. The fighting renewed after an overnight break with several hours of fighting.
4. The Breakthrough Happened at Shy’s Hill
Union forces under John McArthur’s guidance broke through the Confederate line on the left at Shy’s Hill, forcing Hood to order a hasty retreat. Without a strategic rearguard action helping the group to leave, the Army of Tennessee would have been captured that day. Even with the escape, the morale of the forces was broken that day, causing the end of the war in Tennessee.
5. About 9,000 Casualties Came From the Conflict.
Confederate troops suffered the bulk of the casualties from the Battle of Nashville, with an estimated 6,000 losses. The Union troops reported 3,061 from the incident. The Confederate troops ran from Union soldiers for ten consecutive days after the conflict, only stopping after they crossed the Tennessee River to take refuge in Alabama. Hood would be removed from his command.
The Battle of Nashville was one of the final turning points of the Civil War. With Tennessee secure and the Confederate army in disarray, Lincoln turned his attention to Georgia and eventual victory.
This is just a little of the amazing history that Nashville has to offer. There is a lot more that you can discover, like why there is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon downtown.